Draft : : State Preview
Tuesday, May 01, 2012

State Preview: Louisiana

David Rawnsley        
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as well as providing scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.

Contributing: Allan Simpson/Ben Collman

Louisiana State-by-State List
2011 Louisiana Overview

Louisiana Overview:
Thin Year For LSU, With Gausman The Notable Exception

The overall quality of prospects and the time that cross-checkers spend in Louisiana each spring is usually heavily dependent on the talent assembled by Louisiana State, the nation’s most-dominant college program over the last two decades. On that count, this is not a banner year for the Tigers but a surprisingly good one overall for the state.

LSU may have only one player selected in the top five or six rounds of this year’s draft, but he is a prominent one in righthander Kevin Gausman, one of the leading candidates to go No. 1 overall. Meanwhile, there are at least five other Louisiana prospects beyond Gausman who have a legitimate chance to go in the top three rounds, four of whom are high-school products. That’s in stark contrast to 2011, when the state produced just two picks in the first 10 rounds.

In the waning weeks until the 2012 draft, the competition to go first overall is one of the most-turbulent and uncertain in years, and Gausman, a Colorado native, appears to have as good a chance as anyone to be that selection, which would make him the first Louisiana player to be selected No. 1 since LSU righthander Ben McDonald in 1989. One of Gausman’s strengths this spring has been his consistency from start to start, and also during the course of a game, even as he shifted from a curveball to a slider as his primary breaking pitch.

Gausman aside, the real strength of the 2012 Louisiana draft class lies in the depth and quality of the high-school talent. Barbe High shortstop Gavin Cecchini and Acadiana High catcher Stryker Trahan have given scouts a perfect opportunity to double up and see both on the same day as they play for teams just down the road from one another along Interstate-10. On two occasions this spring, they have played head-to-head.

Should Cecchini and Trahan both be drafted in the first round, as projected, and assuming Gausman is a lock to go in the same round, it would mark only the third time in Louisiana draft history that a trio of in-state products had been taken in the first round, and only the third time, as well, that multiple high-school players from the prep ranks went in the top round. That previously occurred in 1996, when ex-big leaguer Gil Meche was one of three Louisiana high-school players to go in the first-round; and 1969, when J.R. Richard (the second overall pick that year) was one of two.

A look ahead to 2013 shows more of the same kind of talent on the way. LSU sophomore righthander Ryan Eades is Gausman’s near-equal as a prospect and an early candidate to be a top-5 pick. Terrebonne High third baseman Justin Williams might have the most-powerful bat among all high-school hitters in the class, and is projected as a first-rounder as well.

Louisiana in a nutshell:

Premium high-school position prospects.
WEAKNESS: College position prospects.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 5.

Louisiana State.
BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Barbe HS, Lake Charles.

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Colin Rodgers, lhp, Parkview Baptist HS, Baton Rouge.
All the projected top-round Louisiana draft prospects were well-established prior to the 2012 season, and have pretty much lived up to expectations. Rodgers is the one player that has improved his stock, to a possible top-3-round selection. At 6-feet and 180 pounds, he isn’t the most-physical pitching prospect around but his arm works very well and his three-pitch mix has been very consistent all spring. Lefthanders have obvious extra value to teams, as well.

WILD CARD: Raph Rhymes, of, Louisiana State University.
Rhymes has previously been eligible for the draft three times and the highest he has ever been picked was last year by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 40th round. Yet he could go as early as the sixth or seventh rounds this year as his staggering .500 batting average through games of April leads NCAA Division I hitters by a wide margin. A combination of Rhymes’ extraordinary hitting ability and the artificial leverage he may gain in a new draft process as a 22-year-old, fourth-year junior should provide him significant value well beyond his average run, throw and power tools—particularly if a team believes he is going to hit professional pitching in the same way that he has dominated college pitching this spring.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Louisiana Connection:
J.T. Chargois, rhp, Rice University (Attended high school in Sulphur).
Top 2013 Prospect: Ryan Eades, rhp, Louisiana State University.
Top 2014 Prospect: Aaron Nola, rhp, Louisiana State University.


Draft History:
Danny Goodwin, c, Southern University (1975, Angels/1st round, 1st pick); Ben McDonald, rhp, Louisiana State University (1989, Orioles/1st round, 1st pick).
2006 Draft: Ryan Adams, 3b, Jesuit HS, Mandeville (Orioles/2nd round).
2007 Draft: Brian Rike, of, Louisiana Tech (Rockies/2nd round).
2008 Draft: Shooter Hunt, rhp, Tulane University (Twins/1st round, 31st pick).
2009 Draft: Jared Mitchell, of, Louisiana State University (White Sox/1st round, 23rd round).
2010 Draft: Anthony Ranaudo, rhp, Louisiana State University (Red Sox/1st round, 39th pick).
2011 Draft: Mikie Mahtook, of, Louisiana State University (Rays/1st round, 31st pick).


College Players Drafted/Signed:
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 3/1.
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 9/1.


Best Athlete:
Stryker Trahan, c, Acadiana HS, Scott.
Best Hitter: Raph Rhymes, of, Louisiana State University.
Best Power: Kolby Copeland, of, Parkway HS, Bossier City.
Best Speed: Stryker Trahan, c, Acadiana HS, Scott.
Best Defender: Gavin Cecchini, ss, Barbe HS, Lake Charles; Austin Nola, ss, Louisiana State University.
Best Velocity: Mason Melotakis, lhp, Northwestern State University.
Best Breaking Stuff: Kevin Gausman, rhp, Louisiana State University.
Best Pitchability: Nick Goody, rhp, Louisiana State University.


(Projected ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)

1. KEVIN GAUSMAN, rhp, Louisiana State University (So.)
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Gausman was drafted in the sixth round out of a Colorado high school in 2009, but passed up on a potential seven-figure bonus to enroll at LSU, knowing he would be draft-eligible as a sophomore in two years. He was predictably inconsistent as a freshman when thrust immediately into LSU’s weekend rotation against Southeastern Conference competition, but improved steadily and finished 2011 with a 5-6, 3.51 record, along with 23 walks and 86 strikeouts in 90 innings. He then pitched well last summer in both the Cape Cod League and for USA Baseball’s college national team, and has continued that improvement this spring in going 7-1, 3.12 with 20 walks and 97 strikeouts in 75 innings for the Tigers. Greater success has coincidentally come to Gausman after he replaced his curveball as his primary breaking pitch in favor of a slider that immediately showed plus future potential. His fastball has been steadily in the mid-90s this spring, and frequently topped out at 97-98 mph, even in the late innings. Scouts have commented, though, that he can do a better job of pitching down in the strike zone with the pitch, and while his changeup grades out as a third potential plus pitch, he could use it more aggressively. Gausman is now considered a strong candidate to be among the first five picks overall, maybe even No. 1, which would certainly justify his decision two years ago to pitch in college before going pro.

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