MSU Pitching Coach Butch Thompson Interview

Mississippi State associate head coach Butch Thompson talks one-on-one with Gene's Page about the MSU pitchers after the conclusion of the first fall scrimmages.

What are your impressions of Dakota Hudson after his first spring outing?
"We are excited about Dakota. He is throwing strikes. He had zero three-ball counts. Just getting in the strikezone has been the key to his development. You can't go to level three until you go to level one and two. Level one is your ability to command the strikezone and throw the ball where you want to.

"At the end of the fall we dropped Dakota's arm slot and he's now starting to perform where he is showing the ability to command the strikezone. Now. he has to learn how to pitch, what pitch to throw when. That should be more of his focus now."

When I talked to him, he said the new arm slot is more comfortable for him.
"I think he is getting down the mound easier, His arm is bouncing back. He wanted to pitch again today. That is always a good sign. I don't remember that from him in the past. His arm is bouncing back quicker."

What was his velocity Saturday?
"I think he was 91-92 at the top of his range and 88-89 at his mid-range. I think it had more movement, too. But with more movement comes a decrease in velocity. But velocity is not the thing that I am thinking about the most right now. Now, that he is throwing strikes he can start shaping his pitches. I still think he will have enough velocity. Remember, we started school on January 12th, the first day we could work with them. So, I don't think anybody is in shape to go get their best bolt."

Vance Tatum and Trevor Fitts are your closers right now. What did you think about their Saturday outings?
"If you were to ask what is our version of Jacob Lindgren and Jonathan Holder, they are this year's version at this point. I think they have done a great job. They have connected with each other. They are each other's throwing partner. They have embraced their new roles. Trevor has moved from a starting role to the bullpen. And Tatum is kind of in the same boat. He has been a starter his entire life and has migrated from trying to be the Friday night starter on this club to being a bullpen guy. Both of them have done a heck of a job for me day in, day out. They have really earned a lot of trust from me."

Preston Brown and Lucas Laster started Saturday. How did they do?
"Both only threw two of their pitches as starters Saturday. I think they were just trying to throw a couple of innings, trying to get to 35 to 40 pitches. Saturday was the first time that they had faced a hitter. We threw strikes Saturday. We only had 3 walks in 11 innings."

Sunday wasn't as good of a day for the pitchers.
"Today, we had 12 three-ball counts in 4 innings, which is really an eight inning game. We also had a lot more walks. This second group were up in the zone and didn't fill it up quite as much. We also threw a lot more right-handers today and the offense got a lot more fastballs to hit today. That is what is going to happen when you don't get to the bottom of the zone as much."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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