LSU No. 10 in Baseball America preseason poll

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Cade Doughty

By Bill Franques

BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU is No. 10 in the 2021 Baseball America preseason poll released Monday, marking the Tigers’ second Top 10 preseason ranking. LSU is No. 7 in the Collegiate Baseball poll that was released in December.

LSU will begin the season ranked among the Top 10 teams in the nation for the ninth time in 10 years.

The Tigers begin preseason workouts on Friday, and LSU opens the 2021 season at 7 p.m. on February 19 versus Air Force in Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field.

LSU has a 38-man roster that includes a recruiting class ranked No. 2 in the country by Baseball America. The Tigers also return 10 position players with starting experience and 10 pitchers who recorded innings last season.

Four juniors – outfielder/first baseman Cade Beloso, centerfielder Giovanni DiGiacomo, outfielder/infielder Gavin Dugas and outfielder/infielder Drew Bianco – provide a veteran presence among the position players.

Members of the skilled sophomore class – catchers Alex Milazzo and Hayden Travinski; infielders Collier Cranford, Cade Doughty and Zach Arnold; and outfielders Maurice Hampton Jr. and Mitchell Sanford will be counted upon to play significant roles this season.

The pitching staff is led by junior right-hander Jaden Hill, who is projected as the Tigers’ No. 1 starter; and senior right-hander Devin Fontenot, who is expected to work as the LSU closer. Both Hill and Fontenot earned 2020 All-America honors following the pandemic-shortened season.

LSU has a very deep staff that includes two returning weekend starters – junior right-handers Landon Marceaux and AJ Labas. The bullpen features a wealth of experience, including senior right-handers Matthew Beck, Ma’Khail Hilliard, Aaron George and Trent Vietmeier; senior left-hander Brandon Kaminer; and sophomore left-hander Jacob Hasty.

The Tigers’ talented 16-man recruiting class is composed of 10 pitchers and six position players, with several of them expected to make a major impact this season. Freshmen position players to watch include outfielder Dylan Crews, first baseman Tre’ Morgan, outfielder Brody Drost, infielder Will Safford and infielder Jordan Thompson.

LSU is one of nine Southeastern Conference teams appearing in the Baseball America 2021 preseason Top 25, along with No. 1 Florida, No. 4 Ole Miss, No. 6 Vanderbilt, No. 8 Mississippi State, No. 14 Arkansas, No. 18 South Carolina, No. 19 Tennessee and No. 25 Alabama.

The Tigers’ 2021 schedule features 21 games against teams ranked in the Baseball America Top 25.

Baseball America Preseason Top 25

Rank Team 2020 Record
1. Florida 16-1
2. UCLA 13-2
3. Texas Tech 16-3
4. Mississippi 16-1
5. Virginia 14-4
6. Vanderbilt 13-5
7. Louisville 13-4
8. Mississippi State 12-4
9. Florida State 12-5
10. LSU 12-5
11. Miami (Fla.) 12-4
12. Texas 14-3
13. Texas Christian 11-4
14. Arkansas 11-5
15. Arizona 10-5
16. Duke 12-4
17. North Carolina State 14-3
18. South Carolina 12-4
19. Tennessee 15-2
20. Michigan 8-7
21. UC Santa Barbara 13-2
22. Georgia Tech 11-5
23. Oklahoma 14-4
24. Central Florida 15-4
25. Alabama 16-1