One of the biggest games of the season gets underway next week for college baseball coaches around the country.
It isn't 9 innings. And success in this game often determines your success the following season.
LSU head coach Paul Mainieri understands â€œthe gameâ€ well.
It is the tug of war between professional baseball and the colleges for the top prospects in the country. The Major League Baseball draft is Monday.
Mainieri understands that his ace, pitcher Anthony Ranaudo, is a likely first-round pick. In turn, the LSU skipper understands that Ranaudo is pitching his final few innings for the Tigers.
What will peak Paul Mainieri's interest is how much the pros covet his top prospects in one of the best recruiting classes in the country.
Infielder Delino DeShields Junior of College Park, Georgia, son of the former major leaguer, can run like the wind. And he has pop in his bat. DeShields' speed and athleticism would fit perfectly near the top of the Tiger lineup.
Mainieri also signed Cameron Bedrosian, pitcher East Coweta, Georgia. He's the son of former National League Cy Young award winner, Steve Bedrosian. The younger Bedrosian (6-1, 215) tops out on the radar gun in the 90's.
Delgado centerfielder Lucas LeBlanc would contend for a starting spot in the LSU outfield. LeBlanc hit .415 for the Miss/Lou Conference champions. He led the Dolphins in homers (10), runs batted in (63), and stolen bases (23).
The LSU signing class also includes excellent Louisiana prospects like Barbe infielder Garin Cecchini and Northshore infielder/pitcher Ryan Eades.
Said Mainieri of this class, â€œIt has a chance to be one of the best we've ever had.â€
The chance is put on hold until August 15, the deadline for prospects to sign a professional contract or play college ball. So the courtship of top prospects goes on all summer long.
Last August 8, pitcher Zack Von Rosenberg of Zachary, an LSU signee, signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates. A two-time Louisiana Mr. Baseball, Von Rosenberg was a 6th round pick. In June in Omaha, he spoke of having a chance to pitch in the final College World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium.
But the Pirates weren't going to be denied. They paid Von Rosenberg a bonus of $1.2 million. In other words, first-round money to make him forget any dreams of college glory.
If Von Rosenberg had come to LSU and pitched effectively, the Tigers could be at home this weekend instead of traveling to Los Angeles for the NCAA Regionals.
In the meantime, Bedrosian originally told Baseball America he was going to sign with either Auburn or Georgia. But, at â€œthe last minute,â€ he decided to take a visit to LSU.
Bedrosian said he liked the LSU program and the discipline on the team from the start.
He told Baseball America, â€œThis is a hard-nosed club that's about getting after it.â€
Will he ever get after it for the purple and gold? In the summer of 2010, it is a question Paul Mainieri will ask - many times.
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