Profiles of New Baseball Players for the 2019 Season

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Profiles of New Baseball Players for the 2019 Season

Paul Mainieri Summer 2018 Press Conference
Monday, noon CT
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BATON ROUGE, La. — Coach Paul Mainieri on Monday released the 2019 LSU baseball roster, including the Tigers’ 16-man class of new players. Following are profiles of the members of the signing class:

Cade Beloso, 1B
6-0, 220, L-L, Fr., HS
River Ridge, La. (John Curtis HS)

• A four-year letterman in baseball, playing his first two years at Richmond Foster High School in Richmond, Texas, before transferring to John Curtis Christian School in River Ridge, La., where he helped led the team to back-to-back Division I Louisiana State Championships
• Playing this summer in the Great Lakes Collegiate League as a member of the Lima (Ohio) Locos … through games of July 18, he was batting .327 (35-for-107) with seven doubles, four homers and 25 RBI; voted to the GLCL All-Star team
• Batted .489 in 2018 at John Curtis with seven doubles, three triples, 13 homers, 38 RBI and five steals … also pitched 14 innings, and posted a 2-1 record, adding 4 saves with a 3.00 ERA and 17 strikeouts
• Batted .420 in 2017 at John Curtis with 19 doubles, eight homers and 39 RBI … on the mound he compiled a 4-0 record, adding four saves in 10 pitching appearances with a 1.07 ERA with 20 strikeouts
• Voted 2018 All State MVP, Louisiana’s Mr. Baseball and Louisiana Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year
• Two-time New Orleans Advocate and Times Picayune All-Metro Player of the Year (2017 & 2018)
• Named District 23-5A Freshman Player of the Year in 2015 and All-Houston Metro 5A -1st Team in 2015 and 2016
• Earned All-America honors from Rawlings Sports, Perfect Game, Baseball America, Prep Baseball Report, Collegiate Baseball and Max Preps
• Also a two-year letterman in football and was a member the 2018 Louisiana State Runners-up football team at John Curtis, where he played outside linebacker

Head Coach Paul Mainieri on Cade Beloso:
“I know LSU fans have been waiting for that left-handed throwing, left-handed hitting first baseman with power. Well, Cade Beloso has finally arrived at LSU. This man can flat out hit, and hit with power. He was named the Louisiana Player of the Year after leading his John Curtis High School team to the state championship; and he has continued from there by tearing up the collegiate summer league prior to his enrollment at LSU. A powerfully-built slugger, he also has great bat control and rarely strikes out. Obviously, all new college hitters must prove they can hit the caliber of pitching they will see in the SEC. However, I have a feeling Cade Beloso will hit in any league he plays.”

Drew Bianco, INF
6-0, 200, R-R, Fr., HS
Oxford, Miss. (Oxford HS)

• A four-time all-state selection at Oxford High School, where he led his team to two state championships
• Voted the 2018 Player of the Year in Class 5A
• Batted .409 in 2018 with seven doubles, one triple, six homers, 24 RBI, 31 runs scored and a .554 on-base percentage
• Posted a four-year career batting average of .352 in 138 games with 33 doubles, three triples, 20 homers, 147 runs and 100 RBI
• Graduated from Oxford High School with honors
• Son of Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, who played at LSU as a catcher from 1988-89 and worked as an LSU assistant coach from 1993-97
• Playing this summer for the Danville (Ill.) Dans in the Prospect League, a collegiate summer league

Head Coach Paul Mainieri on Drew Bianco:
Drew Bianco is the definition of a gritty, hard-nosed ballplayer. He plays the game with great enthusiasm and is a baseball rat. He swings the bat with authority and will deliver many extra base hits for the Tigers. In high school, he had a reputation of being the ultimate competitor while playing three sports. The son of former LSU player and coach, current Ole Miss Head Coach Mike Bianco, he wants to blaze his own trail, yet follow in his father’s footsteps and don the Purple and Gold. It should make for some interesting series with Ole Miss over the next few years.”

