Now that the grills in the Left Field Lounge have been fired up, we’re going to talk about how the MSU baseball team has fared so far.
The pitching as expected has been very good. How good? Luis Pollorena has spent more time as a pinch runner than he has as a pitcher this year and Nick Routt has an ERA of 5.68, and yet the team ERA is 1.88. The biggest thing that the pitching staff needs to work on right now is their fielding- as they have committed half of the teams six errors. Of course, I can live with their fielding if they keep their ERA below 2.00, and it should be noted that on one of the errors, the runner was actually thrown out trying to take third base. Fans on the message boards are even suggesting keeping the rotation of piggybacking starters on into the SEC season.
What to make of the starters? Chris Stratton has been the best pitcher all -around- even though it has been essentially in a long relief role. It’s too tempting to me to not make him a starter- especially with the depth of the MSU bullpen. Routt has struggled, but he has also won many critical games for MSU over his career- most notably the regional championship game in Atlanta vs. Georgia Tech. He is also left handed, and he was also much better in his second outing vs. Kansas. The third spot is interesting- Kendall Graveman had a very solid outing vs. Washington State and then had an outing vs. Mississippi Valley State where his numbers were a little skewed by some poor defensive play by some players that were not regulars. You have Ben Bracewell who has pitched well, but is coming off of an injury and has shown signs of fatigue by the fourth-fifth inning. That may be something that MSU can live with on a Sunday, however. To me, Evan Mitchell has been the best. He has taken some very positive strides with his game and is a rather underrated player nationally. There is no doubting his stuff, and he can be dominating at times- and I believe he is just now scratching the surface of what he can become- which is a potential All-SEC starter.
Mitch Slauter has been very solid at catcher- as advertised, but Nic Amirrati struggled defensively which means that Hunter Renfroe is probably the clear cut number two catcher, and it also means that Slauter will have to carry the bulk of the starts- which is a concern because of the demands of the catcher position physically. Wes Rea has already become a fan favorite and has drawn good reviews about his defense. I think as time goes on this season, more and more fans are going to realize what a huge loss Rea was last year when he was injured. As it stands, Rea is hitting .360 and has a walk-off double to his credit. Adam Frazier has been solid hitting .345, and Daryl Norris has made some improvements offensively, closing his stance and he is also hitting .345. Matthew Britton had a rough debut at shortstop defensively, but has settled down and has been very solid to start his career and appears to have won the job.
MSU may very well have the most athletic outfield in the SEC. It’s a very unique group in that there are five guys who are all capable of playing any position in the outfield. CT Bradford is the leader- making several highlight reel catches in center field while hitting .310. Brent Brownlee is the veteran of the group and while he is hitting only .261 at this time, he has also saved several runs and hits with his defense. Hunter Renfroe is possibly the most gifted player on the MSU team and he has made a lot of strides since his freshman year and after hitting .154 has now started out hitting .313. Brandon Woodruff isn?t far behind Hunter in the talent category, and the former fifth round pick of the Rangers from Wheeler, Ms. has impressed with his natural swing but has only one hit in limited at bats. And finally, you have Taylor Stark who is the fastest player on the team, and is unfortunately off to a slow start at the plate.
Finally, I want to talk about two newcomers to the MSU program- Trey Porter and Will Cox. Porter is an academic walk-on who had a 3.9 GPA at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College after playing high school at East Central near Hurley, Ms. All Trey has done is lock down the DH spot and is leading the team in home runs (2), RBIs (5), and batting average (.409). His left handed bat gives the lineup a totally different dynamic that prevents other teams from matching up against MSU easily. Will Cox has long been one of my favorite recruits. From Amory, he grew up a MSU fan and wanted to play for the Bulldogs. He was only topping out at 85 MPH on his fastball and was told to increase his velocity. After putting in a lot of hard work, he got his fastball up to 89 MPH, and Butch Thompson and MSU decided to take a chance on him- it was a calculated risk as Will was one of the only juniors on the All-State team, is 6?4? with a projectable frame and he obviously has a great work ethic. However, of MSU’s pitching recruits last year- which included fifth rounder Woodruff, twelfth round pick Jacob Lindgren and former Alabama pitcher of the year Trevor Fitts, Cox was one of the least heralded. On Sunday Will Cox made his MSU debut- earning his first start ahead of his much more highly recruited teammates and pitched seven innings allowing three hits while striking out eight batters and walking none. And this is just the beginning for Will.
Again, I am thrilled to be here and Go Dogs!