The list of players the Mississippi State Baseball team has to replace is extensive. Dakota Hudson, Nathaniel Lowe, Austin Sexton, Jack Kruger, Gavin Collins and a few other significant contributors will be developing their skills in minor league franchises all across the country.
While many fans might think the team is going to go through a severe step back, there is reason for hope. Expecting a second straight SEC Championship might be a bit much, but the 2017 MSU Baseball team isn’t going to be a pushover.
In the outfield, the Bulldogs lost Reid Humphreys. Humphreys really developed as a hitter in 2016, so losing his bat will be a big blow to the lineup. But there are options currently on the team and in the new faces. Brant Blaylock, Tanner Poole, and Cody Brown will all compete for a spot, but if none of them can step up, the coaching staff signed two JUCO players, Hunter Vansau and Elijah MacNamee, will also compete for time in the outfield alongside Jake Mangum and Brent Rooker.
Gavin Collins, Nathaniel Lowe, and John Holland all have to be replaced. Harrison Bragg was brought in to play third, but if he can’t do it, then highly touted freshman prospect Dustin Skelton might see time there as well. At second base, the picture isn’t quite as clear, but incoming Freshman Reed Smith will be a player the coaches take a hard look at if none of the returning players are able to win the starting job. 1st base appears to be locked down by returning Junior Cole Gordon.
There is a lot to replaced in the pitching staff, but the two that jump out the most are Dakota Hudson and Austin Sexton. Peyton Plumlee, Andrew Mahoney, Hayden Marze, Trey Jolley, Spencer Price, and Jacob Barton, all JUCO transfers, figure to be in the mix for a starting spot. A slew of Freshmen could also have an impact. Parker Ford, Graham Ashcraft, Riley Self, Drew Windham, Trysten Barlow, and Denver McQuary will play a role on the team as well.
Jack Kruger’s bat will be tough to replace behind the plate, but Sophomore Elih Marrero should be developed enough to be plugged in. If he isn’t, previously mentioned freshman Dustin Skelton will have an opportunity to help with the catching duties.
Losing the amount of talent the Bulldogs lost in 2016 to the MLB Draft hurts. But the coaches have done a good job of finding talent to step in and fill the gap.