LSU Gold

Tigers Named to Baseball America Top Prospects List

by Bill Franques
Tigers Named to Baseball America Top Prospects List

BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU sophomore outfielder Zach Watson, sophomore pitcher Zack Hess and junior outfielder Antoine Duplantis appear on the Baseball America Top 100 College Prospects list released this week.

The list includes the magazine’s Top 100 draft-eligible college prospects for the June 2018 Major League Baseball Draft.

Watson, a product of Ruston, La., is No. 23 on the list; Hess, a right-hander from Forest, Va., is No. 44; and Duplantis, a Lafayette, La., native, is No. 72.

Watson, a 2017 Freshman All-America and Freshman All-SEC selection, hit a team-best .317 last season with nine doubles, three triples, nine homers, 37 RBI, 42 runs and 12 stolen bases. He led the Tigers in NCAA Tournament play by batting .333 (16-for-48) in 12 games with one double, five homers, 10 RBI, 12 runs and four steals.

He was named to the 2017 College World Series All-Tournament team after batting .346 (9-for-26) in seven games with one double, one homer, two RBI, five runs and two steals.

Watson launched two home runs in consecutive games against Texas Southern and Southeastern Louisiana in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, becoming the first LSU player to homer four times in a regional since 2001. Watson batted .357 (5-for-14) in the regional with four homers, seven RBI and five runs.

Hess, a 2017 Freshman All-American and a member of the SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll, worked the early part of last season as a mid-week starter before making a move to the Tigers’ bullpen on April 4. After becoming a full-time reliever, Hess worked 32.1 innings in 22 appearances and allowed nine earned runs on 19 hits with 18 walks and 48 strikeouts.

He pitched brilliantly in the 2017 College World Series as a reliever, appearing in five of the Tigers’ seven games while recording three saves and 11 Ks in seven innings. Hess completed the season with a 7-1 record and a 3.12 ERA in 60.2 innings with 83 strikeouts, 30 walks and four saves.

Hess was named SEC Freshman of the Week on May 22 after making two appearances in LSU’s three-game sweep of Mississippi State that clinched the SEC championship for the Tigers. Hess worked a combined 4.2 shutout innings in with two hits, one walk and eight strikeouts.

Duplantis, a member of the 2017 SEC Academic Honor Roll as a sports administration major, has a .321 (179-for-557) cumulative batting average in his first two seasons at LSU with 23 doubles, seven triples, four homers, 100 RBI, 95 runs and 32 stolen bases. LSU’s starting rightfielder in 2016 and its starting leftfielder in 2017, he has a career .989 fielding percentage with 11 outfield assists.

A member of the 2017 College World Series All-Tournament team, he helped lead the Tigers to the CWS Finals, batting .316 (90-for-285) on the year with 14 doubles, two triples, two homers, 61 RBI, 50 runs and 19 steals. Duplantis finished No. 2 in the SEC in stolen bases, No. 4 in the league in base hits and No. 8 in the league in RBI. He collected seven hits in the CWS, including a homer, four RBI, four runs and one steal.

Duplantis was named National Player of the Week and SEC Player of the Week on March 20 after batting .615 (8-for-13) in LSU’s three-game sweep of Georgia with one double, one homer, 10 RBI, six runs and a .688 on-base percentage. He set the LSU single-game record for hits on March 17 versus Georgia when he went 6-for-6 at the plate with one double and a career-high seven RBI.