#14 Mississippi State Baseball Preview

Mississippi State Bulldogs

Overall Rank: #14
Conference Rank: #7 SEC
Mississippi State College Baseball Top 44 Team Preview
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The Bulldogs of Mississippi State return a very experienced squad for veteran head coach and alum John Cohen in 2013. The 2012 season had plenty of excellent accomplishments as the program won 40 games and won the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. Despite going 1-2 in the Tallahassee Regional, the program is definitely on the upswing and is looking to take another step forward in 2013 in its quest to get back to the College World Series.

2012: 40-24, 16-14
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: John Cohen

Field Players:
Junior shortstop Adam Frazier is the clear leader offensively on this Bulldog team heading into 2013. Frazier hit .371 in 2012 and is the returning leader in almost every offensive category for Mississippi State. Frazier had 91 hits, drove in 26 runs, stole nine bases and had an on-base percentage of .482.  Junior outfielder Hunter Renfroe and redshirt sophomore Wes Rea are the leading returning power hitters for the Bulldogs. They combined for nine homeruns and drove in 66 runs in the 2012 season. If these two guys can somehow increase their production to push double figures in homeruns, it will go a long way in igniting the offense in 2013.  The offense hit just .251 and scored 287 runs last season.

Senior right-hander Kendall Graveman will be counted on heavily in 2013 for Mississippi State. Graveman was 4-4 with a 2.81 earned run average in 2012 in 16 starts.  Graveman displayed pretty good control as he only walked 21 batters over the course of 89.2 innings and should end up in the Friday night slot for weekend series all year long. The competition for the other two weekend slots should be intriguing and will come down to a battle between the likes of Brandon Woodruff, Will Cox, Ross Mitchell and others. The closer role is on lockdown thanks to Jonathan Holder. Holder was 2-1 with a 0.32 earned run average in 2012. Holder is a big, hard throwing, right hander who struck out 30 in 28.1 innings and gave up just 17 hits. Having a guy like Holder should allow Coach Cohen to shorten the game, especially in conference play where games are usually very tightly contested.

Who to Watch:
John Marc Shelly is a hard throwing, right hander.  The 6-1, 187 pounder has a fastball that tops out at around 93 miles per hour. Shelly should be able to compete for a starting spot pretty quickly with the need for starting pitching slots to be solidified for the Bulldogs. Daniel Garner should provide versatility as he can catch, play first base, and pitch if necessary. Callahan Brown is another right handed pitcher who could make his way into a mid-week slot for Mississippi State. Brown throws at just around 90 miles per hour with his fastball and at 6-3, 200 should be close, if not ready, physically to be able to pitch right away if needed.

Final Projection:
The Bulldogs should get rolling right out of the blocks in the non-conference schedule as they are pretty much at home the first several weeks of the season. The home field was very kind to Mississippi State in 2012 as they racked up a 28-8 record. The road was a different story as they were a dismal 5-12. If they can close that gap on the road to be a little bit closer to .500 or better, that will go a long way in securing a top seed and host opportunity for Regionals. Other keys will be the offense and their ability to score runs. To score more runs, the Bulldogs need to draw more walks and reduce their strikeouts.  In 2012 the Bulldogs walked 261 times and struck out 445.  If these numbers can just be balanced out a little bit then Mississippi State will be very difficult to beat. Overall, this is a top half of the conference club and they should be in the mix for one of the sixteen Regional host sites come late May when the selection committee picks the NCAA Tournament field.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Adam Frazier, IF, 245
Hits: Adam Frazier, IF, 91
Home Runs: Trey Porter, OF, 5
RBIs: Wes Rea, IF, 41
Runs: Adam Frazier, IF, 45
Stolen Bases: Adam Frazier, IF, 9

Wins: Kendall Graveman, P, 4
Innings Pitched: Kendall Graveman, P, 89.2
Strikeouts: Kendall Graveman, P, 59
Saves: Jonathan Holder, P, 9

Madness 2013 MLB Draft Rankings:
#77 Adam Frazier


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