When you went to the California League to play what was your plan, what were you trying to work on?
"The one thing that I really tried to work on was the defensive aspect of the game. I wasn't worried about offense because that will come. I wanted to go out there and focus on defense and that is exactly what I did. I worked on the game management aspect of it, the physical aspect, the mental aspects."
Calling pitches was something that you wanted to work on. When you first got to Mississippi State was that something new for you or had you been calling your pitches in junior college?
"It wasn't entirely new but the entire concept of it, all the different parts of game management and calling a game, was new to me. I had to get Coach Thompson to really show me how."
You were able to call pitches during the summer, right?
"They had an overall agreement before I go there that it would be the catchers calling the game, which I think is universal in the summer leagues."
Do you feel like you accomplished what you wanted to accomplish during the summer?
"Very much so. Being able to face different people from different leagues gives you a good look at the different competition. I faced ACC guys, SEC guys, all the way down the list."
How much of an adjustment was it for you going out to California, the state itself?
"Besides the trip to Arizona this past spring, that was the first time that I have gone out west. It was very different, the food, the people, the weather, even the time zone. You had to get used to the time difference. The weather, you can't complain about that because it was 75 degrees every day. There wasn't any humidity, and it didn't rain one time. I had to make one other adjustment. We had to go to Wichita, Kansas for the NBC World Series. And the weather was something like 93 to 95 our first game and our field was full of dry heat. I got to feel both worlds this summer."
How does dry heat affect a catcher?
"The dry heat radiates off the all-turf field. And when you are a catcher you have all that gear on and the heat is radiating back up to you."
With the new low-seam ball that colleges will use this coming season, what kind of adjustment is it to a catcher using that type ball?
"With a catcher, I don't think there is that much of an adjustment period. I personally like them because I think the ball carries better. I think you can get better spin on it. From the catching aspect of it, I don't see an adjustment. But from the pitching aspect, yeah, they are going to have to get used to it. They have to do different grips. All that I have to do is pick it up and throw it."
Pitchers say that it changes the movement of their curveball, slider and fastball. Does it add any kind of movement to your throws when you throw from home plate to second base? And if it does, how do you adjust to that?
"I think maybe when I first started throwing it I had to get used to that. But after a game or two it became second nature again. I just found that slot where there was no sink or run to second base."
Did it add velocity to your throws to second base? I ask that because the pitchers that I have talked to said the new ball adds a little velocity to their fastballs.
"I really can't tell from the eye but it does feel like it comes out of the hand better."
Coming into the fall, where do you see the most improvement in yourself?
"I believe I will show improvement defensively just because that is what I worked on during the summer. Offensively, I think my entire game will be taken to another level."
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 email@example.com.