Evaluating how the 2010 MLB Draft could change MSU’s roster next year?

While doing our homework before the beginning of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft, The SDN Bulldog Blog chatted back and forth with Baseball America editor John Manuel about prospects that could affect directly the looks of the 2011 Mississippi State baseball roster.

Note: I’ll be running an extensive front-page feature preview in Sunday’s edition of the Starkville Daily News on the MSU prospects that should be watched over during the 2010 MLB draft process starting Monday.

In his season-ending media gathering last week, MSU head coach John Cohen said he was concerned about 3-4 members of the 2010 recruiting class and after talking with multiple sources including BA’s Manuel, it seems unlikely they will lose more than one – Meridian Community College’s Corey Dickerson.


Meridian CC outfielder Corey Dickerson


Dickerson, a 21-year-old outfielder, was a two-time junior-college All-American selection and was drafted in 2009 in the 29th round by the Colorado Rockies after hitting .381 with 54 runs batted in and 15 home runs.

“The kid can flat out hit,” Meridian Community College head coach Chris Rose said. “He’s probably the best hitter I’ve ever coached. I truly believe he’ll be a big leaguer if he can keep that passion about his craft.”

Manuel commented to The SDN Bulldog Blog that the 2010 draft talent is a little weaker than in most years so Dickerson’s ability at the plate could result in a early draft selection for him making him unlikely to make it to the Starkville campus for fall baseball.

“Dickerson also seems likely to sign according to our information,” Manuel said. “(His) body and bat stand out in a thin year.”

As we previously reported here, Fairhope (AL) High School infielder/pitcher Daryl Norris will be expecting professional teams to at least put $500,000 bonus offer to buy his services away from his signed letter of intent to Mississippi State. Manuel said that dual talents like Norris (meaning his ability to hit and pitch at the major college level) usually result in the prospect going to college because he’ll get the opportunity to do both in that program instead of being pigeon-holed to a single position in a major league organizational farm system.

The two current members of the 2010 MSU roster with eligibility left that could receive significant interest are seniors-to-be Jaron Shepherd and Nick Vickerson.


Mississippi State outfielder Jaron Shepherd


Three years ago, Shepherd turned down the money offered as a 17th-round selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of Kilgore [TX]  High School and after a single season at Navarro [TX] Community College was a 44-round selection by the Cincinnati Reds last year.

Last month Cohen suggested to The SDN Bulldog Blog his concern over losing Shepherd because 2010 would be the third year he’s been drafted and if he came back from his final year at MSU he would lose his bargaining power with professional clubs.

Shepherd hit .263 with four stolen bases in Southeastern Conference play in 2010.

“Shepherd will go pretty (high), chance for first 10 rounds, because of the speed (element),” Manuel said.


Mississippi State infielder Nick Vickerson


, a 6-foot and 205-pound infielder, hit .333 in the leadoff spot against SEC play this season after being a star shortstop at Shelton State Community College in Shelton, Ala. Vickerson was signed by Florida State out of Hillcrest Tuscaloosa (Ala.) High School.

“He’s a guy that will eventually get a chance to be a professional baseball player whether it’s this year or next year is up to him,” Shelton State head coach Bobby Sprowl said.

Finally, it seems according to scouting services, that senior first baseman Connor Powers made the most out of his decision to come back for his final season at Mississippi State after being drafted by the 11th-round by the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Mississippi State first baseman Connor Powers


Powers led Mississippi State with a .379 batting average, 16 home runs, 68 runs batted in, a .696 slugging percentage and a .483 on-base percentage.

When The SDN Bulldog Blog asked Manuel his opinion if Powers lost appeal by coming back to Starkville, he absolutely disagreed saying that the first baseman accomplished some of his preseason goals by becoming a more complete hitter in his final season.

“No, I think he’ll go 6-to-10 round range to a team looking to save on a college senior,” Manuel said. “He’s improved in several ways this year according to the evaluators I talked to — better plate discipline and a little better defense at (his position).”

In the season-ending media meeting, Powers said he will continue to workout in the batting cage throughout this week and possibly hit for professional scouts if asked before the draft.

All of the SDN Bulldog Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.


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