#15 Mississippi State Baseball 2016 Preview

Mississippi State Bulldogs
Overall Rank: #15
Conference Rank: #5 SEC
 Mississippi State Logo
Mississippi State had a forgettable 2015 campaign. They ended up winning just eight SEC games. The Bulldogs were not tested too much in nonconference play, but took care of business for the most part, going 16-8 against non-SEC opponents. But things should be different this year. Coach John Cohen returns a slew of talent and has a pitching staff that can actually compete with the best the SEC has to offer.
2015: 24-30, 8-22
2015 Postseason: None
Coach: John Cohen
Field Players:
The offense was solid in 2015, but not spectacular. Outfielder Jacob Robson is a speedster who is very dangerous on the base paths. And he is on base a lot after batting .324 last season with a .436 on-base percentage. Robson is the player that makes this offense ticks and now the Bulldogs just need to find a few more players to drive him home. Reid Humphreys is the team’s top returning power hitter, totaling five homeruns and 27 RBIs in 2015. John Holland also drove in 27 runs. Holland is a superb second baseman and Ryan Gridley compliments him very well at the shortstop position, but both could stand to boost their batting average. Cody Brown and Luke Reynolds both return after batting over .300 last year. Brown is the one to watch since he has proven that he can drive the ball into the gaps.
Dakota Hudson only pitched 16.2 innings for Mississippi State last season, but after dominating the Cape Cod League, the expectations are very high for the 6-5 right handed pitcher. He should step into a starting role this year. Austin Sexton started 13 games last year and pitched a team high 76.1 innings. Sexton did allow 12 homeruns, but otherwise he was pretty solid, allowing the opposition to hit just .242 and striking out 61 batters with just 24 walks. Vance Tatum has been a solid option for Coach Cohen over the last two seasons. As a sophomore, Tatum earned eight starts and struck out 42 batters in 54.0 innings. He does need to work on his control, but Tatum is a possible weekend starter or a player MSU can rely on out of the bullpen.
Who to Watch:
This season will basically come down to Hudson and how effective he can be this season. If he dominates as much as expected, not only will he be a high pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, but he will be a true ace for Mississippi State’s pitching staff. That will lead to wins in the SEC and get the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament.
Final Projection:
In the first month of the season, Mississippi State should pile on the wins. They only leave Starkville once during that span, where they head to Dodger Stadium to take on UCLA, USC and Oklahoma. Until that point, the Bulldogs have ten very, very winnable games to start the season. They need to take advantage of those winnable games and take some of the momentum to Dodger Stadium and into SEC play. Conference play starts with a trip to Nashville and Mississippi State also has to play at Florida. Thus, even if everything goes perfect, winning the SEC is probably out of reach, but this is a group that can do enough to host a regional and make a serious run towards the College World Series.
Projected Postseason:  NCAA Baseball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Jacob Robson, OF, 185
Hits: Jacob Robson, OF, 60
Home Runs: Reid Humphreys, OF, 5
RBIs: Reid Humphreys, OF, 27: John Holland, IF, 27
Runs: Jacob Robson, OF, 41
Stolen Bases: Jacob Robson, OF, 21
Wins: Austin Sexton, P, 4
Innings Pitched: Austin Sexton, P, 76.1
Strikeouts: Austin Sexton, P, 61
Saves: Zac Houston, P 1; Daniel Brown, P, 1
Madness 2016 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#19 Elih Marrero
Madness 2016 Draft Rankings:
#51 Dakota Hudson