Baseball in Louisiana is synonymous with the state’s major university, Louisiana State, and for good reason. The Tigers won their sixth College World Series championship last June and first since 2000, while coincidentally opening up spectacular new Alex Box Stadium. Coach Paul Mainieri’s 2010 squad looks every bit as talented as last year’s 56-17 team.
LSU’s title defense will start with righthander Anthony Ranaudo, considered by many to be the top college prospect in the 2010 draft class. Ranaudo will take over from righthander Louis Coleman (14-2 last year) as the lead pitcher on what appears to be a deeper staff than 2009.
Last year’s freshman sensation, righthander Matty Ott (4-2, 16 SV), will bring back his devastating slider to the back of the bullpen for the Tigers. Senior first baseman/outfielder Blake Dean and All-American catcher Micah Gibbs, both projected early-round selections, will lead the offense.
Tulane appears to be the only other school from the Bayou State capable of breaking into PGCrosschecker.com’s preseason Top 100 college teams (to be unveiled in February). The Green Wave, which continues to recover from the damage and aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina, managed a 34-25 record last year despite costly injuries to third baseman/righthander Rob Segedin and righthander Robbie Broach, both of whom return healthy this season.
Katrina may have taken an even greater toll on the baseball program at New Orleans, which is facing the prospects of downgrading to the NCAA Division III level.
From a scouting standpoint, one of the big baseball stories in Louisiana baseball is the continuing emergence of LSU-Eunice as a major source of junior-college talent. Even though LSU-E plays at the Division II level in the National Junior College Athletic Association ranks, it clearly has fielded some of the best talent nationally in the last 2-3 years.
Before LSU-E started its baseball program in 2000, Delgado was the only junior-college baseball program in the state. Along with a 51-12 record and third-place finish at the NJCAA Division II World Series, the Bengels had seven players move on to Division I schools, including righthander Joey Bourgeois, projected to be LSU’s No. 2 starter this spring. Rightander Tony Dischler and lefthander Mitch Hopkins are both hard throwers on this year’s club, with Dischler touching a reported 98 mph this fall. He should be one of the top junior-college drafts in June, possibly as early as the second- or third round.
Three Louisiana high-school prospects are ranked among the top 100 in the country, according to PGCrosschecker.com. Shortstop Garin Cecchini (Barbe HS, Lake Charles) is the highest ranked at No. 31 and has impressed scouts with his powerful lefthanded swing and advanced approach at the plate. Outfielder Austin Southall (University HS, Baton Rouge), ranked No. 51, is another power-hitting lefthander, while righthander Ryan Eades (Northshore HS, Mandeville), ranked No. 91, is the state’s top pitching prospect.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Cecchini, Southall and Eades have all committed to Louisiana State.
With that as a backdrop, here’s an overview of how we see the talent stacking up in the Louisiana college ranks (excluding the junior colleges) in 2010.
LOUISIANA: IN A NUTSHELL
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