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LSU's "Scrappy" Freshman Catcher Alex Milazzo Making an Impact Six Games Into Collegiate Career

Milazzo to earn two starts at catcher against Eastern Kentucky
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Bulldog, scrappy and energetic are just a few terms used to describe LSU freshman catcher Alex Milazzo by his teammates and coach. Milazzo adopted those character traits through years of being told he wasn't big enough to make an impact on a collegiate baseball team.

Just like most 5-foot-10, 192-pound athletes, all throughout his life the Zachary native was told he was too small to play Division I baseball, especially at a program like LSU's. Milazzo's approach to the game is a reason why coach Paul Mainieri decided to throw him out as a freshman opening weekend.

Milazzo's performance in that opening weekend and midweek games that followed is why he'll be catching two of LSU's three games this weekend against Eastern Kentucky. Through six games, the freshman is batting .364 with three RBI.

"The kid's just a winner," Mainieri said. "I mean he's got skill. He's a fighter, he'll cut his heart out to beat you and I just love those kind of kids that are not gonna duck a fight. They're going to get in there and give it everything they got."

Milazzo grew up playing football just as much as he played baseball and said the mindset that a football player really needs to have is something that can translate to the baseball diamond, particularly as a catcher.

"I kind of just took that mindset from playing football that you've gotta be tough, gotta play through injuries and most important you've gotta have that dog in you," Milazzo said.

His skills behind the plate are what's earned him two starts in just his second ever collegiate series. Milazzo's cannon of a right arm was shown off repeatedly in the fall as he immediately started gunning his teammates out at second and third base.

Last season, opponents' ability to steal bases against LSU was a major problem as teams had nearly an 80% success rate on steals.

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"I mean he's a scrappy little fast twitch, energetic catcher back there," Mainieri said. "He blocks the ball. He receives the ball well but obviously his throwing arm is what really jumps out. Our team could not steal on him in the fall. I think he threw out about eight base runners in the fall so it helps your defense so much when the other team just can't steal at will on you."

"He's a little quick guy back there. He's not the biggest guy but he's gonna block everything he can," junior right fielder Daniel Cabrera said. "If you're leaning a little bit, he might bag pick you and throw you out. So I mean, he's always looking to get some back pick on somebody."

Early on in this season, it hasn't been just his fielding behind the plate that's kept him on the field but his clutch at-bats as well. With LSU clinging to a 5-4 lead over Indiana in game two last week, Milazzo blasted a double into the left centerfield gap that brought home two insurance runs.

In LSU's disappointing 4-2 midweek loss to Nicholls on Wednesday, Milazzo's only at bat was one of five hits the Tigers' bats were able to put on the Colonels. In the bottom of the ninth, Milazzo, alongside fellow freshman Maurice Hampton started the inning off with back-to-back singles. The rally ultimately fell short but the poise those freshmen showed in that situation stuck with Mainieri.

"You know, people have been telling him his whole life he's too small and can't hit and I think the kid plays a little chip on his shoulder," Mainieri said. "I think he does a great job."

Mainieri ultimately made a unique decision that exemplifies just how good this freshmen class has been just six games into the regular season. 

 LSU will start as many as four freshmen against Eastern Kentucky this weekend with Milazzo at catcher, Wes Toups in left field, Hampton in centerfield and Cade Doughty at second. Milazzo said each and every one of them have put in the work and are deserving of the starting spots.

"We came in and we handled our business and all of the upperclassmen have really helped all of the freshmen," Milazzo said. "I've been working for this my whole life and we've been getting after it all fall and all spring. I feel like my coaches have prepared me for this situation, I've prepared myself and I feel ready."