On June 9, 2012, No. 1-seeded LSU faced No. 16-seeded Stony Brook in Game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional at home. Highly touted freshman right-hander Aaron Nola took the mound for the Tigers in front of a jammed packed crowd of passionate and energetic LSU supporters. Also in the stands was 16-year-old Alex Lange.
The No. 1-ranked prep baseball player in Missouri, Lange was in attendance observing the Tigers as he searched for the right university to continue this education and baseball career. After witnessing the support LSU fans had for their team, Lange knew he wanted to attend LSU, beginning in fall 2014.
“I get the goosebumps thinking about it,” said Lange about that 2012 Super Regional game. “It was pretty cool to experience that. I told myself if I have the chance to pitch here, this is the place I want to be. It is the best baseball in the country, best coaching staff, facilities. I’m just honored and blessed.”
Despite being projected to get selected within the first five rounds of the 2014 MLB First-Year Player Draft as a senior in high school, Lange remained committed to LSU because of the program’s pedigree and willingness to play freshman right away.
As a freshman with LSU in 2015, Lange took advantage of his opportunity. In 17 starts, Lange posted a 12-0 mark with a 1.97 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 114 innings on his way to earning a list full of accolades. He earned National Freshman Pitcher of the Year and First-Team All-American honors by multiple publications.
“I was very blessed to have an incredible team behind me my freshman year,” Lange said. “I learned a lot. It was awesome. It was something I could never predicted or imagined. It was a lot of fun. We came up short in Omaha, but it was a dream come true to go to the College World Series.”
Lange was unable to duplicate his stellar freshman success. As a sophomore in 2016, he finished 8-4 and tallied a 3.79 ERA with 125 strikeouts in 111 2/3 innings (17 games).
Although the results weren’t what he was hoping, Lange believes he grew as a baseball player.
“I matured,” Lange said. “I learned how to pitch. I became obsessed with the process of preparing more than the results last year. That really helped me grow as a pitcher and getter better from start to start.”
Besides developing his fastball and changeup during the off-season, Lange was also a member of Team USA, competing with top college players from across the country. From facing Japan in a competitive five-game series to beating Cuba on Cuban soil for the first time in Team USA history, it was an experience Lange will never forget, he said.
“I met some guys who will be friends for life,” Lange said. “Awesome competitors and really good ball players on that team. We had a lot of fun. I get the goosebumps thinking about what we did and what we accomplished. I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with any other guys.”
The 2017 season is only two months away and expectations are high for Lange. Now a junior, MLB.com ranks Lange as the 10th-best draft prospect in the 2017 MLB Draft.
A 6-foot-4, 200-pound righty, Lange has a three-pitch mix, featuring two above-average pitches in his mid-90s fastball and power curveball. While he has a proven track record of success as a starter, scouts are hoping to see an improvement in his control this spring.
Despite scouts and fans tossing his name around as a potential early first-round selection in June’s draft, Lange’s lone goal is to lead the Tigers to a College World Series title.
“It is something you can’t get involved in and look at,” said Lange of the draft. “When you are so processed oriented and focused on the task at hand every day, you just tone that stuff out and don’t listen to it. It’s when you start listening to the expectations that you start comparing your results to the expectations. It can really, really hurt you in the long run.
“All that stuff is cool and it’s fun to see yourself in the paper, but I don’t look at it. I’m just focused on playing for the Tigers and hopefully ending up in Omaha and hoisting up the trophy at the end.”
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