The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
LSU Provides Its Share of Active Major Leaguers

LSU is largely known for the large number of football players it provides to the National Football League.  But they are no slouch in also sending its baseball players to Major League Baseball.  LSU has one of the premier baseball programs in the nation, a tradition that dates back to the mid-1980s.  In 2016 three more baseball alumni from LSU made their major-league debuts.  They are among eleven former Tigers who are currently active in the majors this season and part of a group of 85 former Tigers who have donned major-league uniforms dating back to the early 1900s.  Among SEC schools, LSU has the most number of active major leaguers so far this season.

Below is a brief overview of the players making their debuts in 2016.

Alex Bregman made the biggest splash among last year’s Tiger rookies, when he was called up to the Houston Astros in late July, after less than year of minor-league experience.  Despite a rough start in his first 10 games, he went on to demonstrate why he was the second overall pick in the 2015 Major League Draft.  He had only five hitless games during his last 39 games of the season, while accumulating 8 home runs and 34 RBI.  Bregman was a member of Team USA in the recent 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Ryan Schimpf had a credible first season in 2016 as well. He smacked 20 home runs (3rd most on the team) and 51 RBI in 89 games for the San Diego Padres.  The infielder had been the fifth-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009 and was signed as a free agent by the Padres following the 2015 season. 13 of his 24 hits so far in 2017 have been home runs, and he leads the Padres in that offensive category.

JaCoby Jones was a late-season call-up of the Detroit Tigers in 2016, getting two hits in his debut game.  A former infielder with LSU, he appeared in 13 games, with seven of them in starts in the outfield.   Jones was the third-round selection of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013 and was traded to the Tigers in mid-season 2015.  Jones began the 2017 season as the Tigers’ starting centerfielder.

Other former LSU players in the majors in 2016, who are still active this year, include the following.

DJ LaMahieu turned in the best performance of all former Tigers in 2016 by leading the National League in batting average.  In his sixth major-league season, LaMahieu bested his 2015 average by 47 points to .348 in 2016.  He was second in the league with a .416 On-Base Percentage.  He had previously been an All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner at second base.

Will Harris was one of the top middle relievers in the majors in 2016.   Pitching with the Houston Astros, he posted a 2.25 ERA and 1.047 WHIP in 66 games.  The ninth-round pick of the Colorado Rockies in the 2006 MLB Draft, Harris was selected to the American League All-Star team in 2016.

Aaron Nola was the first-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2014 and moved into their starting rotation by July 2015.  The pitcher’s 2016 season was cut short at the end of July when he suffered an elbow injury.  He finished the season with a 6-9 record and 4.78 ERA.  He averaged almost 10 strikeouts per nine innings.  Nola was back in the rotation at the start of the 2017 season.

Kevin Gausman pitched in his fourth major-league season in 2016 with the Baltimore Orioles.  The right-handed pitcher was the first-round draft selection of the Orioles and fourth overall pick in 2012, he finished the season with a 9-12 record and 3.61 ERA.  He was the Orioles’ Opening Day starter in 2017.

Mikie Mahtook played in his second major-league season last year with the Tampa Bay Rays, who selected him in the first-round of the 2011 MLB Draft.  In 65 games for the Rays he batted .195 with 3 home runs and 11 RBI.  Mahtook was traded to the Detroit Tigers during the winter, where he joins fellow Tiger Jacoby Jones in the outfield.

Nick Goody appeared in his second major-league season last year with the New York Yankees as a relief pitcher.  He had been selected by the Yankees in the sixth-round of the 2012 MLB Draft.  The right-hander was traded to the Cleveland Indians during the off-season and is currently on the Indians roster.

Aaron Hill is the dean of the active Tiger baseball alumni.  He is in his 13th major-league season, having made his debut in 2005.  He is currently on the San Francisco Giants roster as a utility infielder. The former two-time Silver Slugger Award winner has played the majority of his career with Toronto and Arizona.  Hill was the first-round pick (13th overall) of the Blue Jays in the 2003 MLB Draft.

Jason Vargas is another long-time major leaguer with the Kansas City Royals.  The 12-year veteran missed most of the 2015 and 2016 seasons due to injury, but appears to have rebounded this year with a 6-3 record and 2.39 ERA.  Vargas was the second-round pick of the Florida Marlins in 2003.

Matt Clark and Louis Coleman are former Tigers who have prior major-league experience, but are currently playing in the in the minors.

Who are the most likely former LSU players to next join the ranks of the big leagues?  Below are three candidates.

Austin Nola, Aaron’s older brother, played second base at Triple-A New Orleans in 2016.  However, he has converted to the catcher position over the winter and is working his way back up the ranks with Double-A Jacksonville in the Miami Marlins organization.  Nola was a 2011 draftee of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Ryan Eades is currently playing for Double-A Chattanooga in the Minnesota Twins organization.  The right-handed pitcher was the second-round pick of the Twins in 2013.

Joe Broussard is currently pitching for Triple-A Oklahoma City in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.  The right-handed relief pitcher was the 15th-round pick of the Dodgers in 2014.

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