Chase Costello, RHP
6-4, 210, R-R, Fr., HS
Pompano Beach, Fla. (Pompano Beach HS)

• Ranked as the No. 62 right-handed pitching prospect in the nation, and ranked No. 13 among RHP in the state of Florida
• Rated No. 44 by Baseball America among Top MLB Prospects in the state of Florida and rated No. 289 nationally
• Named a 2018 Rawlings Perfect Game 1st Team All American in the state of Florida
• A 2018 Sun Sentinel All-County selection and a 2018 Miami Herald All-County selection
• Recorded 46 strikeouts in 37 innings as a senior in 2018, posting a 2.27 ERA … also batted .324 with four doubles, one triple, one homer and 12 RBI
• Pitched his team to back-to-back district title wins in 2017 and 2016, marking the first district titles in Pompano Beach HS history
• Son of Vincent Costello, who played baseball at LSU as an outfielder in 1984 and 1985

Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach Alan Dunn on Chase Costello:
“Chase is a very athletic pitcher with a high 80s to low 90s fastball. He has good arm side life and a solid late slider with depth for his put-away pitch. He brings an excellent mound demeanor and competiveness that should allow him to contribute very early to the pitching staff. As the son of a former LSU Tiger that played for Skip Bertman, he knows what wearing the Purple and Gold is all about.”

Giovanni DiGiacomo, OF
6-1, 185, L-L, Fr., HS
Naples, Fla. (Canterbury HS)

• Selected in the 29th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates
• Playing this summer for the Gaithersburg (Md.) Giants in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League
• Batted .378 in 2018 as a senior at Canterbury High School in Fort Myers, Fla., with six homers, 31 RBI and 25 runs scored
• Batted a cumulative .440 in his junior and senior seasons at Canterbury High with 11 doubles, four triples, nine homers, 67 RBI and 19 stolen bases
• Helped lead Canterbury High to state championships in 2017 and 2018 and was voted the 2018 Class 3A Player of the Year
• Earned 2018 and 2017 All-America, All-Area and All-Regional recognition
• Played his first two high school seasons at Naples (Fla.) HS, batting a cumulative .384 with six doubles, four triples, one homer, 38 RBI and 16 stolen bases
• Also played football and ran track during his junior and senior seasons at Canterbury HS

Head Coach Paul Mainieri on Giovanni DiGiacomo:
Giovanni DiGiacomo is the next one in the long list at LSU of speedy, left-handed outfielders that can cover a lot of ground in the outfield, as well as be an impact offensive player. Along the lines of Mark Laird, Andrew Stevenson, Jake Fraley, and Antoine Duplantis, Gio has tremendous speed and instincts in the outfield and will make his mark defensively by making highlight reel catches. He will develop into a table-setter type offensive player with some underrated power, too. He will play an important role on this year’s team and have a great career at LSU.”

Gavin Dugas, INF
5-10, 195, R-R, Fr., HS
Houma, La. (Houma Christian HS)

• Earned 2018 All-America recognition from Rawlings
• Earned 2018 first-team all-state recognition at Houma Christian High School, batting .452 in his senior season with 33 hits, 34 RBI, 10 home runs and 46 runs
• A four time all-district selection and two-time district Most Valuable Player at Houma Christian High School
• Playing this summer in the Prospect League – a collegiate summer league – for the Danville (Ill.) Dans, and through games of July 18, he was batting .342 (40-for-117) with five doubles, three homers, 22 RBI, 27 runs and 28 stolen bases

Head Coach Paul Mainieri on Gavin Dugas:
“I can’t wait to get to work with Gavin Dugas, as he is so enthusiastic about beginning his career at LSU. He wants to work hard and learn as much as he can about the game of baseball and what it takes to win. He also has a lot of talent and swings the bat with consistency and pop. He has had an outstanding summer in a collegiate summer league prior to his enrolling at LSU and has already shown he can handle college pitching. Gavin has a chance to step in right away and make a difference for our team.”

Jaden Hill, RHP
6-4, 215, R-R, Fr., HS
Ashdown, Ark. (Ashdown HS)

• Selected in the 38th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals
• Rated the No. 78 prospect in the MLB Draft by MLB Pipeline and rated No. 1 Player in Arkansas by Perfect Game and Prep Baseball Report
• Brother of former MLB 10th round draft pick Kentrell Hill
• Named the 2018 Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year and received 2017 All-America recognition from Under Armour
• Posted a 7-0 record on the mound with a 0.51 ERA in 2018, striking out 85 batters while allowing 12 walks … also batted .540 with 11 home runs, 43 RBI, 35 runs and a 1.034 slugging percentage.

Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach Alan Dunn on Jaden Hill:
“Jaden is probably the most versatile athlete in the recruiting class. He was a highly recruited quarterback in addition to being a pitcher/third baseman coming out of high school. He possesses a mid-90s fastball and a swing-and-miss changeup with excellent ability to pound the strike zone. His confidence, competitiveness, and maturity on the mound should allow him to make a quick transition to the college game and help him contribute at a high level to the pitching staff.”

Saul Garza, C
6-3, 225, R-R, So., JC
Edinburg, Texas (Edinburgh North HS/Howard JC)

• Selected in the 31st round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals
• Batted .378 in 2018 with 52 hits and 23 home runs at Howard Junior College, and was selected to the NJCAA Division I All-Region Team
• Selected to participate this summer in the Cal Ripken All-Star Game and the Sun Belt Classic in North Carolina for the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League as a member of the Gaithersburg Giants; through games of July 18, he was hitting .282 with seven doubles, five homers and 26 RBI
• A four-year starter at Edinburg North High School and selected during his senior year to be a member of the National team by the National High School Coaches Association for Region 6
• Three-time All-State catcher for the state of Texas, twice being named to the first team
• 2017 District MVP and All-Area Offensive MVP while batting .530
• 2016 District MVP and All-Area Catcher while batting .513

Head Coach Paul Mainieri on Saul Garza:
“There is no more important player in our recruiting class than Saul Garza. For us to be the championship team we desire to be, we must fill the catcher position with a quality defensive player and leader. Saul has a chance to be that guy behind the plate. In addition, he will be a force at the plate as demonstrated by his 23 home runs last season in JUCO and the power he displayed in summer ball leading to his enrollment at LSU. I’m anxious to see Saul assert himself as a leader of this team, as he is a very mature and intelligent individual.”

Aaron George, RHP
6-5, 235, R-R, Jr., JC
Calhoun, La. (Ouachita Christian HS/San Jacinto College)

• Made 53 appearances in two seasons for San Jacinto College, posting a 3-1 record, 12 saves and a 1.69 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 48 innings
• A 2017 NJCAA Region XIV All-Star and 2018 All-Conference selection … ranked in Perfect Game’s 2018 JUCO Top 75 Prospect List
• Pitched in the NJCAA Division I World Series for San Jacinto, as his team finished 2nd (2017) and 3rd (2018)
• A four-year starter at Ouachita Christian, posting a 32-10 record with a 2.36 ERA and 281 strikeouts in 249 innings
• A three-time All-State, four-time All-District and four-time All-Area selection
• 2015 Louisiana Coaches Association Pitcher of the Year and 2015 All-Area Pitcher of the Year
• Helped lead Ouachita Christian High to the 2015 State Championship

Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach Alan Dunn on Aaron George:
“Aaron is a huge presence on the mound as a physical power pitcher that comes from a very successful JUCO program, where he excelled as the closer for two seasons. He features a fastball that will work in the low 90s and a swing-and–miss slider for his out pitch. His experience of pitching in college baseball and having been asked to get the last three outs in games will allow him to come in and be a vital part of our bullpen.”

Rye Gunter, RHP
6-5, 210, R-R, Fr., HS
Coppell, Texas (Coppell HS)

• Posted a 9-0 record as a senior in 2018 with a 1.55 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 50 innings
• Named to the 2018 Rawlings/Perfect Game and Collegiate Baseball High School Preseason All-America teams
• Voted a 2018 Texas High School Baseball Preseason 6A Top 50 Player
• Earned 2018 Texas 6A All-State honors
• Fired a no-hitter in a 2018 bi-district playoff game with seven strikeouts
• Posted a 4-1 mark in 2017 with 55 strikeouts in 34.2 innings and a 1.61 ERA … was named to 9-6A All-District team as a second-team pitcher
• Threw both a perfect game and a no-hitter in 2017

Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach Alan Dunn on Rye Gunter:
“Rye has a typical power pitcher’s frame with more room to add weight and strength. His delivery allows him to pitch on an excellent downhill plane. This allows him to live at the bottom of the strike zone with a low to mid 90s fastball, tight slider, and changeup. His physical stature and his three-pitch mix should allow him to come in and compete as a starting pitcher and handle the workload of a long season.”

