STARKVILLE — As is the case every year, Mississippi State baseball’s offseason relies heavily on the MLB Draft. Coming off another season with no postseason play, coach Chris Lemonis has himself a busy summer.
He’s in need of a pitching coach. The transfer portal is set to open soon. He has players, from his current roster and from high school signees, waiting to see whether they’ll be in Starkville or the minor leagues.
Last year, MSU had seven players drafted. Six, with pitcher KC Hunt excluded, did not return to campus. The Bulldogs also saw three high school commits selected, and only switch pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje came to Starkville from that group.
The 2023 MLB Draft takes place July 9-11. Here’s a look at which Mississippi State players or signees could hear their names called.
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Houck is one of two high school shortstops Mississippi State is hoping to get to campus. However, that’ll likely require a big slip in the draft for Houck.
The Georgia native is ranked as the No. 18 prospects by MLB.com. If that’s where he lands in the draft, it would mark the second straight year MSU lost a high school shortstop with Jett Williams going 14th overall last year.
Ledbetter spent one season at MSU after transferring from Samford. It proved to be a worthwhile move for both sides.
Ledbetter, a left-handed hitting outfielder, hit .320 with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs. He’s listed as the No. 47 prospect by MLB.com and No. 24 by FanGraphs Baseball.
Smith is the top outfielder commit for Mississippi State, and his MLB stock shows why. The Lucas, Texas, native is the No. 84 prospects on MLB.com.
With Houck likely headed to the MLB, Cupp’s draft result will be important for Mississippi State. Cupp is a shortstop out of Cedartown, Georgia, who is listed as the No. 103 prospects by MLB.com.
With second baseman Amani Larry potentially going pro, a starting spot could await Cupp in Starkville. David Mershon would likely move from shortstop to second base if Cupp joins the Bulldogs. Otherwise, MSU could be searching for a middle infielder in the portal.
Stevens isn’t listed among the top 150 prospects by MLB.com, which could be a good sign for MSU. However, the Elk Grove, California, native offers plenty of what MLB scouts look for.
Stevens is a left-handed first baseman at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds.
Other Mississippi State baseball prospects to watch
MSU has a handful of players who could go in the later rounds, giving them a decision to make regarding what to do about their future.
Pitchers Cade Smith and Aaron Nixon could return for their senior seasons. Hunt could use his extra COVID-19 season, but after going in the 12th round last year, he’s likely not passing on a second MLB opportunity.
Larry could be a pivotal returner if Cupp and Houck don’t make it to campus. Outfielder Kellum Clark is likely gone after proving he can hit better than .300 in SEC play.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Mississippi State baseball: 2023 MLB Draft for Bulldogs, Colin Houck