Brad Jones was voted one of the co-captains, along with Thomas Berkery. He's a senior who will give us leadership. I think he's one of the better defensive first basemen that we've had at Mississippi State. He gets better every year. Hopefully, this will be the year he gives us even more power and more production than in the past. He will be in the 3, 4 or 5 spot in the lineup. I think he is the type kid who will have a chance to go to the next level as a senior sign.
We have tons of other first basemen.
(Junior) Brian LaNinfa has been around a long time. He's also an outfielder and potential DH. After him, we have (sophomore) Alex McIntosh. He is a bright kid who is a Schilling Scholar. He's been in the program for three years. Every year he gets a little better, but, at the same time, playing time will be limited because after Brad Jones we have Brian LaNinfa and (sophomore) Mitch Moreland. Mitch is a pitcher/outfielder/first baseman who will get a lot of opportunities. (True freshman) Matt Lea is a pitcher/first baseman.
We also have (redshirt freshman) Jeff Flagg who is an outfielder/first baseman and (true freshman) Cade Hoggard, who had a great fall, is an outfielder/first baseman. We also have (true freshman) Ryan Duffy who is a catcher/first baseman. Ryan Duffy, who is more of a potential redshirt, is going to be a great hitter for us one of these days.
Jeff Flagg has a lot of power and is working hard to shorten his stroke so that he can use the entire field. He's just got to continue to make adjustments in order for him to get a chance to play much.
(Junior) Jeffrey Rea had an operation on his wrist that has helped him out a lot. I've seen a lot more bat-speed this fall than he's had before. He will be leading off for us this year. He continues to get better every year. And, of course, he's a potential draft choice even though he's not a big kid. He runs good and puts the ball in play. Last year we couldn't run him because he had a hamstring pull all year. He's a key guy.
We don't have what you would call major depth in the infield. I would like to think that Brandon Turner and Russ Sneed, two really good young (freshmen) infielders, as potential redshirts if we can stay healthy.
Defensively, Turner is really, really good. I think he will make a fine defensive player. We've made a lot of improvement with him. In the fall we don't have much time to spend with them individually. Now we do (in the off-season). We've made good adjustments with Brandon in his stance. And I've seen a lot of (hitting) improvement. He's an infielder for the future.
Sneed is athletic. He is a kid from an academy who played football, basketbal and baseball. This is the first time the kid has had the chance to just play baseball. He had a good fall at the end. I think it was due to him relaxing a little bit more. He will be a third baseman, maybe shortstop.
(Redshirt junior) Mark Muzzi is a backup guy who is a local kid (from Starkville). He plays hard. He had a foot problem all fall that made it tough on him in the fall. He's the type guy who gives us some depth at second base and third base.
(Senior) Brooks Tinsley has also really improved. He's a boy that we cut from the team two years ago and he kept battling and battling. He not only can help us at second and short, but he can also pitch a little bit and eat up some innings if he's on the SEC (25-man) roster.
(Senior) Thomas Berkery is at shortstop. It's his fourth position as a starter. He's an athlete. His range is just average, but he makes the plays and throws off-balance well. He is a very accurate thrower. He will probably bat in the three-spot.
(Sophomore) Bunky Kateon, who we have also made into a second baseman, has made some progress. He didn't have a good fall, offensively, but, for the most part, in the fall he made the plays. Right now he's behind Berkery. He can also help us if Jeffrey Rea goes down (with an injury).
(Sophomore) Michael Rutledge had a great fall, a great fall. He's pretty solid. He's one of the fastest guys on our ballclub from home to first and in the sixty time. Although he's more of a third baseman, he can also play shortstop if we need him there.
(Sophomore) Ed Easley's also a third baseman, but we like to think in terms of him catching a lot.
(Redshirt freshman) Ryan Wiser, a backup guy who is a walk-on from Tampa, Florida, improved a lot offensively this year. He just needs to make more progress defensively.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.