STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State put the finishing touches on its 2009 baseball recruiting class this week, announcing the addition of seven high school baseball standouts from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee to MSU's 2009 baseball recruiting class.
The talent-laden group includes third baseman/pitcher James McMahon of Hattiesburg, Miss., pitcher Evan Mitchell from Marietta, Ga., pitcher Ross Mitchell from Smyrna, Tenn., pitcher/third baseman Daryl Norris and middle infielder Garrett Pitts, both from Fairhope, Ala., pitcher/first baseman Wes Rea from Gulfport, Miss., and shortstop Taylor Stark from Flowood, Miss.
"This is another exceptional recruiting class," said second-year Bulldog head coach John Cohen, who inked 13 high school players and two junior college standouts during the November signing period. "We had an outstanding pitching-oriented recruiting class a year ago and have complemented that with a versatile group that includes a great collection of highly-skilled position players."
3B/RHP ● 6-1 ● 200 ● R/R ● Hattiesburg, Miss. (Oak Grove High School)
HIGH SCHOOL: Three-year letterman and two-year starter as an infielder and pitcher at Oak Grove High School ... Coached by Chris McCardle ... Two-time all-district performer ... Paced the Warriors at the plate with a .415 batting average, 42 RBI and five home runs as a junior in 2009 ... Also compiled a 5-3 record with a 2.00 earned run average ... Voted team's offensive MVP ... Selected to play in the 2009 State Games and on the Mississippi team that competed in the Junior Sunbelt Classic in Oklahoma ... Posted a .390 batting average as a sophomore and was a member of Oak Grove's 2007 state championship team... Member of the Dixie Pre-Majors championship team ... Three-year letterman and all-area selection as a quarterback on the OGHS football team ... Member of First Priority, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and an A-B Honor Roll student ... Turned in a three-home run game while competing in summer league baseball with the Mississippi Stars, coached by Harry Porter.
PERSONAL: Born James Howard McMahon III on September 28, 1991 in Hattiesburg, Miss. ... Son of Lisa and Hal McMahon of Hattiesburg, Miss.
McMAHON ON SIGNING WITH MSU: "I am very excited about being a part of Mississippi State baseball. I have always wanted to play for the Bulldogs."
COACH LANE BURROUGHS ON McMAHON: "James is a very physical player that can take over a game with his bat or his arm. He has a true power arm with legitimate power at the plate. He is a multi-talented athlete with great makeup and work ethic and possesses real toughness and an ability to be very successful."
RHP ● 6-1 ● 160 ● R/R ● Marietta, Ga. (Wheeler High School)
HIGH SCHOOL: Three-year member of the Wheeler High School baseball program in Marietta, Ga ... Compiled a .306 batting average with 26 hits and 11 RBI and a 1-2 pitching mark with a 4.02 earned run average during an injury-curtailed junior campaign ... Coached by Dave McDonald ... Second-team All-Region 6 selection in 2009 ... Also tabbed team co-MVP and honored as his team's outstanding defensive player ... Set school mark with 10 putouts in one game ... Also played basketball for two seasons at Wheeler HS ... A member of the WHS Leadership Club and the Future Business Leaders of America ... Played summer league baseball for the Georgia Knights, coached by Bob McDaniel.
PERSONAL: Born Evan Renick Mitchell on March 18, 1992 in Marietta, Ga... Son of Sally and Lynn Mitchell of Marietta, Ga.
MITCHELL ON SIGNING WITH MSU: "I'm really excited about the opportunity to play baseball at such a high level as Mississippi State. I'm looking forward to being challenged as an athlete in the best conference in the nation and as a student."
COACH BUTCH THOMPSON ON MITCHELL: "Evan is young to pitching but caught our eye this summer at a few tournaments in Atlanta, Georgia. He probably falls into the "sleeper" category as a pitcher due to his missing a large portion of his junior season (2009) on the mound with a back strain. Evan possesses a great athletic frame and showed great life and sink to his fastball. His has the ability to consistently throw strikes and command movement. Evan is also slated to be the starting short stop for Wheeler this spring which further demonstrates his athletic potential."
