Raffo Talks About MSU's Outfielders

Mississippi State assistant coach Tommy Raffo, who coaches the outfielder, talks about the Mississippi State outfielders and how they did during the fall practices.

Who are your left fielders?
"We have three left fielders - Luke Adkins, Sean Johnson and Jason Nappi.

"Luke Adkins is a transfer from Southern Miss who hits lefthanded. He has to sit out one year after transferring. He had a good fall for us and is not only a good line drive hitter but showed surprising power. He runs very well. We think he is going to be a good player for us down the line. He is working hard in the outfield to be consistent defending the field on fly balls, getting good routes and jumps.

"Sean Johnson is a walk-on transfer from Northwest Community College. He did well for us this fall. He's an athletic young man who hit the ball well, a line drive type hitter. He runs well and defends the field well. And he can help us in right field.

"The other left fielder is Jason Nappi who we moved from the infield to left field. We think highly of this young man because we think there is a lot of potential, especially at the plate. One of the things he brings to the table is he has some of the quickest hands on the squad; he does a great job of getting the bat head through the strike zone. When he makes contacts there are a lot of plus things that happen. Once he becomes more consistent in the strike zone, you will see him take off offensively.

"He went off this summer and played for the Danville Dans and had a great second half of the summer for them. He is currently making the transition to left field, and has some adjustments to make as far as routes and going after play balls."

Who are your center fielders?
"Center field is really unique because we are blessed with a lot of talent. There are five guys that can really play the game - Grant Hogue, Mark Goforth, Nick Hardy, Ryan Collins and Brent Brownlee. Those guys can not only play center field, but any part of the field defensively. All five of them can run.

"Mark Goforth and Nick Hardy both have experience.

"Mark really does a good job of covering all parts of center field. The neat thing about Mark is when the ball goes up in the air you feel confident that it will be caught. He's not a blazing runner, but he plays quicker than his running time. And he understands what to do with the baseball after he fields it. Mark really came on offensively the second half of the fall after changing some things in his stance. We feel he has elevated himself a little bit offensively.

"Nick Hardy has a strong arm. He has battled some wrist problems in the past, but had surgery during the offseason. We feel that is behind him now. He has pull pop in his bat. He can not only play center, but we also played him in left last year. He can really run the field well and defends it well. He is very astute as far as understanding the game.

"Grant Hogue is more of a burner because he can really fly. He's got a plus arm. He can really defend the field no matter where you put him. He's a switch-hitter. Offensively, he's always been a little behind his defense. But he had a good summer this past summer. With his speed, he's able to use that a little more when he bats from the left side.

"The two freshmen are Brent Brownlee and Ryan Collins. Brent is a righthander and Ryan is a lefthander. Both did very well this fall. And both could also play right or left. Both are tough outs. In fact, all five of them are tough outs.

"Brent Brownlee has a really plus arm. He played for the Pontotoc Legion team this past summer and they won the state tournament. He had surgery his junior year so not a lot of people knew about him, but he's going to be a really special player for us at the plate and in the field. We want him to hit the weight room hard and see how much we can put on him. We think he has a great frame for that. He is going to be an exciting player.

"And Ryan Collins is a blue collar, get after it kind of guy. He doesn't talk a lot, but plays hard, so I think he earned a lot of respect from a lot of his teammates. He is projected as more of a gap type hitter. I don't think it's fair to put him as a home run type guy at this time.".

Your right fielders.
"In right field we have Cade Hoggard, Andy Rice and Jeff Flagg. It's more of a power type situation with those guys.

"Andy Rice is a young man who has been hurt off and on throughout his career here. He's had good spells at time. He has a really good arm. We just have to get Andy more consistent at the plate as far as being aggressive in the strike zone. He does have power as we saw in junior college and a few times here. He can be a factor if he has a good year for us.

"Cade Hoggard is a young man who is coming off back problems. But he has a really tough mentality about him. He is a righthand hitter with gap power. He's still coming on offensively, but he just hasn't had the chance to flourish yet because he's had some injuries with his back. He moves well in the outfield and has a plus arm. He also provides us with the option of going to left field as well.

"Jeff Flagg is a big, physical young man who has plus power. Being consistently good in the strike zone will be a key for him. He can be a big factor for use because he is a presence when he is going well. He has a good arm for a big guy. He can play right or left. But we have to get him better at his routes going for the ball and how we get his jumps and reads on the balls."

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 swindoll@genespage.com.

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