A Q&A With MSU Head Baseball Coach John Cohen

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


With the fall scrimmages concluded, what are your thoughts about each of the position players that you coach? We'll start with Daryl Norris.
"Daryl has progressed during the fall. The challenge with Daryl is his knee. That's the reason he didn't play summer baseball. Our goals with Daryl is his flexibility and his ability to stay on a right-hand slider. By SEC standards, that is a very difficult pitch to adjust to. But I think he improved in all areas. I definitely think he is one of our team leaders. He is someone who has power. He has also worked really hard on his range at third base. He played very, very well in our world series. I can see Daryl being a big contributor to this club this spring."

Sam Frost is a senior infielder who can play a number of positions on the infield.
"Sam is a first-rate defender and baserunner. I think Sam can be a great role player on a very, very good club. Because he has so much versatility, he can play almost any infield spot, especially third base and second base. He is somebody who clearly understands what his role is on our team. He is an outstanding student and a great person. And more than anything he wants to go out on a very high note. He and the other seniors want this to be an Omaha year, just as our staff, other players and fans do."

Adam Frazier continues to be impressive. He was hurt some this fall but still had a really good fall, especially hitting the ball.
"Adam has more strength. He has more batspeed. He has more confidence. I think the summer did a lot for him despite him not playing as much as he probably wanted to. I still think that was a great experience for him. There is no question that he is one of the leaders of our team. He has an extremely high baseball IQ. It is like having a coach in the middle infield with him out there. As for his fall, he has the fractured finger that inhibited him more defensively than offensively. That affected him more in throwing the baseball across the infield. For us to be as good as we want to be, Adam has to be in the middle of everything that we want to do."

Matthew Britton is a returning infielder for you.
"Matthew is a great baserunner, a great defender. His knowledge of the game has increased exponentially. I think that Matthew might be a best defender on our infield. And that says a lot because we have several very good defenders. He is a great competitor. If his offense gets better, not only will he be a great player in our program but a pretty good draft pick. We have to believe that he can contribute offensively. He has to be a high on-base percentage guy who can bunt and move runners. If he can achieve those things, then he is going to have a lot of opportunities. I think that, as Matthew's body matures and his offense gets better then I believe the sky is the limit for him."

Nick Flair is healthy and went through the entire fall.
"We are really proud that Nick has corrected some throwing issues. He shorten up his arm stroke from third base, which was very important for him. I think he had a solid fall. I also think he's going to be someone who has power. He should be a pretty good offensive player. He certainly adds to our depth at third and first base. He's another one that has a very high baseball IQ."

Junior college transfer Alex Detz is a newcomer to the program.
"I think Alex is going to be a very good lefthanded hitter for us. He has a little more power that I thought he was going to have. He's not a swing and miss guy. He really understands the offensive part of the game. And I think he is going to have a role on our club, especially as an offensive player. He is that lefthanded hitter who can hit ground balls to the right side in terms of moving runners and in terms of terms of scoring runs. He can play either second base or third base. He is a guy whose body is really changing because he is working really hard in the weight room. We are really excited about Alex and think he can really contribute to this year's club."

True freshman Kyle Hann had a solid fall.
"Kyle really has connected hands and feet. What I mean by that is a lot of freshmen are disconnected. They don't get their lower half involved enough in their defense. They rely on their upper half. But he is really connected. What is really impressive about Kyle is he is such an accurate thrower who has arm strength. He is certainly someone who learns very quickly. He is arguably one of the best amateur players in Canada last year. He is a very good player who isn't even starting to scratch the surface of how good he is going to be down the line for Mississippi State."

Junior college newcomer Brett Pirtle had an impressive fall despite being injured for a portion of it.
"Brett got hit in his cheekbone which resulted in a small fracture in it. The way he came back from that spoke volumes to our players and coaching staff. His evaluation among our players was very high because of the respect he has from them. (Defensively) he has tremendous range and a very accurate throwing arm. He is a switch-hitter, which allows you a lot of flexibility in the lineup. Brett did exactly what we wanted him to do, come in and have a great fall and really fit into everything that we are trying to do. I would be very surprised if Brett is not a big contributor to our club this spring."

Pierson Waring is a junior college transfer who had a solid fall.
"I am really happy that Pierson was in our program this fall because he gave us a lot of depth on the infield. During intersquad games in the fall you have to have at least eight infielders who won't lower your standard of play. And he help give us that. I think he can add depth to our very deep infield. He also really competed hard in everything that he does, in the weight room, in the field. I think he has the respect of his teammates."


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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