Baseball 2009: Positions Breakdown

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As you can read in today’s Daily Journal, or on the Web site, I have an overview of the upcoming 2009 Mississippi State baseball season. In the story, I talk not so much about players and positions as about the fresh start the Bulldogs have under new coach John Cohen, who hopes an aggressive approach and strong team chemistry can help the Bulldogs forget last year’s last-place SEC finish.

Right here, though, I do my best at a position-by-position breakdown. A lot of spots are still up for grabs, and I’m quite interested to see what the starting lineup looks like for Friday’s opener against Northern Illinois. I bet Cohen will be interested to see it, too. One reason for the open competition, according to Cohen: “I think in 2007 there were some very, very talented kids that were playing for Mississippi State that, quite frankly, weren’t on the field in 2008.”

Later today, I’ll post some other good quotes that didn’t make the story. Now, the breakdown.

PITCHING:
Starters – Six players will vie for a starter’s role: Ricky Bowen (RH, Jr.); Michael Busby (RH, So.); Chad Crosswhite (RH, Sr.); Forrest Moore (LH, So.); Nick Routt (LH, Fr.); and Tyler Whitney (LH, Jr.). Bowen threw the most innings for State last year (73.1) but had a 3-6 record and 7.61 ERA. Crosswhite brings the most experience, having played a key role during MSU’s run to the 2007 College World Series. He was 3-5 with a 9.96 ERA last year. In 2007, he was 8-5 with a 4.69 ERA, while Bowen was 5-2 and 3.00.
Bowen had a solid season in the Cape Cod League, going 3-3 with a 3.53 ERA in 43.1 innings. He made eight starts for the Bourne Braves.
Bullpen – Cohen praised the progress of Greg Houston (RH, Jr.), who’s solidified his delivery and has a good changeup. Justin Bussey (RH, Jr.) could be the closer, a role he held for Shelton (Ala.) State CC last year. Paxton Pace (RH, RSFr.) is coming off Tommy John surgery last spring and is expected to contribute. Lee Swindle (RH, Sr.) has both starting and relief experience.

INFIELD:
First base – For now at least, Connor Powers (R/R, Jr.) and newcomer Jarrod Parks (R/R, Jr.) will split duties at 1B, as well as at 3B, where Powers has 86 career starts. Powers hit 11 home runs in 35 games last year.
Second base/shortstop – Four players will rotate at the middle slots: the aforementioned Bussey; Jet Butler (S/R, Jr.); Ryan Powers (R/R, So.); and Frank Rawdow (R/R, Fr.). Cohen said Bussey has shown “flashes of brilliance.” Butler has worked at SS, but Cohen likes him better at 2B because of his ability to turn the double play.
Third base – As I mentioned, Powers and Parks will find time here, but Russ Sneed will also factor in. He was the only Bulldog to start all 56 games last year, the first 35 at SS before replacing an injured Powers at 3B. Sneed hit .274 with 26 RBIs and had a .940 fielding percentage (13 errors). Sneed is recovering from offseason hip surgery.
Catcher – This is Cohen’s biggest area of concern. He has five candidates, but none stand out. He calls Cody Freeman (R/R, So.), who started 32 games last year, and Ryan Duffy (L/R, Jr.) more offensive-minded than defensive-minded. Cohen says Scott DeLoach (R/R, Sr.) is the best defensive player of the group. Brooks Lewis (R/R, Sr.) and Johnny Allen (R/R, Sr.) are the other two backstops. “Were not going to blow people away with our arm strength behind home plate,” Cohen said. How important to resolve this issue? “If you can’t be good behind home plate, you can’t be good period.”

OUTFIELD:
Cohen says he has six players he’s comfortable with playing: Southern Miss transfer Luke Adkins (L/L, Jr.); Ryan Collins (L/L, So.); Mark Goforth (L/R, Sr.); Nick Hardy (R/R, Sr.); Grant Hogue (S/R, Sr.); and Jason Nappi (R/R, So.). Adkins was a starter at USM, mostly as a left fielder and DH. Hogue will probably be the starter in center, but he’s trying to recover from a separated left shoulder suffered last Tuesday. Goforth had 22 starts in center last year but could wind up in right field. And keep an eye on Brent Brownlee (R/R, RSFr.).

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8 Responses to “Baseball 2009: Positions Breakdown”

  1. bigdraws Says:

    Brad, I’ve been a little criticle so far. But I’ve gotta say. You did a great job on the baseball preview. Nice work!

  2. Brad Locke Says:

    Thanks, dude.

  3. imabulldog Says:

    Thanks BL,

    Really hope Crosswite and Bowen can bring it this yr, let’s just say that ‘everything’ sucked last yr. So, we can only go up from last yr

  4. imabulldog Says:

    BL, can you email me the person’s email address-that contacted me not too long ago, by way of you? Please sir…

  5. jcdawgman18 Says:

    I’ve heard Freeman’s biggest problem catching right now is that he’s still recovering from the shoulder surgery to some extent.

  6. imabulldog Says:

    Hey BL, can we update our header on the site?

  7. Brad Locke Says:

    As I told someone else recently, ima, if somebody can work one up for me. I got no skills in that department. And I’ll get you that e-mail addy.

  8. imabulldog Says:

    thanks BL, I lost it, so I’d appreciate it

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