LET’S TALK BASEBALL:
How Five True Freshmen Are Making the Future Look Bright for Mississippi State Baseball
I must admit, I was a little nervous the first few weeks of the season seeing so many true freshmen in the starting line-up for the Bulldogs. As everyone knows the SEC slate isn’t exactly a minor step from high school athletics, but rather a very big leap for most players.
In most cases it takes a year or two for a player to fully adjust to the Division I level to the point where they see any substantial playing time. The adjustment from a hitting stand point is huge, and the game as a whole is much faster with the speed of the players along with contact on the ball. I guess the best way to say it is college baseball at this level is difficult. In addition to the degree of difficulty, add in long road trips, fast food, less sleep and higher expectations to perform.
This was not the case for Tanner Allen, Josh Hatcher, Justin Foscue, Rowdy Jordan, and Jordan Westburg at Mississippi State. As stated in the good ole days these young men have been thrown in the fire, having to figure out a way to make the best of it and they have. From the start of the season there have been a combination of three true freshman in the hitting order and as many as four when used as designated hitters (DH). So it was not surprising to see a drop in run production and seeing the Bulldogs struggle early in the season to win games. What is a surprise, is watching these freshman adjust and develop as fast as they have, while becoming a major part of the offensive production.
At this point in the season the five players listed have accounted for 117 hits (40%), 18 Doubles (29%), 2 Triples (33%) and 9 Home runs (47%) when compared to the rest of the team. In hits and home runs they are nearly half of the teams total output and I believe they are going to only get better as the season goes on. It is vital for them to continue to develop in order for the Bulldogs to have a chance for post season play. If these players can continue to progress throughout the season as they have so far then State still has a chance for a four seed regional spot.
The next test comes tonight against Auburn and one of the best pitching staffs in college baseball. To lead Auburns pitching staff is Casey Mize, a no doubt first round draft pick in the 2018 and possibly the overall number one pick. These young freshmen are going to get a glimpse into the possible future if they make it to the professional ranks when they face Mize on the mound.
This weekend is going to be a true test and learning experience for this group of freshman and a needed series win for Mississippi State to stay in the hunt for the post season.