LSU baseball: Jay Johnson shares thoughts on Cam Johnson's surprise arrival to Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE — To say LSU baseball coach Jay Johnson was surprised freshman left-handed pitcher Cam Johnson picked LSU over MLB last month would be an understatement.

Cam, who was the No. 42 MLB Draft prospect in's rankings and the No. 11 high school prospect in the nation according to Perfect Game, is a 6-foot-5 left-handed pitcher with a fastball that can reach 98 mph.

That's the sort of player major league teams pick in the first round, or so Jay thought.

"Cam sneaking through, squeezing through the draft is probably one of the bigger surprises in my coaching career relative to a player showing up at school," Jay said to The Advertiser on Friday. "I mean, I had no thought of him showing up, basically because of the talent."

Jay remembers Cam visiting LSU for the first time in the Fall of 2021 — both of his parents insisting on Cam wanting to go to college and be at LSU. But because of Cam's talent, hearing those words for Jay was almost too good to be true.

"They continued to say that (he wanted to come to LSU)," Jay said. "I almost didn't listen to them, but only in the regard because of the talent that I think he has is what pro teams pay for."

When draft time came around, and Jay was preparing to work as a draft analyst for MLB Network, he even told the network that he'd be OK with talking about Cam and LSU signee Blake Mitchell on the broadcast if they were drafted, figuring that both would be first-round selections anyway and never arrive to campus.

The Kansas City Royals went on to select Mitchell with the No. 8 overall pick in the draft.

"The whole day before (the draft) we were doing the rehearsal thing and Dan O'Down, who was the former general manager for the (Colorado) Rockies whose on MLB Network, we were talking and he was just raving about Cam," Jay said. "He'd seen him a bunch and I was like 'Yeah, we have no chance.'"

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But LSU had a chance afterall, as Cam's arrival on campus makes him the highest ranked Tigers commitment to ever come to school, surpassing Dylan Crews — who was the No. 13 prospect in the Class of 2020.

And Jay isn't just excited about bringing in the young pitcher from IMG Academy. He's also relieved that Cam won't have to be pushed into any sort of role on Day 1 that he may or may not be ready for.

LSU will have a lot more left-handed pitching options this season than in Jay's first two years at the helm. The Tigers added two left-handed arms from the transfer portal, three freshman left-handed pitchers, including Johnson, and bring back Javen Coleman, Griffin Herring and Nate Ackenhausen.

"We'll be able to bring him along the proper way," Jay said. "It's not a situation where you have to force him into maybe more than he needs to or quote on quote is ready for.

"But the talent is there. The athlete is there. The person is there. The excitement of being here (is there), like he's really excited to be here. It's exactly the way you want it in that regard."

Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: LSU baseball: Jay Johnson on Cam Johnson arrival to Tigers