State Report: Louisiana




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
It hasn't taken Paul Mainieri long to return Louisiana State to the elite of college baseball, as the Tigers make their second straight trip to Omaha in Mainieri's third season in Baton Rouge. LSU has four of the state's top six prospects, leading a deep group of college players from the state. Louisiana contributes its usual strong crop of high school players, with Tigers recruits Zack Von Rosenberg and Brody Colvin standing out as potential sandwich picks.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Jared Mitchell, of, Louisiana State (National Rank: 27)
2. Zack Von Rosenberg, rhp, Zachary HS (National Rank: 41)
3. Brody Colvin, rhp, St. Thomas More HS, Lafayette (National Rank: 43)
4. D.J. LeMahieu, 2b, Louisiana State (National Rank: 73)
5. Ryan Schimpf, 2b/of, Louisiana State (National Rank: 144)
6. Louis Coleman, rhp, Louisiana State (National Rank: 188)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

7. Blake Dean, of, Louisiana State
8. Josh Prince, ss, Tulane
9. Josh Zeid, rhp, Tulane
10. Sam Honeck, 1b, Tulane
11. Aaron Loup, lhp, Tulane
12. Michael Thomas, c, Southern
13. Wes Luquette, c, Isidore Newman School, New Orleans
14. Ben Soignier, ss/rhp, Louisiana-Monroe
15. Garrett Cannizaro, ss, Mandeville HS
16. Adam Brouillette, c, Louisiana-Shreveport
17. Taylor Freeman, c, McNeese State
18. Sean Ochinko, 1b, Louisiana State
19. Jon Prevost, of, Louisiana-Monroe
20. Trey Watkins, of, Louisiana State-Eunice JC
21. Brennan Middleton, ss, Parkview Baptist School, Baton Rouge
22. Brennan Flick, rhp, Louisiana State-Eunice JC
23. Taylor Rogers, rhp, Tulane
24. Zach Osborne, rhp, Louisiana-Lafayette
25. Jomar Tabor, of, Centenary
26. Zach Kirksey, of, Louisiana State-Eunice JC
27. Greg Wilborn, lhp, Louisiana-Lafayette
28. Joey Bourgeois, rhp, Louisiana State-Eunice JC
29. Seth Henry, 2b, Tulane
30. Lucas LeBlanc, of, Delgado CC
31. Dale Dickerson, rhp, Nicholls State
32. Chris Kersten, 3b, Louisiana Tech
33. Dakota Robinson, lhp, Centenary
34. Drew Graham, rhp, Louisiana-Monroe
35. Toddrick Stevenson, of, Southern
36. Chandler Laurent, of, Delgado CC
37. Dillon Day, lhp/of, Dutchtown HS, Geismar
38. Kevin Winn, 2b, Louisiana Tech
39. Ricky Imperiali, ss, Centenary
40. Jimmy Heard, rhp, Northwestern State
41. Nick Schwaner, 3b, New Orleans

SCOUTING REPORTS

JARED MITCHELL, OF, LOUISIANA STATE

Mitchell wanted $1 million to give up football and sign out of high school, when he flashed first-round talent and dropped to the Twins in the 10th round because of signability. Three years later, he has put himself in position to go in the first round and receive that seven-figure bonus. Louisiana State football coach Les Miles gave Mitchell the spring off to focus on baseball, and the extra work has paid off. The best athlete in college baseball, Mitchell is an electric 6-foot, 192-pounder with plus-plus speed and power potential. He was hitting a career-high .325 entering the College World Series, and he has dramatically improved his plate discipline. He still strikes out a lot because he concentrates so much on taking pitches that he often falls behind in the count. His swing needs work too, as he'll have to spread out for more balance and use less of an uppercut in pro ball. Mitchell flies down the line from the left side and steals bases on sheer speed, and he'll be a terror once he gets better reads and jumps. He plays right field for Louisiana State but easily has enough range to move to center. His defense also needs refinement, as he tends to drift on fly balls. His arm is his lone below-average tool, but it will play fine in center field. A reserve wide receiver on the Tigers' 2007 national championship football team, Mitchell has a passion for baseball and is ready to give up the gridiron. He'll need more development time than most college players, but he also has the potential to become the next Carl Crawford.

