Elite 8th Grader Commits To MSU Baseball

Washington School (Greenville, MS) baseball player Austin Kelly, one of the elite 8th graders in the nation. has committed to Mississippi State baseball. And this commitment could have significant ramifications due to the type talent that Austin has.

  • Name: Austin Kelly
  • Classification: 2019
  • Position: C/OF/IF
  • Ht: Wt: 5-11, 195
  • Bats-Throws: L/R
  • High School: Washington School (Greenville, MS)
  • Summer Travel Team: Dulins Dodgers
  • Schools of Interest: Committed to Mississippi State

    "I called (Mississippi State Assistant) Coach (Nick) Mingione and told him that I was committing," said Austin. "He sounded pretty excited."

    He explained the process leading to his commitment.

    "I called Coach Mingione earlier (last) week and we had a 20-minute conversation," said Austin. "He asked me to come to the football game Saturday. Then, he asked us to come back Sunday, which we did. And it was pretty awesome. After we visited I had pretty much made up my mind (that I was going to commit to MSU) but I wanted to go back home and talk to my coaches about my decision out of respect to them."

    His dad and mother also came with him on the visit. And like Austin, they were impressed with what they saw.

    "We really liked the people," said Austin's dad, Joby. "We liked the coaches and the players. The players were extremely courteous and nice to Austin. They were top-notch. That was very impressive."

    Also in MSU's favor was the fact that Austin grew up an MSU fan.

    "My brother, Casey, and I have always grown up loving State," said Austin. "That is one thing that is so exciting about this. I still can't believe it. It still feels like a dream right now."

    While the Mississippi State coaches were already aware of Kelly, they had a chance to see him play in a tournament held at Dudy Noble Field a little over a month ago. That appeared to seal the deal for them.

    "The State coaches already knew of him because he was a 7th grade starter at his high school, Pillow Academy," said Joby. "He was the first 7th grader to ever hit a home run out of that particular field.

    "Then, a little over a month ago we were invited by Tim Dulin of Dulins Dodgers to go with his team over to State to play in a showcase type event. We went over there and (Austin) had a really good day. He hit a couple of doubles and went 2-for-3 at the plate while going against some kids who were seniors. He pulled one (of the doubles) down the right field line and he also hit one to the gap in right-center. From what we understood, the Mississippi State coaches really liked him. That is when it all began."

    Hitting two doubles at Dudy Noble Field is very unique but even more unique for a youngster who celebrated his 14th birthday a few months ago. But hitting with power is not unique for this 14-year old.

    "This kid has ridiculous big-time power," said Tim Dulin of Dulins Dodgers. "He is a freak of nature. The things that he can do you can't teach. The type bat speed that he has, you can't teach that. He has special tools and has a chance to be one of those players who has a chance to be an impact player on the college level and have an opportunity to play as a freshman, something that very few guys do."

    Austin's dad saw that power early during his son's baseball career.

    "He has a lot of power and has always hit with power," said Joby. "I noticed (his power) when he was playing coach-pitch as a 7-year-old. He was hitting balls in coach-pitch that were going 200 feet. When he was a 9-year-old he went to the World Series in Chicago, Illinois and he was selected the Most Valuable Hitter in that tournament. He won the Home Run Derby. We have video of him as a 9-year-old hitting balls 240 to 250 feet. He went down to the World Series in Orlando, Florida when he was 11-years-old and played in the Elite 32, the top 32 teams in the nation, and hit, I believe, 6 home runs. He was 11-years-old and hitting balls over 300 feet. He also played in the Perfect Game 13 and Under National Championship in Dallas, Texas and was the MVP of that National Championship after hitting 5 home runs, including a grand-slam, in something like eight games in that tournament."

    And his power-hitting continues to develop.

    "The farthest ball that I have ever seen him hit was this year when he was playing in the Elite 32 in Orlando, Florida," said Joby. "The field was 355 on the corners and 400-something in center. He cleared the right-center fence and another fence on the other side of that fence. I would say they estimated (that it traveled) 440 to 450 feet."

    If you are wondering where Austin's power comes from, Joby has some insight on that.

    "His lower half (body) is really strong," said Joby, who won a couple of nationals in power-lifting when he was 15 and 16-years-old. "And he has really strong legs, too. He drives the ball with his hips."

    Austin remembers when his power started to develop on a consistent basis.

    "I started hitting home runs when I went to the Chicago World Series (when I was 9-years-old)," said Austin. "That was the first time when I actually started hitting them back-to-back like that. I had hit maybe 7 home runs my entire life before I went to Chicago. Then, after that, I started hitting 3 to 5 home runs in every tournament that I played in."

    Tim Dulin has seen a lot of great players, including guys who are currently playing in the Major Leagues. He feels like Austin has the same type IT factor.

    "I have been doing this for twenty-five years and I've had kids in my program like (former MSU baseball player and pro baseball player) Ed Easley, (former MSU baseball player) Joseph Hunter and (former Ole Miss baseball player and current MLB player), Zack Cozart," said Dulin. "You knew at an early age that they were really, really talented, had the raw tools and had that IT factor.

    "It's pretty easy to see that this kid, barring injury or barring not working hard, has a chance to be special. This kid is physically much more mature than he is anything else but he has a tremendous amount of running speed, a tremendous amount of arm-strength, can slow the game down to where he has a feel where the barrel is. And the ball jumps off of his bat like very few other kids."

    Not only is Austin a very talented hitter but he is also very versatile on defense. According to Dulin, he can play just about anywhere on the field.

    "He can catch, play any of the outfield positions, play first base and is a dominant pitcher in his own age group," said Dulin. "He is just an athlete who is a baseball player who loves to play the game."

    Although Austin still has five years left in his high school playing career, he is already looking forward to his Mississippi State baseball career.

    "Now I am going to work even harder so that I can get that starting position as a freshman at State," said Austin.

    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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