MSU Coaches Talk About Recruiting Class

Mississippi State assistant baseball coaches Lane Burroughs and Butch Thompson, the guys who head coach John Cohen depends heavily on to do the bulk of the MSU baseball recruiting, talked to Gene's Page about the most recent signing class, a signing class that could end up being ranked even higher than this year's 8th ranked recruiting class.

Garrett Pitts, 5-10, Infielder, Fairhope (AL) High School

Lane Burroughs - "Garrett is a hardcore blue collar player who is a great team guy. He's the kind of guy who makes everybody around him better. And he really understands the history and tradition of Mississippi State baseball. His mom and dad both went to school here. His grandfather is James Ashmore, a great basketball player here who led his team in scoring. So, he's been a lifelong Bulldog. He had a chance to go to other places but this was the place he always wanted to be.

"He's very versatile and can play various spots. He can catch, play infield and possibly play an outfield spot. I guess his number one attribute is his mentality. He's got a Bulldog mentality. He brings toughness and grit to the field everyday. He's a dirtbag type player."

Chase Lewellan, 5-9, 185, Infielder/Pitcher, Sumrall (MS) High School

Lane Burroughs - "He has many of the same attributes as Garrett. He has a blue collar type toughness. His motor never stops. I think he's more polished as a hitter. I think he's one of the top hitters in the state if not the southeast. He proved that in Oklahoma at the Sunbelt Classic. He had a great tournament there. He also has some power. He was able to play in some big-time events last year - the Sunbelt Classic, the East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Florida. So, he got to play against some good competition.

"I think his best position is shortstop, although he plays third base right now. He's a tremendous third baseman with a great arm. He could also play second base. He's very versatile. I've even seen him catch in the State Games (in Meridian, MS).

"He is very well coached and plays for a great high school program. They've won two back-to-back state titles and were undefeated last year. I think they have won something like 45 games in a row. He'll be the center piece of that team this year."

Adam Frazier, 5-10, 170, Infielder, Oconee (GA) High School

Lane Burroughs - "Doug Sison, who Butch is very close with, put us on Adam. He coached at Georgia and has been in pro ball forever. Adam's mom and dad lived in Mississippi before and he would come to camps here, so he was familiar with Mississippi State.

"We saw him a couple of times in high school, then we saw him in the Sunbelt Classic. He really went off there. His team won it. And if you had to name a most valuable player of the Sunbelt Classic he would have been it. He just went crazy out there. We knew then that he was an SEC player. He's going to be a great player.

"I think, without a doubt, he can step in right now and play either second or short. The glove is there, the arm strength is there, the knowledge is there. He has a real good lefthanded stroke. And he's an above average runner down the line."

Corey Dickerson, 6-3, 205, Outfielder, Meridian (MS) Community College

Lane Burroughs - "He's a hard worker. He was moved to the outfield last year after being an infielder in high school. Just talking to (Major League Baseball) scouts and people of that nature who have watched him play he is probably one of the better hitters not only in the southeast but the entire country. He can hit for power, he can hit for average. As an offensive weapon, he is as good as it comes in the junior college ranks. He's 6-2, 210 pounds and he can run. He's an above average runner. He's physical. His arm is not great, but he has everything else that it takes to play in the big leagues. He was drafted last summer and is possibly a top five-rounder guy right now. He's an immediate step-in and play guy."

James McMahon, Righthanded Pitcher/Infielder, Oak Grove (MS) High School

Lane Burroughs - "He has a chance to be a power arm and a power bat. He's a plus, plus arm, he's a 90 (miles per hour) arm right now. His arm is really smooth with an easy delivery. He needs to work on his secondary pitches but he's a strike thrower. I don't think he's a starter type pitcher. I think he's more of a reliever, closer type pitcher. And he has a good glove at third. He has unlimited power in his bat because he's a physical kid. He's a great kid with great makeup and a great work ethic. But he hasn't been healthy for an entire yet. He's the quarterback on the football team."

Taylor Stark, Infielder/Outfielder/Righthanded Pitcher, Northwest Rankin High School (Brandon, MS)

Lane Burroughs - "He kind of came on the scene late last spring. His athleticism is off the chart. He's a great runner. He has a plus, plus arm. He has a chance to hit. We saw him in the State Games of Mississippi and he was, without a doubt, the best player there. He absolutely took over the entire tournament. He hit, he ran, he made plays at shortstop that were unreal. He even made the East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Florida, so he played against some of the best competition in the country. He wants to be here because he grew up a Mississippi State fan. He plays at a great program, Northwest Rankin, and he's their number 1 pitcher. I don't know if that is his future here. He's a middle infielder but he's versatile and athletic enough that he can play in the outfield."

Butch Thompson - "Pitching-wise, Taylor is in the athletic category of pitchers where he has great times to the plate, has a very quick arm and quick actions. I had an opportunity to see him at the East Coast Pro Showcase and you can see a high ceiling with him. He has a potential hard slider and you can see a fastball with movement that we think will play at about the 90 miles per hour range."

