Mississippi State Baseball Preview: Catcher


As we get closer and closer to the opening day of College Baseball, we are previewing each position on the baseball diamond. Today, we take a look at the position that the Bulldogs have the most volatility, Catcher.

Mississippi State started the 2014 season with 4 catchers, and they used three for SEC play. The Catching position is one of the most unusual for the Bulldogs because every single catcher on the roster brings an obvious strength, but also a critical weakness. Here is what the Bulldogs got from their Catcher at the plate in 2014.

PlayerBatting AverageSlugging PercentageOn Base PercentageHome RunsRBISolen Bases and Stolen Base Attempts
Gavin Collins.304.384.3551190 of 2
Zack Randolph.250.250.2990102 of 3
Cody Walker.222.296.382050 of 0

There isn’t any real question that Gavin Collins won’t be the starter for the Bulldogs in 2015. He has a cannon for an arm, and Collins is a really polished hitter. The issue we have with Gavin Collins is his lackluster ability for blocking balls in the dirt and keeping them in front of him.

Butch Thompson loves to recruit pitchers that throw hard sinking fastballs, and any other pitch that breaks and drops below the strike zone. The Bulldogs threw 70 wild pitches last year, but many of them were because Collins simply couldn’t block them. To go on top of that, Collins allowed 10 past balls. That’s a really high number for any catcher. On the flip side, he threw out 13 of the 23 runners who tried to steal against him, which is a great number for any catcher. So what can Mississippi State do?

The best case scenario is that Gavin Collins has corrected this issue in the offseason. We can keep him behind the plate and allow another player to step in to the Designated Hitter role. If he hasn’t, his bat is too valuable for it to not be in the lineup. He would have to be inserted as the Designated Hitter.

The newest wrinkle at Catcher is Collins seems to have suffered some kind of injury. He didn’t play at all in this past weekend’s scrimmages. I haven’t seen anyone say definitively how serious the injury actually is. He could have just been banged up and sat as a precaution. Or it could be that he is really hurt and is looking at missing significant time. If he misses a little or a lot, the backup to Collins will be Josh Lovelady. Lovelady was brought in from Shelton State Community College. His services could be relied upon more than we thought they would be depending on the severity of the injury to Collins.

Collins can hit and throw. If he can stop pitches in the dirt (and stay healthy), he will be a complete catcher and valuable piece to the Bulldog lineup.