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John Cohen excited at the potential power of MSU 2012 lineup


Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE --Mississippi State under head coach John Cohen has been about the short game (running, bunting, moving runners over) and while that's not likely to change unless MSU officials decide to move in the fences at Dudy Noble Field - a move that was highly considered before the start of this 2012 season - the consensus is new additions to the lineup could provide an influx of power.  




Here's the feature in Tuesday's edition of The Dispatch - http://www.cdispatch.com/sports/article.asp?aid=15517 




Here's a profile of all the middle-of-the-order thump that could be at MSU this season: 




- Sophomore Hunter Renfroe: Could see playing time as a outfielder, catcher or designated hitter. tabbed by Perfect Game USA as the top pro prospect on his collegiate summer league baseball team, the Bethesda (Md.) Big Train. Renfroe hit .305 and hit a club-record and league-leading eight home runs in helping power Bethesda to a 36-9 record and its third consecutive Cal Ripken Collegiate League championship. Renfroe also notched a save in his lone pitching performance this summer with Bethesda. 


"Hunter is one of those few players that I've ever been around, even as an assistant on Team USA (in 2005), where we had 20 of the best freshman and sophomores in the country, Hunter is one of those kids that when he takes BP our whole team shuts down and says 'oh my goodness, look at this'," Cohen said Monday in his preseason media session. "He takes the mound and everybody is behind home plate (wondering) 'is he touching 100 (miles per hour) today?'. Hunter is a special talent." 




- Redshirt freshman first baseman Wes Rea: Sat out the season as a freshman redshirt to rehabilitate an injured shoulder but played summer league baseball with Evan Mitchell and Brayden Jones in Danville, Ill., in the Prospect League. Could be the largest human being that's ever been written on a MSU lineup card as long as redshirt freshman Rea gets fully healthy. 


"Wes is a big dude and there's just no doubt about that," Renfroe said. "We go hunting all the time and I tell him all the time that he'd be so scary in the league if he'd just get healthy." 


Rea, a 296-pound first baseman who had scholarship offers out of high school from nearly every SEC football program including MSU, was showing consistency at the plate in the fall before suffering a hairline fracture in his right foot. The foot is fully healthy now and has allowed him to fully participate again in a competition with junior college prospect Trey Porter at first base.  


"He's going to tell me that (he's healthy)," Cohen said of Rea Monday. "He's not throwing the baseball the way he did in high school. He had shoulder surgery coming out of high school 


and before that we really thought would be a pitcher and positional player. His shoulder hasn't come around the way we thought it would He's certainly going to be a factor for us offensively." 




- Sophomore third baseman Daryl Norris: Dual position performer as a freshman with 19 starts at first base and eight starts as the designated hitter along with 14 mound appearances. Norris compiled a .277 batting average with five doubles, a triple and 20 RBIs in 94 at-bats last season. He now moves back to his high school position of third base. 


"Daryl was a high school third baseman who I saw there many times," Cohen said Monday. "He's going to have power in his bat so on certain days when we feel like we're facing a left-handed pitcher then Daryl is a great candidate to play third base." 


Norris also posted a 2-0 pitching record with a save with a 3.20 earned run average and held opponents to a .213 batting average, second-best on the staff. He earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors twice (Feb. 20 and Mar. 28), starring on opening weekend against Akron and Lamar and later against Auburn on the team. Played with Renfroe in the summer league baseball with the Cal Ripken Sr. League champion Bethesda (Md.) Big Train. 


Norris, who demanded at least $500,000 to sign with the Texas Rangers after they drafted in the 46th round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, struggled in the later months hitting breaking pitches from quality opponents. 


"What I'm still making sure I don't do anymore is strike out," Norris said. "I always made contact without thinking about it before I came here but now I have to concentrate on everything in the box." 




- Junior first baseman Trey Porter: Earned second-team NJCAA All-American honors in 2011 to cap his two-year career Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Porter paced his team with a .430 batting average, tallying a team-best 49 hits and nine home runs.  


Porter was a first-team All-Region 23 and MACJC All-State selection and may be the likely candidate to start at first base for MSU on opening day.  


Trey Porter was one of the guys that actually caught my eye more than anybody," MSU senior closer Caleb Reed said Monday. "During the fall he was the hardest person for me to get out. He was staying on top of the plate, so you're either going to hit him, of if you try to go away from him, it's the middle of the plate to him. He can turn on it. He really caught my eye, too." 




All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage. 




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