LHP ● 6-0 ● 160 ● L/L ● Smyrna, Tenn. (Blackman High School)
HIGH SCHOOL: Two-year pitching standout at Smyrna's Blackman High School ... Starred on the mound as a junior, posting a 9-1 record with two saves and a 2.48 earned run average ... Registered 87 strikeouts in 77.1 innings ... Coached by Chris Parker ... Set school mark for wins in a season (nine) ... Tabbed as the Daily News Journal Pitcher of the Year Recipient of BHS's David Price Pitcher of the Year Award, named after Blackman HS alum and current major leaguer David Price ... Earned second-team All Mid-State honors as a utility player in 2009 ... Hit .386 with 34 hits and 19 RBI ... Named to the Sunbelt team in 2009 ... Honor student with a 3.8 grade point average ... Played summer league baseball in 2009 with the Middle Tennessee Mudcats, coached by his high school coach, Chris Parker.
PERSONAL: Born Ross carter Mitchell on April 27, 1992 in Nashville, Tenn. ... Son of Gina and Charlie Mitchell of Smyrna, Tenn.
MITCHELL ON SIGNING WITH MSU: "It is a big honor to be asked to play with an SEC team. It is an even bigger honor to play with a team with as much history as MSU. I can't wait to play in front of one of the craziest crowds in the nation ... more cowbell!"
COACH BUTCH THOMPSON ON MITCHELL: "Ross has impressive arm-side action and a deceptive arm stroke. He showed a solid breaking pitch and glimpses of a dominant changeup. Ross is already a proven winner at the high school level. A commitment to hard work in the weight room is going to make a significant impact on his further development."
RHP/3B ● 6-1 ● 210 ● R/R ● Fairhope, Ala. (Fairhope High School)
HIGH SCHOOL: Four-year varsity letterman and standout pitcher/infielder at Fairhope (Ala.) High School ... Earned Alabama Class 6A All-State and Louisville Slugger High School All-American honors in 2009 after compiling an 8-3 record with a save and a 1.25 earned run average ... Coached by Stu Fuller ... Registered 90 strikeouts in 61 innings ... Alabama Sports Writers and Birmingham News All-State pick and Mobile Press Register Deadly Diamond All-Metro Team and Player of the Year selection ... Hit a team-leading .487 with 57 hits, 50 RBI and 13 home runs ... Earned second-team all-state honors as a sophomore after posting a team-best .410 batting average with 27 RBI and seven home runs ... On the mound recorded a 3-3 worksheet with two saves, an 0.94 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched ... Varsity starter in the eighth and ninth grades ... Participant in the 2009 East Coast Professional Showcase in Lakeland, Fla. ... Four-time all-county selection after leading the Pirates in hitting each season ... Also a four-year regular in football ... Selected to play in the Alabama-Mississippi High School All-Star Football game ... Member of the National Honor Society.
PERSONAL: Born Daryl Gordon Norris on June 12, 1991 in Mobile, Ala. ... Son of Charlotte and Ronnie Norris of Fairhope, Ala.
NORRIS ON SIGNING WITH MSU: "I am very excited about playing baseball at MSU. I think I an going to be getting there at the right time. Coach Cohen and his assistants are recruiting the best players to get the job done right, and I can't wait to be surrounded with all the talent coming to Mississippi State."
COACH LANE BURROUGHS ON NORRIS: "Daryl is one of the nation's top two-way guys. He has tremendous skill set at the plate and on the mound and has a chance to make an immediate impact in the SEC on the mound and with his bat. Daryl has great body control and exceptional makeup and brings with him outstanding maturity and work ethic."
SS/C ● 5-11 ● 175 ● R/R ● Fairhope, Ala. (Fairhope High School)
HIGH SCHOOL: Three-year starting middle infielder at Fairhope (Ala.) High School ... Leadoff hitter who hit .405 with 42 RBI and 25 extra-base hits ... Set the FHS single-season mark with 62 hits in 2009 ... Coached by Stu Fuller ... Earned his second all-county designation ... Compiled a .964 fielding percentage ... Hit .302 with nine stolen bases and was honored as his team's best defensive player as a sophomore in 2008 ... Hit .357 as a freshman in 2007, becoming one of only two freshmen to ever start at shortstop at FHS ... Played summer league baseball with the Bama Bombers ... Member of the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Future Business Leaders of America ... Began his baseball career in Starkville youth leagues before his family moved to Fairhope.
