Rea Talks About His MSU Baseball Commitment

Harrison Central (MS) High School first baseman and righthand pitcher Wes Rea talks in-depth about his commitment to Mississippi State baseball. His summer travel team coach, Chris Pool of the Louisiana Knights, talks about what kind of player Wes is as a pitcher and a hitter.

As anybody who follows college football recruiting knows, Wes Rea has football offers galore from national powerhouse teams throughout the nation. However, you could count his baseball offers on one hand - Mississippi State, Auburn and Tulane. So, you would think football would be where he would end up in college.

"Everybody is like I'm passing up all these scholarship opportunities with football and that I made this decision so fast but ever since (playing for the Mississippi Stars at the Junior Sunbelt Classic in) Oklahoma and since (MSU assistant) Coach (Butch) Thompson talked to me and I talked to (Mississippi State commitment and good friend) Chase (Lewallen) I'm been thinking about it," said Wes, who plans on rooming with Chase when they both get to State in 2010. "It's been a big part of what I wanted to do. Baseball has been my main sport my whole life. Football blew up for me last year I guess you could say."

And it's possible that blow up in football may be why the baseball scholarship offers were limited to three.

"I think the football thing may have scared a lot of schools away," said Wes.

Yep, even the school that he committed to.

"Coach Thompson and (MSU head baseball) Coach (John) Cohen, before they talked to me, thought that I wanted to play football. I think most schools just went ahead and thought that I was going to play football because I had all these football scholarships."

But once the State baseball coaches figured out that Wes had baseball on his mind, both assistant coaches and the head man all made a point of watching him play numerous times and Wes noticed that.

"Coach Thompson and (MSU assistant) Coach (Lane) Burroughs were the main ones who saw me play but Coach Cohen (also) saw me play a few times," said Wes. "As soon as they saw me play they (said they) were impressed with me."

And Wes was just as impressed with them.

"I just felt like I had a real good relationship with them right off the bat and felt real comfortable with them," said Wes. "They were kind of the first coaches that I talked to that really made me feel like I was needed and made me feel like I was home. I could see myself being with them for the next four years."

Or possibly three years.

"Coach Thompson told me he is going to lose me (to Major League Baseball) after three years," said Wes. "Whether that happens or not I'm not sure but he believes that."

There's a reason that Coach Thompson, the Mississippi State pitching coach, believes that.

"Coach Thompson had (my fastball) at 92 (miles per hour) when he clocked me at the (WWBA) 18U (national championship) in Atlanta (two and a half weeks ago)," said Wes. "I might have bumped it harder than that, but he told me that I was (consistently at) 88 to 92."

He actually bumped it up to the 93 to 94 range in Atlanta based on what he was told.

"A bunch of parents were in the stands with some (Major League Baseball) scouts at Marietta (a suburb of Atlanta) and they said I hit 93 to 94 (on the scouts Stalker guns)," said Wes, who is currently playing for the Louisiana Knights summer travel team, a team coached by Chris Pool.

Coach Pool talked about Wes' ability on the mound.

"Off the mound, Wes has been steadily improving the past couple of summers," said Pool, who has seen Wes improved his earned run average over the course of the last two summer seasons from 4.37 in 2008 to 0.68 this season. "He's kind of realized that he's got some velocity and he's learning how to attack hitters with his fastball. He's usually 88 to 90 with the ability to rare back and put a little extra (velocity) on it. And when he needs to get a big strikeout he's developed a slider with some pretty good run on it. If he gets ahead in the count he can get a lot of hitters to chase after that."

So far this summer, Wes has appeared in six games for the Knights and has a 4-0 record with 1 save. In 20.2 innings he has allowed just 2 earned runs on 9 hits while walking 11 and striking out 19. Teams are hitting .130 against him.

But Wes is not just a guy with a power arm, he's also a guy who can hit for power and average.

"Offensively, he doesn't just muscle up on balls," said Pool. "He actually has a nice short, compact swing obviously with a lot of power. He also has become much better at laying off tough pitches to hit, especially early in the count. And when a pitcher makes a mistake he's much better at making it hurt."

Wes was a .500+ hitter as a junior in high school and he's continuing that type hitting for the Knights this summer, hitting .485 with 6 home runs and 33 RBI in just 66 at-bats. He has an on-base-percentage of .570 and a slugging percentage of .955 and has been hit by a pitch 7 times. He also made the Junior Sunbelt Classic All-Tournament team after hitting several home runs, including a grand slam against a pitcher who was bringing his fastball to the plate at 93 to 94 miles per hour, and knocking in 20+ RBI in just 9 games.

And in about four and a half months Wes will be doing nothing but pitching and hitting. Football will then be a part of his history, not his future.

"I am going to focus on baseball from here on out," said Wes. "I am real excited about focusing just on baseball (in college). I am still going to play (football) my senior year (and) I'm not going to lose a significant amount of weight so that I'm not going to be able to play."

Coach Pool couldn't be more excited to see what kind of progress Wes will make once he concludes his senior season of football and exclusively concentrates on baseball.

"I think now that he has made up his mind and really just wants to focus on the one sport the ceiling for him is pretty high," said Pool. "It will be fun to watch how good he becomes. I'm excited to see what he can do in Starkville in that atmosphere (at Mississippi State)."

And there are 1,000s of Mississippi State baseball fans that may be even more excited.


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.


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