MSU pitcher and Eupora native Devin Jones, left, was drafted in the ninth round by the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Five players with ties to the Mississippi State baseball program were selected in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft.
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Three members of the current roster heading to Florida this weekend to play in the Super Regional round heard their name called by professional organizations and two signees were taken by clubs as well Tuesday.
Devin Jones was selected in ninth round, 275th overall, of the 2011 Major League Draft by the Baltimore Orioles organization.
In a moment he called "more of a relief," Jones was told days before the draft that he would be taken in rounds 4-10 Tuesday and the Baltimore franchise kept their promise after scouting the right-hander constantly throughout the 2011 college season.
"It makes me feel comfortable with them as an organization that they talked to me a lot and did what they said they would do," Jones said. "Now that this is over, I can focus on getting to the College Worlds Series in Omaha."
Jones mentioned to the Starkville Daily News Monday that he felt like if he went in the top 10 rounds of the draft Tuesday that it would be Baltimore to take him. The Orioles are managed by MLB veteran and former MSU standout Buck Showalter.
Jones mentioned that the decision to come back for his senior season at Mississippi State or sign with Baltimore will be "the toughest decision I've ever had to make in my life" but one he's not going to think about while he's preparing for the Gainesville Super Regional this weekend at Florida.
"It is crazy how this whole deal works because there's a lot of factors that go into it especially if we make the College World Series because there's no doubt how good this team could be next year," Jones said. "I'm going to think about signing bonuses and lots of money, which is kinda not what I'm used to."
Jones, who opened the 2011 season as the MSU Opening Day starter, is 2-5 with a 4.45 earned run average in his new role as one of the Bulldogs top middle relievers out of the bullpen.
Brandon Woodruff, a signee from Wheeler (Miss.) High School in the 2011 class, was the highest MSU-related prospect chosen Tuesday when he was selected in the fifth round by the Texas Rangers but immediately started dropping subtle hints that he may be inclined to decline a potential six-figure dollar offer to attend Mississippi State.
"Obviously it's going to take a lot (of money) to get what I want," Woodruff said.
Woodruff, a right-handed power pitcher and athletic outfielder, wouldn't comment on specific dollar amount but said he and his father will sit down soon and come up with a number that will buy him out his signed National Letter-of-Intent.
"I've always wanted to play at Mississippi State since I was a little kid and right now my head is thinking I really would love to play there," Woodruff said. "If I get exactly what I want, it would be hard to turn that down but again â€“ it's got to be a lot."
The left-handed batter hit .618, with three home runs as a high school senior and had three starts on the mound this year that included 10, 14 and 15-strikeout performances.
"Brandon is a very, very talented kid that really hasn't pitched all that much so you could make the argument that three years of pitching in the Southeastern Conference would help him," Cohen said. "He really wants to be a part of what's going on here and we would love to have him. Every family situation is different and we hope his best case scenario has him coming to MSU."
St. Stanislaus left-handed pitcher Jacob Lindgren, another MSU 2011 signee, was drafted in the 12th-round by the Chicago Cubs two years after he compiled a compiled a 6-2 record and a staff-leading 1.45 ERA as a junior on the Rockachaw's 2010 Class 4A state championship team while registering 69 strikeouts in 43.1 innings and held opponents to a .141 batting average. He also starred at the plate, hitting .407 with 33 hits, 12 extra-base hits, 30 RBI and a .505 on-base percentage and compiled a .991 fielding percentage.
"The guy that scouted and recommended drafting him is one of the best and most honest scouts in the entire country," Cohen said. "I think we're in a good position with Lindgren too but when you're dealing with honest folks like that, it makes life so much easier."
The best case scenario happened today for pair of senior roommates Tuesday when MSU infielders Nick Vickerson and Jarrod Parks were selected during day two of the draft.
Vickerson, who the Rangers requested be listed as a shortstop in their organization, was drafted in the 20th round (624th overall) after hitting .314 with the seven home runs with 31 RBIs and a team-leading 25 stolen bases.
"I hadn't heard anything at all besides talking with some guys here and there," Vickerson said earlier in the day. "I'll just be happy to get a chance."
Vickerson, a transfer from Meridian Community College and Florida State, had five RBIs in his last four games including hitting in the cleanup role during the Atlanta Regional last weekend.
"He steal bases at the professional baseball level and plays anywhere on the field because he's so versatile," Cohen said. "That's a great path for a lot of young guys."
Parks was almost shocked to see his name flash in front of his computer and didn't believe it was him at first.
Parks was selected in the 24th round, 735th overall, by the Los Angeles Angels.
"I saw it and it said Mississippi State, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds and then it registered," Parks said. "My first thought was hey, that's me."
Parks was the 2011 regular season batting champion in the Southeastern Conference while leading Mississippi State with a .365 batting average and a league-leading .513 on-base percentage.
The major red flag for Parks was his major back injury that could've left potentially damaged goods as a prospect in the eyes of scouts and having the Madison native using his business administration degree before he wants to do so.
"My second thought was â€“ hey, I don't have to go get a big boy job just yet," Parks said. "I didn't think I would be drafted today and just feel like a thousand pounds has been taken off me."
A starter in 59 of MSUâ€™s 60 games, the former Madison Central High School and Meridian (Miss.) Community College standout also leads the club with 73 hits, 36 RBI, 43 walks and a single-season school-record 20 HBPs. He sports a .346 career batting average in 78 career games played.
"There's a place for guys in professional baseball like Jarrod Parks who understand the grind of the season and are really, really tough kids," Cohen said. "He will understand that process and he's getting rewarded for the long haul of a solid season."