John Cohen Talks About His Pitchers

Mississippi State head baseball coach John Cohen gives his thoughts about each pitcher on the official fall roster after watching them during the first two weeks of the four on one practice sessions.

True freshman RHP Elliot Varney
"Elliot Barney is a kid we are giving an opportunity to. He is a walk-on guy who has some arm-strength. He has the ability to throw the baseball 88 to 90 miles per hour. There is no question that he has some things he needs to work on. But he's a kid who does have some talent. With the amount of depth that we hope to have is he a redshirt guy, can he give us enough innings to not redshirt him? All those things will bear out in the fall."

True freshmen LHP Luke Bole
"Luke Bole is a kid from Hartselle (Alabama) who is one mechanical adjustment from being a spectacular college pitcher. When he holds onto his delivery he is really special. He has very, very good SEC caliber stuff in terms of his breaking ball and his fastball. I think Luke can be a starter. As a freshman, can he throw 70 quality pitches for you? Can he get you 80, 90? You don't know. But I think in the first three or four weeks of the season you would like to see him get two or three starts just to see where he is to determine his role during the SEC season."

True freshman RHP Ben Bracewell
"Ben Bracewell is a middle infielder/righthanded pitcher from Briarwood Christian. His numbers were as good as any high school pitcher, maybe in the country last year. He has a dominant slider. We recruited him specifically to be a one to two out slider guy at the end of a ballgame. We feel like he is going to fill that void for us immediately. I think there is a chance he can be a backup infielder. The bat is not the strongest point that he has. But I think he is a very athletic kid. He has a chance to have power stuff on the mound."

True freshman first baseman/RHP Ethan Bright
"Ethan Bright has super tools. How quickly they develop will determine how quickly he he can help us. He can step on the mound and throw a baseball 90, 92 miles per hour. One out of every three breaking balls that he throws is really special. He is going to have to learn how to throw to location. We are mixing his time between the infield and pitching. We are working him at first base. We have done some left side of the infield stuff with him, too."

Senior RHP Justin Bussey
"Justin Bussey had shoulder surgery. He will not pitch for us at all this spring but we feel like he will be ready for the year. He is no longer going to be an infielder with us. He's going to pitch only. He had two pretty good outings down the stretch at the end of last year. But he had a phenomenal fall. We feel like he can be a one or two inning guy for us, either in the middle or at the end of the game."

Junior RHP Corey Collins
"Corey Collins is a junior college guy who knows how to win. He is 6-6, 200 pounds. He can create sink. For me, a guy who has his kind of sink immediately becomes a potential starter or a relief guy who can get you that ground ball in a crucial situation. He has power type of sink, and he knows how to use it. If his stuff gets any better he is going to get more swings and misses. And then he is going to become really special. And one of the benefits of every junior college guy is he has been having to get pretty good hitters out. And the Colorado junior college system is very offensive."

Junior RHP Michael Dixon
"Michael Dixon is one of three Blinn (junior college) guys that have joined us. He is a kid who started out at San Diego State, then he went to Blinn. There is no doubt in my mind that Michael is going to throw a baseball 94, 95 miles per hour for us this spring if he stays healthy. He has a very, very good slider and a mid-90s fastball. It's a little different arm slot. The path is a little different. But he's a great competitor and he has great poise. His issue is going to be command. He is another guy who we have specifically brought in to be a one to two inning guy. That is going to be his role."

True freshmen LHP Chad Girodo
"Chad Girodo is a kid who does every little thing the right way. His command is extremely good. He has command of three different pitches. He can throw it where he wants to. He can control the running game as good as any freshman. In fact, Luke Bole fits into the category also. We are really excited about Chad. He gets a chance to contribute immediately because of his command and his presence on the mound. Physically, he has a ways to go before he can be a dominant guy. If he becomes more physical, that's where his stuff will come from. He is more of a starter type guy because of his command. His command and stuff dictate him being more of a starter."

True freshmen RHP Kendall Graveman
"Kendall Graveman is a another physical kid. He is 6-2, weighs 175. There is no doubt that he will weigh 190 by the time he shows up next year. But he has a very, very live arm. Right now it's 88 to 90 but he can go up to 91, maybe 92. But I think down the road he is going to pitch with more velocity than that. He has one of those really pure arms. He already has great command. When you get a strong, physical base beneath the arm - the legs, the hips - you can throw harder. He's a guy right now who doesn't throw as hard as some of the other new kids that we have but the path of the arm is so pure that he gives you ever indication that he is going to throw the daylights out of the ball."

Senior RHP Greg Houston
"Nobody works harder than Greg Houston. I think he understands his role. We asked him to start a little bit last year because we had to, But I don't think that's his best role. I think he's better out of the bullpen. Greg showed up in great physical condition. A guy who works as hard as he does, you just love the kid to death. He has been a great leader to a lot of this young kids. And we are talking about 12 new pitchers on our staff and I think 9 of those 12 are freshmen. And we need help from a leadership standpoint and he's been great in that area."

