HOOVER, Ala.—Greg Deichmann has found new ways to impress Louisiana State coach Paul Mainieri with his power all season. Early this spring, Deichmann made a habit of hitting home runs to parts of Alex Box Stadium that aren't often reached.
"He hits some awe inspiring balls," Mainieri said. "I remember when he was at five or six home runs to start the season, every one of his home runs had something about them that just made you say 'Wow.'
"I hadn't seen anyone do some of the things he was doing."
Saturday, in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Deichmann did it again. He homered twice in LSU's 11-0 victory against South Carolina, becoming the first Tiger with a multi-homer game in the SEC Tournament since Todd Linden did so in 2001.
With the victory, No. 8 LSU advanced to Sunday's SEC Tournament championship game, where it will play No. 13 Arkansas. The Razorbacks routed No. 4 Florida, 16-0, in Saturday's second semifinal.
Deichmann is hitting .330/.437.642 with 19 home runs this season. The junior's impressive campaign has pushed him up draft boards into consideration in the first day of the draft.
Deichmann said the biggest key to his season has been understanding who he is as a hitter. Having figured that out, he has been able to develop an approach at the plate that has worked for him.
"One of the biggest things this year is trying not to expand," he said. "If they're going to pitch around me, let them pitch around me and take my walk and if they're going to come at me I can't miss my pitch."
Deichmann was a draft-eligible sophomore last season and was selected in the 26th round by the Twins. He likely would have drafted higher had he made it known he was ready to leave school, but after missing most of his freshman year due to a broken foot, he wanted the opportunity to develop more in college.
"He was ready for pro ball if he wanted to do it," Mainieri said. "Last year was really the first year he played regularly and he wanted to have that second year in college where he got to play every day."
Deichmann had a solid season last year, hitting .288/.346/.513 with 11 home runs while primarily playing first base. But he has developed into a more well-rounded, consistent player this year. He moved to right field in fall ball and has taken to his new position well, and has also improved his plate discipline. After walking 19 times and striking out 41 in 260 plate appearances last year, he has 44 walks and 48 strikeouts in 268 plate appearances this season.
"He's turned himself into an excellent right fielder," Mainieri said. "He's found a home where he's going to be able to play in pro ball. He's worked and worked and worked to make himself good at it. He runs the bases great and now as a hitter he's not afraid to take his walks."
Deichmann's decision to return, along with second baseman Cole Freeman, lefthander Jared Poche' and shortstop Kramer Robertson, has paid off. Not only has he improved his draft stock, but LSU won a share of the SEC regular season championship and will play for the conference tournament title. The Tigers will enter the NCAA Tournament as an Omaha favorite. It has been exactly the kind of year Mainieri hoped his star slugger could have.
"He's turned himself into an unbelievable prospect, I think," Mainieri said. "I think he's got a good chance to make it to the big leagues."