Rea Remaining at Mississippi State

For those Bulldog baseball fans wondering where Jeffrey Rea will play baseball next year, the mystery is over. On Monday afternoon, Rea was very secure in his decision and admitted he would be back in Starkville this fall in preparations for his senior season as a Diamond Dog.

Rea was drafted in the 33rd round of June's Major League Baseball Draft. The Red Sox wanted to see how Rea played in the wooden bat-only Cape Cod League this summer while continuing contract negotiations.

But in the end, Rea will be a Bulldog and keep the Red Sox, who still own his rights in next year's draft, on hold until next summer.

"I am 100 percent sure that I am coming back," said Jeffrey Rea, who is currently hitting .280 for the Cotuit Kettleers. "It just didn't happen and the Red Sox had a couple of good offers for me earlier this summer. But I called their bluff and they were not bluffing."

But Rea has no problems returning to play one more year in the nation's toughest conference in the Southeastern Conference baseball circuit.

"There is no doubt that I can get drafted higher next year if I choose to look for another team," said Rea. "But I am excited and looking forward to playing for State next year. I think we will have a great team with a lot of new faces. And that might be what we need at MSU, a lot of those new faces.

"I look forward to being a leader on the team and helping all the new, young guys we have coming in."

Last week, Rea and Bulldog teammate Mitch Moreland was a part of the 44th annual Cape Cod League All-Star game, held in South Varmouth, Mass. Moreland won the home run derby while Rea was 2-of-4 with an RBI single for the West All-Stars.

"Man, that was a lot of fun," said Rea about the all-star game. "It was great to be out there cheering on Mitch in the home run derby. Mitch and I have played together on teams since we were in the 10th grade and we talked about who would have ever guessed we would be playing together in the Cape Cod League with all this talent. The all-star game was a long day but it was a lot of fun."

Rea played left field in the all-star game, a position he has played for Cotuit all summer with the exception of three games at second base, the only position he's played at Mississippi State.

At this point, Rea has heard nothing but rumors and talks about where he might play in the 2007 season.

"I really don't know where I might play next year," said Rea. "But it was great to make the all-star game in a new position. Wherever Coach Polk needs me to play will be fine with me. I've heard rumors but nobody knows yet what will happen until we get out there. But I did feel comfortable in left field this summer and didn't have any errors in the outfield. It was something new I tried and ended up liking it in the outfield.

"I know we have a lot of talent coming in and have some good redshirts that will play this year. So we will just have to wait and see what happens."

Last year, Rea hit .372 in his junior campaign, a number that ranked second in the SEC only behind former teammate Thomas Berkery.

Rea noted that he has struggled with his hitting down the stretch this summer in the Cape Cod League.

"I am not sure what's going on but I have struggled a bit of late," said Rea. "I guess I have gotten kind of worn out a little bit. But it's nothing major."

And while Massachusetts is many miles from the typical summer heat and humidity of the Magnolia State, Rea acknowledged the summer temperatures have risen of late.

"At the first part of the summer, the weather was great," said Rea. "The high temperatures would be about in the mid-70's. Here lately, it gets to the mid or upper 80's and we don't have any air conditioning up here so it's starting to get warm in the house.

"But I talked to my mom the other day and she talked about how hot it was in Mississippi. So I have been able to escape those temps from Mississippi this summer."

The Cape Cod regular season ends for Rea on August 6 but his team has already qualified for the playoffs, which are scheduled to end either on August 12th or August 13th, depending on the amount of games needed in the championship series.


Paul Jones is a writer for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. Paul, also a sports writer for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch, can be reached by email at pjones@cdispatch.com.

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