ZACK VON ROSENBERG, RHP, ZACHARY HS

Von Rosenberg doesn't light up radar guns like fellow Louisiana high school righthander Brody Colvin, but he's a much more polished pitcher with an exceptional track record of winning at the prep level. Von Rosenberg won state championships and pitched the clincher in each of his four seasons, a 5-A title at Barbe in 2006 and 4-A titles at Zachary the last three years. He has advanced command of three solid pitches: an 88-91 mph fastball with good life, a curveball with nice depth and a changeup with deception. He has a 6-foot-5, 205-pound frame and a clean delivery, so his velocity should increase, especially when he stops playing shortstop when he's not pitching. He did work in the low 90s more regularly late in the spring, and some area scouts prefer him to Colvin. Both players have scholarships from Louisiana State that they'll likely turn down when they go in the first two rounds of the draft.

BRODY COLVIN, RHP, ST. THOMAS MORE HS, LAFAYETTE

Colvin lacks polish and consistency, but he sure looks like a first-rounder when he's on top of his game. He has an extremely quick arm that delivers fastballs up to 94 mph, and there's more velocity remaining in his sculpted 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame. Scouts project that he'll sit at 92-94 mph and touch 96 once he fills out. Colvin's fastball dances and sinks so much that he has trouble controlling it. His No. 2 pitch is a hard curveball with 11-to-5 break that can be unhittable at times. He's still developing feel for his changeup. Colvin stabs in the back of his delivery and throws across his body, so he'll need to clean up his mechanics, which should help with his command. His athleticism—he has average speed and power potential as an outfielder—bodes well for his ability to make the necessary adjustments. Focusing all his efforts on pitching will help too. Colvin came down with blisters at the end of the season, and he topped out at 92 mph in a 11-3 rout at the hands of Byrd High in a Louisiana 5-A first-round playoff game. He has committed to Louisiana State.

D.J. LeMAHIEU, 2B, LOUISIANA STATE

LeMahieu looked like a first-round pick last summer when he starred in the Cape Cod League. Scouts saw enough athleticism in his lanky 6-foot-4, 193-pound frame to think he could play shortstop, and they liked his power potential. But he hasn't played up to that level this spring. Though LeMahieu hit .340 entering the College World Series and sparked Louisiana State's offense from the leadoff spot, scouts expected him to deliver more than four home runs. He employs an inside-out, opposite-field approach, so he should have more power if he turns on more pitches. Scouts also have noted that his swing seems slower and longer this spring. They also think LeMahieu now has no chance at playing shortstop, as he has looked more methodical and less explosive. The Tigers concurred, moving him to second base at midseason after they had trouble turning double plays. His arm has regressed, too, and at shortstop he would need a full windup to make longer throws. A fringe-average runner, LeMahieu may not have the quick feet for second base, either, and he'd have to produce a lot more power if he shifted to third base or the outfield. Further complicating matters is the extra leverage he possesses as a draft-eligible sophomore. Enough scouting directors saw LeMahieu play well on the Cape that he still should get picked in the second or third round, and he may be signable if he goes that high.

