Butch Thompson, Nick Mingione Interviews

Mississippi State associate head baseball coach Butch Thompson and assistant coach Nick Mingione talk one-on-one with Gene's Page about this weekend's baseball scrimmages.

Butch Thompson talks about MSU's pitchers:

Pitching-wise, what stood out to you today?
"The best note is seeing how the ball is coming out of some guys hands. Jacob Lindgren comes to mind. We got a lot of 87 to 88 miles per hour sliders on our readings. I haven't had many of those during my coaching career. I've gotten 95, 96, 97, 98 fastballs on my gun but I haven't gotten many 87 to 88 sliders, especially when it's coming from a lefthander.

"And Ben Bracewell got back out there. He gave us two innings of good work. I really liked his fastball and he made some good picks to first base.

"And we also threw Trevor Fitts today. He threw three (shutout innings) for us today. He had our shortest inning of the fall for us, 7 pitches. He showed a lot of maturity.

"And our best young guy was Dakota (Hudson). He has thrown the ball well. He has shown velocity, and he's shown a really good breaking ball. He threw four shutout innings today. I think I was most impressed with Dakota in the 6th inning. We are still playing ball and I see him sprinting from foul pole to foul pole. He's really locked in. To see how well he threw today, then see him running in that outfield and knowing how he is trying to get better every day has been really exciting to see."

John Marc Shelly was another guy who pitched today and he showed good velocity, hitting 90-92 regularly.
"He got hit hard today. But we made some adjustments with John Marc. We have gone from the big miss and throwing a lot of balls his last outing, to really shoving the ball in the zone. I was very happy with that. But he did get hit hard today. What we have to do with John Marc is find something that will work for him. I believe it is in there. We are going to change grips on his fastball this week. What we have to do is find the strikezone first, get hit hard second, make the adjustments, stay within the strikezone, then get disruption of timing and create soft contact."

Did you think the umpire today had a little bit of a tight strikezone?
"He did, but I want our guys to see an ump with a tight strikezone. I would rather have that than a liberal strikezone. If we have a liberal strikezone we aren't learning our patterns and learning what we need to learn."

What have you seen from your catchers this weekend?
"Cody Walker is a great thrower. He is learning our sequences and he's making some unbelievable catches with guys who have real breaking pitches. He can still learn to receive the ball better.

"Zack Randolph had a really good day today. I thought he handled the guys really well. They are all learning to go to the mound when they need to. They are actually going to the mound too much. But I think Coach Cohen made the point at the end of the scrimmage that we are going to go to the mound too much during the fall so that we won't have to go as much in the spring when we are playing games and want to stay in a rhythm."

Nick Mingione talks about MSU's hitters:

Overall, what were your impressions of the hitters this weekend?
"I thought we had some guys who did a really good job of using the middle of the field. I feel like our guys have done a really good job of understanding a word that Coach Cohen said 100s and 100s of time last year and that is identity. Guys were getting ground balls and line drives in the middle of the field. Some guys have hit some extra base hits. I think our baserunning has been fantastic. Guys have done an exceptional job of taking extra bases and putting pressure on the defense. And obviously our strikezone discipline has been great, allowing guys to get deep in counts and have quality at-bats."

I noticed a lot of the hitters are doing a great job of hitting the ball where it is pitched.
"A lot of that has to do with the maturity of the hitter, they understand it's not just a turn and burn. It goes back to their identity. We have guys who have the ability to use the entire field. And at times use it with power. I was talking to one of our freshmen hitters about our offense approach today. He said, 'Coach, they brought in a new pitcher and he threw a breaking ball his first pitch.' He told me, 'Coach, he's going to throw me a slider his first pitch.' Their baseball knowledge and their ability to pay attention has a lot to do with that."

Which freshman was that?
"Brent Rooker."

Brett Pirtle was off last weekend but really seem to hit the ball well this weekend.
"There is no doubt about that. The thing that excites us so much about Brett is that he had two extra base hits as a righty. That is an area that he has devoted a lot of his time too, his righthanded stroke. It was really good to see him have a lot of quality at-bats not only lefthanded, which we have come to expect, but righthanded also."

Matthew Britton has hit the ball well so far this fall.
"Matthew Britton's approach has been so much fun to watch. Matthew has a great feel for the strikezone. Getting deep in counts doesn't bother him. His ability to use the middle backside of the field is really good. Today, he crushed a ball to the shortstop. He also had a couple of RBIs this weekend, one to center and one to left. It's been really fun to watch him progress as an offensive player. He's having good at-bats right now."

Seth Heck is another guy who appears to be hitting the ball well. He was 4-for-7 this weekend.
"Seth Heck is one of those guys who truly understands his identity. In our program, we use the term sped up. He's a guy who does not get sped up. He's a guy who uses the backside of the field. He hit the ball to right field today. And he had a nice clean base hit in the middle of the field yesterday. Today, he got a bunt down that pressured the defense because he runs so well. So, offensively he brings a lot of things to the table."

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

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