Coming Back to MSU

Mississippi State baseball pitcher Ricky Bowen, a redshirt junior in eligibility, was drafted in the 38th round by the Cincinnati Reds in the June Major League Baseball draft. Although he received a very significant offer from them, he has decided to stay with the Bulldog baseball program for his junior season.

"The crosschecker for the Reds, Mark Snipp, came in to watch me three weeks ago," said Ricky, who has consistently thrown 90-92 miles per hour and topped out 94 miles per hour with his fastball the entire summer.

Ricky felt he was throwing really well when Schmidt watched him pitch.

"I was throwing well, locating really well, throwing a cutter, a curveball and a changeup," he said. "I had gone home and worked with a coach back home who was in Major League Baseball coaching. That really helped me out because I came up here with cleaned up mechanics."

After evaluating Schmidt's report, the Reds called Ricky.

"They called me back about four or five days later after he left and made their initial offer," said Ricky. "It was really incredible money for the round they drafted me in."

But Ricky, with the help of his family, his advisor and family friends, evaluated the offer and decided to make a counter offer.

"I got with my family, my advisor, my mentor and we all came up with a number that we all felt really good about," said Ricky. "I tried to be reasonable so that it could help me to start a life in case baseball didn't work out. We then told the Reds how much we wanted."

The Reds, after thinking about the offer, decided to take one more look at him pitch.

"They told me that they were going to send another guy to watch me pitch," said Ricky. "He was the last guy in the organization who hadn't seen me pitch. He came up and saw me throw (Friday) night."

The Reds then called Ricky back.

"The next morning they called back and told me that they really couldn't do it for that number because they just didn't have that money," said Ricky.

Although he was somewhat disappointed, Ricky looks at it as a win-win situation for himself.

"The worst case scenario is I will be in this same situation next year," he said. "The good side is I get to be part of Mississippi State again and maybe help in this transition process. And I get closer to getting my degree. The benefits of staying outweighed the benefits of me going."

He's already looking forward to playing for new MSU coach John Cohen and pitching coach Butch Thompson.

"Coach Cohen did a really great job of re-recruiting me back to school," said Ricky. "He and Coach Thompson called every few days. They really tried to make me feel at home and made sure that I knew that I would be a key guy for them. They made sure that I knew they would take care of my arm and do everything that needed to be done to get me to the next level."

And there was one key think Cohen said that stayed in Ricky's mind throughout the negotiations with the Reds.

"There was something that Coach Cohen said to me, 'I don't want you to leave thinking that you have unfinished business.' and he was exactly right because that is how I feel right now," said Ricky.

Once he and the Reds made their decisions, he called Cohen that night.

"I called Coach Cohen that night after they told me that they couldn't do it," said Ricky. "I told him I had some news for him, 'I am coming back and will be back as soon as the season is over with.' He was really, really excited.

"He said he was calling (former MSU head) Coach (Ron) Polk as soon as he got off the phone with me. He said Coach Polk was really wanting me back because he thought it would be a great decision for the program and myself because both of them thought I had the opportunity to increase my value next year."

Now that he's got the negotiations out of the way, he is very relieved and is looking forward to the upcoming season with the Bulldogs.

"I am definitely relieved," said Ricky. "Every time I was out here there was a different Reds guy watching me. Because of that, you felt like you had to show something every time out. Now, I can take a deep breath. But it was a great honor to be in that situation. Really, no choice was a bad choice."

He's even going to use this experience as a learning process.

"This experience will help me because going into this year I had an idea of what scouts wanted, but I don't think that was really accurate," said Ricky Bowen. "Going through this for the first time probably causes you to put a lot of unnecessary pressure on yourself. I now know I should just let it happen because that's when I'm the most successful.

"It's like what Coach Polk always said, 'It's baseball.' The harder you try, sometimes the worse you do. Now I'm just going to let what happens happen."


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the 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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