A third member of the LSU bullpen is signing a professional contract.
Fireballing right-hander Jesse Stallings, drafted in the 15th round by the Cincinnati Reds, will forgo his junior and senior season and sign with the club, coach Paul Mainieri said Tuesday. He joins relievers Parker Bugg and Riley Smith as Tigers who have signed professionally.
“I think there’s no question that Jesse will sign, if he hasn’t already,” Mainieri said. “The day that he was drafted he told the club that he would sign so I knew it was his intention to sign.”
Stallings, a third-year sophomore after Tommy John surgery forced him to take a medical redshirt in 2013-14, made two starts and 25 appearances this season following an All-American freshman season where he notched 12 saves — fourth-most in a single season in LSU history.
“I want to say thank you to LSU and its staff for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime to play for the best college in the country,” Stallings wrote Tuesday in a message on Twitter confirming his departure. “Playing at LSU was a dream I had as a kid and getting to fulfill that dream was more than I could have ever asked for. I have enjoyed every second of being a Tiger.”
The 25 appearances trailed only Hunter Newman and Parker Bugg (28 apiece) and Russell Reynolds (26) for the most out of the Tigers bullpen. LSU has now lost five of its 15 total season saves between Bugg and Stallings. Right-hander Riley Smith also signed professionally with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Stallings used a 96 mph fastball to post a 3-0 record and collect one save with a 3.64 ERA.
The Tigers now only await junior lefty Jared Poche’s decision after he was drafted in the 14th round by the San Diego Padres. Mainieri said Poche “has a price in mind,” and the Padres have been unable to match it.
Lange will pitch for Team USA
LSU’s early postseason exit will give Alex Lange the experience of a lifetime.
One year after declining the invitation to pitch for Team USA following a taxing, 114-inning true freshman season, Lange accepted the collegiate national team’s invitation this season and will travel with the select group of collegians to Japan, Taiwan and Cuba in July.
He’ll report to Collegiate National Team Training in Los Angeles on Monday.
Mainieri said the LSU coaching recommended Lange shut down following last season’s College World Series run, but the Tigers’ super regional exit coupled with a meticulous, day-by-day plan from pitching coach Alan Dunn made this year’s invitation more viable.
“Because we came up short, we feel like he didn’t use 14 innings he typically would have used,” Mainieri said. “We talked to the people with Team USA and as long as they use him the way that, literally, Alan Dunn has mapped out every day for him in the month of July. We gave Alex the green light, and he took advantage of that. He’s going to have a once in a lifetime experience, and we’ll all be very proud of him for it.”
Assisted by Tulane coach David Pierce, Oregon coach George Horton is the team’s manager. Mainieri was an assistant on last year’s team, and former Tigers shortstop Alex Bregman played for the squad following his sophomore season in 2014.
Lange, who threw 111.2 innings this season, is the fifth SEC pitcher to be selected to the team, joining Missouri’s Tanner Houck, Florida’s Alex Faedo, Vanderbilt’s Kyle Wright and Tennessee’s Zach Warren.
Latz “delayed” for summer baseball
A medical condition will delay Jake Latz’s arrival in a summer league, Mainieri said Tuesday.
Out of respect for Latz’s privacy, Mainieri declined to reveal the nature of the condition but was adamant it has nothing to do with the southpaw’s surgically-mended left arm.
“Zero. Zilch. His arm is 100 percent healthy,” Mainieri said. “It’s just something that’s going to delay him getting off to the summer. It’s still our intention that he’s going to pitch this summer. Hopefully he can get 20 to 35 innings, it just depends how quickly he gets somewhere. He needs innings if he wants to be great next year.”
Following a lengthy rehabilitation process, Latz started the team’s SEC tournament opener against Tennessee and the regional championship game against Rice.
He did not pitch more than 2.1 innings in any outing, notching 11 strikeouts with a 7.56 ERA across 8.1 innings.
Latz was originally scheduled to pitch in the Alaskan Summer League, but Mainieri is unsure if that will be possible given the undetermined time frame of Latz’s recovery.
Follow Chandler Rome on Twitter, @Chandler_Rome