Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What did we learn in Fall Ball?

Wes Rea is back with a vengeance. He worked hard in the summer and in the weight room to get ready for fall ball. He showed everyone that he can hit any ball that is thrown to him. He really worked on his hitting. There is no doubt he will have a great 2015. He is a 5th year senior.

Canadian OF Jacob Robson had a tremendous fall. He hit, he stole bases, he ran down fly balls. IMO, he is the starting CF going into the spring. Eh?

What did the new low seam ball have on the hitters? IMO, it is hard to say because we have some really good hitters. Reid Humphreys and Gavin Collins are elite hitters, they both had good falls. I think it will be sometime in May when we can tell. After the weather warms up (across the nation) and players get used to it, especially the pitchers who have to throw it.

We have great depth at all positions, IMO. When you look at the roster, we have quality hitters on the bench and tons of pitching. The question is how effective can they be? That is the coaches jobs to put them in the positions. But really 1 through 35, we have the most depth and talent since John Cohen took over.

The designated hitter position is so much better. This goes along with what I said about depth. If Reid Humphreys is the starter in left field and Luke Reynolds is starting at 3B, then redshirt freshmen Brent Rooker and Joey Swinarski will man the DH role, IMO.  Both really came on late in the fall with their hitting. Along with the DH role is the pinch hitting role, especially late in tight games. This is often overlooked in college baseball. I do think we have enough depth and talent to be really good at pinch hitting. Cole Gordon (bats left) is a great example. Once he gets used to D1 baseball, he will be good.

The weekend starters did take a little shape. I do think LHP Lucas Laster and RHP Preston Brown are the leaders for 2 of the 3 spots. The continue to throw strikes, not walk batters, not give up many runs and have low pitch counts. As of right now, the 3rd spot is open, IMO. Several players are in the game for it.

The coaches handed the closers role to RHP Trevor Fitts and he did a good job. It is hard for anyone to come behind Jonathan Holder because we want to compare them to Holder. We may have several pitchers come in to do the job. Whatever it takes, I don't care.

Several other pitchers did well. LHP Vance Tatum had some great outings where he struck out the side or got out of the inning unscathed. RHP Zac Houston also did well throughout the fall. I could see Zac coming in the 7th or 8th starting the season. He may be the closer for 2016. Austin Sexton also did well. He will have a chance at starting. RHP Dakota Hudson had back issues at the beginning of fall but he pitched well in spots later.

Ross Mitchell is the same old dude. He just doesn't give up much. I don't think he starts in 2015. We need him in the bullpen and we need him well rested throughout the year.

2015 Schedule breakdown: SEC games

We start out at home versus Alabama. This is a good thing. Alabama will be ranked and will be one of the favorites to win the SEC. So its good we have them at home.

At Kentucky for the second series. I don't like going up there in March because it will be colder and there is always a possibility of bad weather. But it is a hitters park.

Back home for the next two series. Against a struggling Auburn club then against South Carolina. SC will probably be tabbed as a frontrunner for the SEC East crown. Very good to have them come to Starkville.

At Texas A & M, where it is always windy. We scored a lot of runs the last time we were there. I have no reason to think we can't do it again.

Florida at home for Super Bulldog Weekend. We should have 13,000 for each game. I love this because Florida has premier talent and I love to show them what they are missing crowd-wise. Florida, as you may not know, doesn't draw many fans to see baseball games. We really need to play well, Florida will probably be the SEC East leader at this point.

At Arkansas, will be our most difficult away series. The crowds will be big and Arkansas will be good.

We come home for the last time to play arch rival LSU. We need huge crowds for this series. We sure do need two wins from them. This is a huge series.

The last two series are away at hitters parks. First is at Ole Miss then at Tennessee. OM will have large crowds. I don't think they will be as good as they were last year. Tennessee will have small crowds but they will be a better club.

I do think we will win at least 15 games and be in the SEC tournament again.

2015 Schedule breakdown: non-conference

The good thing about the non-conference portion is we don't have any NE teams. If they have a huge snow storm north of Virginia we are in good shape.

We start out with 2 northern teams, Cincinnati and Miami of Ohio. They are probably decent clubs. I will dig deeper right before the season.

Sandwiched in between Ms Valley State and Alcorn State is Marshall and Alabama A & M. I haven't heard if Marshall is any good but I do think Alabama A & M is good.

The 3rd weekend of the spring, we entertain Arizona and Samford. I think Arizona is supposed to be good. Samford from Birmingham AL will be decent.

Arkansas Pine-Bluff visits for the first time in a while before an SEC like opponent flies in from the West Coast. We play San Diego next. Don't confuse them with our last years regional opponent, San Diego State. SD will be good.

