The Mississippi State baseball program wrapped up the 2020 MLB amateur draft on Thursday with the best possible outcome.
Five players with MSU ties were drafted in the shortened five-round draft, and Bulldogs fans should be happy.
Current players Justin Foscue, Jordan Westburg, and JT Ginn were all drafted in the first two rounds and are expected to sign pro contracts.
Two signees were drafted – outfielder Austin Hendrick and infielder Blaze Jordan. Hendrick was drafted 12th overall and was likely never going to step foot on campus. Jordan was drafted 89th overall, and there’s still a chance he takes his talents to Starkville, but he is expected to sign his pro contract.
The best news for the Bulldogs is that Tanner Allen, Rowdey Jordan and signees Mikey Tepper, Cameron Tullar, Jackson Fristoe and Cade Smith were not drafted. Allen, an outfielder, was seen as possibly a fifth-round draftee.
So what does Mississippi State’s lineup look like next season? Not much different than it did this year.
The Bulldogs are set in the outfield. Jordan returns to patrol center field, while Allen and Pimentel return in left and right field. Brad Cumbest has also shown he can play.
Head coach Chris Lemonis has his choice between Logan Tanner and Luke Hancock behind the plate, and both have proven to be a good choice. Whoever isn’t starting at catcher could be the designated hitter.
At first base, Josh Hatcher returns, but the rest of the infield could see a shakeup. With Westburg and Foscue both taken in the first round, MSU has to replace the double-play combo in the middle infield.
Kamren James could be a good fit at shortstop. James started 14 of the 15 games he played in 2020, mostly at third base, and hit .308 with three doubles and a home run. He started at shortstop in high school, so its possible that he makes that move.
If that’s the case, Tanner Leggett could take over at third base. He started five games for MSU this season, but hit only .118.
Incoming freshman Kellum Clark could also see playing time. Clark pulled out of the draft last week and was a career .491 hitter in high school with 13 home runs.
At second base, it’s likely going to be Jacksonville transfer Scotty Dubrule. Dubrule announced himself as a grad transfer early in May, and hit .328 in two full seasons of starting in 2018 and 2019 with 21 doubles and four triples.
In 2020, he started all 18 games and was hitting .426 with five doubles and a home run.
The Bulldogs only lost Ginn on the mound, but he was injured this past season anyway. Christian MacLeod should return as the ace, while Eric Cerantola, Carlisle Koestler and Will Bednard could be weekend rotation arms.
Brandon Smith returns from injury next year, and Houston Harding pitched well in limited innings this year.
DeSoto Central’s Cade Smith, who throws in the mid-90s, will be on campus next year as will Stone Simmons, a transfer from Furman University. Simmons was a weekend starter for Furman and had a 0-3 record with a 2.91 ERA.
Fristoe, Tullar and Tepper will also be incoming pitchers.
The back end of MSU’s pitching staff, led by Spencer Price and Riley Self, all return as well.