No. 5 Mississippi State (11-0) opens a four-game series against Saint Joseph’s (2-4) starting at 4 p.m. today. In today’s Journal, my advance focuses on junior college transfer Alex Detz, who so far has proved to be a great find by coach John Cohen. The first baseman, who’s filling in for the injured Wes Rea, is batting .423 with a team-leading 12 RBIs.
I spoke with Detz yesterday, and here’s the full Q&A, in which the California native talks about this opportunity and how he wound up at MSU in the first place.
You seem ready for this opportunity.
“I wasn’t expecting to play first base, being that I’ve never played it before in my life. Yeah, I was ready to definitely be in the lineup offensively. Defensively I’ll pretty much play wherever they put me.”
You’ve been a middle fielder, so why did coaches move you to first base? Did your versatility have something to do with it?
“Wes is obviously a very good player, but he’s had problems with injuries, and they came with the idea even before he got hurt that they wanted another option there, so they tried me out, and I guess they liked it. That’s how that happened.”
What’s the biggest challenge of playing first base?
“The biggest challenge was just knowing where I had to be in certain situations, because I’ve never played there before. I got the hang of it pretty quick, the actual making plays and knowing where I need to be on certain situations.”
Trouble figuring out the footwork?
“No, I got that down pretty good.”
Working with Rea.
“He’s pretty good over there. He’s probably the best defensive first baseman I’ve ever played with, and so he helps me out in between games, during games even. If I have a question, he has the answer.”
What’s been working at the plate for you?
“I’ve always been a pretty patient hitter, and I just like to wait to get my pitches. On the at-bats where I’m not, I’m fouling the balls off that I don’t want to hit and working the walks, and then the balls that they’re leaving over the plate I’m able to take advantage of them.”
How did you get to MSU, what’s the connection? I know you played with some Bulldog players last summer.
“I was already coming here (by that point), but I played with Adam Frazier two summers ago for the same team (San Luis Obispo Blues), so we became friends. That same summer coach coached with coach Cohen at Missouri a while back (Chal Fanning). They always stay in touch. I think he let him know I was getting other looks from other schools, and after that he called coach Cohen, and that’s when Adam started calling me and kind of did his recruiting thing.”
So Frazier recruited you.
“Adam definitely had a big part in me coming here.”
Having played with MSU guys in summer league (Nick Flair, Chad Girodo, Trey Porter), did that help coming here?
“It definitely makes the transition a little easier coming halfway across the country. It’s always a change. Just fitting in with the team, that was easier knowing some of the guys.”
What did you know about the program before they recruited you?
“In high school, I didn’t know that much about it until I played with Adam. I probably knew that, and then once Adam came we talked a little about it, and I found out exactly who was in their conference. I was like, dang, that’s pretty tough. When I first started thinking about that, I never really thought I was going to end up here.”
Who else came after you?
“Oregon State is where I was really close to going. I was about to commit to there, and then Adam and the coaches here were telling me to come out here for a visit, and I almost didn’t take it. I almost just committed to Oregon State, and then I came out here and I had a really good experience on my visit.”
Why did you almost not come visit MSU?
“Just because I had been talking to Oregon State for a little while, and I liked it. A good conference (Pac-12), West Coast atmosphere, it seemed like a good fit. I came out (here), and it kind of changed everything.”
This team, this start, what’s it been like?
“It’s a lot of fun, I’m gonna be honest. It’s probably the most energized, passionate team I’ve been on my whole life. I’ve never been on a team like this. The dugout during a game is awesome. I’ve never been on a team like that.”
Are y’all able to keep perspective during this start given you haven’t gotten to SEC play yet?
“Yeah, exactly. We know we have a whole different schedule ahead of us, but we’re just having fun trying to stay focused one game at a time.”