The Mississippi State baseball coaching staff must have really been good this year because it appears their Christmas has come early. After having already received commitments from four of the nation's best players, they added another of the country's best in Mountain Brook (AL) High School multi-position player Jason Nappi.
Let's get the really good stuff out of the way first.
"I committed to Mississippi State (Tuesday night)," said the obviously excited youngster. He quickly explained his reasons for committing to State. "They are rich in tradition. The fanbase that Mississippi State has is unreal. I loved the coaches and the players. Anytime you can play for a coach like (MSU head baseball coach) Ron Polk, it's definitely a plus. I was told that the facilities were amazing, but there is nothing that can compare to Mississippi State's facilities. The Palmeiro Center is beyond words. Really, everything, just the whole Mississippi State experience. I just feel Mississippi State fits me so well."
They fit him so well that he actually would have committed to State earlier than Tuesday night, but this is a youngster who understands the honorable way of doing things.
"I waited to let the other coaches at the other schools that have been so nice and courteous throughout the recruiting process know, first-hand, that I decided not to go to their school," said Jason.
And that type behaviour is part of the reason the State coaching staff, as well as the other staffs that recruited him, took a liking to Jason. That and his overall baseball ability.
"Coaches have told me that they like my bat speed and arm (strength) as well as my character," explained the 17-year old. "I can hit for power and I can hit for average. That's what I've done the last two seasons. I hit 10 home runs last year and batted .490 with 42 RBIs in 36 games." And he hit those home runs in a park that measures 330 down the lines, 365 in the alleys and 380 in dead centerfield.
Other things that State's staff liked about him, included, according to Jason, are the, "the fact that I can catch and that I am fast enough to play in the outfield. Really, I don't even know if they know where they want me because Coach Polk said he was going to put me down as a multi-position player." Jason has played third base, shortstop, catcher and in the outfield during his young baseball career.
The Bulldog staff first noticed his versatility this past summer. And liked it well enough to jump into his recruiting picture.
"(State) started recruiting me early this summer," he explained. "They had sent me a couple of letters previous to that. Then, through the weeks, (MSU assistant) Coach (Tommy) Raffo and I set up my official visit for October 1st. I talked to all the coaches on the phone. Each coach picked a week and called me. Then, in between that, Coach Raffo actually did an in-home (visit) with me. He drove over and visited with me and my family. That led to the official visit."
While Coach Raffo had no problem finding Jason's home, finding Mississippi State and Starkville, Mississippi was a new experience for Jason and his family.
"That was the first time to ever be in Starkville and I loved it," said Jason, who also took an official visit to Auburn and a couple of unofficial visits to Samford and Alabama and turned down opportunities for official visits to South Alabama and Birmingham-Southern. "I had never set foot on Mississippi soil prior to the visit, although I had been close while on hunting trips with my dad."
Just so you'll know, Jason's not a homebody. He does travel quite a bit, just not much to the west of the state of Alabama.
"I travel a lot," said Jason, rated the 6th best third baseman and 268th best player overall by Baseball America/Perfect Game USA's ProspectsPlus publication. "Every showcase that I have gone to has been on the east coast or in Florida. I've never had to go west."
Ok, we now know that Jason has committed to State. And we know his reasons for the commitment. However, what about something that the Mississippi State coaches have to deal with so often and something Mississippi State fans talk about when MSU receives a commitment from a highly recruited baseball player: The June Major League Baseball Draft?. What are Jason's thoughts about going pro out of high school?
"(Pro) scouts have talked to me, but Mississippi State fans have nothing to be worried about because I'm not going pro," said Jason.
So, MSU fans, it looks like you can definitely wrap this Christmas present in Maroon and White.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.