This class should be a consensus top-5 recruiting class when all of the publication rankings have come out. There are 12 pitchers, 2 catchers, 4 infielders and 3 outfielders in the class. It is loaded with numerous impact players. It has power arms among the pitchers as well as power bats among the hitters. In my opinion, it has the chance to be among the top two to three recruiting classes in MSU history.
This class of pitchers may be the best signing class of pitchers in MSU's history. There are power arms with tremendous potential and immediate impact pitchers. Of the 12 pitchers, six are righties and six are lefties.
Leading the group is lefty Kale Breaux of Sulphur (LA) High School who may be the most SEC-ready of all of the pitchers. He is a tremendously gifted pitcher who was chosen the Gatorade Louisiana Baseball Player of the Year as well as a 2015 Louisville Slugger and MaxPreps Postseason 1st-Team All-American. All he does is win, win, win whether it be for the 18U USA National Team or his high school. His senior season he was 9-0 with a 0.12 ERA while striking out 99 in 56 innings. I expect him to have an immediate impact on the mound as a true freshman. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if he competed for an SEC role as a freshman.
Tall lefty Jared Padgett is right behind Breaux. He is a power arm (low 90s) who just needs to harness his control and command. Once he does that, then he can be one of the elite pitchers in the SEC. He turned down 4th round money after being drafted in the 26th round of this year's MLB draft.
Parker Ford is another highly thought of pitcher. The tall righty from Lufkin (TX) High School is a hard thrower (low 90s, top mid-90s) who should have an immediate impact on the mound as a true freshman. Like Padgett, I see him having the potential to be an elite SEC pitcher during his MSU career. He was projected to be a 3rd to 4th round pick after his senior season of high school ball but told MLB that he was attending State. Due to that, he wasn't drafted.
Trysten Barlow, a 2015 Louisville Slugger High School Baseball Preseason All-American 1st Team selection, is another power arm who throws in the high 80s to low 90s. In addition to that, he is a lefty with an SEC-ready body. I see him having a chance to come in as a true freshman and get plenty of innings, likely as a mid-week starter or reliever. He has a chance to be a great SEC pitcher during his MSU career.
Yet another tall lefty with a power arm, Lexington (TN) High School's Ethan Small has a chance to be a solid contributor his freshman season at MSU. He is one of the fastest risers of all the pitchers signed by MSU. A mid-80s velo arm when he committed to MSU, his velo jumped up to the high 80s, low 90s during his senior season. And I expect it to continue to increase as he adds more weight and strength to his frame. Ethan is one of the most intriguing prospects among the pitchers and has the chance to be an elite SEC pitcher if he continues to develop.
Juco right-hander Ryan Rigby, who played one season at East Mississippi Community College, is a high 80s throwing sidearmer who may be the best ground ball throwing pitcher that I have ever seen pitch. Yes, even better at throwing ground ball outs than former Diamond Dog and current MLB pitcher Kendall Graveman. In 30 innings he only allowed 5 flyball outs. That is an amazing stat. If he can continue to do that his sophomore season at MSU, then I see him having an immediate impact as a closer or late inning reliever for MSU in SEC games.
Ryan Cyr is another hard thrower with a lot of upside. Throwing from the right side, the Blue Valley (KS) High School product consistently throws his fastball 89 miles per hour, toping out at 92. He is a pitcher who could come in and pitch immediately and do well as a true freshman or redshirt and be an immediate impact pitcher as a redshirt freshman. I really can see Cyr adding a few miles per hour to his velo with a year of adding weight and muscle to his frame.
Right-hander Keegan James has a lot of upside. As he has added weight to his frame during his high school career, he has added additional velo. He now throws in the high 80s, topping out in the low 90s. I see that trend of adding velo continuing. Like Cyr, he could contribute as a true freshman but I could also see him being an immediate impact pitcher with a year's worth of strength and conditioning under his belt. It wouldn't surprise me if he is throwing in the mid 90s by the time he leaves MSU. If he does that, then I see him being an elite SEC pitcher during his Bulldog career.
Noah Hughes, a 2015 Louisville Slugger Postseason 1st-Team All-American, is a right-hander who currently throws in the mid to high 80s, topping out at 90-91. He is a pitcher with tremendous potential who just needs to add more weight and strength to his solid frame. I could see him really developing with a redshirt season under his belt. He has the potential to throw in the low 90s during his MSU career.