Cole Henry, RHP
6-4, 205, R-R, Fr., HS
Florence, Ala. (Florence HS)

• Selected in the 38th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers
• A 2018 Perfect Game 2nd Team All-American and member of the 2018 Perfect Game Southeast All-Region first team
• Ranked as the No. 79 player in the nation by Perfect Game
• Posted a 5-3 record and a 1.82 ERA in 2018 with 83 strikeouts in 50 innings … limited opponents to a .161 batting average

Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach Alan Dunn on Cole Henry:
“Cole has a three-pitch mix of a mid-90s fastball, hard 12-to-6 curveball, and late fading changeup. His physical attributes, combined with an advanced knowledge of pitching, will allow him to make a quick adjustment to the college game and be a pitcher that will be counted on to make an immediate impact. The sky is the limit for Cole as I believe he will turn into a premier power pitcher in our league.”

Landon Marceaux, RHP
6-0, 185, R-R, Fr., HS
Destrehan, La. (Destrehan HS)

• Selected in the 37th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees
• Listed as the No. 1 Player in Louisiana in the 2018 high school class by Perfect Game and Prep Baseball Report
• Listed as the No. 50 overall player and No. 18 pitcher in the 2018 high school class by Perfect Game
• Listed as the No. 109 prospect in the 2018 MLB Draft by Baseball America and No. 117 by MLB Pipeline
• Three-time selection to the Picayune All-Metro baseball team
• Received 2018 All-America recognition from Baseball America and from Rawlings/Perfect Game
• A two-time All-State selection; three-time 1st Team All-District selection, and 2018 District 7-5A Pitcher of the Year
• Recorded 76 strikeouts in 49.2 innings in 2018 with only five walks (1 intentional); posted a 5-0 record and a 1.26 ERA
• Recorded 99 strikeouts in 63.1 innings in 2017 with only eight walks, two no-hitters and a 1.56 ERA
• Set the Destrehan High School ERA record with a 0.64 ERA as a sophomore in 2016
• Career stats at Destrehan HS: 18-3 record, three saves, 168.1 innings, 239 strikeouts, 31 walks and a 1.17 ERA
• Member of 2017 Team USA 18U Baseball Team – WBSC 18U Baseball World Cup Gold Medal Winners

Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach Alan Dunn on Landon Marceaux:
“Landon is potentially the most polished pitcher in the class of 2018. His four-pitch mix and ability to command the strike zone allowed him to be a starting pitcher on his high school team for four years. He also competed on very high level as he pitched for 18U USA Baseball, helping them win the World Cup during his senior year in high school. In combining his experience, skill set, and work ethic, he should transition very quickly and be in the mix to compete in the SEC as a freshman.”

Brock Mathis, C
6-1, 205, R-R, So., JC
Fairfield, Ohio (Fairfield HS/Northwest Florida State)

• Playing this summer for the Rockford (Ill.) Rivets in the Northwoods Collegiate League
• Batted .270 in the 2018 season at Northwest Florida State with one double, four homers, seven RBI and 10 runs
• Named a 2017 Rawlings-Perfect Game Honorable Mention High School All-American
• Ranked by Perfect Game in 2017 as the No. 1 catcher in the state of Ohio and the No. 4 overall prospect in the state
• Voted the 2017 MaxPreps Best Baseball Player in Ohio … a four-year high school letterman, leading his team to 2017 district title
• Voted 2017 and 2016 high school team MVP and Best Defensive Player
• A 2016 and 2017 First-Team All-League selection and All-Academic award recipient
• 2016 Cincinnati Reds Showcase MVP Award

Head Coach Paul Mainieri on Brock Mathis:
Brock Mathis has a chance to have a great impact on our 2019 LSU team because of the position he plays. Our No. 1 goal in recruiting was to strengthen the catching position, and Brock has all the tools to step in and be a great leader of our team. He will compete for the starting job behind the plate after having his only season of JUCO ball cut short because of a hand injury and his summer baseball season cut short for personal reasons. How quickly he can regain the form that we saw when we recruited him will determine his playing time. He has superior defensive skills behind the plate and, before he hurt his hand, was swinging the bat with a lot of authority. Brock has an outgoing personality and is an extremely confident young man, which will help him in handling a pitching staff. I’m so anxious to watch Brock play this fall and see him assert himself.”

