#13 Mississippi State Baseball 2018 Preview

Mississippi State Bulldogs
Overall Rank: #13
Conference Rank: #6 SEC
Mississippi State Logo
Mississippi State did a very nice job of buying into head coach Andy Cannizaro and his staff during the 2017 season. The Bulldogs found a way to win 40 games and showed great resolve in the Hattiesburg Regional as they recovered from losing the first game to win four straight. Mississippi State had a showdown with LSU in the Baton Rouge Super Regional and just couldn’t find a way to get past the Tigers. Looking ahead to 2018, with a newly renovated in Dudy Noble Field set to be unleashed, we can expect an exciting brand of baseball in year two under Coach Cannizzaro and his staff.
2017: 40-27, 17-13
2017 Postseason:
Coach: Andy Cannizzaro
Key Departed Players:
Brent Rooker, OF, .387 BA, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 18 SB
Ryan Gridley, IF, .327 BA, 6 HR, 39 RBI
Cody Brown, IF/OF, .323 BA, 9 HR, 42 RBI, 10 SB
Key Returning Players:
Jake Magnum, OF, .324 BA, 0 HR, 26 RBI, 14 SB
Hunter Stovall, IF/C, .288 BA, 2 HR, 18 RBI
Elijah MacNamee, OF, .267 BA, 2 HR, 22 RBI
Hunter Vansau, OF/IF, .297 BA, 0 HR, 14 RBI
Konnor Pilkington, P, 3.08 ERA, 107.0 IP, 47 BB, 111 SO
Spencer Price, P, 2.91 ERA, 34.0 IP, 19 BB, 40 SO, 14 SV
Riley Self, P, 3.72 ERA, 48.1 IP, 20 BB, 60 SO
The style of play could be a bit of throwback in 2018 for the Bulldogs as they don’t return a lot of power offensively. Brent Rooker, Ryan Gridley, and Cody Brown combined for 41 homeruns and 163 runs batted in last season. Thus, it is probably going to require a bit more of a small ball manufacture runs type of approach at the plate for Mississippi State until some power hitters emerge. Jake Magnum is back and he hit .324 last season with 26 runs batted in and stole 14 bases. Hunter Stovall, Elijah MacNamee, and Hunter Vansau are back as well and their experience should buy some time for this lineup to grow as the season goes along. Konnor Pilkington will be the Friday night starter and should continue to be very dominant by eating up innings. This will then set up the bullpen to stay at full strength for the rest of the weekend series on Saturday and Sunday. Spencer Price is back to lock down games late in the 8th and 9th innings. Price had a 2.91 earned run average and collected 14 saves in 2017. A trip to Southern Mississippi will start off the 2018 season and that won’t be easy at all, but it will be a nice RPI boost if the Bulldogs win that series. In March, Mississippi State will play in the Shriner’s College Classic against ULL, Houston, and Sam Houston State, who are all NCAA Tournament caliber teams. The conference schedule is reasonable to navigate as Florida, Arkansas, and Ole Miss come to Starkville. Road trips in SEC play include LSU and Kentucky. Bottom line, Mississippi State is going to be safely in the top half of the SEC and a likely regional host in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Madness 2018 Draft Rankings:
#25 Konnor Pilkington