Lane Burroughs Talks Catchers and Outfield

Mississippi State assistant baseball coach Lane Burroughs talks about the catchers and the outfield positions, including who is leading the way after the first two weeks of pre-season scrimmages.

With two seniors returning at catcher, you must feel pretty good about that position?
"Yes, we have a great luxury, we have two senior catchers, Wes Thigpen and Cody Freeman, who can catch for anybody in the country. Hopefully, we will get a full season out of those two guys. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Wes has taken it upon himself to get into Coach Butch Thompson's right pocket. They meet all the time. He's kind of become Coach Thompson's extension on the field as far as working the pitchers. Based on the discussions I have had with Wes, I think he has made a commitment to himself and a commitment to do everything that we ask of him. And he's going to do it at 100%. It's showing on the field. And Cody has been good also. Both of them have taken on leadership roles. Just like I said last year, they are feeding off of each other. It's a pretty good luxury when you can go into a season knowing you have two guys who caught a lot in this league. I say this over and over, the catcher is the quarterback, the point guard; he runs the show."

You have two guys behind them, Brett Bozeman and Hunter Renfroe.
"They are behind our two seniors but we would put Brett back there in a heartbeat. Brett is still struggling somewhat with some arm difficulties, but it hasn't affected his (hitting) stroke. Brett has been one of our best and most consistent hitters throughout the fall and it has continued during the spring. He has the flattest stroke on the team. It doesn't matter who is pitching or what pitch it is. He also knows the strikezone. He has been a pleasant surprise offensively. We have to find a way to get him in the lineup because he is going to help us offensively.

"Hunter is a guy who makes us feel that our future is in good hands with him behind the plate. But right now, he is going to serve his time behind two seniors. But I always say this, you are one foul tip from someone having to play. That's a tough, physical position and it's a grind. People don't understand how beat up a catcher gets during the course of a season. You can look at the big leagues every year and see how the offensive numbers from catchers generally start plummeting in the second half of the season. It takes such a toll on the body physically. And when you are calling pitches throughout the game, it takes a mental toll on you as well. But we believe in Hunter. He has such a great skill set. He can help us on the mound and he can swing the bat. I wouldn't be surprised if Hunter is out there a lot this year."

What does it look like in the outfield after the first two weeks of practice?
"We are looking at Brent Brownlee, (true freshman) C.T. Bradford, Jaron Shepherd and Trey Johnson. Basically, you are looking at four left-handed hitting outfielders and one right-handed hitting outfielder. Brent Brownlee is right-handed and Shepherd, C.T. (True freshman) Cody Abraham and Johnson are all left-handed.

"Right now, I feel like we are in a four-man rotation. If we started tomorrow, it would be C.T. Bradford, Brent Brownlee, Jaron Shepherd and Trey Johnson. That's a freshman who was Florida player of the year and three guys that really are seniors, although Brent is a four-year junior. So, we have some veterans out there. As far as Brent, C.T. and Shepherd, they can cover the ground at Dudy Noble as good as anybody in the country. Defensively, we are very good out there. And we need that in our outfield due to how big it is. They are all going to help us offensively. And C.T. is going to help us on the mound as well. And Trey Johnson will, too.

"I don't think you can nail down that this guy is going to play right, center or left. I feel like we could shake them up in our hand and put them wherever they land. All of those guys are comfortable playing at any of the positions. They are very unselfish. Even sometimes during our intersquads and our drill work they will switch on their own. We don't even have to tell them. They take it upon themselves to do that."

Do you expect Cody Abraham to play much this season?
"Yes, there is a chance because we aren't as deep in the outfield as we have been in the past. We would like for Cody to have a chance to get better this year because we feel like he is going to be a great, great player. But we aren't as deep as we have been in the past, so we are an injury away from him having to get out there and play. Due to that, he has to always be physically and mentally ready to go out there and play."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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