Evan Mitchell, 6-2, 170, Righthanded Pitcher, Wheeler (GA) High School

Butch Thompson - "Dave McDonald, the head coach at Wheeler is a Mississippi State graduate, although I found that out after the fact. He's a legend high school coach in Georgia. But I was following Evan, who is kind of an unknown pitcher and watched him a couple of weeks in a row in Atlanta at various tournaments this summer. Evan was throwing 86-88 (miles per hour) and he has a great, rangy frame with long arms. He showed a bunch of fastball action, some sink and some run. And he commanded that movement so well. That was very interesting. During that period that I watched him play a lot of other schools got interested in him and started watching him. I think I just got a jump on everybody because he had missed some of his junior year with back problems, so he was relegated to being a position player. I think he is at the tip of his iceberg as far as being a pitcher but I think his ceiling is pretty exciting. Just to show you what kind of athletic ability he has, Coach McDonald recently told me that he is probably going to be their starting shortstop."

C.T. Bradford, 5-9, 160, Outfielder/Lefthanded Pitcher, Pace (FL) High School

Butch Thompson - "I look at his background and his dad played at Mississippi State. He played for Charlie Warner at Pace High School, who I have known for many years. He runs an unbelievable program, has for years. The players he has turned out are well discipline and have won a lot of games.

"In addition to that, he played on the summer circuit with Coach Emilio Fernandez of the Florida Bombers. He does an unbelievable job with that team. C.T. has been a leadoff guy for him and is surrounded by great players everyday.

"With the background that he has due to his dad, his brother and the combination of high school and summer ball that he has played, he is just prepared so well.

"The first time I had a chance to see C.T. play I saw that he plays the game the right way. He has the skill set to add value to our program immediately. He is an above average runner who is instinctive in the outfield. He has a great arm - he's 87 to 89 (miles per hour). He has a Bulldog mentality on the mound, although I know that he has a passion to be a position player. But I would be very comfortable with him in that 1 to 2 inning role. I told him during the recruiting process if he could give me an inning a week I would be very happy. I think that Bulldog fans are going to love how he attacks everything that he does. I envision C.T. being the perfect match for what Coach Cohen wants Coach Burroughs and myself to get as a player in makeup and how he competes."

Demarcus Henderson, 6-0, 180, Infielder, Wayne County High School (Waynesboro, MS)

Lane Burroughs - "Demarcus' makeup and athleticism are off the charts. He plays very hard and is very competitive. He is a true leader. He is the quarterback at a great school, Wayne County, and the head coach there raves about his leadership qualities. He is versatile enough to play numerous infield positions and the outfield. And he's Wayne County's number 1 pitcher, although he is more of a positional player. I think he is a true middle infield prospect. Demarcus has the intangibles that allow him to make everybody around him better on and off the field.

"I also saw him play in the State Games with Taylor Stark. And he played absolutely tremendous, both he and Stark did. Like Taylor, he was able to go to the East Coast Pro Showcase at Lakeland, Florida and the scouts were raving about not only his playing ability but his makeup. He will be a drafted guy because a lot of scouts are interested.

"There is no ego with Demarcus. He has his head on his shoulder right. He has a plan for his life. He was a joy to recruit."

Wes Rea, First Baseman/Righthanded Pitcher, Harrison Central High School (Gulfport, MS)

Butch Thompson - "Wes is one of the most exciting guys that I have recruited in awhile. His personality is such that he makes us laugh. He is a competitor. Coach Burroughs and I both had a chance to see him on the mound in Oklahoma and that is where he really sold us. I also saw him run it up to 94 at Marietta, Georgia and that also really sold me. He is 88 to 92 (miles per hour) with a good working arm. It's a two-seam fastball with good fastball action. It has good armside (run) and sink. And I think there is more in him. He also has a real slider to go along with his fastball. And his frame is imposing. But it's kind of hard to draw conclusions about him but I had the chance to recruit Tommy Hunter who was at Alabama and is now in the big leagues with the Texas Rangers. He also reminds me of Mitchell Boggs, a pitcher I had at Georgia who is now in the big leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals. I also recruited very heavily Jonathan Broxton, a south Georgia boy, who is with the (Los Angeles) Dodgers right now. As I watch Wes, I see that 6-5, 285 pound frame. Wes reminds me so much of those three guys. With him devoting his time just to baseball, there is no telling what he could be. I am really excited about him.

"We are also going to give him a chance to swing the bat. He has sincere power. He might be a dual guy or he might just pitch. We are going to go through the process and let that shake out on its own."

Victor Diaz, 6-1, 190, Righthanded Pitcher, St. Joseph High School (Metuchen, NJ)

Butch Thompson - "Carl Nonemaker, who is one of my best friends in the world and who works for Louisville Slugger, told me about Victor. Keith Dilgard, a former baseball player at Mississippi State, works with him at Jack Cust Baseball Academy. He vouched for his character. I saw a lot of projection in him so Lane and I went to Atlanta and sat down behind home plate and really evaluated Victor. The best way to describe his arm is it's loose, easy and free. He can run it up to 90 (miles per hour) and he can pitch a lot at 85 to 87 very easily. I think he has the opportunity to immediately have a plus changeup. We have some work to do on his breaking ball to make that a significant pitch.

