Prior to this season, there was no team in the great history of Mississippi State Baseball that could ever reach the top of the mountain. No one could ever get to the National Title game. Out of eight prior College World Series teams, only one of them had ever gotten as close as a game away from the Title.
Enter the lovable band of misfits that was the 2013 Mississippi State baseball team. The beards... The Bench Mobb.. The lanky 85 mph throwing motion of the 13-0 southpaw Ross Mitchell.. A 6-5, 270 pound offensive lineman turned first baseman that has the footwork of a 180-pound shortstop.. The story lines ran deep on this team. But no story line runs deeper than the Class of 2010 and their impact on this run to the National Championship.
It was year three for John Cohen and the Bulldogs were coming off of three losing seasons, two of which were his own. The game was changing with new bats and defense and pitching were becoming a priority while the years of the long ball were long gone. He was shaping his team for the new era, and it was accomplished with this class.
CLASS OF 2010 MSU BASEBALL (18)
Garrett Pitts - 5-10, 185 - Infielder - Fairhope (AL) High School
Garrett Pitts signed with the Bulldogs but would transfer to Meridian Community College and then on to Troy University where he has been a standout player and All-Conference selection.
Adam Frazier - 5-10, 170 - Infielder - Oconee (GA) High School
Frazier immediately came on to the scene at MSU as the state of Georgia's top baseball player. While the University of Georgia seemed like a viable option, he wanted to make his own future and check out baseball outside of the state so he joined John Cohen and company at MSU. He was a member of the Freshman All-SEC list and started 18 games. But it would be his sophomore year in which he would turn the heads of everyone around the conference. The talented shortstop started all 64 games and led the team and was among the tops in the conference in batting average (.371) and hits (91). It was going to be hard to top that, but that he would in year three in Maroon and White. Despite not being selected to the conference's first or second team All-SEC list at shortstop, Frazier set a single-season school record with his 107 hits finishing with a top-10 season in SEC history. After being drafted by the Pirates in the sixth round, he is expected to sign and his career at MSU is likely over. Frazier leaves a great legacy starting in his last 135 ball games in the last two years and leaving as the Bulldog's all-time hits leader for a single season. He also leaves being the spearhead for MSU's top two defenses in school history in turning double plays and was apart of 124 of the 191 double plays turned in his career.
Taylor Stark - 6-0, 165 - INF/OF/RHP - Northwest (MS) Rankin High School
Stark was a talented dual-threat player out of the Mississippi Prep ranks who played two years for the Bulldogs before transferring to Delta State after the 2012 year. He threw 25.2 innings in those two years and was 4-0 with 23 strikeouts. Stark went 3-0 this past season with the Statesman with five saves and a 4.19 ERA in 17 appearances.
Evan Mitchell - 6-2, 170 - RHP - Wheeler (GA) High School
One of the founding fathers of the ever-famous "Bench Mobb", Mitchell came to MSU out of Georgia as a nasty breaking ball thrower with some good velocity on his fastball. Struggling to find location during this season, Mitchell wasn't used as often as the Dawgs needed him to be. What he added to the team, however, was a constant upbeat environment in the dugout. For that, you have to respect the guy. Mitchell is still more than a freelance rapper. Mitchell is one of the best pure athletes on the baseball team and it showed in the 2013 draft when the junior was drafted in the 13th round by the Cincinnati Reds. The junior made the decision to move on and sign with the Reds to begin his MLB career. His numbers through three years were still quite impressive throwing for an 8-4 record striking out 119 batters in 108.2 innings.
C.T. Bradford - 5-9, 160 - Outfielder - Pace (FL) High School
One of the top players in the country out of high school and named the state of Florida's top player. Son of a former Bulldog, Mike Bradford, C.T. came to MSU to follow in his father's footsteps and restore the great tradition of MSU. He immediately cemented his own legacy becoming a Freshman All-American and lead-off hitter for the Bulldogs in 2011. Bradford would lead his team to the Super Regionals garnering MVP of the Atlanta Regional and batting .303 during his freshman year with the team's second-most hits at 74. He also showed flash in the outfield known for his diving catches on fly balls. His sophomore year, though, he entered a setback (or two). Bradford went through two injuries and was eventually lost for the season playing in only 34 games. Bradford was back in full health for his junior year playing in all but three games this year batting behind Frazier most of the season before being moved to 6th in the lineup. He had 73 hits this season, fourth best on the team, and his best defensive year so far with only one error in center field. Having not been drafted, expect for Bradford to push for a strong senior season in Maroon and White and finish off his great legacy.
