College : : Story
Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Scout Take: Mississippi State

Britt Smith        
Photo: Jake Mangum (Kelly Donoho/Mississippi State Athletics)

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Mississippi State Bulldogs

What Happened: The overall performance of the Mississippi State pitching staff stole the show in Frisco, Texas during the Frisco College Classic. The Bulldogs pitching staff posted a pair of wins, allowing only two earned runs and issued one walk while recording 21 strikeouts in their two-game sweep of the weather-shortened event. Starters Ethan Small and JT Ginn each consumed a majority of the load, but the work of the bullpen was just as impressive.

Carrying Tool: The Mississippi State pitching staff. With a combined 1.53 team ERA and three starters with a combined ERA below 2.00, State looks primed to be a contender not only in the SEC West, but a contender for a trip to Omaha. Holding their opponents to a collective .179 batting average against, their stellar 136-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio indicates that the Bulldogs are not in the business of giving away anything.

Concerns: Offensive power. While the conditions were not fantastic for hitters over the weekend, Mississippi State shows a gritty, workman-like toughness at the plate. With five players in the lineup posting double-digit hit totals through 11 games, the Bulldogs can move the line at the plate. However, the ability to score runs with big swings may not be their calling card. It is early and the sample size is small, but the Bulldogs returning home run leader Elijah MacNamee, only posted eight home runs in 2018. Justin Foscue has already tallied four home runs this season, topping his total of three in his freshman campaign. As a team, State posted 45 dingers in 2018 and are on their way to besting that number, although those numbers might be more difficult to come by once conference play begins.

Best Player on the Field: Jake Mangum, who will undoubtedly pass Eddy Furniss’ All-Time SEC hits record this season, is the catalyst for Mississippi State. The only tool that is missing is raw power from Mangum, but that is not his true calling card. The switch-hitting leadoff man and defensive star sets the tone with his abilities at the plate but also with the way he approaches the game. Playing as if each at-bat might be his last, or every single ball in the outfield must be recorded for an out, Mangum has a presence that trickles down to the entire team.

Fearless Forecast: Omaha. The pieces are in place for Mississippi State to make yet another run to Omaha. Health would be a concern, but the offensive part of the team is not built to rely on one player to carry the lion’s share of the load, so barring a major injury State should be solid here. The long-term health of the pitching staff would be more of the focus. With JT Ginn as an integral part of the rotation, how will he hold up as the much longer college season progresses along into June? How will the team respond once things start to go against them? Right now, the Bulldogs are playing well and have a belief each time they step on the field.

Players covered: Jake Mangum, Colby White, Cole Gordon, Ethan Small, JT Ginn.

Jake Mangum
The old adage, “he is just a baseball player,” truly applies to Mississippi State’s Jake Mangum. He possesses skills and physical abilities on both sides of the game, but when combined with the intangibles that he brings to the field he makes the Bulldogs an extremely dangerous team. A switch hitter, who hits leadoff for Mississippi State, Mangum (6-foot-1, 179-pounds) shows incredible barrel-to-ball skills, not just in his ability to collect hits, but with his ability to be one of the tougher outs in the country. Routinely showing the ability to spoil pitches, he is an opposing pitcher’s worst nightmare leading off a game.

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