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June 8, 2013

Big draft day for two LSU seniors

Raph Rhymes came to LSU in the fall of 2008 and unsuccessfully tried to make the baseball team as a walk-on.

Chris Cotton was able to make the Tigers squad as a walk-on one year later. Rhymes did return to LSU on scholarship for the 2011 season following an All-America year in junior college.

Both Rhymes and Cotton were drafted in fairly high positions for seniors Saturday. Rhymes was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 15th round. Cotton was chosen one round earlier by the Houston Astros.

Rhymes had been drafted each of the past two years - by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 40th round in 2011 and by the New York Yankees in the 30th round in 2012. Rhymes, who gave up his scholarship before last season, has started 183 games in his three seasons with the Tigers.

Rhymes began Saturday's game against Oklahoma with a .377 career batting average - second among LSU hitters to Todd Walker. Rhymes has hit 11 homers with 140 runs batted in.

Cotton, whose fast ball is no higher than the upper 80s, has worked his way up the bullpen ladder for the Tigers. Cotton began his career as a lefthanded specialist. Last season, he was a set-up guy for closer Nick Goody. This year, Cotton is the closer.

Prior to Saturday's game against Oklahoma, Cotton had tied the school record for saves in a season with 16. In his career, Cotton has made 102 appearances. He has a 13-1 record with 18 saves and a 2.34 earned run average. Cotton has walked 16 and struck out 111 in 123 innings.

Two Tigers juniors were drafted Saturday. Catcher Ty Ross was picked in the 12th round by the San Francisco Giants. Third baseman Christian Ibarra was chosen in the 32nd round by Pittsburgh.

Ross, who has started 160 games in three seasons, is an outstanding defensive catcher. His career batting average is just .242. Ross has hit seven homers and has driven in 90 runs. Ibarra, a junior college transfer, is batting .321 with six homers and 39 RBIs.

Only one LSU signee was picked on the final day of the draft. First baseman Nick Longhi of Venice (Fla.) was selected in the 30th round by the Boston Red Sox. The Tigers will probably lose just two signees - infielder Justin Williams of Terrebonne High School and pitcher David Palladino of Howard College.

Over the three days, three LSU seniors were drafted - Mason Katz, Cotton and Rhymes. Six Tigers juniors were picked - Ryan Eades, JaCoby Jones, Nick Rumbelow, Will LaMarche, Ross and Ibarra. Former LSU pitcher Chad Jones was also drafted.


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