Perfect Game Names MacLeod Preseason All-American, Tabs Mississippi State Baseball No. 12 in Preseason Poll
STARKVILLE – The second of the six preseason polls were released on Tuesday (Jan. 5) and Mississippi State baseball found itself back near the top of the polls, this time according to Perfect Game. The publication also tabbed Christian MacLeod as a third-team All-American.
Perfect Game has eight Southeastern Conference teams among its top 25 entering 2021. Joining Mississippi State is Florida (1), Ole Miss (5), Vanderbilt (6), LSU (8 ) Auburn (17), Arkansas (20) and Georgia (24).
In the history of the Perfect Game poll, Mississippi State has been ranked in the preseason in eight of the last nine seasons, including a high rankings of No. 6 in 2014.
MacLeod earns his second preseason honor, as Perfect Game named the left-handed pitcher a third-team All-American. Of the 22 pitchers on the three-team All-America list by PG, nine of them will pitch in the SEC this season.
MacLeod became the first Mississippi State freshman to earn an All-America nod since Jake Mangum in 2016 and led all Power 5 freshman in victories. He tied for the most strikeouts among Power 5 freshmen in 2020 and ranked among the top 50 nationally in hits allowed per nine innings (25th; 3.86), WHIP (32nd; 0.71) and ERA (41st; 0.86).
MacLeod had an impressive collegiate debut with 11 strikeouts on February 15 versus Wright State, marking the most strikeouts in a freshman collegiate debut in MSU history. A 12-strikeout effort versus Quinnipiac made him the only freshman in the NCAA with multiple double-digit strikeout games in 2020. His two double-digit strikeout games equal Paul Maholm (2001) and Eric DuBose (1995) for the most by a rookie in MSU history.
The 2020 season featured a 12-4 record prior to the abrupt end due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which included a pair victories over No. 2 Texas A&M, along with two wins over perineal power Oregon State at Dudy Noble Field. The Diamond Dawgs ended 2020 ranked No. 6 nationally per Collegiate Baseball.
Head coach Chris Lemonis enters his third season after posting the most victories (52) by a first-year SEC head coach in the conference’s history during the 2019 season. State has finished among the top-10 nationally in each of his first two seasons, along with a top-10 showing in the final 2018 poll, to mark the first time in program history MSU finished three straight seasons among the 10 best teams in college baseball.
The 2021 roster features a mix of experienced returners and a talented crop of newcomers. The junior trio of Tanner Allen, Josh Hatcher and Rowdey Jordan will look to lead the MSU offense, while second-year freshmen Kamren James and Logan Tanner look to build off of successful first seasons in the maroon and white. Graduate transfer Scotty Dubrule joins the program after four record-setting seasons at Jacksonville, entering the season among the top active hitters in the NCAA in hits (249), games played (197) and runs scored (138).
On the mound, graduates Spencer Price and Riley Self, along with second-year freshman Landon Sims will anchor the bullpen behind what is projected to be a stacked starting rotation. The trio of Will Bednar, Eric Cerantola and Christian MacLeod are each ranked among the nation’s top 50 draft prospects, and junior Houston Hardingemerged as a solid starting option on the mound at the end of the 2020 campaign.
The 2020 and 2019 campaigns ended with MSU pitcher earning National Freshman of the Year accolades, as JT Ginn and MacLeod each brought home the honor from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. The Diamond Dawgs are coming off of back-to-back trips to the College World Series in 2018 and 2019 and a share of the 2019 SEC West Division crown.