PERSONAL: Born Michael Garrett Pitts on October 9, 1991 in Florence, Ala. ... Son of Stephanie and Mike Pitts of Fairhope, Ala. ... Grandson of former Bulldog basketball great Jim Ashmore.
PITTS ON SIGNING WITH MSU: "I've been a Bulldog all my life and after my first recruiting visit I knew MSU is where I wanted to play. It's like a dream come true and I'm looking forward to coming back to Starkville."
COACH LANE BURROUGHS ON PITTS: "Garrett is a blue-collar player with a motor that never stops. He has a great knowledge of the game and sincere passion for the game and for Mississippi State. Garrett is a team guy that loves to compete and the potential to excel at many different spots on the field. He brings a tough, hard-nosed approach to the field everyday."
RHP/1B ● 6-5 ● 275 ● R/R ● Gulfport, Miss. (Harrison Central High School)
HIGH SCHOOL: Two-sport all-state standout at Gulfport's Harrison Central High School ... Led the HCHS Rebels with a .512 batting average, 36 RBI and six home runs en route to second-team all-state plaudits as a junior in 2009 ... Also took the hill and compiled a 6-2 record with two saves and a 1.30 earned run average ... Team MVP for '09 ... Named to the all-coast and all-district team as a junior ... Coached by former Bulldog assistant Pat Olmi ... Paced the Rebels with a .410 batting average, 42 RBI and nine home runs and notched a 5-1 pitching record en route to earning all-district, all-south Mississippi and team offensive MVP honors as a sophomore in 2007 ... All-state honoree and rated among the nation's top offensive line prospects in football ... Starred at offensive guard ... Selected to play in the Mississippi/Alabama High School All-Star football game ... Member of the National Honor Society and recipient of the HCHS football academic award.
PERSONAL: Born Wesley John Rea on October 3, 1991 in Gulfport, Miss. ... Son of Theresa and John Rea of Gulfport, Miss.
REA ON SIGNING WITH MSU: "I feel welcome in Starkville already. It feels like home. And it feels great to finally ink and officially become a Bulldog!"
COACH BUTCH THOMPSON ON REA: "Wes had the opportunity to play multiple sports at the SEC level and decided early in the process that he wanted to play baseball at Mississippi State. He is as physical as you will see at the plate and on the mound and has a power arm and competitive slider. His frame definitely offers deception and a different look for our pitching staff. Wes also possesses an infectious personality that will have a positive influence on the team."
SS ● 6-0 ● 180 ● R/R ● Flowood, Miss. (Northwest Rankin High School)
HIGH SCHOOL: Two-year baseball standout as a middle infielder at Northwest Rankin High School ... Earned all-district and district MVP honors in 2009 after posting a .348 batting average with 23 RBI and 11 extra-base hits ... Also pilfered 11 bases in 13 attempts ... Earned the NRHS best pitcher award after compiling a 6-2 record with eight saves and a 2.71 earned run average ... Recorded 57 strikeouts in 49 innings ... Coached by Jeff McClaskey ... Hit .385 and was voted team's most improved player as a sophomore in 2008 ... Hit a career-best .480, posted a 4-0 pitching record with three saves and a 1.33 ERA, and stole 12 bases as a freshman in 2007 ... Elected team captain as a freshman ... Member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Future Business Leaders of America and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) ... MVP of Junior Olympics Baseball Tournament in Millington, Tenn., where he tossed a one-hitter in the title game.
PERSONAL: Born Taylor Blythe Stark on October 7, 1991 in Jackson, Miss. ... Son of Michele and Paul Stark of Flowood, Miss.
REA ON SIGNING WITH MSU: "It's a lifelong dream for me. My family originated form Starkville, and my brother and grandmother are graduates of Mississippi State. I'm excited about the opportunity to work with State's great coaching staff."
COACH LANE BURROUGHS ON STARK: "Taylor came on to the scene late last spring with obvious tools and tremendous athleticism. He possesses great speed and outstanding arm strength, loves to compete and attacks the game. He's a very confident young man with a desire to excel and be the best he can be, and he's versatile enough to play numerous positions."