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LSU Baseball's Next Coach Inherits Talented Roster With Holes To Fill

Crews, Morgan headline a top heavy group returning with work around the edges needed from whoever replaces Paul Mainieri

As LSU's coaching search continues to roll on, whoever the Tigers ultimately end up hiring will inherit a talented roster but one that needs quite a bit of work. The 2021 roster certainly had its flaws, some of which can be attributed to a youthful group with not much SEC experience.

That can no longer be a reason for losing tight games as a whole offseason of development from those young stars and another elite recruiting class on the way should put Omaha or bust on the Tigers' minds next season. Let's start with the obvious.

LSU returns two of the top players not just in the SEC but in college baseball next year in Dylan Crews and Tre Morgan, both of whom were named Freshmen All-Americans by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Crews and Morgan had near mirror image seasons at the plate and proved to be elite defensive talents at their positions at first base and right field.

Crews: .362 (89-for-246) this season with 16 doubles, two triples, 18 homers, 42 RBI, 64 runs scored and 12 stolen bases. 

Morgan: .357 (89-for-249) on the year with 16 doubles, four triples, six homers, 42 RBI, 64 runs scored and 15 stolen bases.

Sometimes with a coaching change, it could mean the loss of your top players but Crews has already come out and said he has not intentions of leaving the program.

“I have no intention of leaving at all,” Crews said. “I'm going to stay here and do what I do best for three years. I'm going to go out there and leave it all on the field.”

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Those two are the foundation for what is to be a group of returning position players that also includes shortstop Jordan Thompson, third baseman Cade Doughty, outfielder Brody Drost and infielder Zach Arnold. Pitchers like Garrett Edwards, Javen Coleman, Ty Floyd and Will Hellmers all feel like potential pieces to the pitching staff moving forward but outside of them it's difficult to predict who's back.

Where the going gets tricky in terms of position players is whether some of the veterans like Drew Bianco, Giovanni DiGiacomo, Mitchell Sanford, Cade Beloso, Hayden Travinski, Alex Milazzo and Gavin Dugas return for another year in Baton Rouge. 

We've seen it in the past as some players have hit the transfer portal while others like Dugas appear to be shoe ins as potential mid round draft picks with a high signing bonus. With a new coach coming in, some of those bubble guys could have a difficult decision on their hands about whether to return for another season.

That should all be hammered out in the weeks after a new coach is announced and players are assigned to summer league ball clubs around the country. What this new coaching staff will ultimately have to decide is how to fill out the starting pitching rotation, which is a glaring weakness on this roster with Landon Marceaux, AJ Labas, Jaden Hill and Ma'Khail Hilliard all moving on from the program. 

How hard does this staff hit the transfer portal for players? Do they feel confident in some of the young arms on the roster to be future starters? How does that affect the bullpen depth? All of these are good questions that will need answering. 

LSU should also feel good about its recruiting class but with Mainieri moving on, there could very well be more interest for some of the top prospects like catcher Ian Moller or pitchers Ben Kudrna and Brock Selvidge to sign professionally instead. The MLB Draft runs from July 11-13 so there will be more known then about those player's decisions. 

Whoever takes over this storied program inherits a talented group but will also need to hit the ground running to truly build out the entire roster.

"There's some good young talent on this team but there's also some areas that need to improve, there's no doubt about that," coach Paul Mainieri said. "Get into filling some holes that maybe we weren't able to with our incoming recruiting class, maybe going into the transfer portal if necessary. Just make the team as strong as they can for next year but there's a strong foundation and I think we've put the program in very good shape."