A Q&A With MSU Head Baseball Coach John Cohen

In a four-part series, Gene's Page talks with the Mississippi State baseball coaches about the position players they coach. The first-part of the series is with MSU head coach John Cohen, who is primarily responsible for second base, shortstop and third base.

How about talking about the position players that you are primarily responsible for. We can start with third base.
"We have several candidates there. (Sophomore) Daryl Norris certainly made a bid to be a guy who can play third base for us. Daryl is a really steady guy. He had a great offensive fall. He also proved that he is very comfortable playing third base, a position he played in high school. Obviously he has the necessary arm strength for that position.

"(Redshirt freshman) Brayden Jones is a guy that we feel has great potential to swing the bat. He showed glimpses of being a really solid defender at third base. We just have to wait and see how he progresses.

"I really like (Redshirt freshman) Demarcus Henderson as a third baseman in certain situations. He is so athletic and has a lot of fast twitch. And he has really developed his arm strength. He played enough baseball last year where he should make a jump for us.

"The other guy we played at that position who got hurt during the course of the fall is (true freshman) Nick Flair. I think he has as high of a ceiling as anybody on our team. If he swings the bat the way we think he can, we have to find him a position. And I think third base is, potentially, going to be his spot. I think he has a chance to be a great, great player."

What are your feelings about shortstop?
"Demarcus can play either third or short. But the guy who had the best fall on our entire club was (sophomore) Adam Frazier. I feel very comfortable with Adam. He has become a great leader for us. And he got some big hits for us down the stretch last year. Then he went out and had a great summer. I think he can definitely play shortstop. In the beginning (of the season) he will play shortstop and some second base.

"I was really happy with (true freshman) Matthew Britton and the way he came on. I think he is just starting to scratch the surface of what he can do. He has tremendous arm strength, probably our best arm on the left side (of the infield). We did testing in the fall. And he was a guy who could throw a ball 90 miles per hour across the infield. And he's a 6.6 (seconds) runner in the 60-yard dash. Matthew is a guy who is just starting to figure some things out about playing the game. I think he has a really bright future. I really believe he is going to have some chances early to play shortstop.

"(True freshman) Phillip Casey is somebody that we also believe has a really bright future. Is it second base, is it shortstop? We don't quite know yet.

"(Junior) Sam Frost also had some time at shortstop. Sam might be our best defensive infielder. From a technical standpoint, he is a guy who does everything the correct way. If he can produce some things for us offensively, then I think he has a chance to play. And that is something that he has worked very, very hard on."

The last position is second base.
"When you move to second base, it's basically the same list of guys. I think Britton can play some second base. I think Adam Frazier is our best second baseman. But we might be forced to play him at shortstop just from an experience factor. Casey can also play second base.

"This group (at third, short and second) is more talented than last year's group but last year's group was more experienced. And experience is everything. There is no question that experience wins in our league."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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