Baton Rouge, Los Angeles – LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson has apologized to the media for the delay.
Johnson has had to postpone the annual season finale and look forward with the media because of how busy he has been over the past few weeks.
“It may be hard to understand from the outside, but it’s like the toughest and busiest time of the year,” Johnson said.
The year may have ended on June 6 when the Tigers lost to Miss South in the Hattiesburg Regional, but it was just the beginning of what would be LSU’s active season outside. Here’s a look at what Johnson’s roster might look like in 2023, including a look at who’s leaving, who could leave and who could advance next season.
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Exited Jacob Perry and junior Kid Doughty are almost certain to be gone, as both players are expected to be picked early during next month’s MLB draft. Perry is expected to be selected in the top ten while Dottie is likely to go down in the first two rounds.
Exempts Devin Fontenot, Trent Vietmeier and Trey Shaffer are out of eligibility after spending last season as graduating players. Wittmer had the best season of the trio, clocking a 2.28 ERA.
The only position player who is no longer due to eligibility is catcher Tyler McManus, who has 10 home runs and was the first LSU player. Skilled employee Ma’Khail Hilliard, who finished the season with 4.56 ERA, also exhausted his final year of eligibility as a fifth-year student.
Who can leave?
Including Perry and Dottie, LSU has 18 players eligible for enlistment with at least one year of college eligibility remaining.
A large portion of those 18 are made up of the Tigers’ top pickers from last season, including Bryce Collins, Jacob Hesty, Paul Gervas and Eric Rizelman. If Gervase signs for the MLB team, it would be a huge blow. The 6-foot-10, 1.85 right-footed forward had a dominant ERA in the 39 innings held after being Junior College All-American last season.
Notable hitters eligible to enlist include Gavin Dugas, Hayden Travinsky, Brayden Gobert, Cady Peluso, Drew Bianco and Alex Milazzo.
Dugas, who posted 479 on a percentage basis last season despite fighting injuries, said on LSU’s daily podcast with Matt Moscona that he’s open to a comeback. Yubert can come back but that’s not a guarantee after he’s blown up 18 times at home. Johnson is hoping Milazzo and Travinsky will be back in good health this fall, having both suffered injuries during the year.
“I’d like to have the complete fallout to work with both defensively and offensively,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Collier Cranford, Giovanni DiGiacomo, Brennan Holt, Michael Fowler and Will Safford have all entered the transfer gate either officially or reportedly – Holt has already left for Oklahoma. Among that group, Cranford was the Tigers’ biggest contributor, playing a valuable defense at third base while Berry tackled a hand injury.
Which of the young players can advance?
One of the players Johnson is excited to see more growth next season is Ty Floyd.
The sophomore climbed to second place at LSU at the end of the season and was the only one to go more than three rounds at the Hattiesburg Regional. He is eligible to enlist but Johnson believes a return to Baton Rouge would be his best path.
“I think he’s made great strides and I think he can create some value for himself here next year and he will be huge for the success of our team,” Johnson said. “I’ve been proud of the last few outings he’s taken and I think he could get better from that.”
Johnson also believes Trey Morgan, Josh Pearson and Dylan Cruz still have room to grow despite already being major shareholders. Crews is expected to be the first pick in the 2023 draft, while Morgan and Pearson should certainly be in the top half of the line-ups next year.
“Josh Pearson is clearly the man who has contributed the most,” Johnson said. “Tree Morgan I think he’s really improved towards the end of the season and I think in a way he understands what he needs to do to be the kind of player he wants to be and ultimately contribute to our success next year.”
Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser and USA TODAY Sports South Region. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley.