Houston HS RHP John Lalor Interview

Mississippi State's third baseball commitment, John Lalor (6-7.5, 215) of Houston High School in Germantown, Tenn., is one of the top pitchers in the nation. John, in an exclusive interview, talked to Gene's Page Tuesday night about his recruitment and why he chose MSU over numerous other major colleges.

John is rated by Prospects Plus, a high school and college scouting service by Baseball America and Perfect Game USA, as the 100th best overall prospect in the nation. He also earned a spot on the B.E.S.T World Series All-Tournament team, along with another MSU commitment, Edward Easley, and incoming MSU freshman Michael Rutledge. He has also been selected to the top prospects list at the Perfect Game USA World Wood Bat Tournament in Jupiter, Florida, the past couple of years. This past summer, he attended the Perfect Game National Showcase in Lincoln, Nebraska, and was selected the 31st best player, overall, at the prestigious showcase.

Playing for Dulin's Dodgers this past summer against some of the top competition in the nation, John was 4-0 with an ERA of 1.51. Amazingly, he walked only 6 in 31+ innings, 4 of which occurred in his last outing. Teams batted .228 against him.

John Lalor interview:

Is it true that you have committed to Mississippi State?
"Yes sir. I am very excited about it."

When did you actually commit to Mississippi State?
"I came back (from the unofficial visit to State) and I met with my family. I basically narrowed it down to Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Over the weekend, I decided Mississippi State was definitely the place for me to be. I called them back on Saturday night. (MSU pitching) Coach Rock was at a ballgame in Atlanta. The next day Coach Polk called me back."

I guess they were excited.
"Coach Rock was very excited. Coach Polk seemed excited when he called me. I'm really looking forward to working with Coach Rock."

What schools called you beginning July 1st, the first day that college recruiters could call? If you remember the ones that called you the first day, go ahead and name them.
"The first day South Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss called. The next day I heard from Mississippi State, East Carolina, Arizona State and LSU."

Were you expecting so many big-time schools to call you so quickly?
"Well, it surprised me at first due to the volume. I thought I might get 1 or 2 calls the first day or two, but it turned out that I had 9 calls after the first two days. It was a real shock to me. After a while, you realize it is a little overwhelming, so I started narrowing it down."

You narrowed it down pretty quickly. What schools were on your final list?
"It ended up being South Carolina, Ole Miss and State. South Carolina was one because my brother (Conor Lalor) goes there and has had a good experience. I liked Ole Miss because they have seen me play a whole lot over the last couple of years. They signed our shortstop from high school, so they would come to see him play and they got to see me a little bit. That was probably a natural choice for me. I came down to State's Junior Day last year and really enjoyed it. The atmosphere is unbelievable. It is something you almost have to be there to experience. There is nothing like it in college baseball."

I know you said you narrowed it down to MSU, Ole Miss and South Carolina. What schools actually showed enough interest that they offered you an official visit?
"I took am unofficial visit to Ole Miss the week before I (unofficially) visited State. Florida wanted me to come down for a visit. I had actually (unofficially) visited South Carolina last fall when my brother was over there. Those were the main schools. I ended up not taking my visit to Florida after visiting State."

I'm curious. You aren't the first MSU commitment to say something like this. What is it about State that is so enticing that caused you not to want to visit any other schools?
"Really, it's getting to play for Coach Polk and playing for the other coaches. I really like Coach Rock a whole lot. Everytime I've been around him I've been very impressed with him. Then, the atmosphere there when I went down for Super Bulldog Weekend just blew me away. Once you visit there, it's hard to go anywhere else."

I've been told by other recruits that the coaches at State don't try to high pressure you to commit. Is that the same feeling that you got?
"Oh, yes sir. Everything that they did was like no pressure at all. Really, there are some schools out there that try to pressure you, but I think they are scare of losing you. Mississippi State is very comfortable in the way they approach recruiting. They don't call you every two seconds. They are just really good guys, and that really makes a difference."

Did having so many players from the Germantown and Memphis area at MSU play into your decision?
"Everybody that I know that has gone to State has has a very positive experience. Plus, it is close to home so my parents can come watch me play. I have a whole bunch of family down in Jackson, Mississippi, so they will be able to come see me play. They are all thrilled to have me coming to State."

Your brother was actually born in Jackson, Mississippi, so you must have lived there for a while.
"I was there for five years. I actually had a cousin, Chris Maloney, who played (at MSU) a long time ago. That is my mom's side of the family. She is Jean Maloney. I think that Con Maloney (of Cowboy Maloney's) is her cousin."

Going back to your recruitment, since you are going to be a pitcher in college, what were some of the things the college coaches said they liked about you as a pitcher?
"They like the way I get ahead of hitters and how I try to keep the ball down. I also throw inside. They like that a lot. When I talked to Coach Rock, he said I do a lot of things well."

I read a little about you in The Scouting Report by Prospect Plus. You attended the Perfect Game National Showcase in Lincoln, Nebraska and were picked as the 31st best player there among over 100 of the top players in the nation. In their writeup, they projected you to be a very hard thrower once you fill out your frame.
"Yeah, I project well because I have a big body. I'm 6-7.5. They think my fastball's velocity is going to increase a lot. I wouldn't be surprised to see it jump up a little bit this year."

What velocity were you throwing about a year ago?
"I was probably throwing on a consistent basis 83 to 86."

What are you throwing now? In the magazine they wrote 84 to 86.
"That's what I was throwing until midway through the summer. Then, I jumped up to 87 to 88."

What caused the jump?
"I got with Charlie Lea, a pitching coach, and worked with him this summer and started to really live off my fastball. In turn, it created more velocity."

What pitches do you throw?
"I throw a fastball, changeup and I guess I'm going to go with a slider this year. My changeup is my second best pitch. At the end of the year, my breaking ball started getting a little more developed where it can can be an out pitch."

The magazine mentioned that you were 6-6. Now you are 6-7.5, so you've had a growing sput this summer.
"I actually measured about 20 minutes go."

Where did you get your height? From your dad?
"He is probably about 6-3. My brother, who plays for South Carolina, is 6-4."

How much do you weigh?
"I'm about 215. It fluctuates between 215 and 220."

No offense meant, but you are probably look like a string bean?
"Oh, yes sir. That's what helps my projectability."

Are pro scouts showing much interest in you?
"I haven't really talked to many scouts, but Coach Tim of Dulin's Sports Academy said that he has been getting some calls showing interest. Hopefully, if I do well this spring, then maybe there will be some interest. But, I'm really focused on going to school."

I get the feeling from talking to you that you really want to go to college.
"Oh yes, I'm coming to school. I've had some teammates that have gone off to play pro ball the last two years. A friend of my brother's was a first-rounder his senior year and has had a good career but missed out on the college experience. If you are going to play at a place like State, that's something that you really don't want to miss out on."

Click here to talk about this commitment, as well as MSU's two other highly-touted commitments, catcher Edward Easley and pitcher/infielder Chad Crosswhite, on my message boards.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher and owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial site for Mississippi State sports since October, 1996. He can be reached by email at swindoll@genespage.com

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