East Mississippi Community College head baseball coach Chris Rose and assistant baseball coach Jarrod Parks talk about Mississippi State's newest commitment, EMCC sophomore LHP/1B Trent Waddell.
Head Coach Chris Rose
One of your players, Trent Waddell, has committed to play for Mississippi State next season. He's a first baseman/lefthanded pitcher for you. What are your thoughts on him as a position player and as a pitcher?
"He can do both, hit and pitch. He has an exceptional tool set in general. He is a phenomenal kid. As a freshman (2011-2012) we had to medical redshirt him after a couple of games on the mound. That entire freshman year his arm never felt right. Even then, I thought he was the best pitcher in the state. We let him play first base last year (2012-2013). He shows exceptional raw power. He's pretty good defensively at first base, the best that I have ever had. I've had some pretty good first basemen with pop and he has as much as any of them.
"This past season (2013-2014), his arm still didn't feel right, so he went to see Dr. Andrews (in Birmingham, AL) and he discovered that it was a little bone spur. That was in late November, early December. He got a quick scope but he still had to do his rehab. I knew how good he could be so we didn't rush his rehab.
"He was released from his throwing program and he then threw two bullpens and was on the mound for one inning for us. He walked the first batter that he faced, which is not uncommon for a guy who hasn't thrown in a year, but after that he was filthy (with his stuff). During that one inning he was throwing 86 to 89 miles per hour with a good changeup, an above average curveball and a plus slider. He then threw three more innings at the end of our season.
"Remember, that 86-89 is only after going through a throwing program and after just two bullpens. He's going to jump (his velocity) about 2 to 3 miles per hour without question because that was the velocity that he was throwing when I saw him in high school. He's a different animal on the mound and will only get better. He's a big, physical guy, a good-looking kid (body-wise) who is about 220 pounds and 6-foot-3.
"He's been around major college baseball his entire like. His dad was a chaplain at LSU, then he went to Alabama during the mid-90s when Coach Wells was head coach there. So, he's grown up around (major college baseball)."
Even though he only pitched 4 innings this season, he still only gave up 3 hits and 1 walk while striking out 7. That's a lot of strikeouts in a few innings. What was his strikeout pitch?
"The second that he gets ahead with his fastball he will come with his slider because it is really, really good."
When you recruited him in high school, what did you see from him?
"I saw a guy with a very live arm, a heavy fastball."
What do you project for him when he plays at Mississippi State?
"When they see how well he does in the SEC, it may make me look stupid because he only pitched four innings in junior college. But I knew what his long term future was. It would shock me if (his fastball) is not up to 88-89, 91 (miles per hour) by next fall."
I guess you could say his best pitching days are head of him?
"Oh yeah. All the conditioning and lifting that he did here was more for being a position player. On the mound, he just did for us what he naturally does because he didn't have any work time or bullpen time. He was just making sure his arm was healthy (during his time at EMCC). As a college pitching coach/recruiter you want to find guys who can do certain things naturally. A guy (like Trent), who can get on the mound and show legitimate command of three to four pitches and have a slider that is a wipeout pitch, that is what you are looking for. I think that he is going to be very special."
What schools, other than Mississippi State, showed interest in him?
"Mississippi State recruited him. Alabama did. And Southern Miss really, really liked him. But it came down to Alabama and Mississippi State."
Assistant Coach Jarrod Parks
You've talked to Mississippi State pitching coach Butch Thompson about Trent. What did he say that he liked about him?
"Just listening to him talk, Coach Thompson already has big plans for him. For years, Trent has been working out as a position player, getting bigger and stronger. I think Coach Thompson will work with him and get his body looser and make the shoulder even more flexible.
"Trent will also get the chance to hit when he gets to Mississippi State, at least in the fall. He was our cleanup hitter this year and the dude can swing it. I think Trent is a much better hitter than his numbers show. I think if he becomes a little more aggressive at the plate, then the sky is the limit for him. The best thing that I like about his swing is that every swing is the same, whether it is against a guy throwing 95 or a guy throwing 65. He's able to repeat his swing. I think if he starts swinging more at the first pitch, then he could (have) hit upwards of .400 (here)."
Trent Waddell Career Stats:
2011-2012 - Medical Redshirt
2012-2014 Seasons - For his two-year EMCC playing career, Waddell batted .269 with 15 doubles, 10 home runs, 47 RBIs and 65 runs scored. He walked 72 times and was hit by 16 pitches during his two seasons in Scooba. Defensively, he committed just 7 errors in 656 chances at first base. Pitching-wise, during his two-year playing career, he was limited due to a bone spur in his throwing arm (it has been fixed and he's through with his rehab), he threw 6.2 innings, allowing 5 earned runs on 7 hits and 2 walks while striking out 12. His ERA was 6.75. He gave up all 5 earned runs his redshirt freshman season (2012-2013). He allowed 0 runs on 3 hits and 1 walk while striking out 7 in 4 innings his sophomore season (2013-2014) after he was through with his rehab late in the season.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.