Busby commits to Miss. State|[6/22/06]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 22, 2006

This time next year, Michael Busby might be emabrking on a pro baseball career in some far-flung minor league outpost.

For now, he’s planning on heading to Starkville.

Busby, a rising senior pitcher and shortstop for Porters Chapel Academy, verbally committed to Mississippi State after taking a campus visit on Tuesday. He said they offered him a scholarship as a position player and pitcher. The NCAA’s early signing period is in November. Verbal commitments are non-binding..

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Busby was also being recruited by LSU, Ole Miss and Southern Miss, but said State made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

&#8220They offered me a pretty good little deal, and going to State as a skill position player is hard to turn down,” said Busby, whose older brother Jon played football at Mississippi State. &#8220Growing up, my family was Mississippi State fans, too, so that’s pretty nice.”

Michael Busby first drew the attention of scouts as a 14-year-old freshman, when his fastball topped 90 mph on the radar gun. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow after the 2005 season, the righty has lived up to the hype.

In three seasons, Busby has gone 15-2 with a minuscule 0.94 ERA in 95 2/3 innings. He has 205 strikeouts – an average of two per inning – and was selected The Vicksburg Post’s Player of the Year in 2005.

He’s been more than just a strong arm, however. Busby has also proven himself to be an outstanding fielding shortstop who sprays line drives all over the park, hits for power and runs well. He has a career .484 batting average, with 13 home runs and 110 RBIs. He has 33 doubles in his career, has scored 136 runs and stolen 54 bases.

Not bad for a player who hasn’t even turned 17 yet. Busby’s birthday is in August, meaning he’ll barely be old enough to vote when he arrives in Starkville.

&#8220Mississippi State is getting a great baseball player and a great person. I couldn’t be happier for Michael and can’t wait to see him play the next few years in Starkville,” PCA coach Randy Wright said. &#8220I’m extremely proud of Michael. He has worked exceptionally hard and put the time in, and he deserves everything he gets.”

This season, Busby led PCA to the Mississippi Private School Association’s Class A championship.

In Game 2 of the championship series against Huntington, he hit two home runs – including a walk-off shot in the 10th inning – and pitched 4 2/3 innings of relief to earn the win.

Against Jackson Academy in the MPSA Overall Tournament, he threw more than 100 pitches in six strong innings and showed no signs of tiring. His seven-strikeout, five-hit performance showed he had fully recovered from his elbow injury.

Busby said it was nice to have the offer from Mississippi State and not have to worry about proving himself all over again in his senior year.

&#8220I’m sure I’ll have a place to play baseball the year after next,” he said.

Busby added that he knows he still has to produce next year, however.

&#8220Next year if I don’t go out and put up good numbers they’re going to wonder about me,” he said. &#8220I still have a lot to prove next year.”

That may include showing pro scouts what he can do. Busby’s name and skills are well known in scouting circles, and he’s likely to draw some interest when the 2007 major league draft rolls around.

Busby said he wasn’t sure what he’ll do if he gets a call on draft day. For now, he’s just happy to be a Bulldog.

&#8220I really don’t know,” he said when asked about his draft prospects. &#8220I haven’t thought about that at all.”