However, finding players to play leftfield and rightfield was still on the agenda.
Enter Pleasure Ridge Park High School (Louisville, Kentucky) outfielder/righthanded pitcher Brad Corley (6-foot-2, 191-pounds).
Brad is considered one of the top outfielders in the country by Prospects Plus, a high school and college scouting service run by Baseball America and Perfect Game USA. Prospects Plus, in their latest issue, has Brad ranked the 93rd best player in the nation and the 21st best outfielder.
Brad, who has an outstanding arm (88-90 mph average) and hits for average and power (.461 average and 9 homers last season), would be a perfect fit for rightfield at Dudy Noble Field, Polk-DeMent Stadium.
Mississippi State's coaches saw that and brought Brad in for his official visit the weekend of September 14-16. According to his dad, Blandon Corley, State was very impressive. "When we started taking our trips and investigating places, then saw their facilities and all the professionalism involved with their entire staff, it made the choice an easy one for him."
Brad also mentioned several things he liked about Mississippi State.
"Their baseball facilities are unbelievable. Coach Polk talked about the number of fans they averaged at their games. They are in the SEC and one of the top (teams) in the SEC. (Coach Polk) said that I have a really good chance to come in and play right away as a freshman."
Although first impressions were solidly in Mississippi State's favor after the visit, Brad, with scholarship offer in hand when he left State, had one main concern about signing with Mississippi State that caused him to wait before he made a final decision.
"The main thing was whether I wanted to go that far away," said Brad. "It is seven and a half hours from my home to Mississippi State. I was comparing it to Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Kentucky is about one and a half hours and Vanderbilt is about two hours away."
Brad also received strong interest from Alabama, Stetson, Miami, Tennessee and Georgia.
After giving himself one week to think about it, he finally made his decision on September 22nd and told his parents that Mississippi State was the school that he wanted to sign with.
They were very pleased with his choice.
"We feel he has made the right choice," said Blandon. "Geographically, they fitted what we were looking for. We were looking for something in the SEC that was an easy drive. They have every facility there to make him a better ballplayer, person and student."
Academics were very much a part of their decision to choose Mississippi State. Brad is not only an outstanding baseball prospect, he is equally as good in the classroom where he has maintained a 4.0 grade point average in an advanced program during his high school career. As Blandon emphasized to me, "academics and baseball has gone hand and hand with him. He is an excellent student (makes straight A's) and we are very proud of that. We are truly blessed."
One other thing about Mississippi State also played a factor in their decision to ultimately choose Mississippi State: Coach Ron Polk.
According to Blandon, "Pleasure Ridge Park HS head baseball coach Bill Miller played baseball for Alabama and also played football under Bear Bryant. He is just an incredible coach and has known Coach Polk for years. He has, since Bradley's freshman and sophomore year in high school, guided us in this direction. He knows that there is nobody better than Coach Polk as far as amateur baseball. It just doesn't get any better than that."
Now that Brad, who will be 18 years old on December 28th, has chosen what college he wants to attend the next three or four years, the next decision in his young baseball career occurs next June: The Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
Ranked 93rd by Prospects Plus and 52nd by another scouting service, Brad is a definite high draft pick possibility.
When asked what was the likelihood that Brad would go to college or go pro directly out of high school, his dad said, "the scouting guy for the Colorado Rockies told us that all 30 major league teams like him and said 15 like him as a pitcher and 15 like him as a outfielder. I told Coach Polk that if he (is drafted high) enough we have to consider what the (pros) have to offer. If they throw a huge figure at him, we have to listen to them."
However, Blandon also said, "I will tell you that his mom and I are really big into academics and want him to get his education. It would take a very high number for him to sign. We want him to get his college education and especially with the situation that he is now in, getting to play for a legend like Coach Polk."
Brad also understands the value of an college education but also understands the possibility of receiving a large offer from a pro team. "My main goal is to go to college first, but if I get enough money, I will go pro."
However, as of right now, Brad told me that he is a strong lean to college.
Prior to having to make the college or pro decision, Brad is going to enjoy the upcoming season and hopes to take in a game at Mississippi State, something that he has never had the chance to do. Brad said, "I hope to come down to at least one (MSU game) next spring. I have a friend who got to play a game there and he said it was the greatest crowd and atmosphere that he had ever seen."
I'm sure there are many Mississippi State fans who hope to not only see the power-hitting Brad Corley at a game or two this spring but many more games out in rightfield of Dudy Noble Field.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page, the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. The URL for Gene's Page is http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.