Daily Journal’s 2008 Player of the Year was 10-1 as junior, and he’s still developing.
BY BRAD LOCKE
NEMS Daily Journal
Chris Stratton can’t wait to be part of the new era of Mississippi State baseball.
That’s why the Tupelo right-hander, a rising senior, made a verbal commitment Sunday to play for the Bulldogs. Stratton will be playing for coach John Cohen, who was hired to replace the legendary Ron Polk.
“I’m just real excited about the new staff and what they’re all about, and the new era of State,” Stratton said Monday. “Coach Cohen, he’s unreal. Coach (Butch) Thompson, the new pitching coach, is real good. He’s real intense, and I’m real excited about getting close to him.”
The feeling is surely mutual.
In Stratton, Cohen and Thompson will be getting a pitcher who is already dominant and still has a high ceiling. He throws a fastball in the mid- to upper-80s, a good curveball and a changeup.
His accuracy is the biggest reason he went 10-1 with a 1.95 ERA this past season. Stratton struck out 98 batters and walked 36 in 75.1 innings, and he was named the Daily Journal’s Player of the Year.
“He has the ability to throw any of his pitches for strikes at any time in the count,” Tupelo coach Gary Enis said shortly after the Golden Wave lost to Ocean Springs in the Class 5A state finals.
Stratton chose MSU over Ole Miss, which isn’t surprising.
His mother, Janet, is an MSU graduate and comes from a Bulldog family. His older brother, Matt, is there as an engineering major. His father, former Tupelo basketball coach Lee Stratton, is a Mississippi College grad but a longtime MSU fan.
The Strattons have attended many football and basketball games in Starkville over the years, but not many baseball games. Basketball was Chris’ first love, but he gave it up early in high school to focus on baseball.