Baseball career of Luke Alexander over at MSU

Luke Alexander

Staff Writer

Luke Alexander’s Mississippi State baseball career is over.

MSU head coach Chris Lemonis confirmed on Friday that Alexander is still in school, but he is no longer a part of the Bulldog baseball team.

“His eligibility is over,” Lemonis said of Alexander. “It’s really tough for him, but his eligibility is over at this point.”

Alexander would have been a senior for MSU in 2019. The reason his senior year of eligibility has been taken away hasn’t been made known.

The shortstop, who started every game last season, provided several clutch hits for State in 2018 including a pair of walk-off hits against Ole Miss and one in the opening game of MSU’s College World Series run. However Lemonis noted back in July that Alexander might not be back for the coming year.

“We’re working through some things right now,” Lemonis said of Alexander then. “I can’t really comment too much on that. We’re just trying to work on some things in that area.”

Alexander hit .221 last season. He had a team-leading 49 RBI to go along with six home runs.

Hancock still suspended

MSU freshman catcher Luke Hancock remains indefinitely suspended following his arrest on a domestic violence charge two weeks ago.

“We’re waiting to see how everything goes,” Lemonis said.

Hancock was arrested on Sept. 2. He’s a former standout at Houston High School where he was an All-State performer. MSU released a statement on Hancock the day following his arrest.

“We are aware of the incident involving Luke Hancock,” the statement read. “He is suspended indefinitely as we continue to gather more information.”

Carter not expected to join

Carter Stewart, the Mississippi State signee and pitcher that was taken eighth overall in the Major League Baseball Draft before not inking with the Atlanta Braves, isn’t expected to join MSU anytime soon, if at all.

“He has not made a final decision on his career and I think he’s probably still going through some things,” Lemonis said of Stewart. “I don’t think he’s at a junior college. He’s not here, so he’s still working through some things through probably Major League Baseball.”

Self adding to arsenal

Mississippi State pitcher Riley Self has always been known for relying almost exclusively on his cutter. Now, he’s adding to his repertoire.

Self said Friday that he’s added a two-seam fastball and changeup to his arsenal of pitches. He’s been trying to perfect them over the summer and now in fall workouts.

“Just working on something that can go another way so (hitters) can’t sit on (just the cutter),” Self said.

Mangum with pop

MSU centerfielder Jake Mangum chose to return for his senior season in Starkville, in part, because he hopes to add more power to his game. It appears he’s made strides towards that.

Mangum, who has just four career homers over his first three seasons at MSU, has been impressing this fall with his pop. He started the fall with a homer in his very first at-bat. He hopes more will come.

“Somebody like Jake is always probably working on something,” Lemonis said. “He’s a master at what he does and is one of the best hitters in the country.”

Gordon hitting again

Cole Gordon, who was a critical piece of Mississippi State’s bullpen down the stretch this year, is back taking swings at the plate after a season of being exclusively a pitcher. Gordon previously played first base and was a designated hitter for the Bulldogs earlier in his career.

Lemonis said he anticipates using Gordon as a DH and pinch hitter this coming season, but he’ll also be a key piece of State’s pitching staff still.

“He hit a home run (Thursday),” Lemonis said of Gordon. “(Hitting) was one of the things with him coming back we wanted to take a look at. You watch him take batting practice and he’s one of the more impressive guys we have, but I need him at the back end of that bullpen too, so hopefully we don’t sacrifice any of that.”

Halter impressing

Several newcomers have been impressing their teammates and coaches this fall, but junior college transfer Gunner Halter might be catching more eyes than anyone.

Halter is competing for a starting role in State’s infield. It’s a spot that has a few openings with Alexander no longer with the program and former second baseman Hunter Stovall now playing professional baseball.

MSU outfielder Elijah MacNamee thinks Halter almost assuredly will take over somewhere on the diamond.

“He’s incredible,” MacNamee said of Halter. “He has incredible power and he has an absolute cannon for an arm.

“He’s fighting for short with (Jordan Westburg), but I think no matter what, he’ll play short, second or third.”