May 21, 2013 1:32:16 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- In time the 2013 C Spire Ferriss Trophy presentation may be remembered as the first of many honors for Hunter Renfroe.
The Mississippi State University junior right fielder took home the trophy awarded to the top collegiate baseball player in the state Monday. Immediately after winning the award, Renfroe learned the actual weight of the 10-year-old trophy.
"It's heavy that's for sure," Renfroe said with a laugh. "It was an honor to receive it with all the great players there from Ole Miss, Southern Miss and Delta State in Jackson (Monday). I had to haul that thing all day and my forearms were trembling at the end of it."
The Crystal Springs native, one of five finalists for the award, was presented the award during ceremonies at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson. Cohen even joked during his introduction speech for Renfore that he demanded they talk to as many people from Crystal Springs for references on Renfroe's character.
"Two minutes later, we knew we had the right kind of kid to bring in to our program," Cohen joked with the large room in Jackson.
The Bulldog outfielder is also a semi-finalist for both USA Baseball's Golden Spikes Award and the NCBWA's Dick Howser Trophy, given to the nation's top collegiate player. This month Renfroe was ranked No. 13 in Baseball America's Top 100 list of draft eligible players.
No longer is Renfroe forced to answer the question of can he ever achieve the potential of his summer league numbers in a MSU uniform during the spring. The 2013 season now represents Renfroe's breakthrough campaign.
"I don't know if he's the best hitter I've ever coached but I think he's the most gifted athlete on a baseball field I've ever coached," Cohen said. "And the difference is he's a rare legitimate five-tool guy, at least at the college level.
The trophy's namesake, former Mississippi State and Boston Red Sox hall of fame pitcher and legendary Delta State baseball coach Dave "Boo" Ferriss, was on hand at the presentation.
"He said in the pictures line that he still thinks at 91 years old that he could still coach the group in this photo today," Renfroe said. "He is such a great character and man to represent baseball in the state of Mississippi."
The power-hitting Renfroe becomes the fourth MSU player to receive the award. Shortstop Thomas Berkery and catcher Ed Easley received the award in back-to-back years in 2006 and 2007, while pitcher Chris Stratton received the Ferriss Trophy last year.
Renfroe finished the 2013 regular season as the SEC's leader with 15 home runs and begins postseason competition at the Southeastern Conference Tournament tonight in Hoover, Ala., bested four other finalists to become the 10th winner of the Ferriss Trophy. The other finalists for the award include Delta State University pitcher John Branstetter, University of Southern Mississippi pitcher Andrew Pierce, and the University of Mississippi battery combination of catcher Stuart Turner and pitcher Bobby Wahl.
"Hunter is a rare bird," Cohen said. "He's somebody who can do so many athletic things. There are lot of moments in his three years so far when our club has been speechless after watching him do something."
Renfroe, who will likely be a first round draft pick in next month's MLB Draft, sports a league-best .691 slugging percentage and also ranks among the conference leaders in batting average (.362), on-base percentage (.459), RBI (51), hits (68), runs scored (48) and total bases (130).
Renfroe, who is a high 2013 MLB Draft prospect, hit .364 with the Bethesda (Md.) Big Train and set Cal Ripken College Baseball League marks with 19 home runs and 57 RBI, was named by Perfect Game scouting as the top prospect in the Cal Ripken League.
In a road sweep at Texas A&M University, the Bulldogs first away from Dudy Noble Field since 2011, Renfroe earned his first ever SEC player of the week honors. He had a home run in each of the three games in College Station, Texas to go along with hitting .571 on the weekend with three multi-hit games, including back-to-back three-hit showings.
Another factor to Renfroe being able to put up gaudy numbers in 2013 is his protection in an MSU lineup that is currently third in the SEC in batting average and on-base percentage. Junior Brett Pirtle has reached base in 29 straight games while junior Alex Detz is sixth in the SEC in on-base percentage (.451).
"If I'm standing on second base after a double per se, then right now I have all the confidence in the world that Pirtle is going to find a gap even with first base open," Renfroe said. "Why is that? Because big Wes Rea is sitting right behind him and if Pirtle is walked, then a team is starting to go down the road of a big inning."
Renfroe is making a case to be the first SEC player of the year in the Bulldogs program history and will be battling with Vanderbilt University's leadoff hitter Tony Kemp and Louisiana State University power hitter Mason Katz.
Renfroe and MSU face the University of Missouri in the final game of today's opening round.
"As a team we're so amped to go to Hoover right now," Renfroe said. "We're really in a good position for postseason and maybe we'll have 15,000 screaming people here in Starkville next week. That'd be another great memory and sight to see."
In other MSU baseball news, junior shortstop Adam Frazier has been named a semi-finalist for the 2013 Brooks Wallace Shortstop of the Year Award by the College Baseball Hall of Fame and pitcher Luis Pollorena from Laredo, Texas, has been named to the Southeastern Conference's 2013 Baseball Community Service Team, the league announced Monday.