Projecting LSU baseball's starting lineup, rotation after 2022 MLB Draft signing deadline

Koki Riley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

BATON ROUGE - Has any other team in the country added as much talent as LSU baseball this offseason?

Besides compiling the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation, according to Perfect Game, LSU added five players from the transfer portal — including two All-Americans — and lured Minnesota Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson to Baton Rouge.

It hasn't been a perfect last month and a half. The Tigers lost six signees and seven players to the MLB Draft. But coach Jay Johnson still netted significant upgrades to a starting rotation that was its Achilles heal last season, lengthened a lineup that thrived a year ago and added a bevy of intriguing pieces to the bullpen.

Here's what LSU's lineup, starting rotation and bullpen could look like in 2023.

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Projected lineup

LSU's Dylan Crews (3) scores next to Texas A&M catcher Troy Claunch (12) during a college baseball game Friday, March 18, 2022, in Baton Rouge, La. (Hilary Scheinuk/The Advocate via AP)

1. Josh Pearson, RF

2. Dylan Crews, CF

3. Tre Morgan, 1B

4. Tommy White, 3B

5. Paul Skenes, DH

6. Gavin Dugas, LF

7. Jordan Thompson, SS

8. Gavin Guidry, 2B

9. Hayden Travinski, C

Center fielder Dylan Crews, outfielder Josh Pearson and first baseman Tre Morgan are all elite returning hitters who should make up the majority of the top of the lineup. Outfielder Gavin Dugas and shortstop Jordan Thompson are also back as starters and potential fifth, sixth or seventh hitters in the order.

But what could make LSU's lineup special are the additions the Tigers made in the transfer portal. Paul Skenes was a first-team All-American at Air Force last season who hit 13 home runs and also pitches, while Tommy White led all NCAA freshmen in home runs with 27 at NC State. The two replace the vacancies left by third baseman Jacob Berry and second baseman Cade Doughty who were selected in the the MLB Draft.

The only starting spots up for grabs are at catcher and second base.

The Tigers have five possibilities at catcher between seniors Hayden Travinski and Alex Milazzo and highly touted freshmen Jared Jones, Brady Neal and Ethan Frey. Skenes also played catcher at Air Force but told Hunt Palmer on 104.5 ESPN Baton Rouge that he likely won't catch for LSU.

The starting second baseman as it stands is incoming freshman Gavin Guidry — the No. 1 player in Louisiana's 2022 class — after Baylor transfer Jack Pineda and Vanderbilt transfer Carter Young decided to sign with MLB teams. Guidry is talented, but his lack of experience combined with LSU's shallow pool of middle infielders means that Johnson should be aggressive in adding someone from the portal before the fall semester begins this month.

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Starting rotation

Friday: RHP Thatcher Hurd

Saturday: RHP Paul Skenes

Sunday: RHP Ty Floyd

Midweek: RHP Christian Little

There were many points throughout this season where Johnson found himself scrapping at the bottom of the barrel to find quality starting pitching. It's unlikely to  be the case in 2023.

Hurd and Skenes are almost guaranteed to be at the top of the rotation. Hurd, a UCLA transfer, had a 1.06 ERA in six starts as a freshman before a back injury ended his season. Skenes posted a 2.73 ERA in 15 starts and struck out 96 batters despite also making 182 appearances at the plate.

The last two spots are up for grabs. Floyd's emergence as a starter in the second half and Little's experience starting for Vanderbilt give them the slight edge, but either of their places could easily go to righthanders Grant Taylor and Samuel Dutton or lefthander Javen Coleman.

Taylor only started twice for LSU but he was fantastic in the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer, posting a 2.14 ERA and striking out 30 batters in 21 innings pitched. Dutton emerged as a freshman starter despite struggling toward the end of the season. And Coleman was projected to be a valuable piece in the bullpen or rotation before an arm injury ended his season after three appearances.

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LSU's bullpen took a bit of a hit after losing closer Paul Gervase to the New York Mets, top reliever Eric Reyzelman to the New York Yankees and Trent Vietmeier to graduation.

But the unit should have plenty of talent in 2023, although mostly unproven. 

The notable additions to the bullpen are mainly freshmen Jaden Noot, Chase Shores, Micah Bucknam, Griffin Herring and Aiden Moffett. Noot and Shores, who were both top 130 MLB Draft prospects according to, could also be dark horse candidates for the starting rotation.

Junior college transfers Kaleb Applebey, Nate Ackenhausen, Nic Bronzini and Adrian Siravo are worth keeping an eye on  — especially Ackenhausen and Bronzini who are both left-handed. LSU lacked left-handed relief pitching and lost left-handed reliever Jacob Hasty to the transfer portal.

The top returning relievers include Riley Cooper, Bryce Collins, Will Hellmers, Blake Money and Cale Lansville. Cooper was the best of the five in 2022.

Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser and the USA TODAY Sports South Region. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley.