Watch Mississippi State baseball switch-pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje
Mississippi State baseball freshman Jurrangelo Cijntje stole the show during the team’s scrimmage Monday by showing his skills as a switch-pitcher.
Stefan Krajisnik, Mississippi Clarion Ledger
STARKVILLE — The expectations for Mississippi State baseball entering the 2024 season are as low as the program has seen. The Bulldogs are projected to finish last in the SEC West across various publications and could be headed toward a third straight year with no postseason appearance.
However, coach Chris Lemonis’ offseason suggests MSU could exceed the lowly expectations.
The Bulldogs hired Justin Parker away from South Carolina to serve as the program’s pitching coach. After back-to-back years with the conference’s worst ERA, MSU parted ways with Scott Foxhall and replaced him with Parker – who helped guide the Gamecocks to the SEC’s second-best ERA last season.
Offensively, Mississippi State returns plenty of its production, highlighted by slugging first baseman Hunter Hines and All-American outfielder Dakota Jordan.
Throughout its struggles, MSU has continued to collect among the nation’s best recruiting classes. With talent still on the roster, could Mississippi State turn its fortunes around this year? Here are three bold predictions that suggest the answer is yes.
Mississippi State’s pitching will rank in the top half of the SEC
Parker got a first-hand look at Mississippi State’s pitching when South Carolina came to Dudy Noble Field for a series last season. Since being hired by the Bulldogs, Parker has frequently praised the potential he saw from MSU’s staff despite allowing nearly eight runs per game in the series.
With Parker’s track record, that talent should result in improved production this season. Switch-pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje should take a step forward as a sophomore in the starting rotation. The return of Brooks Auger and Stone Simmons should help the bullpen. Nate Dohm, who praised Parker’s impact on his mechanics, and Colby Holcombe should turn flashes from last season into consistent play.
Even an ERA around five should be enough to finish seventh in the SEC.
Hunter Hines will be All-SEC
Hines spent his first two seasons primarily as MSU’s designated hitter, but as he looks to improve his professional prospects, his play at first base will be crucial. If he can do enough defensively to stay at the position, Hines will have the offense to make a case for All-SEC honors.
Florida’s Jac Caglianone, who was the preseason first-team pick and a projected first-round MLB Draft selection, will be hard to beat out. However, Hines can surpass Georgia’s Charlie Condon as the second-team option.
In his career, Hines is hitting .299 and averages 19 home runs per season.
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Mississippi State will make an NCAA Regional
MSU’s schedule paves a path back to the NCAA Tournament. Outside of SEC play, Mississippi State faces just one power conference opponent – a midweek contest against Ole Miss that doesn’t count toward conference standings. The Bulldogs should be able to stack wins there.
The road SEC slate is tough, with trips to Texas A&M, Florida, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Arkansas. However, the home conference schedule – LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and Missouri − is a chance for MSU to work its way up the SEC standings.
Stefan Krajisnik is the Mississippi State beat writer for the Clarion Ledger. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, @skrajisnik3.