LSU likely lost another junior Wednesday, but the Tigers kept a signee.
First baseman Chris Chinea was drafted in the 17th round by the St. Louis Cardinals and is expected to sign a professional contract and forgo his senior season. Meanwhile, infielder signee Trey Dawson passed on $650,000 to come to school, coach Paul Mainieri said.
Dawson, a highly touted prospect from West Virginia, is expected to compete for the job of replacing Alex Bregman at shortstop. A team made a third-round offer to Dawson for $650,000 Tuesday, but he declined — something that coaches expected him to do. He said last week that his sights were set on attending college.
“It’s going to take a lot for me not to go to LSU,” Dawson said then.
Dawson’s pro rejection means the Tigers will likely keep 14 of their 16-man 2015 signing class — about what the staff had expected. Junior college players Mitch Piatnik, an infielder, and Jacob Taylor, a lefty pitcher, were picked in the draft Tuesday, and Mainieri expects both to sign pro deals.
Right-handed pitcher Cole McKay of Texas, an LSU signee, was picked by the Detroit Tigers in the 30th round Wednesday, but he announced Sunday that he’d be coming to school. McKay, the No. 96-ranked prospect according to Baseball America, was asking for a high signing bonus.
Detroit could still offer McKay a large signing bonus despite the 30th-round selection, but it’s unlikely he’ll sign. Dawson was drafted in the 32nd round — also by Detroit.
Chinea is expected to go pro. He was in the batting cages before Wednesday’s practice when he became the eighth LSU player to get drafted this week.
“(Christian) Ibarra had my phone, so he ran down to the cages and told me about it. I didn’t know I got picked, so I had to find out after,” Chinea said. “They’re my favorite team now. They’ve given me an opportunity, and now I have to go out there and compete.”
Dawson will do the same — just in college. He was expected to compete with Piatnik and a handful of current LSU players for the job to replace Bregman.
“He’ll have every opportunity to win the job. We recruited him because we thought he was good. We have big hopes, big expectations for him,” Mainieri said. “For some players, they don’t want to follow Bregman. I don’t know if that was part of Piatnik’s motivation or not. I know Dawson’s not afraid. I can tell you that.”
Conner Hale might be closer to any TCU player than anyone from LSU. After all, he lived with one of their pitchers.
Hale, LSU’s third baseman, lived with TCU pitcher Alex Young while the two played on the same summer ball team last summer in Cape Cod. Young started the Horned Frogs’ 5-4, 16-inning win over Texas A&M on Monday so the chances are slim that LSU (53-10) will see him in the game against TCU (49-13) to open the College World Series on Sunday.
“We’re pretty good friends. I called him last night and he didn’t answer. Going to call him tonight,” Hale said Wednesday.
Mainieri likely won’t announce a starting pitching rotation until Friday’s College World Series media day from TD Ameritrade Park. He said Wednesday that freshman ace Alex Lange and sophomore Jared Poché will pitch the first two games at the CWS on Sunday and Tuesday, but he’s not sure what order they’ll pitch. … LSU will arrive in Omaha, Nebraska, at 2 p.m. Thursday and practice at Creighton University at 3:30.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.