Houston Astros’ message to LSU: Make the most of your shot

The Houston Astros organization continued its offseason trek through Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana on Wednesday, when part of the team caravan visited LSU’s Alex Box Stadium.

Even the big leaguers liked what they saw.

The caravan featured three current members of the 25-man roster — first baseman Brett Wallace and relief pitchers Josh Zeid and Josh Fields — along with former player James Mouton and current radio broadcast member Steve Sparks.

The caravan also made a stop at City Hall, where they hoisted a flag donning the Astros emblem before making their way to the LSU campus, where they visited with members of the baseball team, and toured the facilities.

“This place is unbelievable,’’ said Wallace, who played at Arizona State and was clearly impressed with LSU’s digs. “It’s definitely a first-rate facility. No place is going to have it better than this.”

The Astros took the tour with LSU coach Paul Mainieri, then spoke with members of the team.

“I thought it was a real nice visit by those guys with the Houston Astros,” Mainieri said “They’re living examples of players who chose to go to college before they went into professional baseball who’ve all made it into the major leagues. I think that gives inspiration to our players.”

Each visiting member of the Astros organization shared a personal message of their own experiences from their college-to-pro days.

Wallace’s message to the squad focused on making their time worthwhile in college while also learning the fundamentals of how to be a successful baseball player.

“The first thing that I wanted to convey to (the LSU players) was to take advantage of your opportunities,” Wallace said. “These are some of the best years of their life. When you get into pro ball, you’re on your own a lot. It’s a lot of individual stuff with guys trying to move up. It’s really going to come down to what you learned in college and in high school, in terms of work habits and learning how to be successful.

“I knew how to work hard and what needs to get done on a daily basis — hitting or fielding — when I entered pro ball.”

Another powerful message came from Zeid, a former Tulane player who transferred from Vanderbilt after two seasons and nearly walked away from the game after not being much of a contributor his junior season.

“They really all gave us great pieces of advice,” sophomore outfielder Mark Laird said. “One of them (Zeid) talked about how when he got into college, he didn’t really get the opportunity that he would have wanted — he talked about how the sail is not always smooth. Fortunately for him, it worked out well in the end.”

Ultimately, LSU’s meeting with the pro players seemed to have an impact.

“No matter what baseball throws at you, you can persevere,” sophomore outfielder Andrew Stevenson said. “When those guys got their shot, they took advantage of it.

“It’s cool to just be able to interact with them. And to know that one day you might have a chance to be in their shoes. It was a great experience.”