Polk Talks About MSU's Infielders

Mississippi State head baseball coach Ron Polk, who is the primary infielders coach, talks about each infielder in detail - what he saw from them in fall practice and what he expects from each player during the upcoming season.

First basemen.

"We have Jeff Flagg returning. He's also an outfielder. We are trying to make him a two-position guy. He's not what you would call a great, great defensive outfielder, but he is adequate. But we think he's more of a first baseball in professional baseball. He broke his left hand, but he should be ok by the spring. We are just waiting for him to have that one good year. He still has to make contact. If he makes contact, he not only has a chance to help us, but also a chance to go to the next level. He has the kind of body that (Major League Baseball) scouts like. He can put on a show during batting practice.

"Tyler Moore is a kid that we recruited from Meridian Community College that has been drafted a couple of times. And I thought we had a chance to lose him (to the pros), but he's here. He would be the first to admit that he didn't have a great fall, which happens a lot to kids who came into programs anywhere around the country in any sport. You are learning everything new - new teammates, new coaches, new system, new communication. So, he tried to do too much. And because of that, he did not have a great fall, offensively. He certainly showed us that he could play first base,defensively. But he's made a lot of progress (offensively) during the offseason workouts. That's the time when we get to work with kids the most. During the fall, we play a lot of different count games and have evaluation. Because of that, we don't have a lot of time to work individually with the kids.

"Cade Hoggard is a very athletic kid. He's had two back operations since he's been here, but he's fully recovered now. He wasn't able to go fullspeed during the early part of the fall, but he finished good. Cade certainly has a great future.

"Forrest Moore is a pitcher/first baseman from Baton Rouge. He's a legitimate dual guy. Right now, we aren't sure how much action he will get in both areas, but we think, in the long-term, he could do both. But his command is not where he needs it to be. He's an athletic kid who bounces around at first base pretty good. But, if he's going to see action this year, I think it's going to be more on the mound than at first base due to the depth at first base.

"If we need to, we could also move Connor Powers to first base. He's a third baseman, first baseman. He's big enough to play first and his hands are good enough to be that guy. A lot depends on how much offense we get out of first base from Tyler or Jeff. If we don't get what we hope for, we certainly can make the move. Connor understands that he's a secondary first baseman right now, but could go over there if we need him to."

"So, even though we lost Mitch Moreland and Brian LaNinfa, I think first base is solid."

Second basemen-shortstop-third basemen.

"Brandon Turner, who hit .399 last year, returns. He had a hamstring problem (late in the season) that hurt us during the time that we struggled. Then, all of a sudden, he got healthy and really made the ballclub go. He's probably going to be a one or two-hole hitter for us. Last year, we had him as a secondary shortstop and we had to use him there due to some injuries. But this year, he's going to be a second base. He's an adequate defensive second baseman, but the guy can flat-out hit.

"Will Coggin, a junior college kid who we redshirted last year, is also just a second baseman. He could play shortstop in a pinch, but he's a guy who we will wait and see how much action he will get next season.

"Jet Butler returns. He has had sparks of brilliance, but he's still young and needs to be more consistent defensively. He will be a factor, as will Ryan Powers who we redshirted last year due to a series of injuries to his hip and knee. He's fully healthy right now.

"Ryan is very fine defensively, but he hasn't shown us enough offensive prowess to the point where we know he's going to be a legitimate SEC hitter. He came to us with some bad mechanics. He's made a lot of progress during the offseason. So, I'm anxious to see him when we get back in in February.

"Russ Sneed can play either short or third. He may be our best athlete.

"We also have Bobby Triglia, a third baseman/catcher. He had labrum surgery, so he wasn't able to throw at all this fall, but was able to hit. More than likely, he could be a redshirt possibility.

"Michael Busby is a pitcher/shortstop. He's a good athlete who has already gained about 8 or 9 pounds. He will probably see more action on the mound right now, just like Forrest Moore. He showed us good hands and good action at shortstop, but he has a chance to be a fine pitcher, as Forrest Moore and Paxton Pace do. Paxton Pace is a secondary second baseman."

If the season started today, who would be your opening day starters?
"Right now, it's Turner at second, short is still up in the air, and it's Connor Powers at third base. But Russ Sneed is going to be a factor somewhere. If we move Connor to first, then Russ could play third. Ryan Powers had been a shortstop/third baseman, but we made him a shortstop/second baseman. If Brandon was to go down like he did last year, then Ryan could possibly be our second baseman."

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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