The last games before SEC play are with Western Kentucky. Cohen played them a lot when he was with Kentucky. I do believe they will be a good opponent.

We will have 6 games left after SEC play starts. The first one is Eastern Illinois.

Then on March 24th, the first of 2 visits to Pearl. We play USM Golden Eagles. They are always a good club.

The next 2 games are away and are in very important recruiting areas (and alumni areas). We play South Alabama in Mobile and Memphis in Autozone Park. We recruit south Alabama and Memphis area real hard.

The last home non-conference game is with Northwestern State of Louisiana.

Then the last game we have is in Pearl versus Ole Miss. This is the Governors Cup. Obvious recruiting game too. This one usually sells out.

The highlight for the 2016 non-conference part is a trip to Los Angeles to play UCLA and USC in the Dodgertown Classic.

Post Fall Ball 2015 starters

1B - Wes Rea, Senior
2B - John Holland, Junior
SS - Seth Heck, Junior
3B - Luke Reynolds, Sophomore
C - Gavin Collins, Sophomore
LF - Reid Humphreys, Sophomore
CF - Jacob Robson, RS Sophomore
RF - Cody Brown, RS Sophomore

SEC - RHP Preston Brown, RS Junior
SEC - LHP Lucas Laster, Senior

Batting Lineup

1 - John Holland, left
2 - Jacob Robson, left
3 - Gavin Collins, right
4 - Reid Humphreys, right
5 - Wes Rea, right
6 - Luke Reynolds, left
7 - Seth Heck, right
8 - Brent Rooker, RS Freshman, DH, right
9 - Cody Brown, left

I think Holland, Heck, Rea, Collins and Humphreys must start every game. These guys are too good to leave out. Reynolds can DH when Matthew Britton plays 3B.

Every year there are players that don't do much in the fall and when spring starts they really excel. A few have this potential.

Of course, this is just my opinion. There won't be a set lineup every game due to matchups. And a couple players not even mentioned will jump up and start half the year.

The OF is the deepest its been in a long time. Reid Humphreys, Cody Brown, Jacob Robson, Michael Smith and Jake Vickerson all will start at some point or play a lot. Really the OF will mix and match left and right handed hitters depending on the opposing pitchers. Brent Rooker and Joey Swinarski must get some at bats as DH/PH types.

I do think, when games are well in hand, you will see mass substitutions to get these guys some experience. We have so much depth to go around plus you have to think ahead to 2016.

2014 Freshman signees: Post Fall Ball Edition

RHP/1B: Cole Gordon
A dual threat player. He really impressed at both positions although he had Tommy John surgery over 12 months ago, he pitched well in spots. He played a lot at 1B in the fall. He is 6-6 240 and bats left. Goodness, what a combo. I think he will be a great player before he leaves college. What about 2015? I think once his arm gets stronger and back in shape, I can see him coming in relief in spots for 1 or 2 batters. He can touch 90 with his fastball. I also think he gets some time at DH and PH. Again, once he gets AB's at the D1 level, he will be great. I am really excited about Cole.

RHP Aaron Dominguez
Along with the other freshmen, he played a lot in fall ball so the coaches can see him in action. He will see some time in the bullpen in 2015. He has the pitches to get out of jams. Aaron is 6-0 194. He just needs to gain experience and get used to D1 ball. He is a determined pitcher.

RHP Jesse McCord
I think Jesse is the best freshman pitcher of 2014 signees. I really believe by May he will be a impact pitcher. He has the stuff. He has the breaking balls. He is 6-1 190. He could very well be the Tuesday starter sometimes. A future weekend starter. We really got a good one here.

LHP Paxton Stover
Paxton had a lot of strike outs in the fall. I do see him as a bull pen specialist in 2015. He is 5-11 180. A really good addition from the state of Tennessee.

LHP Andrew Mahoney
Andrew is 6-2 210. He didn't pitch his senior year because of arm surgery. He didn't pitch a lot in the fall. If he isn't redshirted so he can get stronger, I do see him as a bull pen specialist. He was highly rated before the surgery, so I am excited about his future. I think once he gets his arm in shape, he will really take off.

MIF Ryan Gridley
Ryan had a great fall at the plate and in the field. He is an absolute gamer/dirtbag. He is 5-9 170 from Georgia. He had the winning hit in the fall World Series. The sky is the limit for Ryan. I would think, he would play some backup role at both MIF positions in 2015. By the end of the 2015 season, he will be ready to be a starter in 2016 at one of the spots. He just needs some D1 experience. A really good player. I am glad he is on our team.

