FSNextTV: Freshman OF Brent Rooker Interview

FSNextTV: Freshman OF Brent Rooker Interview

FSNextTV: Mississippi State freshman power-hitting outfielder Brent Rooker talks one-on-one interview with Gene's Page.

You are considered a power-hitter. I have two examples - 1) you hit six home runs at the end of the season and 2) you were selected to hit in the Power Showcase in Miami, Florida. Tell me more about the power you showed at the end of the season.
"I actually made a few adjustments in my swing. I had been hitting for average and knocking in RBIs all year but I made a slight change going into our playoffs and got more into my legs during my load. I think that brought a little pop, gap-to-gap power in my swing. In my last six games - we ended up winning the state championship - I hit six home runs, three of which were in our elimination game. I made a few small adjustments and I think that really helped."

And that wasn't just pull power where the balls went out to left field, was it?
"No sir. Of those six home runs, I hit one to right field, three to center and two to left."

Then you were invited to play in the Power Showcase in Miami during the month of December, 2012. How did you get selected to hit in it?
"Brian Dominico is in charge of that. And he contacted my high school coach, Ryan Porter. Coach Porter called me about it and I said absolutely, I would love to do that. I went down there and had a great experience."

And you did really well hitting the ball. If you hadn't hit one of your home runs foul you would have been in the finals.
"Yes sir, I was one home run from being in the final round. I ended up hitting four home runs and I ended up doing well in the showcase also. I had a really good time."

And you were competing against the top players in the nation weren't you? What was it like being in the home run showcase going against the top power hitters in the nation?
"It was a big honor, obviously, being with such players of that caliber. I still talk to some of the players who were drafted in the top 15 rounds and signed and are now playing pro ball. One of the cool things about the showcase is there weren't players just from the United States but from other countries as well. There were guys from Australia, Puerto Rico, Canada and from all over the world. Just to meet baseball players who shared the same interest as you but are from other cultures and from other backgrounds than you was really cool. One of the guys that I met was from Australia. His name was Luke and he was a first baseman. We ended up talking and I stay in contact with him a little bit."

Describe you game both offensively and defensively.
"Offensively, I have shown power. And this summer I have worked hard to try and get bigger and stronger to increase that power that I do have. But my goal as an offensive player is to be as heady as possible and pick up tendencies of pitchers, try to be a student of the game. I want to have a mental advantage when I step in the box, so that I'm not just relying on physical tools or my swing. I sometimes feel that I know what the pitcher is going to throw to me (because) I have a mental advantage over the pitcher."

And your physical tools is not just your power. You also have a 35 to 36 inch vertical leap and have run the forty-yard dash in a 4.56. You are a well-rounded, gifted athlete.
"Yes sir, I played first base in high school but I'm moving to the outfield here. I have been playing in the outfield during the 4-on-1 stuff. I hope the athletic ability that I do have will make the transition easier."

I saw you play in the outfield when you were playing summer ball in Marietta, GA. Do you feel comfortable in the outfield?
"I do. I'm getting a lot better. Coach Ming (Nick Mingione) has been great. I came in a little raw, maybe rusty because I hadn't played it a lot. But I can tell in 4-on-1s that I am getting a lot better at it."

Where do you play in the outfield, left, center or right?
"At my high school our center fielder broke his leg so I played center field for the first week until we could get someone else out there. During the summer for my summer team I played some left and some center and even a little in right. So, I've played a little of them all, trying to get a feel for each one of them."

Speaking of 4-on-1s, are you showing the power here that you showed in high school?
"Before the renovations started, we were hitting on the field and I was consistently hitting home runs in BP. I have always had power but I worked really hard this summer and I think my power has gotten a lot easier so that I don't have to put so much effort into it when I swing. I now take more of a fluid swing and still have enough power to get it out (of the park)."

Switching over to recruiting, I know you committed early but who showed interest in you prior to you committing to Mississippi State?
"Before I committed I talked to Tennessee, Memphis, and Samford. I talked to Ole Miss a little. I also talked to Southern Miss and UAB. I also talked to Arkansas State and a few other schools around my area. Mississippi State offered me first."

When did Mississippi State offer?
"(Former MSU assistant) Coach (Lane) Burroughs came to my high school games before he left and he called me and said he wanted me to come down for a visit and they were going to make me an offer. I came down two weeks later and talked to Coach Cohen. I think it was a month and a half after that that I realized this was where I wanted to be because it was the perfect fit for me. So, I committed the summer before my senior year."

Why did you think that Mississippi State was the place for you?
"One, and everybody says this, but it's the truth - the atmosphere, Left Field Lounge. You can come here for a regional and there are 13,000 people. Everyone is a Mississippi State baseball fan here. A lot of SEC schools are football schools that just happen to have baseball programs. This is a school that centers around the baseball program. It is just a baseball atmosphere here. Secondly, it is the coaches and the relationships that I have developed with them so quickly. They were so personable and wanted to help me through my recruiting process. And that was huge to me."

Behind you is a trophy that has National Finalist on it. I guess you want to help change that from National Finalist to National Champion?
"Yes sir, absolutely. My goal this fall is to find where I fit in on this team, find my role and do whatever it takes, whether it is me sitting on the bench or me playing, to help Mississippi State win a national championship. That is my goal, that is why I chose Mississippi State, to bring the gold trophy back to Mississippi State, back to Starkville."

Now that you are here, has it been everything you hoped it would be?
"Absolutely. I am absolutely loving it. I love all the guys on the team. I love everything about school. After talking to some guys who played SEC ball I was a little intimidated with the work and the time it consumes - and all of that is true because it is hard work - but the coaches, the players, the atmosphere around it makes every bit of it enjoyable. And working as a team, knowing everybody has the same goal, which is to get back to Omaha and win a national championship, really humbles you and makes you work (hard) for something bigger than yourself."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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