MSU baseball update: Rooker returning, Kruger signs professionally


Ben Wait



STARKVILLE -- Of the school-record 11 Mississippi State baseball players taken in June's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Brent Rooker will be the only one returning to school.


Drafted in the 38th round by the Minnesota Twins, the outfielder tweeted Friday that he was returning to MSU.


"Grateful to the Minnesota Twins for the opportunity but we've got some unfinished business in Starkville. Can't wait to get back to work!" Rooker tweeted.



Rooker hit .324 with seven home runs, 14 doubles and 44 RBIs as a redshirt sophomore this past season.


Rooker and Jake Mangum were named Cape Cod League all-stars Saturday.


With the deadline Friday, catcher Jack Kruger signed with Los Angeles Angels. He signed for $395,000 according to's Jim Callis. The Calabasas, California, native was taken in the 20th round.


Kruger began the summer playing for the California Collegiate League and it looked like he was going to return to school.


"I have officially signed with the Angles. Thank you MSU friends, family, and fans for an incredible year. God is good. #hailstate," Kruger tweeted.


Kruger hit .358 with 7 home runs, 17 doubles and 38 RBIs in his only season with the Bulldogs.


Dakota Hudson (St. Louis Cardinals), Reid Humphreys (Colorado Rockies), Daniel Brown (Milwaukee Brewers), Jacob Robson (Detroit Tigers), Zac Houston (Tigers), Nathaniel Lowe (Tampa Bay Rays), Gavin Collins (Cleveland Indians), Vance Tatum (Kansas City Royals) and Austin Sexton (Cardinals) have already signed professional contracts. Right-handed pitcher Paul Young went undrafted but he signed a free agent deal with the Royals.


n Elsewhere in the Southeastern Conference, Alabama starting pitcher Nick Eicholtz has chosen to return for the 2017 season. Eicholtz, who was selected in the 13th round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft last month, will be a senior this year and will delay beginning his professional career.


"We are excited to get the great news that Nick is returning for his senior year here at Alabama," Alabama coach Greg Goff said. "He will be one of the best arms in our league during the 2017 season. For a young man to put off his childhood dreams to come back and lead our team and pitching staff says a lot about his character and his experience at the Capstone thus far."


"I would like to thank the Miami Marlins organization for giving me the opportunity to achieve my dream," said Eicholtz. "After much thought and consideration, I have decided to return to The University of Alabama for my senior season. In doing this, I will have the opportunity to grow, not only as a player but also as a person. I am looking forward to being an instrumental part of the 2016-17 roster and helping lead this team through what will hopefully be a memorable year."


Eicholtz was selected by the Miami Marlins in draft thanks to a three-year career at the Capstone in which he went 10-6 with a 2.91 ERA (46 ER/142.1 IP) and limited the opposition to a .219 average against. He has 39 total appearances to his name, making 26 starts, and has struck out 103 batters. Eicholtz has improved on his numbers each season at Alabama and provided the Crimson Tide with one of the most reliable arms in the Southeastern Conference a season ago.


Alabama's Sunday starter during the 2016 campaign, Eicholtz set career-highs in nearly every pitching metric, finishing with a team-low 2.30 ERA (17 ER/66.2 IP) across his 12 starts, a total that ranked third among all SEC starters. He limited opposing hitters to a .227 average and recorded 38 strikeouts in the process. In conference play, the righty allowed only 15 earned runs across his 51.0 innings of work for a 2.65 ERA that ranked seventh against SEC opponents, as he did not allow more than one earned run in seven of his nine conference starts.


Information from an Alabama media relations report was included in this story.


Follow Dispatch sports writer Ben Wait on Twitter @bcwait



Ben Wait reports on Mississippi State University sports for The Dispatch.


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