The 2014 LSU baseball season may have ended only a month and a half ago, but preparations for next season are already underway.
At a press conference on Monday, LSU baseball coach Pail Mainieri introduced his new assistant coach Andy Cannizaro.
“This is a day that is very important to our future,” Mainieri said. “It’s also a day where we are going to have a myriad of emotions. Although Andy is coming to the staff it is also a day to say goodbye to [former coach] Javi [Sanchez], who’s been a very loyal member of our staff for the last seven years.”
Mainieri said the press conference was a bittersweet moment because it marked both the end of Sanchez’s career and the beginning of Cannizaro’s tenure at LSU. Mainieri said Sanchez has made the transition as seamless as possible with his complete approval of Cannizaro’s hiring.
Cannizaro is a former Major League Baseball player who played at Tulane from 1998-2001. He was selected to the All-Conference USA First Team in 1999. and was drafted in the seventh round by the New York Yankees in 2001.
Cannizaro’s professional career never panned out — he hit .222 with one home run. He spent the previous five seasons as a scout for the Yankees where he evaluated and recruited players for the MLB Draft.
Cannizaro expressed a desire to coach at the collegiate level and maintained high praises for LSU baseball’s storied history.
“I loved working for the New York Yankees where I felt like the expectations and demands of that organizations were greater than other organizations in Major League Baseball,” Cannizaro said. “Now, coming to college baseball and joining the LSU baseball family, I’m coming to work for the New York Yankees of college baseball.”
Cannizaro will coach the outfielders next season while Mainieri works with the infielders and assistant coach Alan Dunn coaches the catchers. Notable returning outfielders include juniors Andrew Stevenson and Mark Laird and sophomore Jake Fraley.
The other addition to the LSU coaching roster is former player Christian Ibarra, who will spend next season as an undergraduate assistant coach. Ibarra spent the past four seasons playing third base for the Tigers and received First Team All-SEC honors in 2013.
Mainieri also welcomed in the new recruiting class, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation by Perfect Game. The class features pitcher Mac Marshall from Lilbrum, Ga. and twins Beau and Bryce Jordan from Barbe High School in Lake Charles.
Mainieri acknowledged the class is smaller than most seasons, but was confident there is talent from top to bottom.
“I know every year coaches stand up and talk about how excited they are about this class and so forth, but this really is an amazing group,” Mainieri said. “We are fortunate to have the No. 1 ranked recruiting class twice in my tenure here… there is no doubt in my mind this is a No. 1 ranked recruiting class.”
The notable exception from the roster is outfielder Cade Stone, who Mainieri said is transferring to LSU-Eunice. The West Monroe native started two games his freshman season, batting .250 while recording two extra-base hits.