STARKVILLE • The past year has surpassed Colby White’s wildest dreams.
White has served as Mississippi State’s setup man this season and was drafted in the sixth round by the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.
Both of those things seemed far fetched a few years ago when White graduated from West Marion High School with only one scholarship offer, to Pearl River Community College.
“I was just blessed to get a college baseball offer and I ran with it,” White said.
Pearl of a closer
The hard throwing right-hander dominated at the juco level, leading the team in saves and was named All-MACJC in both of his seasons at Pearl River. That success led to a second scholarship offer from Mississippi State, which he accepted within an hour on a visit to the Bulldogs’ campus.
“I was just overwhelmed by how amazing everything is here,” White said.
White made his MSU debut on opening day and struck out the side in a scoreless inning of relief. He has gone on to strike out multiple batters in 15 of his 25 appearances this year, the longest of which is 1 1/3 innings.
For the season, White is 3-1 with a 3.28 earned run average, 45 strikeouts and only seven walks in 24 2/3 innings. Opposing batters are hitting just .180 against him.
“At the very beginning, I was kind of overwhelmed a little bit with the large capacity (crowds) and intense games,” White said. “I started settling in throughout the year and have been able to calm down on the mound and pitch.
“I’ve learned a tremendous amount from a year of being here. It’s been awesome.”
The Foxworth native has fanned 19 batters over his last eight innings of work and struck out four in two innings during the Starkville Regional.
“This past weekend, I remember looking down at my feet and couldn’t feel my legs,” White said. “I can remember walking off the field and could feel the ground shaking.”
White is listed at only 6-foot, 190 pounds but his fastball regularly lights up the radar gun in the upper-90s and even hit triple digits during one outing this year. He routinely checks the scoreboard himself to learn how hard he’s throwing.
Aside from his heavy fastball, White also works in a change-up and has a cutter that is still a work in progress. He also has a split-finger in his arsenal but has not used it this year.
On the second day of the MLB Draft, White was sitting in the training room without his phone when his name was called. Fellow reliever Spencer Price was the one that provided him with the life-changing news.
“I thought he was joking and then he showed me his phone,” White said. “Then my adviser called me and then the Rays called me. It was unbelievable. I was in shock for about 15 minutes and then cried for about five or 10.”
White was taken with the 188th pick, which holds a slot value of $255,300. He doesn’t believe he would’ve been selected that highly if he hadn’t come to MSU.
“There were guys up here watching Ethan (Small) and Jake (Mangum) and I think that had a big piece in that,” White said. “But also going against the best hitters in college baseball.
“The development part of it, I feel like I’m a better strike-thrower and actually have a better feel for a secondary pitch since I’ve been here and that helped me tremendously.”