FRESHMAN LHP JUSTIN PIGOTT (5-10, 167)
"We are getting each guy in the weight room three times a week, instead of two times, which is normal for our other players. The redshirts are throwing one bullpen a week. As we get closer to the time he departs to go to a summer league, we will get him on the mound twice a week. One time will be to a catcher and one time will be delivery drills.
"His repertoire as a three-pitch guy is pretty solid. There has also been a little increase in strength, so, hopefully, that will translate to a little more velocity. He was a low to mid-80's guy in the fall and should have the ability to pitch in the mid-80's consistently as a redshirt freshman next year. The combination with him is his fastball command and the use of his changeup. His changeup is probably his second best pitch. He is very competitive and very smart. We have been pleased with his progress.
"Justin is going to New Market, Virginia this summer to pitch in the Valley League."
FRESHMAN RHP JOSH JOHNSON (5-11, 173)
"We have used him solely as a mid-week starter, trying to get his feet wet. Just like you saw in the game with Memphis, when he is throwing strikes, he does a very good job. What has improved with Josh is his fastball command. When he can command that fastball down in the strikezone, it opens up a lot of doors for his off-speed stuff. The most improved pitch that he has going now is his changeup.
"There is still a little bit of youth in him that causes him to overthrow. When that happens, his command isn't as good. And even though he is throwing strikes, he is throwing too many hitters too many strikes to pitch at a high level. But we are, obviously, very excited about him. In most of his starts he has gotten into the 5th inning or close to it. One of the neat things that Josh has done is win some games. He is 4 and 1 now and our mid-week schedule is as solid as anybody else in our league.
"Josh is going off to pitch this summer at Danville, Illinois (in the Central Illinois Collegiate League). We've had a lot of players go to Danville. He will probably be a rotation guy for them and probably get another 40 innings this summer."
FRESHMAN LHP JEREMIAH BOLING (6-0, 170)
"We are fine-tuning his delivery so that he is not such a max effort type guy. He has a very quick arm, which means there is a lot of hand speed. He was throwing 86-87 in the fall a few times. His body is still maturing. I think he has a chance to be a big kid before it is over with. His dad is very big. His fastball command is very good right now. We are just trying to tighten up his breaking ball so that he can get it in the zone more. He has an opportunity to be a very good left-on-left candidate as a future bullpen guy.
"He got hurt early in his senior season in high school and didn't pitch the rest of the season. Now, he is using the fall and spring to get back to where he was. He is now throwing with no problems. So, we are excited about him.
"He will be playing in the Valley League (in Virginia) this summer."
JUNIOR RHP TODD DOOLITTLE (5-9, 170)
"Todd Doolittle was dominating out of the bullpen a few times earlier in the season. He came in against Southern Miss early in that game and shut them out for 8 innings to pick up the win. Last week, he was ok in the Mayor's Cup Game. We were trying to keep a low pitch count with him. Against Florida, he was probably nervous and got fatigued early. He talked about how quickly he fatigued against them. In the past, he had come in in relief situations where he knew he only had to go 2 or 3 innings. However, the nervousness of having to start after just three days rest, knowing you are expected to get to the 5th, 6th or 7th inning, was probably too much to ask of him. I think you will see him perform better against Auburn this coming weekend. I think he will go in much calmer and relaxed than he was against Florida. He has been one of our 4 or 5 guys this year as far as having some impressive outings."
SOPHOMORE RHP JON CROSBY (6-3, 200)
"Jon threw very well early, then he had a couple of tough relief appearances. I was very pleased with how well he did against Florida. I thought against Florida, even though the score was lopsided when he came in, he held them until he got a little tired. My thought, going into this year, was to try and give him some innings like that, just to get his feet wet. He missed all of last year with the redshirt, then he had the setback when he was hit in the face with a line drive during the summer. He has responded from that very well. I haven't heard him talk about it or shy away from contact.
"He is making the transition from just throwing pitches to executing a gameplan. He is in the middle of that phase right now.
"Although he has hit 90 (miles per hour with his fastball) a few times, he is more like an 87-88 guy. He is going to stay here this summer and try to build some strength. He also has to get a little bit of surgery done on his eye to finish up some things the doctors want to do. That will take summer ball away from him, but he will get back in the swing of things in the fall."
