Mississippi State head baseball coach John Cohen can stop worrying now.
Throughout the last three months, Cohen had been stressing over whether any of his high school signees would sign a professional contract.
When the clock struck midnight on Aug. 16 and the deadline to sign drafted players had passed, Cohen knew his program had escaped any further damage and could prepare to have one of the nation’s best recruiting classes intact.
“Recruiting never stops in this sport,” Cohen said. “What you have to do to evaluate programs in show your success of recruits coming in and then when they leave too.”
Shortstop prospect Taylor Stark of Northwest Rankin High School (42nd round by the Washington Nationals), shortstop Demarcus Henderson of Waynesboro High School (43rd round by the Houston Astros), pitcher Daryl Norris of Fairhope High School (Texas Rangers in the 46th round, and outfielder C.T. Bradford of Pace (Fla.) High School (48th round by the Cleveland Indians) were among four MSU signees that were drafted on the final day of the draft.
“People need to understand the amount of money all four of these kids walked away from to come to Mississippi State because they wanted to go to college,” Cohen said. “I can tell you each of those kids were called earlier than they were drafted.”
In late May, The SDN Bulldog Blog confirmed the starting figure to get Norris, one of the best prep prospects in the state of Alabama, out of his national letter of intent to MSU was $500,000.
“He was never offered a specific six-figure amount, but we were fairly sure what it was going to take to pass on playing SEC baseball at MSU,” Norris’ father Ronnie said after the June draft. “In a way he is kind of relieved that he does not have to make a difficult decision right now because he really likes the coaches at State and did not want to let them down. But at the same time his life long dream is to play major league baseball like most kids in America and he will work toward that in the next 2-3-4 years at MSU.”
Daryl Norris, a 6-foot-1, 216-pounder, says he'd like to get opportunity to pitch as a freshman at Mississippi State but his instant impact could be replacing some of the five everyday players graduating from the Bulldogs batting order in 2010.
"Daryl is one of the nation's top two-way guys," Mississippi State assistant coach Lane Burroughs said. "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."
Cohen mentioned his familiar refrain that his program doesn’t want to rely on freshman especially on the mound but is excited about the versatility of this group.
“What is as important as skill level in this league is experience but what is nice to know is the potential of how many two-way guys that we have in this class right now,” Cohen said. “That’ll make us a more complete team and make our job as coaches easier.”
On June 11, Mississippi State juco signee Corey Dickerson decided to forego his final two years of college eligibility to sign with the Colorado Rockies after the franchise selected him in the eighth round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft this week.
"It was probably the toughest decision of my life to turn down a wonderful scholarship at Mississippi State," Dickerson said. "I just felt like I had to make this decision so I could tell my kids one day I didn't turn down the opportunity to follow my dreams."
It is the second year in a row the Rockies organization has drafted the Meridian Community College prospect as they selected him in the 29th round in 2009. Dickerson hit .459 with 21 home runs and 71 RBIs this past season at Meridian Community College. As a freshman, he batted .381 with 15 homers and 54 RBIs.
After 48 games for the Casper (Wy.) Ghosts of the Pioneer Rookie League, Dickerson is currently hitting .316 with eight home runs with 38 runs batted and a .562 slugging percentage for the Rockies affiliate.
“It’s simply a matter of needs for the team that drafts the kid, the financial situation of the kid and how much the kid wants to go to college,” Cohen said.