Saul Garza, Zack Mathis of LSU baseball sign professional contracts as undrafted free agents
BATON ROUGE - LSU baseball's Saul Garza woke up to good news Sunday morning, his first call of the day was from The Royals, who wanted to sign him as an undrafted free agent.
According to The Advocate, Garza, a junior catcher at LSU, spent the day talking to his advisor and his family. He evaluated offers from six or seven teams before he picked the Royals. The decision stemmed from his relationship with the franchise, which picked him in the 32nd round of the 2019 draft.
“Even last year,” Garza said, “I felt really comfortable with the organization.”
Garza wasn't the only LSU baseball standout to sign a contract on Sunday, he was joined by infielder Zack Mathis who signed with the San Diego Padres. With this decision, both players are bringing an end to their collegiate careers.
“Age was starting to catch up with them,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “I can understand their desires to start their professional careers.”
Though Mathis and Garza might have received higher signing bonuses in next year’s draft, they are approaching the prime of their athletic lives. Garza would have turned 23 years old next spring. Mathis would have been four years removed from high school. They decided to enter the minor leagues instead of extending their college careers.
“The sooner you can get into an organization,” Garza said, “the sooner you can work your way up in it.”
Without Mathis and Garza, LSU must replace its third baseman and designated hitter. Garza regularly appeared in the middle of LSU’s lineup. Mathis batted leadoff during his final LSU game.
“I’d love to have them back,” Mainieri said, “but I do believe we have the personnel to replace them.”
The Tigers also lost right fielder Daniel Cabrera and starting pitcher Cole Henry during the draft.
Mathis transferred to LSU last summer after two years in junior college. He hoped to boost his draft stock, but his season ended in a two-week slump that dropped his batting average to .262. He wasn't picked in the five-round draft format, the shortest in major league history.
Garza became one of LSU's most productive hitters his sophomore year. After recovering from a torn meniscus, Garza raised his batting average by more than 100 points within 22 games. He ended the year batting .303 and earned multiple postseason honors, including co-Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional.