September 22, 2013 1:15:31 AM
STARKVILLE -- Boasting 12 players who were 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft picks or high school or junior college All-Americans, the Mississippi State baseball program's 2012-13 signing class has been ranked second nationally by Collegiate Baseball. The ranking is the second-highest for the Bulldogs by the newspaper based in Tucson, Ariz., which began ranking classes three decades ago in 1983.
"It is really exciting for respected people inside our industry to recognize the work of (assistant coaches) Nick Mingione and Butch Thompson, two of the best recruiters in all of college baseball," MSU coach John Cohen said. "We will not be able to judge the quality of this class for a few years, but we really like this 2013 class."
MSU went 51-20 last season and was the national runner-up to UCLA. The 2012-13 newcomers are the fourth MSU class in the past five years to be ranked in the top 15 by Collegiate Baseball or Baseball America, and the second group to finish in the top eight.
"The (recruiting) ranking is not reflective of what our players accomplished earlier this year," Cohen said. "I think we will feel the effects of what happened in Omaha (, Neb.) from a recruiting perspective, but it will be a little bit later on."
The class is highlighted by 2013 MLB draft pick Reid Humphreys, Mississippi's 2013 Mr. Baseball. The younger brother of former Diamond Dawg and current MLB player Tyler Moore (Washington Nationals), Humphreys earned 2013 Louisville Slugger First-Team All-America honors this past spring after hitting 11 home runs and 32 RBIs as a senior. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder hit .419 with a .543 on-base percentage and an .874 slugging percentage for Northwest Rankin High School.
"Reid comes from a great family and we feel like he is going to be a great player," Cohen said. "Reid enters our program with a very good skill set."
On the mound, the Bulldogs also signed fellow draft pick Paul Young, a right-hander who was selected by the Cleveland Indians with the fifth pick in the 21st round. Young, who chose MSU over scholarship offers from 11 other Southeastern Conference schools, went 5-0 with a 2.44 ERA this past spring for Central Alabama Community College, including a complete-game victory in the 2013 NJCAA National Championship game.
"Paul had a really difficult decision of whether to go to college or to sign a professional contract," Cohen said. "We are very pleased he chose Mississippi State. He is a very talented young man with a great arm."
Drafted by the Texas Rangers with the 24th pick in the 36th round of this summer's MLB draft was fellow right-hander Dakota Hudson, who was rated a top 100 player overall at any position by national scouting service Perfect Game. Topping out at 95 mph on the radar gun, Hudson owned a 1.09 ERA and a 124-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio as a senior for Sequatchie County High in Dunlap, Tenn.
"Dakota's professional signability is what ultimately got him on our campus," Cohen said. "We are thrilled he decided to be a Bulldog."
Other notable names from the class are: catcher Gavin Collins, right-hander Avery Geyer and outfielder Joey Swinarski. Coming all the way from Lake Forest, Calif. (El Toro High), Collins was projected to go in the top five rounds of the draft before injuring his ankle in the first game of his senior season, but he has since fully recovered.
Geyer, who was the ace on the national championship Pensacola (Fla.) Catholic High squad, was a 2013 Louisville Slugger First-Team All-American, and finished third in the voting for Florida's Mr. Baseball.
Swinarski, a fellow Floridian from Orlando, Fla. (The First Academy), graduated from high school a year early and chose MSU over South Carolina, despite being a projected as a high pick in next June's draft.
The newcomers will make their debut Friday, Oct. 4, in the team's first open practice of the fall at Dudy Noble Field.