July 29, 2009 2:15:00 PM
Mississippi State is losing one of its pitchers to professional baseball.
Right-hander Ricky Bowen will skip his senior season with the Bulldogs and has signed with the Cincinnati Reds. He reported to the Billings (Montana) Mustangs of the Pioneer League on Monday.
The Reds drafted Bowen the past two years, and took him in the 43rd round this year.
Although he hates to see Bowen leave the program, MSU coach John Cohen believes he has the potential to be an excellent professional pitcher.
"He''s had a lot of success pitching against wooden bats, and I think in some respects he might be a better pro player than he was in college at Mississippi State," Cohen said. "He did have success at Mississippi State and is an outstanding young man. He''s really what a student-athlete is supposed to be."
Bowen went 10-11 with a 6.55 ERA with the Bulldogs. He was 1-1 with an 8.03 ERA in four games (three starts) this past season.
Bowen was expected to spend the day taking care of paperwork and having a physical to prepare to pitch for the Mustangs. Several phone messages left on Bowen''s cell phone seeking comment weren''t returned.
Bowen is the second MSU player this year to sign a pro contract. Outfielder Grant Hogue joined the Houston Astros organization in June. Hogue, a 35th-round selection of Houston, is playing for the Greeneville (Tenn.) Astros.
MSU first baseman Connor Powers was the Bulldogs'' highest player drafted in June. The Los Angeles Dodgers picked him in the 11th round.
But Powers, a junior last season, remains unsigned, and Cohen believes he might return for his senior year.
"I''m not 100 percent sure what Connor''s situation is, but we feel optimistic he might be coming back," Cohen said. "We feel like it will be a big boost for us, but you really don''t know until Aug. 15."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.