Hard-throwing left-hander Mac Marshall, the headliner of LSU’s top-ranked 2014 signing class, withdrew from school this week and will attend a junior college next season.
The school announced the move in a statement Friday night. Marshall confirmed to The Advocate that next year he’ll attend Chipola College, a junior college in Marianna, Florida.
Chipola College coach Jeff Johnson said Friday night that Marshall chose to leave in hopes of being drafted in June.
Junior college players are eligible for the draft after one year. If he had remained at LSU, Marshall would have had to play three seasons with the Tigers to be eligible for the draft.
“He wanted to get back in the draft,” Johnson said. “That is his goal, to get back in that arena and see what happens.”
“It was a personal decision,” Marshall wrote in a text message.
A source close to the LSU program said Marshall informed the staff of the decision Friday and that it “came as a complete shock.”
Johnson said Marshall called the coach at about noon Friday with the news.
“He told me, ‘I’m leaving. Do you have a spot?’ ” Johnson said. “It was a big surprise to us. When that call came today, we were happy to get it. I hate it for LSU.”
Marshall, a Georgia native rated one of the top 50 prospects nationally, was expected to compete for a spot in LSU’s weekend starting rotation after the Houston Astros failed to sign him following a last-minute ordeal in July.
Marshall, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder, had expected to receive an offer of $1.5 million from the Astros on the signing day deadline, July 18, but it never came because the franchise couldn’t ink No. 1 pick Brady Aiken.
“Mac has decided to take a different career path, so we wish him well,” Mainieri said in the statement. The coach declined comment through a text message.
LSU begins the fall season Oct. 6.
The Tigers’ signing class includes five other pitchers, most of them highly rated power arms. The group is headlined by Jake Latz, a hard-throwing lefty from Illinois, and righty Jake Godfrey.
“This development in no way diminishes our enthusiasm for this recruiting class that was rated No. 1 in the country,” Mainieri said in the statement. “We’re going to have an excellent team, and this class will make a huge impact upon our success.”
Meanwhile, Marshall will be tossing pitches at Chipola, a powerhouse program on the panhandle of Florida and about four hours from Marshall’s home in Lilburn, Georgia.
Chipola won the junior college national title in 2007 and has been to the junior college world series three times in Johnson’s 18 years. Johnson said he has coached 14 players who advanced to the big leagues.
The Astros nearly signed Marshall in July, but his situation tied directly into Aiken’s.
Aiken and the Astros didn’t reach a deal, meaning the team lost nearly $8 million in signing money that came with the first-round selection. It left them nothing to fling at Marshall and sealed a surprising result: LSU kept 11 of its 12-member freshman signing class.
That’s now 10.
The class is still stacked, and Baseball America’s national reporter, Aaron Fitt, wrote Friday that the group “may still be” No. 1 in the land.