Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

1-on-1 With Mississippi State baseball coach Nick Mingione

Gene's Page takes one-on-one with Mississippi State assistant baseball coach Nick MIngione about the hitting, the pitching and the depth of this year's team.

I've covered most of the pre-season scrimmages. Is it normal for the pitching to be ahead of the hitting during the pre-season?
"One of the things that makes the way we scrimmage different than a normal game is there may be guys who are only getting one or two at-bats against a pitcher. That is actually how we have had success pitching in the past during the season. The guy is on the mound for three or four innings, then another pitcher takes his place. Plus, we have had over 20 scrimmages going back to the fall so our pitchers have faced our hitters a ton of times. You might say that should be an advantage to the hitter but it isn't, it's an advantage to the pitcher because the pitcher knows every single weakness of each hitter. They are attacking them and going right at them. But that is good for our hitters because the pitchers are exploiting the hitters weaknesses."

You watch the pitchers from the perspective of a coach who teaches hitting. Am I correct in saying that this MSU staff has a chance to be one of the best that has been here at Mississippi State? Why I say that is because just about every pitcher on this staff can top out at 90 miles per hour or better. I know velocity is not everything but it is where you start as a pitcher.
"What velocity does is give a hitter less time to make a decision. Due to that, you are forcing them to make earlier decisions. which means they make softer contact, there is more swing and misses. All that factors in.

"But there is a chance that this pitching staff could be very, very good. We will know more about that toward the end of the year."

Do you agree that it is an advantage for the hitters to face a pitching staff with the talent that this MSU staff has? Even though they are struggling with the pitching right now, it should still be an advantage when they get into actual games against pitchers not quite as good as this pitching staff.
"You are right. No matter who we face this year our hitters will have faced someone like him in practice. Let's say we face someone throwing 96, 97 miles per hour, our hitters will have faced someone like that in practice. Maybe our guys face a lefty throwing 94 miles per hour, they have faced that before. Maybe we are facing a guy who throws an 84-85 miles per hour slider, our guys have already faced someone like that. A 90 mile per hour cutter, we have faced that before. This may be the first time in a couple of years where our hitters can say that they have seen all of that."

There appears to be a tremendous amount of depth on this team. Do you feel that way?
"There is. And I do believe that is one of our strengths, positionally and on the mound. We have been mentoring our guys on how to handle that depth. There may be some guys who don't get as many chances as maybe they deserve. We are just trying to prepare them to be ready when their time does come. You never know when that time might come."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network.

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