Junior outfielder/LHP Trey Johnson
"Trey Johnson might be the most valuable guy in our recruiting class because he can do so many things. He's a lefthanded pitcher and a really, really good hitter. He has as good of a hitter's mind as any kid that I have recruited in a long time, and two of those guys that I am talking about are in Double A right now. One was a third rounder and one was a fourth rounder. I think he's going to hit because I think he understands offensive baseball. He hit 19 home runs last year in junior college. He's spending a lot of time with the pitchers right now because I'm that confident in what he can do for us offensively and defensively in the outfield. I think he has a chance to be a very special player. Is he going to run better than anybody on our team? No. Is he going to throw better than anybody on our team? No. Is he going to have more power than anybody on our team? No. But when you start adding up all of his tools and what he brings to the table, he does everything very, very well. I see him being an outfielder and hitting in the middle of the lineup but he's going to have to earn that this fall. As for pitching, I think he's going to end up being a middle relief type guy. His stuff doesn't dictate him being a closer. But I wouldn't slam the door on him getting a midweek start on the mound either."

Sophomore RHP Devin Jones
"Devin Jones is the most improved guy two weeks into (four on one) of anyone on our entire club. He has top three-round type stuff right now. He came back weighing 182 pounds. One year ago at this time he weighed 155 pounds. He's gained almost 30 pounds in one year. And his flexibility is allowing him to get on top of his fastball and his slider. He is a different guy. And because he has pitched in the (SEC) he has that awareness of what he has to do to pitch at Mississippi State. But his stuff, through the first two weeks, is electric. The fall can be a totally different thing than the spring, but Devin has been on a mission to show us who he really is these first two weeks. He has been outstanding. I would say as of right now he would be a starter. He has Friday night SEC caliber stuff right now. We need to see that through the fall."

True freshman LHP Matt Lane
"Matt Lane is a guy who is a lot like Girodo from the standpoint that he really understands pitchability. His command is really good. He is 6-5 and weighs 180 pounds. If we can get that 180 to 200 pounds that is going to help him. But he already has a very good lefthanded breaking ball. I do see him more as a starting guy because his command is so good. I think he has a chance to contribute immediately."

True freshmen RHP Jared Miller
"Jared Miller is a big, physical, powerful kid. I really want to see what he can do for us when he gets into great physical condition. When he gets into great physical condition I think we will see some different things from him. He has some things he has to work on. And that sounds crazy when you talk about a guy who I think went 17-0 in his high school career. He has arm-strength. There is no question that he can throw a baseball 92, 94 miles per hour, but the command part of it and the second and third pitches are things that we will need to see develop. And there is no reason to think that it can't."

Sophomore RHP Paxton Pace
"Paxton Pace had his elbow cleaned out again this summer. He has had a tough, tough time of it but he's fought through it. And his arm looks great. But the first thing that happened to him when he first got here this fall is he got the flu, just like so many other students here at Mississippi State. So, he missed the first week (of four on ones). I think that Paxton is going to be a guy who will help us. Will it be as a short inning guy or as a starter? I don't know. Right now, I would lean more toward a one or two inning type of guy. But I think he bounces back well enough to do that. I also see him swinging the bat for us from the left side because he has a very nice lefthanded swing."

Sophomore RHP Caleb Reed
"Caleb Reed has really changed his body. Caleb got punched in the face a little bit last year as a freshman. But all freshmen get punched in the face in this league. But I think he has responded. And I think he has spent the entire summer improving his delivery, improving his body. Every part of him as a pitcher as gotten dramatically better. And that is a real credit to his work ethic and his understanding of what it is going to take to be a pitcher in the Southeastern Conference level."

Sophomore LHP Nick Routt
"Nick Routt hasn't done a whole lot this fall. He still has a little bit of a back injury that he is nursing. But he is more physical. He's gained weight. We totally expect Nick to be a better product than he was last year. And the product last year was pretty good."

True freshman RHP Chris Stratton
"Chris Stratton has gotten off to a little slower start than everybody else. He came in with a little shoulder impingement, but I think he's find now. He's rehabbing. He's another guy with a ton of potential. How long it will take him to develop into what we think he can be, can he help us this spring? You just don't know. Because we have some depth, we are really starting him out slowly."

True freshman LHP C.C. Watson
"C.C. Watson is a kid who was drafted by the Texas Rangers. His lefthanded breaking ball immediately plays into helping us. When you talk about freshmen the issue is what can they do to help you immediately. I think two or three years from now he has a chance to be a dominant guy, but he can help us right now because of the depth of his breaking ball. He came to us in really good physical condition. I think he is going to have as good a lefthanded breaking ball as any freshman in the Southeastern Conference. And he has an immediate role at coming out of the bullpen. He also had a great year offensively. He can run. He is athletic. So, I can see him doing a lot of different things for us."

Senior LHP Tyler Whitney
"Tyler Whitney spent the whole summer here (at MSU). He has gotten dramatically better. I think he is going to start. Is it a Sunday starter, is it a Friday starter, is it on Wednesday? We just don't know at this time. But his command and his stuff are better."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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