By MATTHEW STEVENS
Mississippi State picked up a baseball verbal commitment from one of the best high school prospects in the state of Louisiana.
High School prospect Nicholas Flair gave his pledge to MississippI State Monday to be a member of the 2012 recruiting class eligible to play next season.
"I always wanted to play in the SEC and I'm excited to have the opportunity to play at Mississippi State," Flair said while at the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Arizona.
Flair said he hasn't done so yet but expects to officially sign with Mississippi State sometime this week.
Flair, the New Orleans Times-Picayune 2011 Metro Player of the Year selection, said he expects to compete for a starting position at third base during preseason practice in the fall.
"That's the position the coaching staff has told me they see me at and it's a position I feel comfortable at so I think it's a perfect fit," Flair said.
Flair, who hit ..619, with 12 home runs, 62 RBIs, 18 doubles and three triples while leading Belle Chasse (La.) High School to a District 8-4A championship and a 23-6 season ending a second-round 10-8 loss to West Ouachita in the playoffs.
Flair was honored as a Louisville Slugger All American selection by Collegiate Baseball News along with being tabbed tabbed as Third Team All Americans by Baseball America.
The only concern for the Mississippi State coaching staff has to be Flair still having the option of taking a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates after the organization took him with a 26th round selection in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft in June.
"I don't really have a dollar amount in my head that I'm thinking about," Flair said. "Right now I'm looking toward the college rout but haven't gotten an offer yet from Pittsburgh. If they offer me something I can't refuse then that would change things I guess."
Flair is one of 20 players the Pirates have taken in the first 30 rounds to not sign and according to MLB rules, the Pittsburgh front office has until Aug. 15 to come to terms with the player otherwise they lose the rights to the prospect.
Due to NCAA rules regarding recruiting, Mississippi State coaches were forced to decline comment on the status of a prospective student-athlete.
Flair will spend the next few days in Phoenix as a fan during professional baseball's All-Star Weekend before having to travel to Cincinnati to play on a summer traveling team.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder previously signed with junior college LSU-Eunice in February before receiving All-Metro and Class 4A All-State selections. Flair, who said he received little college interest during a junior season of high school where he hit .411 with four home runs and 28 RBIs, said Mississippi State was the first Southeastern Conference school that contacted him about a scholarship offer.
"I played with broken nose in a game over there that they were watching and I guess they liked what they saw," Flair said.