Mississippi State's baseball team got good news Monday when it held onto fall signee Brandon Woodruff. The Wheeler High School star turned down the Texas Rangers, who drafted him in the fifth round this year, to play for the Bulldogs.
Woodruff is big (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), athletic and has a rocket arm. He plays outfield and pitcher and will likely get a shot at both positions for MSU.
"He is a very skilled defensive outfielder for someone of his size. He really moves around very well in the outfield," MSU coach John Cohen said last night. "He's a left-handed bat with some power. Defensively that arm strength is off the charts. … I think he's got a chance to do several different things for our program, and we only have a limited amount of scholarship aid. It's important to have players who can do both."
Cohen spoke with Woodruff on Monday (I was unable to reach him).
"Brandon just expressed that he wanted to be a part of our program, and he felt like he was at an impasse. He had made a decision to come to Mississippi State. Obviously we're thrilled to hear that."
Woodruff told me in June that money would be a determining factor in whether he went with the Rangers or the Bulldogs. He told the Starkville Daily News that he had an offer exceeding $400,000, but Cohen said he doesn't get into negotiations between players and teams.
"We just try and put our best foot forward with what we have to offer, which we believe is really a great experience competing in the best league in America," Cohen said.
State has 10 signees from the 2011 class, eight of them high schoolers, and now only run remains a question mark: left-handed pitcher Jacob Lindgren, who was drafted by the Cubs in the 12th round.
Cohen isn't sure where Lindgren is at in his negotiations but trusts the local Cubs scout. Draftees have until Aug. 15 to sign.