Demarcus Henderson - 6-0, 180 - Infielder - Wayne County (MS) High School
Another product of the home state, Henderson came to Starkville a phenomenal multi-sport athlete. He was a late draftee out of high school and chose to come to MSU as a infielder who could grab some playing time early on an inexperienced but very talented roster. Several vision problems gave John Cohen the opportunity to red shirt young Henderson and develop him into more of an outfield defender. The speedster also worked on his short game to be used to help the team more. Henderson started 29 games last year, mostly in the outfield, stepping up in the postseason to get timely hits and help give MSU an SEC Tournament Championship. Henderson showed some flash in the outfield and his speed was something to be excited about. This season, the sophomore played in 61 games with 51 starts and continued his improvement hitting a solid .274 with 48 hits. He'll enter his junior season as one of the top players in the lineup in 2014.
Wes Rea - 6-5, 275 - 1B/RHP - Harrison Central (MS) High School
After three games in Omaha, Rea quickly became the face of the College World Series. With the body of an SEC offensive lineman, Rea picks the ball out of the dirt with the best of them. At this point in his career, it's impossible to calculate just how many hits, errors or even runs he's saved at first base. With the defense comes his ability to hit the ball with power and precision in his first two years and make him an immediate impact player again next year with the loss of his teammates Frazier and Hunter Renfroe. But where he is now is not where he was expected to be. Cohen had plans of using the big man on the mound and in the field. Committed first and foremost to Dan Mullen to play football, Rea made the tough decision of going to the diamond to win a National Championship. After an injury hampered his play, he was redshirted in year one and his impact was delayed until 2012. Rea played all 64 games as a redshirt freshman starting 63 of them at first base. While he struggled to stay consistent at the plate, he showed power sending five balls out of the yard and 16 more for two bases. His 41 RBIs led the team and showed how much potential the young slugger had. He improved his plate approach in year two and became an even bigger threat in the lineup. This season as a sophomore, Rea hit .291 with 12 doubles, seven home runs and 40 RBI, all while losing 14 games to injury during the non-conference schedule. His work in the postseason was one of the main reasons MSU made their run to the National Championship. Slinging a bow and shooting a gun might be his favorite trade, but the big man knows how to play a little baseball. With at least one year remaining in Maroon and White, he has already cemented his name in Bulldog lore.
Victor Diaz - 6-1, 190 - RHP - St. Joseph High School (Metuchen, New Jersey)
Diaz was a talented pitcher out of New Jersey who appeared in nine games his freshman year with State. He decided to transfer following the season and made it over to State College of Florida before transferring to Old Dominion this past season. He threw in nine games, garnering a 1-0 record striking out 12 batters in 11.2 innings.
Brett Bozeman - 6-0, 200 - Catcher - Santa Fe (FL) CC
Bozeman came to State as a talented catcher from the Florida JUCO ranks that never had a chance to play for MSU. As of this post, there is no record of Bozeman continuing his career.
Ross Mitchell - 6-0, 160 - LHP - Blackman HS (Murfreesboro, TN)
One of the great stories of this class is the career of Ross Mitchell to this point. Hailing from the same high school as one of college's great pitchers David Price, Mitchell has a pedigree for winning. With a fastball hovering around 85 mph, Mitchell used his movement and location to baffle hitters and at this moment, batters still can't consistently figure it out. Redshirted in year one, Mitchell came out of the bullpen last season to setup fellow freshman Jonathan Holder. Mitchell threw in 24 games last season with a perfect 3-0 record and a 1.18 ERA. He logged 38 innings and gave up just five earned runs and his work in the 2012 SEC Tournament Championship game gave MSU the trophy. This season, however, was one that will be remembered for all time. Mitchell completed a remarkable 13-0 record which was second-best in the conference and led the SEC in ERA most of the season, finishing with a 1.53. His 94.0 innings were second only to Kendall Graveman and he moved his career record to an incredible 16-0. The great news for Bulldog fans is they get to see the reliable Mitchell trot back out to the hill again next year. His antics and pitching alike, make this Bulldog team the most unique in the country.
Brayden Jones - 5-11, 185 - Infielder - Madison Central HS (Madison, MS)
Jones came to MSU as the state's top baseball player from one of the more storied programs in the state at Madison Central. After a redshirt year to develop, Jones played 15 games with six starts in 2012. He was .174 at the plate with just four hits and a couple of RBIs and chose to give up baseball following the season.
