Paul Mainieri drove into a pharmacy parking lot Monday afternoon, pulling off the road for a video phone call with one of LSU baseball’s top recruits.
As Mainieri looked at his screen, he saw Dylan Crews.
The outfielder once considered the top prospect in his class had withdrawn from the upcoming Major League Baseball draft. He decided to come to LSU.
“I was elated,” Mainieri said. “I had a sense he might do it because every time we talked, his enthusiasm about coming to LSU seemed off the charts.”
Crews, of Longwood, Florida, ranked as a top-50 prospect in the upcoming draft, which begins June 10. Scouts last summer considered Crews one of the best high school hitters in the 2020 class. Though Crews’ stock slipped, mock drafts still placed him within the top two rounds.
“It’s been a dream of mine to get on campus and play for a great program in front of the best fans in the country,” Crews wrote on Twitter. “I look forward to re-visiting the draft process in 2023.”
Everybody has that sensory talisman or two that evokes a specific feeling — for me, it’s usually a song that takes me back to a distinct time …
Crews established himself as a top recruit early in his high school career. He earned multiple All-America recognitions, and he played for Team USA. Crews, who attended the same high school as former LSU pitcher Todd Peterson, committed to LSU in 2017 during the fall of his sophomore year.
Crews became most known for his right-handed bat. He has quick hands and power, Mainieri said. Capable of driving the ball to all parts of the field, Crews has pulled 400-foot home runs and smacked opposite-field doubles.
LSU will test Crews in center field when he arrives on campus this fall, but he may move to one of the corner outfield positions. The Tigers expect junior right fielder Daniel Cabrera to sign a professional contract. The rest of the outfield lacks an established starter.
Mainieri believes Crews will develop into a future first-round draft choice. Crews has natural talent, and he has impressed LSU coaches with his work ethic. He reminded Mainieri of former LSU shortstop Alex Bregman.
“I think he’s one of the best players in the country,” Mainieri said.
The shortest draft in Major League Baseball history and eligibility relief for spring-sport athletes has formed a complicated situation across college baseball, forcing LSU's coaches into difficult decisions as they manage roster limitations.
As the draft approaches next week, LSU waits for decisions from some of its other top recruits, including catcher Drew Romo and pitcher Ty Floyd. With the draft shortened to five rounds and high school seasons canceled this spring, professional teams may select more college players than usual.
Regardless, LSU has landed Crews. If he meets the lofty expectations that surround him, Crews may spend three years in the starting lineup.
“I’d like to thank God, all the scouts throughout the years, all the coaches that have helped me to get where I am today, and most importantly my family for all the support,” Crews wrote on Twitter. “Can’t wait to be a Tiger and compete for a national championship.”