JUNIOR LHP ERIC EBERS (5-11, 203)
"Eric has been the biggest mystery man. He dominated a little early. He came in against Illinois and dominated out of the bullpen. Then, he had a very good start against Louisiana Tech. But it seems like in his last couple of starts he has been behind in the count. He may be trying to make too perfect of a pitch on a zero-zero count instead of trying to establish strike one. Because of that, he has fell behind in the count and we haven't made a few plays behind him. One thing about Eric is he is very competitive and will continue to compete. When he gets ahead of hitters, he has the stuff to eat up a lot of innings. He has the ability to dominate left or righthanded hitters because of his off-speed stuff.
"The thought with him was to get as many mid-week starts so that he could help us in some capacity on the weekend as a senior.
"He is staying here for summer school due to the junior college progression rule. He has to get some (academic) hours in this summer."
FRESHMAN RHP TRENT HILL (6-1, 200)
"Trent is going to be a big, strong, physical specimen some day. He has actually gotten a lot stronger this year. He battled a little bit of arm problems in the fall, but came on late and showed some pretty good velocity late in the fall when he got healthy. He's still trying to learn to repeat a delivery. He has what is called a very loose arm. Those kind of guys have the ability to throw from different arm slots, just like Saunders Ramsey. I don't know if I will do with him what I did with Saunders, but you might see Trent actually become more of a sinker-ball, slider-ball type pitcher. I'm not really sold that I want to do that, yet, but it's in the back of my mind right now. We still have three or four weeks to figure out some things before he reports.
"The reason we might do that is because you always want a guy on your staff that can show a different look to hitters so that everybody is not 88-90 righthanded up top. If they all throw the same, then, when you make moves in a game, everybody looks the same.
"This summer, he is going to the Valley League in (New Market) Virginia with Justin Pigott. Hopefully, he will get 30 or 40 innings this summer and be ready to go in the fall."
FRESHMAN LHP JESSE CARVER (6-0, 180)
"Jesse has a very good breaking ball. He probably has our best lefthanded breaking ball on the staff when he has command of it. It has good downward action when he has his command. He is going to be a definite three-pitch guy with the potential to throw 87-88 (mph fastball) with a downward curveball.
"I think what has helped him the most while he has redshirted is just getting to sit and watch some games, and just seeing how high level of play (the SEC) is and how big of a jump it is.
"He is going to Athens, Ohio in what is called the Great Lakes League. It is wood bats and all college players. A lot of players from the Big Ten will be in that league."
FRESHMAN LHP ANDY WILSON (6-0, 175)
"We did not redshirt Andy because he has such good command. We needed one more lefthander in the bullpen. He probably throws (a) 83 to 84 (fastball) but it has very good lefthander movement. He can throw a breaking ball behind in the count. He has very good command. You are going to see more of him in the second half of the season. We tried to get his feet wet a little bit this first half. I think he will now be ready to help in some one or two hitter situations during the weekend.
"Andy may always be a tweener. He will predominantly be in the bullpen for a few years, maybe have the chance to start some later in his career. He may be in the role he is in now for two or three years, but the opportunities will increase as guys graduate and leave via the draft.
"Andy is going to Danville, Illinois with Josh Johnson."
I also asked him about a few other things.-Gene
SOPHOMORE RHP/OF BRAD CORLEY'S PITCHING ROLE IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE SEASON
"At the beginning of the year, we had the intentions of possibly making him a reliever, a possible closer type guy. With the success Saunders Ramsey had early in that role where he was dominating, we kept going to him. In the second half of the season, you are going to see Brad on the mound more often. He'll probably go late in the game. If he is on, then we'll let him finish it with Saunders as the safety valve. If Brad is throwing strikes, he is dominating. If he isn't throwing strikes, then you have to put someone in who is a strike thrower."
THE BENEFITS OF HAVING HIS PITCHERS PLAY IN SUMMER LEAGUES THAT USE WOOD BATS
"Where pitching against wood bats helps a pitcher is in the use of his changeup. Basically, you can survive on fastballs and changeups in a wood bat league because when the hitters get the wood bat in their hands, they start getting their bodies involve and they start their swing a little bit early. Once you start getting a hitter to start leaking and drifting to get that bat head going, the changeup becomes a great pitch. I've seen pitchers go off to wood bat leagues and come back with better fastball command and improved changeups."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher/owner of Gene's Page, the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.