Easton McMurray, LHP
6-4, 210, R-L, Fr., HS
Bakersfield, Calif. (Liberty HS)

• Selected in the 37th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies
• Earned all-America recognition from Rawlings in 2017 and 2018 … also named to the Perfect Game first-team all-West Coast Region squad
• 2017 first-team all-Area and first-team all-Valley selection
• Rated by Perfect Game as the No. 161 overall prospect and the No. 3 LHP in California
• Posted a 6-1 record in 2017 at Liberty High School with an ERA of 0.52
• Son of Brock McMurray, who played at Southeastern Louisiana and spent five years as an outfielder in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization

Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach Alan Dunn on Easton McMurray:
“Easton is the only southpaw pitcher in this recruiting class. A very physically developed pitcher with a high 80s to low 90s fastball, slider, and changeup. He brings a great work ethic and an intense mound demeanor that will allow him to compete very quickly. He was limited in his innings in high school during his senior season due to some nagging arm issues. However, he is poised to get back on the mound this fall and continue to develop his game that will allow him to reach the high potential that we think he possesses.”

Will Ripoll, RHP
6-0, 185, R-R, Fr., HS
New Orleans, La. (John Curtis HS)

• Posted a 10-0 record and a 0.98 ERA in 2018 with 102 strikeouts in 71.1 innings
• Named 2018 the LHSAA Division I Most Valuable Player and Pitcher of the Year, as he led John Curtis High to the state championship
• Named a 2018 All-American by Rawlings/Perfect Game
• 2018 first-team All-State selection and named first-team All-Louisiana by USA Today
• Voted the 2018 Perfect Game Louisiana Player of the Year
• Rank No. 4 overall prospect in Louisiana by Perfect Game (No. 2 pitcher); ranked as No. 114 prospect nationally by Perfect Game
• Ranked No. 183 in Baseball America Top 500 Prospects

Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach Alan Dunn on Will Ripoll:
“Will is another versatile athlete who was a two-way player that helped lead his team to a state championship his senior year. On the mound, he brings an aggressive demeanor in which he attacks the zone with a high 80s fastball and a wipeout 12-to-6 curveball. His athleticism gives him the ability to repeat his mechanics and delivery. This will allow him to control the strike zone and make adjustments which will give him the opportunity to compete for innings in the bullpen very quickly.”

Riggs Threadgill, RHP
6-4, 215, R-R, Fr., HS
Fredericksburg, Texas (Fredericksburg HS)

• Received 2018 All-America recognition from Perfect Game
• Posted an 11-2 record in 2018 at Fredericksburg HS with a 1.82 ERA and 99 strikeouts … also batted .374 with three homers
• Selected in 2018 for the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star Game
• Named 2018 district MVP and was a three-year first-team all-district pitcher
• Earned all-state honors as an outfielder in 2017

Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach Alan Dunn on Riggs Threadgill:
“Riggs is a well-built power pitcher that uses his strong lower half to generate a low-to-mid-90s fastball. He works on a good downhill plane and will get a lot of swing-and-misses in the strike zone. The continued development of his secondary pitches will allow him to excel as either a starting pitcher or potentially into a potential bullpen arm that can close games out.”

CJ Willis, 1B/OF/C
6-2, 190, L-R, Fr., HS
Ruston, La. (Ruston HS)

• Selected in the 39th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays
• Rated No. 60 among the nation’s top players by Perfect Game
• Selected as First-Team All-Louisiana by USA Today
• Earned All-America, All-State and All-District honors during his high school career
• A two-time Region Player of The Year and a four-time first team all-Region selection
• Voted 2018 Team MVP his senior year, as he batted .375 with three doubles, four triples, four homers, 28 runs, 22 RBI, 11 stolen bases and a .531 on-base percentage
• Career stats at Ruston High: .338 batting average, 23 doubles, 11 triples, 12 homers, 86 RBI and 21 steals in 23 attempts

Head Coach Paul Mainieri on CJ Willis:
“Unfortunately, CJ will begin this fall on the disabled list as the result of an injury he suffered during his senior year of high school. However, once he heals and is ready to go, everyone will be able to see an extremely talented and versatile baseball player. To begin with, CJ can really swing the bat from the left side. The ball jumps off his bat, and he can be an impact hitter. Secondly, he is in the development stages as a catcher, but has the potential to become a very athletic player behind the dish. He can also play both corner infield positions, as well as both corner outfield positions. At some point, his bat will force him into the lineup somewhere. We have to be patient with CJ and let him fully heal, and then we will get a good look at him in the spring.”