STARKVILLE – Jacob Lindgren made 26 relief appearances and was Mississippi State’s primary left-handed option out of the bullpen this past season.
The Bulldogs also had a 6-foot-4 southpaw, Vance Tatum, that was soaking up as much knowledge as he could from the future New York Yankees top draft choice during his true freshman season.
“Before the year, I knew my role was going to be behind Lindgren,” Tatum said. “I just had to make my way as a freshman. I think it helped me a ton to get my feet wet this year. I realized it’s not going to be as easy as I thought it would be. It’s a tough grind and that’s exactly what I found out this season.”
Tatum made 15 outings on the mound and one start, finishing with a perfect 2-0 record and a 4.87 earned run average. The Olive Branch native pitched 20.1 innings giving up 11 runs on 18 hits with 18 strikeouts and 10 walks.
“I was happy with how my (freshman) year went,” Tatum said. “It started off a little rocky just getting used to everything. As SEC play rolled around, I finally got the hang of this thing and got adjusted. I think I fit in pretty well with the staff.”
Tatum, who’s nickname is Moonlight, only surrendered four runs in his last eight appearances including two in his lone start April 15 against Alcorn State.
“You have to adjust to the overall speed of the game and you can’t be predictable,” Tatum said. “You have to know how to pitch. You can’t go out there and blow fastballs by people. It’s all about pitch ability.”
Tatum’s arsenal of pitches include a fastball, curveball and change-up.
The former Southaven standout was a Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American prior to leading the Chargers to a Class 6A State Championship in 2013. Tatum was picked as the Class 6A Pitcher of the Year and the top left-handed pitcher in the Magnolia State by Perfect Game after going 10-1 with a 0.47 ERA, 98 strikeouts and 16 walks as a senior.
Naturally, Tatum received his share of attention in recruiting. He received scholarship offers from Ole Miss, Memphis, Tulane and Air Force among others but it was a visit to Starkville that made up his mind.
“I had a bunch of options but when I came on a visit here to Mississippi State, it just felt like family,” Tatum said. “Coach (Butch) Thompson was one of the main factors of why I came here and the atmosphere around the program.”
Tatum has spent his summer on the West Coast pitching for the San Luis Obispo Blues in the California Collegiate League where he holds a 4-0 record. He has pitched in 11 games sporting a 4.73 ERA, 20 strikeouts and 19 walks over 26.2 frames.