Late-Round Picks Leave State Staff Optimistic

The 2010 draft has passed, and Coach John Cohen is content that his 2011 roster survived it mostly unscathed. Five members of this year's recruiting class had their names called in the three-day event but at this point Mississippi State expects four will wear Diamond Dog uniforms next spring. And beyond.

Those four are all incoming freshmen, and not surprisingly the highest-profile recruits in the 2009-10 class. In the weeks leading up to the draft, Cohen became increasingly optimistic these high school graduates had gotten the word to professional scouts they could only be detoured from college baseball by exceptionally high selections and bonuses. Major League franchises obviously got the word.

Because these premier four weren't taken until the mid-40 rounds on Wednesday. Shortstop/second baseman Taylor Stark was the 42nd-round pick of Washington; shortstop DeMarcus Henderson the 43rd-round choice of Houston; pitcher/infielder Daryl Norris was taken in the 46th round by Texas; and outfielder C.T. Bradford was taken in the 48th round by Cleveland. Also, infielder/pitcher Wes Rea was undrafted. Based on both prep careers and pre-draft evaluations all would have merited much higher drafting(s) had not their ‘signability' been a real question for big league clubs.

Cohen will caution that there is still a long summer stretch until fall semester classes begin at Mississippi State. This will allow drafting clubs to monitor their late-round selections over the course of off-season play; as well as see which of their other draftees sign or not, what positions their farm system is showing up short in, and what un-spent bonus money might be available to sweeten offers. So these deals are not absolutely done in the Dogs' favor…but based on history the odds are encouraging for all four.

The Mississippi State skipper wishes he was equally optimistic about the one recruit who was drafted on day-two. Outfielder Corey Dickerson was picked early in day-two, going in the eighth round to Colorado. This potent hitter from Meridian Community College could do big things for the Bulldog batting order…if he were to show up.

"I'm just concerned about Dickerson," Cohen said today. "That will be a tough one."

State did not have any underclassmen drafted this week, though realistically the only one of concern was centerfielder Jaron Shepherd. A two-time pick already, out of high school and junior college, Shepherd will have to wait his turn in '11 or perhaps pursue a free-agent offer over this summer. That latter track is one more and more clubs are willing to take with players who offer at least one sure skill, and Shepherd's ability in the field certainly earned notice in his junior year at State.

One more graduating senior was drafted, as lefthanded pitcher Tyler Whitney was picked in the 34th round by Seattle. He joined day-two Dog draftees first baseman Connor Powers (21st round San Diego) and second baseman Jet Butler (26th round New York Mets). Also, former Diamond Dog pitcher Forrest Moore was drafted in the 38th round by the Florida Marlins despite taking 2010 off. He pitched in five games as a 2009 sophomore.

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