June 2, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen is excited about the future of pitcher Devin Jones.
Jones, who played at Eupora High School in Webster County, is spending his summer fine-tuning his skills in the New England Collegiate Baseball League in Danbury, Conn.. He is one of 12 Mississippi State Bulldogs that has been assigned to a college summer league by Cohen and his staff.
A broken hand kept Jones off the mound during much of the past season, but he started in the last two Southeastern Conference series against Ole Miss and LSU.
"I really think if he gives us three of four starts in the middle there, it could have helped his development a lot," Cohen said. "I think he has a chance to be special and the opportunity to go out and pitch in the summer is going to be important."
Jones (0-4, 9.26 ERA) had five starts during the season, but was never a serious contributor on the staff after suffering the injury.
The last outing was one Jones would like to forget when he gave up six runs on seven hits in just two innings in a loss to LSU.
Without a win and a high earned run average, Jones knows it was just part of taking his lumps as a young hurler.
"I know there were some ups and downs as a freshman," Jones said. "That''s just the way it goes."
Even though the weather is cooler in the Northeast than the South, Cohen is still concerned about how the heat will work on Jones.
"It''s really difficult for him because he''s trying to gain weight," Cohen said. "That is something we spend a lot of time talking to him about in the office."
The other Bulldogs playing in the summer across the country are outfielder Luke Adkins, infielder Jarrod Parks and pitcher Nick Routt in the Cal Ripken, Sr. League (Bethesda, Md.), pitchers David Hayes and Tyler Johnson in the Valley League (Fauquier-Warrenton, Va.), pitcher Ricky Bowen and catcher Cody Freeman in the Cape Cod League (Bourne, Mass.), infielder Frank Rawdow, pitcher Caleb Reed and infielder-pitcher Justin Bussey in the Central Illinois College League (Danville, Ill.), pitcher Greg Houston in the Northwoods League (Dulutch, Minn.), and infielder Nick Ray in the California Collegiate League (Santa Maria Valley, Calif.).
Cohen said the summer helps pitchers, who didn''t throw many innings during the college season, get additional work and gives hitters more at-bats so adjustments can be made in swings
"When you get away from home, you get a chance to isolate some things and work on your own," Cohen said. "That''s pivotal in getting better."