Daryl Norris - 6-1, 210 - RHP/INF - Fairhope HS (Fairhope, AL)
Named the state of Alabama's top baseball player, Norris was a two-sport star set to make an immediate impact at MSU. He burst on to the scene in Starkville playing in 32 games as a true freshman and hit the ball well for a .277 average. A versatile athlete, Norris helped the Bulldogs at first and third base defensively as well as on the mound. Injuries have hampered the continued development of Norris, but he has decided to forego his senior year with the Bulldogs and take the next step in his career after signing with the Detroit Tigers.
Tim Statz - 6-1, 170 - LHP - Hutchinson (KS) CC
Statz transferred to MSU after a stellar JUCO career in Kansas. Primarily out of the bullpen, Statz pitched in 14 games during the Bulldogs run to the Super Regionals in 2011. He was not apart of the active roster as a senior but stayed with the program to finish his career.
Cody Abraham - 5-11, 165 - OF/LHP - Lamar Consolidated HS (Houston, TX)
Talented dual-threat player from Texas, Abraham was brought in to give the Bulldogs outfield depth. He never played for the Maroon and White.
David Bishop - 6-0, 195 - Outfielder - Alabama Southern Community College
Bishop was an athletic outfielder out of the Alabama JUCO ranks but never played for MSU. He would transfer to Faulkner University competing in NAIA and batted .253 in his two seasons. He smashed 14 home runs for 80 RBIs in 109 games.
Luis Pollorena - 5-9, 170 - OF/LHP - Marion (AL) Military Insitute
The heart of the Bulldog baseball program and the epitome of perseverance, Pollorena came to Mississippi State already conquering all of the odds. The pint-size fire baller went through a bout with Leukemia and came out on top as a child. Working his way up in baseball knowing he had to have something special, Pollorena showed the ability to play wherever coaches wanted him to play. In his three years at MSU, Pollorena was a starting pitcher, reliever, pinch hitter, pinch runner and outfielder. His sacrifice fly as a pinch hitter against LSU in 2012 tied the ball game and kept the Bulldogs alive in an SEC Tournament that they eventually would win. Drafted by his home state Texas Rangers this season, Pollorena leaves MSU with a 17-9 record but leaves an even bigger legacy of pride and a message to players everywhere that the odds are beatable no matter how high they are stacked.
Andrew Busby - 6-4, 210 - RHP - Wallace State - Hanceville
Busby pitched during the 2011 season and one game of 2012 before transferring to finish his career at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. He was 6-4 this past season with a 1.92 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 89 innings.
Hunter Renfroe - 6-1.5, 196 - OF/C/RHP - Copiah Academy (Gallman, MS)
The most talented player in the 2010 class was purely based on potential. With coaches and scouts having to watch more batting practice than ball games because of pitchers staying away, Renfroe flew under several other teams' radars. Mississippi State's coaches stayed with him and Bulldog fans saw lots of raw ability in his first two years. But after a strong summer in which he had his jersey retired in his summer league, Renfroe was billed a preseason All-American. Living up to the hype would be tough, but Renfroe did it in year three. The junior smashed an SEC-tying 16 home runs this season to go along with 65 RBIs on his way to first-team All-America and All-SEC honors. Both numbers more than doubled both of his previous years combined and his tools were good enough to be drafted 13th overall to the San Diego Padres. A bright future ahead for a still very raw player.
Corey Dickerson (Signed Pro Contract) - 6-3, 205 - Outfielder - Meridian (MS) CC
Dickerson was a big loss for the Bulldogs as being drafted in the 8th round to the Rockies was too good to pass on and he joined their organization. The former Brookhaven Academy and Meridian CC star moved up quickly and was recently called up to the MLB debuting with two doubles in his first two at bats.
The members of this signing class entered their careers at MSU with three consecutive losing seasons. At this moment, their three-years on campus have produced a 129-69 record. They immediately helped the program go from last in the SEC to back to contending for an SEC Championship.
This year, members of the class combined for 387 of the team's 713 hits. They also recorded 58 of the 104 doubles and 10 of the 15 triples. They also hit 26 of 30 home runs.
They've been to three-consecutive NCAA Regionals, two Super Regionals and one College World Series. They've also held the 2012 SEC Tournament Championship after making history and being the first team to win five games in six days to be crowned champions. But most importantly, this class played an incredibly significant part in taking Mississippi State to its first ever National Championship.
Out of the 19 players mentioned above, nine of the players made a major impact on this year's team that gave MSU its first trip to a National Championship in any sport and had them two wins away from winning it all. The legacy they've paved will continue and build the Mississippi State brand into something bigger than it's ever been. So is MSU Baseball really back? Or is it just getting started?