Burroughs Talks Catchers and Outfielders

Mississippi State assistant baseball coach Lane Burroughs, who coaches catchers and also helps with the outfielders, talks about his fall impressions of the catchers and some of the outfielders.

Junior outfielder Jaron Shepherd
"Jaron has been drafted twice. His dad played in the big leagues for three years. His brother was a pitching prospect before he had an accident.

"Jaron has as much natural athletic ability as anybody on the team. I think when he first got here he was a little overwhelmed after spending two years in junior college. I think in high school and in junior college he has always been the best player but when he got here he was surrounded by a lot of great players I think that caught him off-guard. But I think as the fall progressed he got better. And he wants to be good. He continued to work hard and I thought he had a tremendous (MSU Fall) World Series. One of the plays that stood out to me was in game 5. It was a time of the night when the ball is hard to see in the air. Ryan Collins couldn't see it and Jaron ran all the way from right field to center field. He covered as much ground as I have ever anyone cover. Ryan ended up catching it but Jaron was there. One of my friends was sitting behind me in the third base box and asked me if that guy can play wide receiver? He really took off and showed some speed. I also think his bat got better. He also has a great arm, probably the best we have in the outfield. When I recruited him, that was one of the first things that popped out to me about him. He's a tremendous defender. He's a great player and has a great future. He'll play baseball a long time."

Senior outfielder Luke Adkins
"I've coached Luke for my fourth year. I coached him two years at Southern Miss after signing him. Luke and I are really close. He's gotten better every year. I think his arm strength has gotten so much better since he first came to college. He's also a better defender now. He wasn't a really good defender when he came out of high school. He struggled defensively for two years while at Southern Miss and here a little bit when I first got here, but he's gotten better. He's always been an offensive threat. He's working hard and will have a good year for us this year. He's stronger and in better condition than he has been since he has been in college."

Senior outfielder Ryan Duffy
"Duffy made the switch to the outfield and it is no secret that he struggled a little bit defensively. He'll be the first to tell you that. But he has worked hard to get better. When we first started him in the outfield this fall he was running on his heels. When you run on your heels in the outfield the ball looks like it is bouncing in the air. You need to run on your toes to keep it from bouncing. Once he realized that the ball quit bouncing in the air. As for his offense, he is a big offensive threat because he has power. We all know that. He has the potential to hit 20+ home runs.

"He wants to help us so he's accepted the role of moving to the outfield. And that's not easy, especially when it's your last year. He also has taken on somewhat of a leadership role. He kind of coached the maroon team (in the Fall World Series). I enjoyed watching him do that. I hope he runs with that."

Junior catcher Cody Freeman
"Cody is so much better. He had a tremendous fall. I think this was the first fall he went though while being healthy. I thought defensively he was phenomenal. I think he is a better thrower, a better blocker, he is communicating with the pitchers better. He is more vocal. He and (MSU pitching) Coach (Butch) Thompson are more on the same wavelength. (Juco transfer Wes) Thigpen pushed him. Both are great division catchers. And to be successful you have to have two really good catchers because it is such a grind to catch 56 games. You are a foul tip away from playing. He is a great offensive threat but that's no secret. I think he is going to have a good year for us."

Junior catcher Wes Thigpen
"Wes makes us so much better as a team. He attacks the running game and he can shut it down just because of his arm strength. When we are taking infield and outfield (before the game) an opposing coach can see his arm strength and know that we have a legitimate thrower behind the plate. If you have a pitcher who does a decent job of getting him the ball in a decent amount of time the opposing team is not going to steal bases. Wes is also one of the strongest kids on the team, if not the strongest. He brings that hardnose mentality everyday. One thing that surprised me about Wes when I was recruiting him was how quiet he was. But when he got here and stepped on that field it was over the top and he becomes vocal and he becomes a coach. He'll challenge the pitchers. And I think he has helped Cody. They seem to have a great relationship. They seem to be pulling for each other. Both know either one can go out there and we don't miss a beat. I think Cody has the edge a little bit receiving the ball and they may be even blocking the ball. But Thig has the edge throwing the ball, no question. Cody is a better offensive player. But you can give up offense at that position."

True freshman catcher Dallas Hannah
"Dallas came in as a walk-on and I guess he felt like the only way he was going to make the club was as a catcher. He's a great athlete. The beauty of Dallas is he can play anywhere. He can play in the infield, the outfield. He can play shortstop. I think he does a great job blocking and receiving, although his arm strength isn't where it needs to be. If both of those (first two) guys got hurt, I wouldn't be afraid to put him in the game tomorrow."

True freshmen catchers Kolby Byrd and Carlos Leal
"I think Kolby and Carlos are in the same boat. They are young and didn't play as much high school and summer baseball as some of these other players, so they are a little bit behind. And I think they got exposed a little bit in the fall because when you get to this level it's not 83 (miles per hour) at the belt. Now, it is 89 with sink or run or 91 with late life with arm side run. That's not easy if you have never caught it. They are behind and have a long way to go, but I thought they both worked hard. I think both of them have a chance offensively right now. Both of them have tremendous arm strength. But as far as their receiving skills, their blocking skills and knowledge of the game, that has to get better."

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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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