After the deadline for players selected in the Major League Baseball draft to sign professionally passed Monday night, LSU’s recruiting class looked a lot like its group of returning players - heavy on pitching.
Even after left-hander Jake Cave, a sixth-round pick, signed with the New York Yankees on Monday, four of the five Tigers recruits who were drafted but did not sign were pitchers.
When All-America outfielder Mikie Mahtook, a first-round pick, signed with the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, it left pitching as the centerpiece of the returning players as well.
“I think pitchers are going to make a serious impact on our team,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said Tuesday.
Mainieri said freshman left-hander Cody Glenn of Houston, a 15th-round selection who spurned the Toronto Blue Jays, “has a chance to really be something special.”
“He’s a good-looking prospect,” Mainieri said. “He just set such a high price for himself that it was going to be almost impossible for them to meet him. ? I feel very fortunate that we were able to hold on to him.”
Right-hander Nicholas Goody of Orlando is one of five junior-college recruits in the class after turning down the Yankees, who selected him in the 22nd round.
“As much as anybody, I’m excited about Nicholas Goody coming into school,” Mainieri said. “He was an infielder that became a pitcher and really blossomed as a pitcher.”
Mainieri said Goody was a dominant closer in the Northwoods Summer League, a role he envisions Goody having with the Tigers.
Mainieri called former Catholic High right-hander Aaron Nola’s earlier decision to enroll at LSU after being picked in the 22nd round by the Blue Jays “obviously the highlight of the summer.”
“I think Aaron is going to be outstanding,” Mainieri said. “I think he’s going to be able to help us right from the get-go. He’s a strike-throwing machine. He’s pitched in the big games in high school. He knows what LSU baseball is all about. I’m really thrilled about him being here.”
Aaron Nola joins his brother Austin, a shortstop who is entering his senior season after passing on the Blue Jays, who picked him in the 31st round.
The fourth pitching recruit who was drafted but will enroll is right-hander Carson Baranik of Bossier City, a 41st-round selection of the Cincinnati Reds.
The recruits join a talented trio of sophomore starters in Ryan Eades, Kurt McCune and Kevin Gausman.
“I think it’s an extremely talented team, particularly on the mound,” Mainieri said. “This might be the deepest pitching staff that I have ever had as a coach. I’m excited to see what (first-year pitching coach) Alan Dunn does with this staff because we have a chance and maybe a need to be a dominant pitching staff come spring time.”
Mainieri said he thinks the lone position player among the drafted recruits who will enroll - outfielder Arby Fields - will “make a major impact on our team.”
Fields will compete with JaCoby Jones and former Catholic outfielder Chris Sciambra to replace Mahtook in center field.
Mainieri said the Tigers will have 40 players on their roster for fall camp.
“We’ll have to make some decisions before our first game in February about who will be our final 35-man roster,” he said.
Mainieri said he wasn’t “on pins and needles” on Monday night because he expected Mahtook to sign and that Cave had told him two weeks ago that he planned to sign.
“Everything played out exactly the way I thought it would play out,” he said.
It was widely assumed that Mahtook would turn pro after the Rays selected him with the 31st overall pick. The Rays said they gave Mahtook a $1.15 million signing bonus..
“He was a first-round draft choice and he was offered over a million dollars,” Mainieri said. “I could not in good conscience encourage him not to take that. I only wanted what was best for Mikie, and if he felt - and I happen to agree with him - if he felt that this was the time for him to start his professional career, he had my 100 percent support.”
The Yankees showed how badly they wanted Cave by giving him a signing bonus of $825,000, which was $75,000 more than they gave their first-round draft choice.
Mainieri said he appreciated Cave letting him know of his intention to sign before it happened.
“We knew there was some risk there,” Mainieri said. “We hoped, but it didn’t work out in our favor and we wish Jake the best of luck.”
The Tigers had previously lost two right-handers who had remaining eligibility - Tyler Jones (11th round, Minnesota Twins) and Matty Ott (13th round, Boston Red Sox). LSU had previously lost two recruits at shortstop - Trevor Story (45th pick overall, Rockies) and Johnny Eierman (third round, Rays).