Konnor Pilkington is a lefty who throws in the mid to high 80s. I really like his potential and think he would really benefit from a redshirt year his true freshman season.
Alex London, from Northridge (AL) High School is a mid-80s throwing lefty who is a prime candidate for a redshirt season his true freshman year at State.
Right-hander Blake Smith is a junior college transfer from Shelton State Community College who pitched in relief. He has the potential to add depth to the pitching staff either his first or second year at MSU.
The two catchers MSU signed are both outstanding both offensively and defensively.
Elih Marrero, the son of former MLB player Eli Marrero, was drafted in the 29th round but decided to come to Mississippi State after turning down 4th round bonus money. An excellent offensive player and defensive player with a very good arm. he will provide MSU with immediate depth behind junior Gavin Collins, then likely take over the starting duties his sophomore season if Collins winds up going pro next season.
Hunter Stovall may be the best athlete among all of the signees. He had the chance to be drafted in the top 10 rounds of the MLB draft but chose to attend MSU instead. During his senior season he hit .441 with 10 home runs and knocked in 56 RBI while stealing 24 bases. He was selected the Gatorade Alabama Baseball Player of the Year, 2015 Louisville Slugger Postseason 1st-Team All-American as well as a 2015 MaxPreps Postseason 2nd-Team All-American. While he is an excellent catcher with an outstanding arm, I could see him moving to the infield, possibly second base. He has the potential to be a star on the collegiate level wherever he plays.
MSU has two middle infielders, a third baseman and a first baseman in this class. Two of the four are potential big-time power hitters while the other two are outstanding athletes.
Luke Alexander, a shortstop by trade, committed to MSU while he was still in the 8th grade and he never waivered. He is an outstanding hitter who batted .505 his senior season at Belmont High School. Although he is a great hitter, what sets him apart from other players is his baseball IQ and great defensive skill. I see him in a battle with returning players Ryan Gridley (sophomore) and John Holland (senior) for the starting shortstop position. If he doesn't win the position, then I expect him to play a lot as a backup.
Delvin Zinn is an intriguing prospect from Pontotoc High School. A late draftee in the 2015 MLB draft (28th round). he is an excellent athlete who will continue to improve. I know it is a cliche but his best baseball is ahead of him. I could see him being redshirted his true freshman season, then start to come into his own the next season.
Juco transfer Nate Lowe, the Florida Juco Player of the year and a first-team Juco All-American, will bring a true home run hitting bat to the lineup, something that MSU sorely needs. He hit .372 with 17 home runs while knocking in 53 runs his sophomore season at St. John's River State College and I'm sure the MSU coaches are hoping to see similar type numbers his first season at MSU. With starting first baseman Wes Rea having graduated, first base is wide open. And I expect Lowe to be one of the prime candidates for that starting job, along with redshirt freshman Cole Gordon, who is having an excellent summer hitting the ball.
Juco transfer Jacob Barfield played third base for Wharton County (TX) Junior College. Like Lowe, he has a home run hitting bat. As a true freshman at Wharton this past season, he hit .400 with 11 home runs and 42 RBI in 37 games before breaking the hamate bone in his left hand. If he is 100% healthy, I could see him vying for the starting third base job with junior Luke Reynolds. If not third base,then he could be one of the candidates for the DH spot in the lineup. Jacob comes from great bloodlines with his uncle being former MLB player Jessie Barfield.
MSU has three outfielders coming in, two high schoolers and one juco. All three are great athletes.
Jake Mangum, a 2015 Louisville Slugger Postseason 2nd-Team All-American, is a great athlete who has a great arm (high 80s, low 90s on the mound) and hits for average, batting . 504 with 2 home runs and 41 RBI as a senior at Jackson Prep. I could see him battling returning veteran Jacob Robson for the starting center field spot. If he doesn't win the position, I see him adding depth to the outfield his true freshman season. Something very intriguing about Mangum is his leadership ability. He was a leader among this class, and I expect him to be the same during his college career.
Brant Blaylock is an outstanding outfielder who will continue to develop offensively after hitting .349 with 2 home runs and 16 RBI as a senior at Desoto Central High School. I could see him redshirting his true freshman season, then battling for a starting outfield spot his redshirt freshman season.
Tanner Poole, who is a junior college transfer from Itawamba Community College, is another intriguing prospect. He is a very good defensive outfielder who is also a very good hitter. As a sophomore at ICC he hit .378 with 6 home runs and 39 RBI while stealing 26 bases. I see him adding depth in the outfield.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.