Who’s best college baseball player in Mississippi? Five finalists set for Ferriss Trophy

Published 2:55 pm Monday, May 13, 2019

Players from two nationally-ranked teams dominated the list of finalists announced today for the 2019 C Spire Ferriss Trophy, which annually honors the top college baseball player in Mississippi.

Chosen by Major League Baseball scouts and college baseball coaches in Mississippi, the five finalists include two players each from Mississippi State and Ole Miss and one from Southern Miss. Finalists are two-time nominee Matt Wallner of Southern Miss, Mississippi State’s Jake Mangum and Ethan Small and Grae Kessinger and Tyler Keenan of Ole Miss.

The scouts and coaches, whose votes count for 90 percent of the total, will make their choice this week from among the five finalists. Fan voting, which begins tomorrow at www.cspire.com/ferriss and concludes on Saturday, will account for a weighted 10 percent of the final tally.

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The winner will be announced on May 20 at a special Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame luncheon.

Southern Miss pitcher Nick Sandlin won the 2018 award while Mississippi State outfielder Brent Rooker won the 2017 award.

Mangum, a three-time finalist, won the 2016 C Spire Ferriss Trophy as a freshman, which is named for the late Dave “Boo” Ferriss, a Magnolia State baseball legend, a Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer and long-time Delta State head baseball coach.

“Several players have been outstanding this year – so competition will be stiff for the award,” said Bill Blackwell, executive director of the MSHOF, which co-sponsors the award with C Spire.

Ole Miss and Mississippi State have been nationally ranked all year and Southern Miss is 32-17 and tied for the top spot in the Conference USA standings.

Former Mississippi State University player and long-time MLB manager “Buck” Showalter will be the guest speaker at the C Spire Ferriss Trophy luncheon, which begins at 11:30 a.m. Showalter, who guided the Orioles, Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers, played his collegiate ball at MSU where he hit .459 in 1977. He also served two stints as an ESPN baseball analyst.

The finalists, in alphabetical order, are:

Tyler Keenan, Ole Miss third baseman, Soph., Clayton, N.C.: a .299 batting average with 59 hits, six doubles, a triple, 11 home runs and 55 RBI.

Grae Kessinger, Ole Miss shortstop, Jr., Oxford, Miss.: a .355 batting average with 76 hits, 17 doubles, four home runs and 39 RBI.

Jake Mangum, Mississippi State outfielder, Sr., Pearl, Miss.: a .401 batting average with 93 hits, 20 doubles, three triples, 37 RBI and 20 stolen bases. He is the all-time SEC hits leader with more walks (18) than strikeouts (15) on the season.

Ethan Small, Mississippi State pitcher, Jr., Lexington, Tenn.: a 1.73 earned run average and 7-1 record with 132 strike outs, 19 walks and only 42 hits in 78 innings.

Matt Wallner, Southern Miss outfielder, Jr., Forest Lake, Minn..: a .295 batting average with 54 hits, 10 doubles, 15 home runs, 44 RBI, a .596 slugging percentage and a .410 on-base percentage.

Advance tickets are on sale, including full tables seating 8 persons for $350 each along with reserved seating, half tables and individual tickets.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call the MSHOF offices at 601.982.8264, stop by at 1152 Lakeland Drive in Jackson or go online at http://msfame.com/c-spire-ferriss-trophy/.

2019 marks the 24th anniversary of the Outstanding Player Awards Program. C Spire has served as title sponsor for 22 of those years since 1998. The Conerly Trophy in college football, the Howell Trophy in men’s college basketball, the Gillom Trophy in in women’s college basketball and the Ferriss Trophy in college baseball comprise the four elements of the C Spire Outstanding Player Award series, which are jointly presented by the company and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.