"One thing about Victor was when he and his parents came to Starkville this summer I think we proved if we can get kids on this campus and see Mississippi State University we can get anybody in America. When he and his parents drove onto the campus it was like love at first sight. It was so refreshing to us to see how much he appreciated everything about Mississippi State baseball. This was his big leagues. And he immediately could see himself here. And I think that kind of put me over the top in wanting him."

Brett Bozeman, 6-0, 200, Catcher, Santa Fe (FL) Junior College

Lane Burroughs - "Brett plays in one of the top junior college leagues in the nation. They finished runnerup to Howard this past season. I saw Brett at the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction. He is a plus, plus throw and receive guy. That jumps out at you right off the bat. Talking to his coaches I found out that he is the toughest guy on his team, strongest guy on his team. He has a good lefthanded stroke and is a middle of the order hitter for Santa Fe. But after watching him play behind the plate, the bat is secondary because he can flat get it done behind the plate. When he's on the field, he communicates well and really runs the show. I think he runs the show calling the pitches and working those pitchers. He's a potential draft guy. He's a lot like (current MSU baseball player) Wes Thigpen.

"He was going to be a very highly recruited player but we brought him in this summer - he, his mom dad and sister came over - and they loved Starkville and Mississippi State."

Ross Mitchell, 6-0, 160, Lefthanded Pitcher, Blackman High School (Murfreesboro, TN)

Butch Thompson - "We found out about Ross from an acquaintance. I drove up to see him and was immediately impressed. He has fastball action. He has a chance to have a real changeup right now. He throws three pitches. His body gets in great position to give him some deception. It looks like he has a chance to be a really good lefthanded pitcher for us, kind of in that mode of what we are looking for. He's only 160 pounds and has a lot of projection in him. When he adds strength he should be able to do a lot as a lefthanded pitcher in the SEC. His father and uncle played in the big leagues so he is a chip off the old block. I think we got in on him at the right time, time before anybody else got to him. Sometime it's all about timing."

Daryl Norris, 6-1, 210, Righthanded Pitcher/Infielder, Fairhope (AL) High School

Lane Burroughs - "Daryl is one of the top players in the entire country. I don't care what anybody says or what his PG (Perfect Game) ranking is. He is one of the top players in the entire country. He is an immediately step in the ballpark, SEC middle of the order hitter and weekend rotation guy. He has those tools and that ability. He can hit, hit for average, hit for power. I saw him numerous times this summer face really highly recruited arms that everybody thinks the world of and he turned them around like it was nothing. He can play third base as good as anybody that I have seen. He is a tremendous athlete with great body control. He is physical, a competitor. He knows what his strengths and weaknesses are, has a great knowledge of the game and of his himself. We burned a lot of calories on Daryl because we recruited him for a long time. It came down to us and Alabama, although he had numerous, numerous offers. He could have gone just about anywhere in the southeast but it was us and Alabama. He will be a pretty good draft (choice), probably as a pitcher. He is a (former MSU baseball player) Pete Young type player right now. I think that would probably be who I would compare him to due to their bodies and arm strength and ability to hit for power at that age. He has a chance to be special."

Butch Thompson - "We have seen Daryl numerous times. I think it all came into focus on the pitching mound the last opportunity that we had to see him. Coach Burroughs and I saw him in Lakeland, Florida. I think I got a real good feel about what to expect from Daryl. He seems about as mature as any pitcher that I have seen. He has a true heaviness to his fastball. He has true velocity. To me, has a true power arm that allows his fastball to really get on hitters. I think he has a chance to really beat some bats early in his career. He can command a breaking ball. He can also, in the proper count, make it go through the zone, which is a tough skill for some guys to acquire. His level of maturity and advancement as a pitcher at his current age is very impressive. He showed the ability to pitch right now."

Cody Abraham, 5-11, 165, Outfielder/Lefthanded Pitcher, Lamar Consolidated High School (Houston, TX)

Lane Burroughs - "Cody is a lifelong Bulldog fan. His uncle is Jimmy Abraham, our director of alumni. He also had two cousins play baseball here. I don't want anybody to think we didn't have to recruit Cody hard because we did. It wasn't a done deal from the get-go. This guy was offered by Rice and Texas and could have stayed in his home state and played at a good baseball institution, but he has a deep appreciation for the Bulldogs and Mississippi State. And this is where he wanted to be.

"Cody plays in a very, very competitive area of baseball, Houston, Texas. It doesn't get any better than there. Numerous big leaguers have come out of that area. He has played against great players his entire life. His summer ball team, the Columbia Angels, has a long lineage of big leaguers.

"He is a lot like C.T. Bradford, about the same size kid. He's a scrapper, he plays hard like a throwback (baseball player). He is a lefthanded hitter and throws from the left side, just like C.T. He can play the short game, can pressure the defense, can go get it in the outfield. He has a tremendous throwing arm. He has a chance to hit with some occasional pop and power. One little known fact about Cody is he started back pitching this summer and at a tournament in Joplin, Missouri he topped out at 92 (miles per hour). He is possibly going to be his high school's number 1 pitcher. It will be interesting to see what happens with him on the mound."

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

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