Wednesday night, after all three days and 50 rounds of the Major League Baseball draft had passed, Paul Mainieri said he was certain of only one thing.
“It’s going to be a long summer,” he said. “A typical summer for an LSU baseball coach.”
He still has plenty more work to do this week.
Mainieri said that this weekend, he’ll be in Charlotte, N.C., to serve as a studio analyst for ESPNU’s coverage of the NCAA super regionals.
In the meantime, he is scheduled to interview at least one candidate - Baltimore Orioles minor league pitching coordinator Alan Dunn - in his search for a new pitching coach (Mainieri declined to name a front-runner for the job, however).
Mainieri said he feels confident he’ll have a new pitching coach before the end of the week, adding that if he didn’t, “I wouldn’t be getting on a plane.”
Then there was the final day of the MLB draft.
By Wednesday night, six LSU underclassmen had been drafted, along with eight LSU signees. That adds up to 14 - and in the era of 35-man rosters, Mainieri said, that’s a lot.
“I’m not a great mathematician, but if I’m not mistaken, that’s almost half your team,” he said. “Who can you count on? Who’s going to be back? Who’s not going to be back?”
That’s the real trick - anticipating how many players might sign professional contracts, and how many of them opt to be on campus next fall.
Solving that equation may have gotten a little tougher Wednesday when the Toronto Blue Jays selected junior shortstop Austin Nola in the 31st round.
Toronto, of course, was the team that drafted Nola’s younger brother, Catholic High pitcher Aaron Nola, in the 22nd round.
Both players were taken far lower than projected, possibly because MLB clubs balked at their asking prices.
The Nolas have spoken several times about the possibility of playing together at LSU.
Now, at least theoretically, the brothers could play together somewhere in the Blue Jays’ organization.
“I think the pro draft is one of the more bizarre events that happens,” Mainieri said. “I don’t think the round matters. If an organization wants to buy a player in, they can do that.”
Asked if he thought the Nolas were a little closer to going pro Wednesday, Mainieri paused.
“I wouldn’t fathom a guess,” he said.
“I have enough faith in the Nola family that they’ll make a smart, educated decision, and they’ll do what they feel is best. If they decide that they want to sign professional contracts, they will have thought that decision out. ... They’re smart people, and they care about the right things.”
LSU infielders Raph Rhymes (Pirates) and Tyler Hanover (Yankees) were both drafted in the 40th round.
The only LSU signee drafted Wednesday was Carson Baranik, a right-hander from Parkway High in Bossier City, who went to the Cincinnati Reds in the 41st round.
After he was passed over on the second day, Baranik posted on his Twitter account that “this made the decision very easy,” adding that he is bound for LSU.
But draftees can wait until Aug. 15 to sign pro contracts.
That’s what makes the summer so long for college coaches like Mainieri, who’s in need of a rebound year after missing the SEC and NCAA tournaments.
“How can you prepare for everything that happens until Aug. 15? Do I make plans to replace all 14 (draftees)? Do I make plans to be ready for half? I don’t know,” Mainieri said.
“It’s a tough balancing act. It’s the toughest part of the job. You don’t want to assume someone is leaving, then have them come back and not have a place for them.”
Local draft picks
Southern outfielder Rodarrick Jones, who sat out this season after transferring from the University of New Orleans, was taken by the Pirates in the 37th round.
Two Southern signees - junior-college right-hander Jose Rivera (21st round, to Baltimore) and infielder Julio Torres (45th round, to Minnesota) - were also drafted, giving longtime coach Roger Cador reason for concern.
“This is part of the challenge that you have as a coach,” Cador said. “But I want that challenge. It’s better to have that challenge than not have it.”
A pair of Zachary natives were also drafted Wednesday.
Southeastern Louisiana right-hander Brandon Efferson went to the Los Angeles Angels in the 37th round.
Left-hander Taylor Guilbeau, an Alabama signee, went to the Yankees in the 39th round.
Notre Dame-Crowley pitcher Austin Robichaux - son of Louisiana-Lafayette coach Tony Robichaux - was the final local player drafted, in the 50th round, by the Cincinnati Reds.