RYAN SCHIMPF, 2B/OF, LOUISIANA STATE

No one is projecting Schimpf as a future American League MVP, but his game is reminiscent of Dustin Pedroia's. Schimpf is a diminutive (listed at 5-foot-9, 181 pounds) second baseman who's a force at the plate. Schimpf would have led the Valley League in batting (.392) and slugging (.763) last summer if he hadn't fell short of qualifying because he arrived late from the College World Series, and he led Louisiana State with 19 homers entering this year's CWS. Schimpf hits lefthanded and has a shorter stroke than Pedroia's, and uses excellent pitch recognition and quick wrists to repeatedly square up balls on the barrel of his bat. He's an aggressive hitter yet has walked as much as he has struck out this spring. Schimpf has average speed and good instincts on the bases. He's a versatile defender who began this season at second base before shifting to the outfield so the Tigers could get freshman shortstop Austin Nola's glove into the lineup. Schimpf's bat profiles much better at second base and will be able to play there in pro ball. He's an adequate defender there, reliable if not spectacular. He has fringy arm strength and needs to work on his double-play pivot. Schimpf figures to get drafted between the fourth and seventh round.

LOUIS COLEMAN, RHP, LOUSIANA STATE

One of the best college seniors in the 2009 draft, Coleman has starred in three of his four seasons at Louisiana State, though he went from starting on Friday nights as a freshman to scuffling in the bullpen as a sophomore. Things got so bad in 2007 that the Tigers tried to convert him into a sidearmer at the end of the season, but he got back on track when he returned to a low three-quarters slot early in 2008. He has gone 21-3 the last two seasons and was named the Southeastern Conference's 2009 pitcher of the year after taking an 13-2, 2.76 record with 124 strikeouts in 114 innings into the College World Series. His fastball usually sits at 88-92 mph with good run and sink, and he has touched 95 as a reliever. When he stays on top of his slider, it's a solid pitch. Hitters have trouble picking up his pitches because he throws across his body and has a low arm angle. He throws quality strikes and competes. The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder has served as both as starter and reliever for LSU. He projects in the latter role as a pro because he works primarily with two pitches and has a resilient arm, and he should move fast as a reliever. Coleman has been drafted twice previously, in the 28th round out of high school by the Braves and in the 14th round last June by the Nationals.

Dean Again Finishes Strong
Outfielder Blake Dean was one of the hottest hitters in the 2008 postseason, batting .407 with seven homers and 25 RBIs in 13 games. He struggled mightily in the Cape Cod League last summer and hit just .225 in the first month of the 2009 season, but he got untracked once he stopped trying to pull everything and adjusted to a steady diet of offspeed pitches. He's a 6-foot-1, 208-pounder with a quick bat and plus power from the left side. All of his value is tied up in his bat, as he provides below-average speed, arm strength and defense. Dean spent most of the season at DH for Louisiana State, which has arguably the best defensive outfield in college baseball.

Shortstop Josh Prince had a breakout season, batting .353 and tying for the NCAA Division I lead with 48 steals in 55 attempts. That was a far cry from his performance in 2008, when he batted .236 in his first season at Tulane after transferring from Texas. He struggled last year while recovering from elbow surgery, and getting healthy and wearing glasses to correct an astigmatism led to his turnaround. Prince's best tool is his speed, which makes him a threat on the bases and allows him to cover ground at shortstop. He's not the most fluid defender, but he does have a solid arm. A 6-foot-3, 195-pounder, Prince controls the strike zone, makes contact and offers modest power from the right side. He doesn't use his legs well or get much leverage in his swing, and he'll have to prove he can hit with wood bats.

Righthander Josh Zeid was so inconsistent that he pitched just 43 innings in his first three college seasons, two at Vanderbilt and one at Tulane. He started to put things together for the Green Wave this spring, however, and should be one of the better senior signs in the draft. Zeid has a good frame at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, and the arm strength to pitch in the low 90s and touch 95 mph with his fastball. He could use more life on his fastball and more consistency with his slider and command, but he did make progress in all those areas. He projects as a reliever in pro ball.

First baseman Sam Honeck had a disappointing 2008 season for Tulane, batting .275 with seven homers after starring for two years at Grayson County (Texas) CC. He was slow to recover from surgery in December 2007, having screws put in his foot to repair a break he sustained in high schools. Fully healthy and less pull-conscious as a senior, he hit .313 with 16 homers. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder has lefthanded power to all fields and a patient approach, though he does have some holes in his swing and will strike out. He's not much of an athlete but plays a solid first base.

