By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Preparations for the 2015 season are already underway at Mississippi State.
Head coach John Cohen has assigned 23 of his players to six summer baseball leagues around the country.
“We have several guys in the Cape (Cod League) and guys scattered all the way from California to the East coast,” Cohen said. “I think it’s huge. It’s not just baseball experience, it’s about getting out of your comfort zone and meeting kids from all over the country and playing for a new set of coaches. When all those kids come back with those experiences, it makes our program better.”
Matthew Britton, Gavin Collins, Myles Gentry and Lucas Laster are all playing in the prestigious Cape Cod League while Daniel Garner and Austin Sexton were sent to the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.
Dakota Hudson, Reid Humphreys, Vance Tatum, Jake Vickerson and Cody Walker are out west in the California Collegiate League.
Seth Heck is participating in the Northwoods League and Zac Houston is pitching in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
“I think our guys are playing pretty well this summer,” Cohen said. “Collins goes up to the Cape and immediately has some impact. Heck has done well and Garner has hit three home runs in three games. Our kids know there is a mission this summer to go out and get better and make our team better.”
Wes Rea and Cody Brown left Thursday heading to the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. Rea did not play last summer but returns to the Bethesda Big Train hoping to bounce back from a sub-par junior season where he hit just .245.
“I think he’s excited about it,” Cohen said. “I think he wants to reinvent himself a little bit. I think he was disappointed in the year that he had. But I’m really proud that down the stretch he came back and played some of his best baseball.
“He’s going to go out and work on some things with his game and come back and hopefully be able to help our ballclub.”
In need of relief
The New York Yankees signed second-round draft pick Jacob Lindgren and sixth-round selection Jonathan Holder and the Milwaukee Brewers have inked 11th-round pick Brandon Woodruff, leaving the Bulldogs bullpen without three relief pitchers who had a year of eligibility remaining.
Their departure leaves MSU looking for two new long relievers and a closer for 2015.
“We have some holes in our bullpen for sure,” Cohen said. “We’re going to have to have some guys step forward in our bullpen and have some really good candidates for that. But until they step out there and do it, you don’t know.”
Redshirts in action
Eight other players who redshirted this past season are also getting action this summer including former Tupelo and Ita-wamba Community College standout Ben Hudspeth.
Hudspeth is pitching in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League for the Lima Locos.
In two outings, he has given up four runs on three hits with six walks and four strikeouts over three innings of work.
Royals sign Vallot
The Kansas City Royals have signed 40th overall pick Chase Vallot for $1.35 million.
Vallot was an MSU catching signee out of St. Thomas More (La.) High School where he batted .545 with 15 doubles, 13 homers and 62 RBI in 36 games a senior.
Sunday, he was named Louisiana’s Mr. Baseball.