LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri was searching for a special arm.
He found it.
Collin Strall, a sidearm-throwing right-hander, signed his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday with LSU and will join the Tigers’ 2014 class.
Strall, a 5-foot-10, 170-pounder from Suwanee, Georgia, outside of Atlanta, spent last season as a reliever at Tallahassee (Florida) Community College. He has three years of eligibility left and will report to Baton Rouge in August.
Projected as a bullpen guy, Strall signed after closer Joe Broussard informed Mainieri on Wednesday of his decision to forgo his senior year and sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Strall is one of seven new pitchers who will join a team that struggled with pitching depth last season. He’s different from all of the rest. Strall has a sidearm delivery. Mainieri said the pitcher clocks in the mid-to-upper-80s but has strong movement. Mainieri and pitching coach Alan Dunn plan to change Strall’s delivery from sidearm to submarine — a pitcher whose release comes well below the waist.
“It’s something I thought we needed, (to) have somebody a little different, cut out of a little different mold,” Mainieri said. “It’s something unique.”
Strall went to high school at South Forsyth. He had an ERA of 2.54 in 60.1 innings pitched at Tallahassee Community College last season. He struck out 63 and finished 7-2 on the mound. He started just one game.
Strall gives LSU 38 players on its roster, three more than the NCAA maximum. Mainieri said the roster will be cut after the fall season.
Strall is the 13th member of the 2014 signing class, though the Tigers have lost one of those to the MLB draft — first baseman Bobby Bradley of Gulfport, Mississippi.
Six of the 12 remaining signees are on campus. That list includes left-handed pitcher Mac Marshall, righties Doug Norman and Austin Bain, brothers Beau and Bryce Jordan and infielder Grayson Byrd.
Strall will report when school begins in August. Left-hander Jake Latz and catcher Michael Papierski will arrive to campus following their high school seasons next week.
Brother Martin shortstop Greg Deichmann and right-hand pitcher Alex Lange are playing together this summer for the Midland Redskins in Cincinnati. Right-hander Jake Godfrey, also still playing his high school season, will join the team in August.
At least two of the freshmen passed on signing pro contracts worth around $1 million, Mainieri said. Though they have given their commitments to play at LSU, they can still sign. The deadline is July 18.
LSU began recruiting Strall late in the spring.
Once Broussard agreed to forgo his senior year, Mainieri offered Strall, and the pitcher immediately accepted. The school received a binding letter of intent from him.
Broussard: time to move on
Broussard agreed to terms with the Dodgers on Wednesday and was expected to sign Thursday at the franchise’s spring training headquarters in Arizona.
“I figured it was time for me to move on. We had a good season. It’s going to be hard to leave LSU,” said the 23-year-old Broussard. “People in that program have done so much for me. I wouldn’t be in a place I am right now without them.”
Broussard would not reveal his signing bonus but said it was “enough to get me started and help me through pro ball.”
The Dodgers selected Broussard in the 15th round of last week’s MLB first-year player draft. He’ll likely start his pro career in Utah with the Ogden Raptors, one of the Dodgers’ rookie ball teams.
Broussard, a fourth-year junior from Gretna, finished the season with eight saves and a 1.05 ERA. Primarily a fastball pitcher, Broussard hovered in the low-to-mid-90s. He struggled some late in the year, but served as a solid closer for much of the season.
Reliever Zac Person joins starting pitcher Kyle Bouman as healthy LSU pitchers who will not pitch in summer ball this season. Person, like Bouman, is taking summer classes in Baton Rouge. … Mainieri is rooting for Virginia in the College World Series, which begins Saturday in Omaha. Cavaliers coach Brian O’Connor worked as an assistant for Mainieri while he coached at Notre Dame.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv. For more coverage of LSU baseball, follow our Line Drives blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/linedrives/.