After winning its seventh national championship in program history last June, LSU baseball heads into the 2024 season with many new faces.
The Tigers lost six starters in the lineup and their top two starting pitchers from last years title winning team. But despite those departures, LSU's pitching staff this season is as deep as it has been in years and the lineup still has multiple impact players and depth at key positions, including catcher and in the outfield.
Here's a look at LSU's projected lineup and top pitchers heading into this season.
1. Mac Bingham | CF, Sr. | (R)
Bingham started in center field for Arizona the past two seasons before transferring to LSU this summer. The fifth-year senior posted an on-base plus slugging percentage of over .900 in each season against Pac-12 competition.
2. Josh Pearson | 2B, Jr. | (L)
The veteran moves to second base after spending the first two years of his collegiate career as an excellent defensive corner outfielder. A strong start to this season at the plate will be key for Pearson.
3. Tommy White | 3B, Jr. | (R)
He enters 2024 as one of the best hitters in college baseball and a projected top-10 pick in this summer’s MLB Draft. How his production will fare without Dylan Crews in the lineup will be worth monitoring.
4. Hayden Travinski | DH, Gr. | (R)
Came on strong at the end of last season with 10 home runs in his last 26 games. He inherits the revered No. 8 and will have bigger role in the lineup, but also may have fewer catching responsibilities.
5. Jared Jones | 1B, So. | (R)
Jones arguably has more raw power than any other hitter in college baseball. Improving his pitch selection and consistency at the plate will be key to unlocking that potential. Defensively, he takes over Tre Morgan’s hallowed spot.
6. Brady Neal | C, So. | (L)
Neal started at catcher last season before a back injury derailed his year. But he’s healthy now and willing to expand his defensive portfolio to second base, third base or the outfield. Expect improvement from him as a hitter, too.
7. Michael Braswell | SS, Jr. | (R)
Transferred in from South Carolina this offseason and should help LSU’s new-look defense up the middle. This fall he adjusted his swing to get his hips more involved, allowing him to drive the ball for more extra-base hits.
8. Paxton Kling | RF, So. | (R)
Started for chunks of last season despite being a freshman. Kling has the potential to shoot up the lineup thanks to his underrated strength and twitchy athleticism. On defense, he also has the speed to play center field.
9. Jake Brown | LF, Fr. | (L)
Brown was the No. 1 high school recruit in Louisiana, per Perfect Game, and Johnson has been enamored with what he can do at the plate. He can also help LSU as a lefty pitcher if need be.
Top bench options
Alex Milazzo | C, Gr. | (R)
Veteran defensive-minded catcher who posted a career-high .369 on-base percentage last season. Milazzo’s ability to work with pitchers and keep bouncing balls in front of him makes him an invaluable piece to LSU’s defense.
Ethan Frey | OF/C/1B, So. | (R)
Frey is a versatile defensive piece who can play outfield, first base and catcher. His size – 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds – gives LSU a potential power hitter off its bench, despite playing sparingly last season as a freshman.
Steven Milam | INF, Fr. | (S)
Don’t let his size fool you. Despite standing at 5-foot-8, Milam hit the ball hard this preseason despite his lack of experience facing college pitching. The New Mexico native can also play multiple positions on the infield.
Ben Nippolt | INF, Sr. | (L)
Was LSU’s best bunter at the plate and top defensive replacement on the infield during its national title run a year ago. The former VCU transfers’ fielding chops may be needed even more this season than last.
Weekend starting rotation
Thatcher Hurd | RHP, Jr.
One of LSU’s biggest heroes during its national championship run returns with a chance at becoming a first-round draft pick. He’s added 12-15 pounds and has increased his fastball velocity to 98 mph, Johnson said.
Luke Holman | RHP, Jr.
Holman transfers to LSU from Alabama after posting a 3.67 ERA last season. He won’t light up the radar gun (his fastball usually sits in the low 90s) but his curveball makes life difficult for hitters.
Gage Jump | LHP, Jr.
Follows in Hurd’s footsteps as a pitcher transferring from UCLA to LSU. He’s missed the last season and a half due to Tommy John surgery, but Jump is healthy again and ready to fool hitters with a strong four-pitch mix.
Griffin Herring | LHP, So.
Stepped up when LSU needed him most in Omaha and has the resume to be a weekend starter for most SEC clubs. Johnson has said repeatedly that he trusts him with his life on the mound.
Nate Ackenhausen | LHP, Sr.
Ackenhausen was another hero in Omaha and was arguably LSU’s most consistent relief pitcher a year ago. He posted a 3.52 ERA last season and would’ve thrown more innings if it weren’t for a midseason hamstring injury.
Cam Johnson | LHP, Fr.
Johnson is the No. 1 freshman in the nation, per Perfect Game, as his arrival at LSU last summer came as a pleasant surprise to LSU. He can throw up to 97 mph and is working on refining his slider.
Gavin Guidry | RHP, So.
Johnson has not ruled out his return as a hitter but Guidry’s focus is as a pitcher at the moment. LSU’s national championship closer has worked on improving his fastball this preseason with pitching coach Nate Yeskie.
Justin Loer | LHP, Jr.
Xavier transfer posted a 1.89 ERA in 57 innings pitched a year ago. Loer doesn’t light up the radar gun with his fastball but it has good sinking movement, and his slider is a strong secondary offering.
Kade Anderson | LHP, Fr.
Anderson missed his entire senior season due to Tommy John surgery but is back and 100% healthy for 2024. He has a fastball that can at least reach 94 mph and a sharp curveball from a lanky 6-foot-2 frame.
Jaden Noot | RHP, R-Fr.
Noot missed all of 2023 after undergoing Tommy John surgery but arrived at LSU last offseason as the No. 1 right-handed pitcher in California. Expect him to make his LSU debut this season as he’s already throwing bullpens.
Aiden Moffett | RHP, So.
He made just one appearance on the mound last season but impressed LSU’s staff with his rapid improvement this past fall. He’s still refining his off-speed pitches and control but has a fastball that’s reached 100 mph.
Kade Woods | RHP, R-So.
Transfer from Alabama threw 29? innings pitched and struck out 30.9% of the batters he faced last season. Woods is also a Louisiana native and posted a 1.02 ERA for Ouachita Christian High School as a senior.
Christian Little | RHP, Sr.
He started eight games for the Tigers last season after transferring in from Vanderbilt. Little has the talent to be a weekend starter, as he was briefly in 2023 and with Vandy, but he has to improve his consistency.