"I feel like I am playing pretty good and seem to be getting better this year, especially in the field," said Rea. "My main focus this year and past summer was working on my defensive skills in the field. I have hit the ball well over the past three or four years but really needed to concentrate on my defense. I have also gotten stronger and faster.
"I had a few scouts talk to me and they all knew that I had signed with Mississippi State. They said that I could probably get drafted very late and that was fine with me. Waiting will give me a chance to go play college ball at MSU three or four years, and give me opportunity to mature and improve my game."
After an impressive summer year with the nearby Tupelo 49'ers, Rea began his recruiting journey, receiving offers from the Diamond Dogs, Mississippi and Delta State University. Rea's older brother, Brian, was a four-year standout with the Statesman, a powerhouse baseball school on the Division 2 level. However, after visiting the trio of in-state universities, Rea admitted that he just felt "at home" in Starkville and on the MSU campus.
"I visited State, Ole Miss and Delta State for my recruiting visits," said Rea. "But I chose Mississippi State because I felt at home and very comfortable. It is just a different atmosphere there. All the players, coaches and fans click as one and seem to be one big family, working towards the same goals and that is playing for championships.
"Like I said, it just feft like home to me. They all play as one team and have no individual players on the team. Their coaches are all class A people, on and off the field.
"And another big reason I chose State was because of how everybody gets a chance to play if they are good enough. They are playing a lot of freshmen this season and are off to a great start. They have (Brad) Corley in the outfield with (Joseph) Hunter and both of those guys are true freshmen. And Thomas Berkery is playing at second a lot and he is a freshman. That lets me know that I will have a chance to step in right away and help if I am ready. It will take a lot of hard work, but I feel confident that I can get it done."
With the Bulldogs losing veteran Matthew Maniscalco, Ron Polk and his staff inked a couple of shortstops in Rea and Alabama native Bunky Kateon. However, with his defensive skills reaching his already solid hitting level, Rea may get a look at second base as well. But either place will be fine for Rea, as long as he works hard with an eye on playing early at State.
"They've talked about me playing second some in college," said Rea. "But right now, I have played shortstop all year and last season. But either position will be fine with me.
Paul Jones is a recruiting correspondent for Gene's Page. Paul, also a sports writer for the Starkville Daily News, can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org