May 3, 2013 8:51:10 AM
STARKVILLE -- The state of Mississippi showed its depth of college baseball talent Thursday.
Mississippi State University junior outfielder Hunter Renfroe, the University of Mississippi's junior catcher Stuart Turner and junior pitcher Bobby Wahl, and the University of Southern Mississippi's senior pitcher Andrew Pierce were named to the 60-player midseason watch list for the 2013 Golden Spikes Award, USA Baseball announced.
Renfroe leads the Southeastern Conference with a .403 batting average, 14 home runs, and a .799 slugging percentage. Twenty-nine of his 60 hits have gone for extra bases, and he has driven in a team-best 48 runs, also among the leaders in the SEC.
"We're talking about a young man that knows who he is, knows what his weaknesses are, and is finally comfortable every single time he goes to the plate," MSU coach John Cohen said. "When all those things line up, you start to see the kinds of things he's doing in the best league in America, the Southeastern Conference."
Renfroe, who is a high 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft prospect, hit .364 with the Bethesda (Md.) Big Train and set Cal Ripken College Baseball League marks with 19 home runs and 57 RBIs. He also was named the top prospect in the Cal Ripken League by Perfect Game scouting. He has replicated those numbers this season by having a better understanding of how pitchers got him out in his first two seasons.
"It's about learning patience because the tools were always there and people would question when I'd say Hunter Renfroe is maybe the most talented athlete I've ever coached at Mississippi State," Cohen said. "He's just one of those kids that if he goes 0-for-3 with three punch outs he'll still be in the lineup the next day. You can't treat every kid like that but with him, it's the right thing to do."
In 1985, MSU first baseman Will Clark became the first MSU player and the second SEC athlete to receive the award presented to college baseball's player of the year. Clark spoke to the Bulldogs this week as they prepared for a the three-game series against the University of Alabama. Game one of the series kicks off at 6:04 tonight (ESPNU).
Turner leads the Rebels with a .389 batting average, five home runs, and 45 RBIs. He is in the top 10 in the SEC in several offensive categories, and is second in the league in doubles (14) and has 22 multiple-hit games and 14 multiple-RBI games this season. He also has been a defensive stalwart throwing out attempted base stealers at a 50-percent clip (19 of 38 runners), the most efficient rate of all starting catchers in the SEC.
Wahl (8-0, 1.22 ERA) anchors the weekend rotation for the Rebels. In his three no decisions, the right-hander has left the game with the Rebels leading or tied in each instance, including games against No. 2 Vanderbilt University and No. 23 University of Kentucky. He threw his first complete-game, a shutout at the University of Tennessee, which was one of three on the year. He also combined for shutouts of Texas Christian University and the University of Alabama.
Pierce is a Conference USA-leading 9-1 in 11 starts. He has three complete games, including two in his last three starts. He holds a 2.13 ERA, which is second on the team and sixth in C-USA. He is also sixth in opponent batting average, as foes are hitting at just a .206 clip. Pierce leads C-USA in innings pitched (84 2/3). He has gone at least 6 2/3 innings in each start this season. He also is fourth in the league with 77 strikeouts.
Additions to the watch list can be made before it is pared to 30 semifinalists May 28 and three finalists June 4. The 2013 Golden Spikes Award recipient, which is similar to college baseball's version of the Heisman Trophy, will be announced July 19 on MLB Network.
2. Walters column: Prep football season coming closer LOCAL COLUMNS