Gordon Leads Summer League In Hitting

Mississippi State redshirt freshman first baseman/pitcher Cole Gordon talks one-on-one with Gene's Page about how well he hit the ball in the summer after redshirting his freshman season at MSU.

As a redshirt freshman on the baseball team last season, what were you able to do during the spring?
"I could show up for the practices and put the work in there. Really, all that I couldn't do was play in the games."

Were you able to play in any scrimmage games, intrasquad games?
"No sir."

So, I'm assuming you were pretty rusty hitting-wise when you started playing summer ball?
"Yes sir."

The rust must have wore off pretty quickly because you wound up leading your summer league in hitting with a .400 batting average and hit 7 home runs.
"It is just baseball. We have all been doing this for so long that it only took a couple of games and I started getting back into it. You remember how to play again and get back into a rhythm."

I believe you hit around 2 or 3 home runs your senior season of high school ball but you hit 7 in the summer league you played in. Did that surprise you?
"My senior year (in high school) I was still coming off my Tommy John surgery. So, I had not been able to swing a bat for about 10 months prior to that. But we put in a lot of work here at State. It felt normal, all natural coming back."

Did you feel the power early on?
"I felt it a little bit here (during my freshman season). Even hitting inside or in the cages you could really feel it starting to come back. And the power felt really good."

What kind of confidence boost did batting .400 in a summer collegiate league give you?
"It gave me a lot. You get to play against competition that we have here (at State) everyday. So, when you go there you are used to it. But it was a big confidence boost going there and performing."

How has that success helped you going into the fall?
"It has helped a lot. But the thing that has helped the most was being here last year, then coming back this year I know what to expect. I know what it takes to be ready to play. I kind of took that into the summer and it felt really good. It felt really good to play again and to hit again."

Which MSU coach did you stay in contact with during the summer season?
"I talked to Coach Mingione a lot. I also got to know Coach (Will) Coggin a little bit, the new coach here. He is awesome. He knows a lot about hitting. I talked to Coach Cohen a little bit. But Coach Mingione checked in a lot."

Did the coaches give you any pointers when talking to you?
"They told me to keep doing what I was doing and not change anything. When I got back (to State this fall) we talked more about the mechanical side of it."

Going into the summer were there some things the coaches suggested that you try swing-wise?
"Yeah, coming from high school to here I needed to get a little more rhythm in my swing just because the pitching is a lot better. We worked on that in the spring and the fall of last year. I took that into the summer and tried to get the timing down. It ended up clicking."

What do you mean when you say get a little more rhythm in your swing?
"It was moreso my hands. I always was in a little movement with my hands so I wouldn't get stiff in the box. It was more of a loose relaxation thing at the plate."

Defensively, what did you try to improve as far as playing first base?
"That was one of the most emphasized things here. So, when I got to summer ball I was able to go out everyday and take ground balls and get my footwork down. I feel like I have almost come farther with that than I did with hitting during the last two years."

You only pitched a little during the summer. And pitching is something that you are expected to do at MSU during your career. What are your thoughts about how you did pitching-wise during the summer?
"I pitched about 6 innings and felt good. My arm is starting to feel strong again. And the velocity is coming back. With that, the breaking ball and changeup are starting to come back to how they used to be. I am excited to see how they look in the fall."

What do you think your velocity was during the summer?
"I think I was pushing the high 80s, maybe a couple of games when I felt really good it was touching 90. Hopefully, coming back here and getting the workouts in will help me get my velocity back up to higher numbers."

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@maxxsouth.net.

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