Mainieri Welcomes 2015 Roster; Announces Schedule

LSU head coach Paul Mainieri with four of the eight freshmen who were on hand.
LSU head coach Paul Mainieri with four of the eight freshmen who were on hand.
Steve Franz
Bill Franques
Bill Franques
Communications Sr. Associate

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Coach Paul Mainieri  announced on Monday LSU’s incoming signing class, rated the No. 1 class in the nation by Perfect Game. Eight of the 12 new players enrolled at LSU last month, and the remaining four will join the Tigers in August.

“This is as good a class put together as is possible under the current NCAA rules governing roster sizes, scholarships, etc.,” Mainieri said. “We sort of gambled and went after some really talented players that we knew would be draft risks who would possibly not ever make it to campus. However, in the months since they all signed with us last November, in the conversations we had with them and the actions they were displaying, I could start to sense this was a different group in that they would openly express their desire to be here, be a part of LSU, and understood the significance of being an LSU baseball player. And that’s what you dream of as a coach and what you want in the players’ attitudes as they join your team.”

Perfect Game rates LSU’s class No. 1, followed by Arkansas, Miami (Fla.), Florida, South Carolina, UCLA, Virginia, Oregon State, North Carolina and Florida International. The class includes seven pitchers and five position players, and five of the new Tigers were selected in the 2014 MLB Draft.

“First of all, our top priority was we needed to add to our pitching staff some power arms that we thought could really make a difference,” Mainieri said, “and I feel we accomplished that goal as well as we could possibly have dreamed of doing. We’ve got a few guys that have the potential to be the next Kevin Gausman or Aaron Nola for us. Secondly, we needed to fill the voids created from losing some very good everyday players from the last two years. I couldn’t be happier than having these five position players join our group of athletes.”

The class was assembled by former recruiting coordinator Javi Sanchez, who departed LSU earlier this month to begin a career in business.

“What a tremendous parting gift Javi Sanchez left for the LSU Baseball program by orchestrating this class, which I truly believe may be the best in the country,” Mainieri said.

The Tigers begin fall semester classes on August 25 and will engage in conditioning drills and individual workouts. LSU begins its six-week, full-squad fall practice session on Monday, October 6. The 2015 season starts on February 13 when the Tigers play host to Kansas in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

LSU Signees Selected in 2014 MLB Draft
3rd rd. (97), Bobby Bradley, 1B, Cleveland Indians (signed with Indians)
11th rd. (324), Jake Latz, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays (enrolled at LSU)
16th rd. (474), Mike Papierski, C, Toronto Blue Jays (enrolled at LSU)
21st rd. (616), Mac Marshall, LHP, Houston Astros (enrolled at LSU)
21st rd. (643), Jake Godfrey, RHP, Atlanta Braves (enrolled at LSU)
39th rd. (1183), Grayson Byrd, SS, Atlanta Braves (enrolled at LSU)

LSU Players Selected in 2014 MLB Draft
1st rd. (7), Aaron Nola, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (signed with Phillies)
6th rd. (175), Tyler Moore, C/IF, New York Mets (signed with Mets)
15th rd. (459), Joe Broussard, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (signed with Dodgers)
30th rd. (886), Sean McMullen, OF, Houston Astros (signed with Astros)
36th rd. (1090), Nate Fury, RHP, Detroit Tigers (signed with Tigers)

LSU Coach Paul Mainieri
July 21, 2014

Opening Statement…
“This is obviously a day that is important for our future. Normally we introduce our new roster and schedule for next season. We have an additional item on our agenda today. It is a day where we have a variety of emotions. Although Andy Cannizaro is joining the staff, and we are very excited about that, today is also an opportunity for us to say goodbye to Javi Sanchez. He has been a loyal member of our staff for the past seven years.”

On the 2015 schedule…
“We are playing a series with a Big 12 opponent, Kansas, to open the season. This may be the toughest opening series we’ve had in my nine years here as a coach. We’ve had some other tough ones like Maryland a couple years ago. Kansas is really an up-and-coming program. They gave a lot of fits to some SEC teams. I think they played in the same regional as Kentucky and took them to the wire. We will have a great series opener next February.

