Washington Nationals MLB Draft: Getting To Know Andrew Stevenson
By Ricky Keeler
Eight days ago, the Washington Nationals selected LSU outfielder Andrew Stevenson with their first pick (second round) of the 2015 MLB Draft. This season, at LSU, the 21-year-old hit .356 with one home run, 21 RBI’s, a .407 on-base percentage and 26 stolen bases.
While most high MLB Draft picks are signing contracts with their teams and getting ready to play their first professional games, Stevenson and is LSU Tigers are still trying to achieve their goal of a College World Series title. However, LSU comes into today’s game at Omaha in a win-or-go-home scenario.
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Today, at 3:00 PM ET on ESPN2, the Tigers will take on the Cal St. Fullerton Titans in an elimination game as part of the loser’s bracket. In their first game last Sunday, LSU lost to the TCU Horned Frogs by a score of 10-3. Despite the loss, Stevenson went 1-for-4 with a double and a RBI groundout.
So what kind of player has Stevenson been down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana? To get some more insight on Stevenson, I spoke with Josh Criswell, the editor of Fansided’s LSU site Death Valley Voice, to get his thoughts on how their center fielder has matured as a player and how quick does he think Stevenson could make it to the Nation’s Capital:
Ricky: What was the LSU reaction to see Stevenson get drafted on night 1 of the MLB Draft on a night where Alex Bregman was taken with the 2nd pick?
Joshua: It was a pleasant surprise, especially coming off of clinching a trip to the College World Series the night before. Everybody knew that Alex Bregman would be coming off the board early in the night, but Andrew Stevenson was not a Day 1 lock by any means, so it was nice to see him picked up by an organization that has a bright future like Washington.
R: What improvements did you notice in Stevenson’s game from last season to this season?
J: The dramatic jump in his batting average and stolen base numbers are the most obvious improvements, but to gauge Stevenson’s development as a player, you must look back to his freshman season.
He was nothing short of awful at the plate when he arrived on campus, finishing the year with a sub-.200 batting average. He went from recording more strikeouts than hits and having a .193 batting average as a freshman, to hitting .356 this season.
R: Is there a Major League player that you think Stevenson compares to?
J: He reminds me a lot of Gregory Polanco, the 23-year old outfielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Polanco is much like Stevenson in that he has blinding speed that compliments his game on both offense and defense. He also has enough power to hit the ball out of the park, but not enough to be a legitimate home run threat.
The Pirates outfielder has struggled at the plate, hitting .242 so far during his brief career, which is something I see Stevenson having issues with at the MLB-level (at least initially). His speed will be what gets him on the field, much like it has for Polanco.
R: Was there one game in particular from this season that stood out from Stevenson this season?
J: Not one game in particular, but there was an unforgettable catch he made during the clinching game of the NCAA Regionals against UNC-Wilmington. Here it is: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=12991813
He is one of the fastest players in college baseball, and it made for some incredible highlight reel plays during his time at LSU. This one is just the most recent of many amazing defensive plays, and came on the big stage.
R: In your opinion, how quick do you think Stevenson can reach the major leagues?
J: Stevenson is an interesting MLB prospect. While I do not think he will be ready for the big leagues for 3-5 years, I feel that he will progress very quickly through the minor leagues, simply because of his speed. I foresee Stevenson getting called up way before he is ready. It could happen late next season, especially if Washington is in the playoff race and needs some wheels off of the bench.
R: Predictions for LSU in the upcoming College World Series? (This question was asked before the tournament began.)
J: Although it may seem like a homer pick, I think that the Bayou Bengals will win it all. This is the most talented LSU team I have seen since they won it all in 2009; just take a look at the eight players drafted in 2015 for reference.
The Tigers have a scary combination of proven veterans in the field, and talented underclassman on the pitcher’s mound. They have seen a plethora of their players win awards at the national and conference level, after spending the better part of the last two months of the season atop the polls.
LSU has yet to be defeated in the NCAA tournament, and they have lost a total of one series on the season. That loss came back in March. The LSU Tigers will get revenge for an SEC tournament loss and defeat the Florida Gators for the 2015 College World Series championship.
We, at District On Deck, thank Joshua for taking the time to answer these questions for us. You can follow Death Valley Voice on Twitter (@DeathValleyFS) and follow Joshua on Twitter (@joshccriswell).
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