Freshman Kyle Hann patrols third base during scrimmage action at Mississippi State Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Michael Wardlaw, SDN)
Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen has been doing a good job of finding talented players from all across the country.
Now, he's even starting to bring them in from outside the United States.
Of the 14 newcomers to the Bulldogs this fall, Cohen is anxious to work with two of them from Canada.
As MSU began fall practice this weekend, freshman infielder Kyle Hann from Oakville, Ont., Canada, and freshman outfielder Jacob Robson from Windsor, Ont., have been added to the mix.
Cohen has several options on the infield and particularly at third base. He believes Hann definitely figures into the plans there.
After getting impressive reports on how Hann performed at the World Games in Korea, Cohen is anxious to see how he makes the transition to the college game.
"He is special and someone I think is going to get playing time as a freshman," Cohen said last week. "I don't know if it's going to be third base. I don't know if it's going to be second base. It could be potentially shortstop, but he is a talented young man.
"He is someone who has tremendous power. He has some Kirby Puckett-like qualities in an offensive player. He has great power for a little guy.
He's got great strength for a little guy. He has great lateral quickness. He has tremendous arm strength and he is someone who can make a difference for us quickly, but he is a freshman."
For Cohen to compare Hann to someone like Puckett, a former major league player that's in the Hall of Fame, that's a mighty big statement to make.
Hann may not have a difficult time making the transition on the baseball field for the Bulldogs, but getting used to life in Starkville could be an adjustment.
It's not easy for a person as young as Hann to leave his home country, play at the World Games in Korea and end up starting a college career at MSU.
"He's still trying to find his way around campus a little bit, but once he gets acclimated, he can be a special player," Cohen said.
As far as Robson is concerned, he was a draft pick out of Vincent Massey Secondary School in Windsor.
Cohen calls Robson "probably the fastest guy on our team," and that's high praise to send the way of a a freshman.
Robson may be the fastest Bulldog on the baseball field, but he admits that's not the case when it comes to another athlete on campus.
The ironic twist on that story is that Robson and Brandon McBride, a sprinter on the MSU track team, are from the same hometown. They have been racing against each other since they were young.
When Cohen asked Robson where McBride was going to school, Mississippi State was his reply.
"I did not know that when we recruited (Robson)," Cohen said. "(McBride) is a freshman on our track team. It's interesting that two fast guys are playing intercollegiate athletics from Windsor, Ont., at Mississippi State."
It's a small world.
Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.
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