Aaron Loup is a study in contradictions. He's a 6-foot, 175-pound lefthander who throws from a low-three-quarters slot, yet he has a solid-average fastball and can touch 93 mph. Despite that heater, a sweeping slider and fine control (a 61-9 K-BB ratio in 59 innings this spring), he gets hit harder than he should (5.93 ERA, .284 opponent average, nine homers). His ERA has gotten progressively worse in three seasons at Tulane, but he has the stuff and strike-throwing ability to be a successful reliever in pro ball.

Few position players in the 2009 draft can match Michael Thomas' raw arm strength, but the operative word in all phases of his game is "raw." Facing mediocre college competition, he threw out just four of 26 basestealers (15 percent this spring). He also needs to polish his receiving and make adjustments at the plate. Six-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he has plenty of strength and righthanded power potential, but he batted just .213 with wood bats in the Cape Cod League last summer. His bat speed is questionable and he doesn't use his lower half well in his swing. Thomas missed two months this spring with a broken left hand. He'll need plenty of development time in pro ball, though his ceiling is intriguing.

If Wes Luquette were signable, he could go in the first seven rounds. But he had Tommy John surgery shortly before the draft and may want a seven-figure bonus to pass up a Louisiana State scholarship, so he'll plummet below where his ability would dictate. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder is an extremely athletic catcher with plus-plus arm strength and solid receiving skills. He also put his arm to good use in football, starring at quarterback at Peyton and Eli Manning's alma mater. Luquette has a quick righthanded bat with some pop but will have to adjust to quality pitching both offensively and defensively after facing lackluster competition in high school. He's the grandson of Tabasco sauce tycoon Paul McIlhenny.

Ben Soignier played all nine positions for Louisiana-Monroe in an 11-7 victory over Houston Baptist on May 15, collecting three hits (including a double and a homer) and striking out two in a scoreless ninth inning. A regular reliever for the Warhawks, Soignier has set several single-season and career school hitting records and will be a position player in pro ball. The 6-foot, 190-pound righthanded hitter has good pop for a middle infielder and a knack for getting on base. His below average speed likely will dictate a move from shortstop to second base, but he does have a strong arm. A fifth-year senior who redshirted at Alabama in 2005, Soignier was drafted by the Marlins in the 17th round last year.

Shortstop Garrett Cannizaro's older brother Andy has gotten nine at-bats in the big leagues. Garrett likely will follow in his footsteps by attending Tulane before entering pro ball. The 6-foot, 185-pounder has an advanced righthanded bat with good pop for a middle infielder. Though he has soft hands and a strong arm, he doesn't have the speed or range to project as a shortstop in pro ball. He could wind up as an offensive-minded second baseman in the mold of Mark Loretta.

Catcher Adam Brouillette led the NAIA with 100 RBIs while batting .455 with 21 homers. He's a strong 5-foot-9, 195-pounder with righthanded power, though some scouts question his bat speed. Even more in doubt is his ability to remain behind the plate, because he doesn't move well and has a slightly below-average arm. He may have to shift to third base in pro ball. Brouillette is a draft-eligible sophomore who redshirted at Northwestern State in 2007.

Taylor Freeman is a lefthanded-hitting catcher with some power, though his swing can get long at times. The 6-foot-2, 192-pounder has a solid arm but needs to improve his receiving and agility. He was drafted in the 41st round out of high school by the Tigers, and he spent his first college season at Seminole State (Okla.) JC.

He probably won't get drafted because he's the top wide receiver recruit in the nation, but scouts still made sure to check in on Bastrop HS outfielder Reuben Randle, who has accepted a football scholarship from Louisiana State. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder is an explosive athlete with plus speed, though he's not as electric or as quick as current Tigers center fielder/wide receiver Jared Mitchell. Randle also has raw righthanded power but would need plenty of at-bats in the lower minors if he decided to pursue baseball.