LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri has had a knack for finding closers in recent years.
Whether it was Matty Ott from 2009-11, Nick Goody in 2012, Chris Cotton in 2013 or Joe Broussard last season, Mainieri has discovered the best arm for the ninth-inning role.
With the season opener against Kansas on Feb. 13 fast approaching, the evaluation process has begun again. One name has stuck out as a possible front-runner: Jesse Stallings.
“The one big thing that’s been happening for the first two weeks we’ve been out here is the evolution of Jesse Stallings,” Mainieri said Monday. “He’s got me really excited.”
Mainieri said Stallings is being groomed as a possible closer. The Colfax native will start pitching on back-to-back days at practice to test how his arm responds. The redshirt freshman missed all of last season after having Tommy John surgery in 2013.
“As I look at potential closers, I see a guy like Jesse being a guy that’s going to get a real good opportunity to see if he can do that,” Mainieri said.
Typically, pitchers’ velocities are down in the early months of the year. As the weather warms, so do the arms. But Stallings is already hitting 94 mph on the radar gun in Alex Box Stadium, and the right-hander also offers a changeup and curveball.
Stallings said it doesn’t matter what inning he comes in; he just wants to be out there.
“It’s whatever Coach wants,” he said. “I would love to take the closing job … but it’s wherever Coach feels confident in me. I’m going to go out there and pitch the same whether I was a starter, reliever or closer. I’m going to give it my all.”
Alden Cartwright, Zac Person and Parker Bugg are also candidates to close, Mainieri said. At the start of preseason practice, he had said he expected to possibly use one of four freshmen as his closer: Alex Lange, Jake Godfrey, Jake Latz and Doug Norman.
Deichmann fine after foot injury
After suffering a foot strain last week, freshman infielder Greg Deichmann returned to practice Monday. He missed two days of practice.
“I’m definitely feeling better this week,” he said. “I went to the doctor, and they said there’s little bone spurs in the joint that just got irritated. I’ve been doing rehab, and Coach laid me off of practice for a few days to let it get better.”
Deichmann is out of the running for the starting spot at third base and is now being used some at second base in a reserve role.
Bregman nabs third preseason All-America honor
Baseball America named LSU junior shortstop Alex Bregman to its preseason All-America first team Monday.
Bregman already had been named to Perfect Game’s preseason All-America first team and Collegiate Baseball’s preseason All-America second team.