LSU Baseball: Tigers Lose Coveted Catcher to NCAA Transfer Portal

Brady Neal departs Baton Rouge after two seasons, 11th Tiger to enter portal this offseason.
Tigers catcher Brady Neal 16 scores a run as The LSU Tigers take on Texas A & M. Sunday, May 5, 2024.
Tigers catcher Brady Neal 16 scores a run as The LSU Tigers take on Texas A & M. Sunday, May 5, 2024. / SCOTT CLAUSE/USA TODAY Network / USA
In this story:

LSU catcher Brady Neal has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal after two seasons in Baton Rouge, LSU Country has learned.

Neal, a sophomore out of Florida, departs Louisiana as one of the more surprising portal entries of the offseason.

A player who had the chance to step in as LSU's starting catcher in 2025, Neal will now search for a new home after a rollercoaster 2024 season.

In high school, Neal was the No. 2 catcher in America and the No. 29 overall prospect by Perfect Game. He batted .359 in his senior season at IMG Academy with a .485 on-base percentage and a .577 slugging percentage while collecting five home runs, 15 walks and just 14 strikeouts.

Neal was selected in the 17th round of the 2022 MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers after being rated as the No. 1 catcher in Florida for Class of 2022.

Fast forward to his time in Baton Rouge, Neal battled a shoulder injury while in the purple and gold with both veterans Alex Milazzo and Hayden Travinski handling catching duties in 2023 and 2024.

Neal appeared in 44 games during the 2024 season with a .276 batting average, 35 strikeouts and 25 hits. He blasted nine home runs and hit his stride during postseason ball after serving as a pinch hitter.

Now, he departs after two seasons in Baton Rouge.

The LSU Departures (11):

Javen Coleman: Left-Handed Pitcher

Coleman departs Baton Rouge after spending four seasons with the Tigers. Now, he enters the free agent market in search of a new home for his final season of eligibility.

He will also have the opportunity to test the 2024 MLB Draft waters.

Coleman arrived in Baton Rouge as the No. 2 rated pitcher in Texas, according to Perfect Game. As a freshman, he appeared in 14 games with 43 strikeouts and 18 walks in 32.2 innings pitched.

In year two with the Tigers, Coleman suffered a season-ending arm injury which forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery.

Fast forward to his redshirt sophomore season, the coveted lefty became a key piece to LSU's National Championship run after coming out of the bullpen on several occasions.

Coleman ended the year with a 1-2 record and a 7.07 ERA in 14.0 innings with 21 strikeouts and 16 walks.

After his third season with LSU, Coleman was selected in the 16th Round by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but decided to return to Baton Rouge for his redshirt junior campaign.

In what became his final season with the Tigers, Coleman made a career-high seven starts with 12 total game appearances. He pieced together a 3-1 record on the mound. In 26 innings pitched Coleman struck out 28 batters and walked 21 with a 5.19 ERA.

Now, he departs Baton Rouge in search of a new home for his final season of eligibility.

Paxton Kling: Outfielder

Kling was one of the highest-rated prospects in LSU baseball history after signing with the Tigers as the No. 6 prospect in America according to Perfect Game.

The 2022 signee dominated at the high school ranks but his approach at the plate didn't translate to SEC play.

Kling ended his first season in Baton Rouge hitting .289 as a freshman and .222 during the 2024 campaign.

The coveted outfielder will have two seasons of eligibility remaining at his next destination. He saw significant playing time as a true freshman in 2023 as a key defensive piece before seeing his time in the field decline in 2024.

He started off the season in the leadoff slot before the outfield rotation of Josh Pearson, Jake Brown (freshman) and Ashton Larson (freshman) took shape.

Kling served as a defensive replacement in late-inning situations for much of the 2024 season.

Sam Dutton: Right-Handed Pitcher

Dutton's departure is a big one for the Tigers with Johnson's program now losing a handful of arms this offseason.

A starter for LSU during his time in Baton Rouge, Dutton posted a 6.02 ERA in three seasons for the Tigers.

He started in 15 games in Baton Rouge and logged a 5.86 ERA in the 2024 season while also earning the start LSU's final game of the season in the Chapel Hill Regional against North Carolina.

After three seasons with LSU, Dutton now departs in search of a new home for his final season of eligibility.

