July 10, 2012 8:31:52 PM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- Essentially what the Mississippi State University baseball program accomplished Tuesday was a trade with the country directly to the north of us.
On the same day the Bulldogs were informed their 2012 signee William DuPont had signed with the Toronto Blue Jays organization after being drafted in the 16th round this May, MSU announced its had signed one of the best positional players from Canada in infielder Kyle Hann.
"With the addition of Kyle, we've added a player that is considered one of the best hitters in his recruiting class in the entire country of Canada," MSU coach John Cohen said. "He's one of those talents that has the makeup that we look for when we recruit talent to play in the best league in America."
Canadian Baseball Network, the website run by veteran baseball writer Bob Elliott, ranked Hann ninth among Canadians eligible for the 2012 Major League Baseball draft. All eight players ahead of him were pitchers.
Hann, a 5-foot-8 and 180-pound athlete, is the starting shortstop on the Canadian National Junior Team for the last two summers and is considered more of power bat than his smaller frame would suggest.
"All of the scouting sources that we trust up there have told us that you ask 10 different scouts and eight of them will say if he was two or three inches taller, he'd be a first round pick in the MLB draft," Cohen said.
Last season Hann batted .447 with nine doubles, four triples and a homer in the Premier Baseball League of Ontario. He also showed a good plate discipline at a young age at the plate with a .530 on-base percentage, thanks to 18 walks in 100 plate appearances while striking out just eight times.
"We got notified that he was being released by Oklahoma State and it was a situation where I'd actually seen him play so it was a perfect fit," Cohen said. "We knew we'd be in a recruiting battle with the likes of Arizona and other power Southeastern Conference schools but he liked the atmosphere here."
Hann, a former award-winning gymnast as a child, was part of Oklahoma State University's recruiting class but the Cowboys administration released him from his signed Letter-of-Intent after they announced the hiring of Josh Holliday as its new head coach in June.
Hann, who is a teammate of MSU signee Jacob Robson, on a Canadian travel team called the Ontario Blue Jays, visited the campus a couple months ago and officially signed with MSU Tuesday.
"Kyle is unique, especially in Canada (because) He's a legitimate shortstop who will be able to play in college and in the pros," Ontario Blue Jays manager Dan Bleiwas told the Oakville (Canada) Beaver in 2010. "It's tough, you don't get a lot of kids that remain as middle infielders. Often times they lack one of the skills, one of the tools."
DuPont out of Wildwood, Mo., committed to MSU last year but informed MSU coaches Tuesday he'd be signing a professional contract with Toronto. The deadline for draft picks to sign before the franchise loses its rights to the player is Friday.
DuPont, a speedy left-handed hitter who was recruited as a middle infielder, picked MSU over scholarship offers from Wichita State, Missouri and Oklahoma.
The 6-foot, 175-pounder was a St. Louis Post-Dispatch first-team All-Metro selection as a junior this spring while batting .528 with nine doubles, two triples, six home runs, 35 RBIs, 41 runs scored, 25 stolen bases and posted a .600 on-base percentage. According to the new rules of the MLB collective bargaining agreement, if DuPont signs for more than $100,000 than his bonus will count against the Blue Jays signing pool of money that has a luxury tax for eclipsing.