RECAP: We didn't sign a huge freshman class but they are all good. Two had HS injuries (Gordon and Mahoney) that they are overcoming and once they are, they will be great players. I think (as of now), Gordon, McCord and Gridley are headed for stardom. While the others have great potential. Of course, I do need to see more of them.

2014 JC Transfer Signees: Post Fall Ball Edition

LHP/1B: Trent Waddell, Junior
Trent played a lot of 1B in the fall and pitched some in relief. He brings a LH bat to first base and to the DH/pinch role. A big kid at 6-2 210, he brings experience and toughness to the team. I think Wes Rea is the starter at 1B but Waddell can spell him some. IMO, Trent will be a multiple player, he will pitch some, play 1B/DH also.

MIF: John Holland, Junior
John is what you call a 5 star recruit. He will come in and start. He bats left and throws right. He is a grinder at the plate, he will walk a ton. He is the leadoff or 2 hole hitter. It is still uncertain what MIF position he starts. He is 5-11 175 and an absolute great addition to the club.

2B/3B: Matt Spruill, Junior
Matt showed in the fall he can play 3 positions, 3B, SS and 2B. He is a gamer. His older brother is a MLB pitcher. IMO, he will play a lot in 2015 in the multiple roles. A good player to come off the bench. He brings depth and experience to the infield. Matt is 6-1 190.

C Josh Lovelady, Junior
I think Josh surprised the coaches with his play in the fall. I believe he has made an impact to the 2nd string catcher race. He is a tough kid. If there is one critical position battle in the fall, it was for #2 catcher. We have to wait this race out. Josh is 6-0 190 and a gamer behind the dish.

OF Michael Smith, Junior
Michael is definitely in the OF rotation. I am thinking at least 5 guys to mix and match depending on the opposing pitcher. Michael did what he came to do, he is super fast. He ran down fly balls in the OF and put pressure on the defense when he ran the bases. He will play a lot in 2015. A late edition to the club but a great addition. He is 5-10 170.

RHP Logan Elliot, Sophomore
A pitcher that throws  sidearm. He is a specialist out of the pen. He was brought in a lot throughout the fall. Sometimes he gave up the big hit but other times he got out of if. He had to make adjustments to D1 ball. We shall see if he makes a jump in the spring. Can he come in and shut down the other team? Logan is 6-1 175.

LHP Daniel Brown, Sophomore
Daniel had one bad outing in the fall but I thought he did great the other times. I think he has a shot at being an SEC starter. If he doesn't become a starter he will counted upon numerous times to get us out of an inning. I think once he gets adjusted he will be super. He is not big, 5-10 183 but neither was Jon Harden. Daniel came from a Texas JC and made all-american honors his only year in JC baseball. I look for big things out of him in 2015.

3B/DH Luke Reynolds, Sophomore
I think Luke made a huge impression in fall camp. He made several sparkling plays at 3B. He came in known as a good hitter and he did that. He is a contact hitter. But diving for balls at 3B and rifling over to 1B to get the runner made some people notice. Senior Matthew Britton had a knee issue the last half of fall so the spring should tell the tale of who plays here the most. I put Luke at DH too. He is 6-2 186 and bats left (Britton too). Luke will only get better as he gets more reps. He will play a ton in 2015 at both 3B and DH.

RECAP: The stars of the JC class are: Holland, Smith, Brown and Reynolds. Those 4 will start and or play a ton in 2015. I would classify Waddell, Spruill and Lovelady as intriguing prospects. Those three each bring their own talent to certain roles.

Friday, November 14, 2014

2016 Class, so far.

We have 7 commits for the 2016 class. One player, Tre Turner, will be on a football scholarship.

Dustin Skelton, catcher
He is already ranked as the #1 catcher in the state of MS. We love getting those elite catchers.

Walker Robbins, LHP/1B
He is the #1 ranked LHP in the state of MS. He is not a bad first baseman either. A great player from south MS.

Cole Whitman, LHP
He is the #2 ranked LHP in the state of AL. He is 6-4 200. How many do we have of those! He will be an elite recruit.

Mitchell Miller, LHP
(Notice a trend with the LHP's!)
He is the #4 ranked LHP in talent rich state of Georgia.

Riley Self, RHP
He is the #2 ranked RHP so far in the state of MS. He is 6-4 215 and can bring the heat.

Hagan Severance, OF
He is not ranked yet but he will now that he is committed to us. He is a really good hitter from the
state of TN.

Tre Turner, OF
A great running back from LA. Oh, by the way, he can run down any ball in the OF.

We are recruiting hard a big RHP from the mid-west and a slick fielding shortstop from the Pacific North West. Stay tuned for more great news!