The Mississippi State Bulldogs Baseball Team received some solid contributions from its outfielders in 2016. Two of the three starters from that team are gone, so there are holes that need to be filled.
To start with, let’s take a look at what the Bulldogs have to replace.
Departed Bulldog Outfielders
- Jacob Robson - .321 BA, .414 OBP, 18 Steals, 42 Runs Scored
- Reid Humphreys - .310 BA, .492 SLG, 5 HR, 44 RBIs, 15 2B
- Mike Smith - .214 BA, .353 OBP, 1 Steal
Losing Jacob Robson and Reid Humphreys are tough losses. Both were juniors and were drafted and now are trying to secure their spots on pro rosters in the minor leagues.
But as much as those departures hurt, there is some high quality production returning. And it all starts with fan favorite Jake Mangum.
Returning Bulldogs Outfielders
- Jake Mangum - .408 BA, .510 SLG, 6 steals, 16 Extra Base Hits
- Brent Rooker - .324 BA, 11 HR, .578 SLG, 54 RBIs
- Cody Brown - .241 BA, .388 OBP, .398 SLG
Jake Mangum and Brent Rooker can pretty much be penciled in as everyday starters for the outfield. Both had monster years, and Brent Rooker was actually drafted, but he decided to return to school to see if he could improve on his draft stock.
The question with Mangum is if he can come anywhere close to the production he put up as a Freshman. Hitting .408 and being named SEC Freshman of the Year is impressive, so living up to that in his second season won’t be easy. He also plans to pitch some, so figuring out his role on the mound will be challenging since you also want his bat in the lineup.
Who gets the third spot is anyone’s guess. Cody Brown will be a senior, but there are some incoming players who will challenge him for the spot.
Note: The finalized rosters have not been released for 2017 so players might be left off this list.
- Elijah MacNamee - Blinn Community College (Cypress, TX)
- Hunter Vansau - Northeast Texas Community College (Crawford, TX)
- Tanner Poole - Itawamba Community College (Amory, MS) Redshirted in 2016
- Hagan Severance - Ravenwood High School (Brentwood, TN)
- Brant Blaylock - Desoto Central High School (Southaven, MS) Redshirted in 2016
Cody Brown has lots of experience playing in the SEC, and that will help him possibly get a starting position in the outfield. But holding off one of the incoming JUCO prospects won’t be easy.
Poole redshirted in his first season since transferring from Itawamba C.C. The outfield was crowded in 2016 so it made sense to save a year of eligibility. He might not end up in the outfield, but could end up at DH if he isn’t.
Expect Elijah MacNAmee and Hunter Vansau to be the primary contenders to go alongside Brent Rooker and Jake Mangum in the outfield. Both were talented players at the JUCO level and should contribute immediately.
Brant Blaylock was a freshman who was redshirted and should see playing time this season as well. He had a productive summer league campaign, and looks to be the type of player who can hit the gap for doubles and steal bases. He could be a number two hitter in the lineup or be a solid on base hitter for the bottom of the order.
Will the Bulldogs get the same amount of production from their outfielders as they did in 2016? It would be tough to do so, but there is enough talent in place to at least make it a possibility.