“We also have a series with Boston College, an ACC opponent. We are looking forward to that as well. They will be another first time opponent. For the first time, we are going to Houston to play at a major league ballpark, the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park. We will have a round robin tournament. It is a very exciting schedule outside of conference play. Playing ULL in the Wally Pontiff Jr. Memorial game at Zephyr Field will be a real highlight. As you know, ULL had a tremendous season this past year. For the SEC schedule, we open up with Ole Miss, a team who played in the College World Series last year. They are big rivals of ours. We finish the season at South Carolina. Maybe history will repeat itself and we can clinch another SEC championship in Columbia, South Carolina like we did a couple years ago. In between, it will be a very demanding grind of an SEC schedule.”

On the new roster and 2015 recruiting class…
“We are a couple players over our limit right now. Those things will work out in the next couple months and fall practice. I am very proud to introduce 12 members of our new class. This is a wonderful class. I know every year coaches stand up and talk about how excited they are about their new class, but this really is an amazing group. We have been fortunate to have the No. 1 ranked recruiting class twice in my tenure here. My very first year and the 2011 class were No. 1. There is no doubt in my mind this is a No. 1 ranked recruiting class. When the rankings come out this fall, I think they should show that. This is a very talented group of players. It’s not a huge class. Twelve players is probably the smallest class we’ve ever had, but top to bottom it is very balanced.”

On the upcoming LSU pitching staff for 2015…
“Our major goal was to bring in power arms and guys who would step in and really make a difference. I think we succeeded in that. I can’t wait to see (LSU pitching coach) Alan Dunn perform his magic with these guys. I think we have the best pitching coach in the country with Alan Dunn. He’s going to roll up his sleeves. He’s salivating over the opportunity to work with these guys. He will get the best out of them, and the best out of them will be very special. In addition to the six freshmen arms and (JUCO transfer) Collin Strall, we have a few guys back from injuries. I think our pitching staff will be deep this year, and this fall will be a very competitive fall.”

On Javi Sanchez’s contribution to the new recruiting class…
Javi Sanchez worked so diligently, so hard by communicating with these guys and evaluating these guys. This is going to be his lasting legacy with the LSU baseball program. I think they will make a huge difference in the program.”

On Javi Sanchez leaving LSU…
“As Javi leaves the program, obviously I have very mixed emotions about that. He is a very dear friend of mine and always will be. He played for me for four years at Notre Dame. He was a tremendous competitor and teammate. He gave everything he had to the program there. We would have not gone to the World Series without his performance back in 2002. When we wanted to convert him from infielder to catcher, he did so with an open heart. Then I convinced him to join our staff here. He did a tremendous job for seven years. When Javi decided he wanted out of the coaching profession, it created a little bit of heartbreak for me. I have been with him and seen him almost every day for eleven years of our lives. We wish he, his wife Michelle, and his daughter Valentina all the best as they go on to the new challenges of their lives.”

On hiring new recruiting coordinator/hitting coach Andy Cannizaro
“Losing Javi has been a very traumatic thing for me, but I think the thing that has allowed the blow to be softened a little bit is the opportunity to bring in Andy Cannizaro as our new assistant coach, recruiting coordinator and hitting coach. When I went out and talked to people about Andy Cannizaro, it reminded me of how I talked to people about Alan Dunn. I couldn’t find anybody to not say the great superlatives that you could imagine. That’s how it was when I did research on Alan Dunn, and that’s how it was when I did research on Andy Cannizaro. He is well respected among baseball people on every level. High school coaches, travel team coaches, scouts, his former coach, coaches he played against, and so many different people said this would be a grand slam hire for us. If experience were a major factor, we would have never sent anybody to the moon. That is the way I look at it. Andy Cannizaro is a baseball guy. He is an evaluator. He was a great player who grinded his way to the major leagues. When he stopped playing at 30 years old, he became a professional baseball scout. I talked to the people with the New York Yankees, and they all said he was a rising star in the Yankee organization. Andy’s goal was to get into college coaching. I thought this was a great opportunity for him. Obviously he thought that, too. I know Andy is going to do an outstanding job with our players and be an outstanding recruiter.”




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