Dutton is the ninth LSU player to enter the transfer portal over the last eight days and the fifth pitcher, joining right-hander Micah Bucknam, left-hander Cam Johnson, left-hander Nic Bronzini and right-hander Aiden Moffett.

Cam Johnson: Left-Handed Pitcher

Johnson has become the most significant loss so far, but not because of his current production. A player who has significant upside, it became a brutal departure due to the ceiling he attains.

A Top 50 overall prospect out of high school, Johnson was one of the highest ranked recruits in LSU history to make it to campus.

After being selected late in the 2023 MLB Draft, Johnson elected to bypass his professional journey at the time, choosing to join Jay Johnson and the Tigers in Baton Rouge.

Johnson battled command issues to begin the season and couldn't find his groove in year one with the program. He walked 16 batters and threw four wild pitches in only nine innings of play while putting together 12 earned runs off of only five hits.

He played in just six Southeastern Conference games in one season with the reigning National Champions.

Now, LSU has seen three relief pitchers enter the NCAA Transfer Portal since the season ended last week.

Aiden Moffett: Right-Handed Pitcher

LSU right-handed pitcher Aiden Moffett has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal after two seasons in Baton Rouge, he announced on social media on Wednesday.

Moffett took to X (Twitter) to post his announcement that he would be departing the program, ending with the statement, "Forever LSU."

The coveted sophomore took a significant jump in his production during year two with the LSU program. Moffett played in only one game during his freshman campaign in 2023, but took that next step in 2024.

Moffett saw more time out of the LSU bullpen in his sophomore season. He went 0-1 with a 5.60 ERA in 16 appearances, striking out 21 and walking 12 in 17 2/3 innings.

It's rare to have a second-year pitcher clocking 98 mph on the radar gun and Moffett has done it on a routine basis. A power pitcher, his fastball played a pivotal role in his success with the Tigers.

Moffett saw time during the Chapel Hill Regional for the Tigers after earning a slot on the postseason roster.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder will be a sought-after transfer with two years of eligibility at his next destination.

Micah Bucknam: Right-Handed Pitcher

LSU right-handed pitcher Micah Bucknam has announced his intentions to enter the NCAA Transfer Portal after just two seasons with the Tigers.

The decision came just one day after LSU was bounced from the Chapel Hill Regional after coming up short against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Regional Final.

Bucknam appeared in eight games out of the bullpen during the 2024 season where he pieced together a 7.00 ERA with 10 strikeouts and three walks over the course of nine innings. He allowed seven earned runs on 12 hits this year during his second season in Baton Rouge.

The sophomore pitcher revealed his decision via social media last Tuesday:

"Over the past 2+ years, I got to call LSU home," he said. "To my teammates, coaches and fans, thank you. Thanks for welcoming me and allowing me to be part of something special. We got to experience what I dreamt of, winning a national championship. 

"With that being said and after great reflection, I have decided to enter the transfer portal. I look forward to competing and continuing to play the sport I love."

In his true freshman season in 2023, Bucknam appeared in eight games as a reliever during LSU's National Championship run led by Paul Skenes and Dylan Crews, among others.

Now, he's hit the Transfer Portal in search of a new home after spending the last two seasons under Jay Johnson and the Tigers.

Zeb Ruddell: Outfield

Ruddell, a Top 5 player in Louisiana less than two years ago, announced he would depart the program after a short stint in Baton Rouge. The redshirt freshman saw limited chances at the plate and will now look for a team where he can make an immediate impact moving forward.

Other Departures:

- Derrick Mitchell: Outfield (Freshman)

- Nic Bronzini: Left-Handed Pitcher (Redshirt Freshman)

- Austen Roellig: Shortstop (Freshman)

Other LSU News:

Recruiting Roundup: The Latest Buzz From LSU's Official Visit Weekend

LSU Football: No. 1 Quarterback in America Visiting LSU

LSU Baseball: Pair of Prized Transfer Pitchers Reveal Commitments to LSU

Join the Community:

Follow Zack Nagy on Twitter: @znagy20 and LSU Country: @LSUCountry_FN for all coverage surrounding the LSU program.


Published |Modified
Zack Nagy

ZACK NAGY

Zack Nagy is the Managing Editor and Publisher of LSU Country, a Sports Illustrated Publication. Nagy has covered Tiger Football, Basketball, Baseball and Recruiting, looking to keep readers updated on anything and everything involving LSU athletics.