Coach Polk Talks Infielders

As in the past, we at Gene's Page - and now Dawgs' Bite - will do a four-part series where the baseball coaches at Mississippi State discuss the position players they coached during the fall and where each player currently projects for the upcoming season. Head baseball coach Ron Polk, who primarily coaches the infielders, will discuss those four positions in part-one. (I've capitalized the names of the players that appear to be the starters. One position, third base, is up for grabs.-Gene)

Junior first baseman BRAD JONES
"Brad Jones had a good fall. He has been here four years and knows the system. He does a good job (defensively) around first base. I think he is swinging the bat better than he ever has. Right now, he is targeted as our starting first baseman."

Sophomore first baseman/outfielder Brian LaNinfa
"Brian LaNinfa is one of our more solid, potential hitters. He will back up Brad Jones. He can also play the outfield. He can also be a big factor as a designated hitter this year."

Redshirt freshman first baseman Alex McIntosh
"Alex McIntosh is a second-year guy, but this will be his first year of eligibility. Alex is a good kid and a good student who is working hard to get better. Right now, he is behind Jones and LaNinfa (at first). If we redshirt Flagg and Moreland, he, technically, becomes our third first baseman."

Freshman Mitch Moreland, a pitcher/first baseman
"Mitch Moreland is a pitcher/first baseman. Mitch was designated as a pitcher/outfielder/first baseman to start the fall and finished the fall in that regard. We felt, because he is a youngster, a true freshman, being involved with three different positions wasn't fair to him. Now, when we start back in January, he will be a pitcher/first baseman. He did a great job offensively this fall. He puts the ball in play. He needs a lot of work at first base because he hasn't played it that much. But we think he is a legitimate dual position guy in the future. He is a potential redshirt, but we aren't sure right now. We talked to Mitch about it, but there's no defined decision made, yet, because we think he may be in a position to help us with the bat this year, more than he will on the mound right now. Eventually, he is going to help us on the mound."

Freshman Jeff Flagg, a first baseman/outfielder
"Jeff Flagg is another true freshman that is from Jacksonville, Florida. He is a big, strong, good bodied kid who has shown us a lot of improvement in our offseason program. We don't have much time in the fall program to spend quality time one-on-one. Now that we have quality time with him, he has made gigantic improvement, offensively. He is listed as an outfielder/first baseman type. Eventually he will be defined as a first baseman and maybe as an outfielder. We just haven't seen enough, defensively, of Jeff, yet. But we think he has a bright future at Mississippi State."

Sophomore second baseman JEFFREY REA
"This is Jeffrey's second year. He played very well this summer in the Central Illinois League. He is stronger and has better skills, defensively. He is a great hitter who will probably be our leadoff guy. He should have a banner season for us as a sophomore."

Junior catcher/second baseman/third baseman Thomas Berkery
"Thomas was our second baseman two years ago. He is a catcher/third baseman/second baseman, so he is a triple guy. I don't mind doing that with a veteran player. The good thing about him is he is a great athlete and can play third, second and even short if we ask him to, but he is more of a catcher, right now. If Jeffrey Rea goes down (to an injury), Thomas is probably our (starting) second baseman."

Senior Daniel Tackett, a shortstop/second baseman
"Daniel Tackett is a shortstop/second baseman. This is Daniel's third year in the program and he is a great asset to the ballclub because he has played both positions very well. He is, basically, in a position right now where he kind of backs up Bunky Kateon at short and Jeffrey Rea at second."

Junior college second baseman/third baseman Mark Muzzi
"Mark Muzzi is a local boy who went to Pearl River Junior College. He could be a redshirt guy. He can play second or third."

Junior shortstop/second baseman Brooks Tinsley
"Brooks Tinsley is a shortstop/second baseman. He is a kid that transferred here from West Alabama. He didn't make the ballclub last year because he was injured. He made the ballclub this year because he has some pretty good skills."

Redshirt freshman shortstop BUNKY KATEON
"Bunky Kateon has fully recovered from his rotator cuff surgery. We really missed him last year. He should be healthy this year. His arm is probably 90%. He made all the plays for us this fall and swung the bat well. He has a chance to be an outstanding player for us this year."

Redshirt freshman third baseman/shortstop Michael Rutledge
"Backing up Bunky is Michael Rutledge, a secondary shortstop. Michael is more of a third baseman and has a chance to play a lot this year at third base. He was injured last year early and had a cast on his arm."

Freshman third baseman/shortstop Ryan Wiser
"Ryan Wiser is a third baseman/shortstop walk-on freshman from Tampa, Florida who plays and works hard. He is probably a redshirt candidate this year."

Freshman third baseman Chad Crosswhite
"Chad Crosswhite is a pitcher/third baseman. We are going to keep him in those rolls, although he is more of a pitcher than a third baseman, right now. He has made a lot of progress in the offseason. He will probably redshirt this year."

Freshman catcher/third baseman Ed Easley
"Ed Easley is another great athlete who could play shortstop, also, but he is listed as a catcher/third baseman, right now. He will get a lot of playing time at both of those spots."

Sophomore third baseman/outfielder/pitcher Ben Grisham
"Ben Grisham is a kid who is a third baseman/outfielder/pitcher. He wanted to pitch, so we had him pitch late in the fall. He showed us a pretty good arm, a pretty good slider. Ben is the type kid you like to have because he can play so many different positions. That means he has a great chance to be on the 25-man (SEC) roster because he can do three different things."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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