Prep Baseball Report

Inside Missouri State Baseball with Coach Keith Guttin

Missouri State is reloaded and looking to catapult their success of last year into a successful 2013 campaign. If they are to have similar success as last season, they will be relying on a roster that has 15 underclassmen, including Class of 2011 top ranked players Tyler Burgess and Spencer Johnson as well as Class of 2012 No. 1 player Tate Matheny and a host of Class of 2012 talent. 

With a roster dotted with 10 freshmen, Coach Keith Guttin and staff will have an uphill climb, but no doubt he and his staff they will get the most out of the players; and a lot of young players should see time on the field.

For a school that has a history of draft picks and successful stints in the major leagues, it will be a crop of young players who will play complimentary roles to elevate themselves to an elite level and continue the tradition of top level talent to play for the Bears. Last year, six former Missouri State players were on major league rosters, including Ryan Howard (Philadelphia Phillies) Shaun Marcum (Milwaukee Brewers), Ross Detwiler (Washington Nationals), Brad Zigler (Arizona Diamondbacks), Matt Palmer (San Diego Padres), and Jeff Gray (Minnesota Twins). RHP Pierce Johnson was the 43rd overall pick in the 2012 draft to the Cubs, and leaves a big void in the starting rotation. 

We recently caught up with head coach Keith Guttin to get his thoughts on the Missouri State program.

On the philosophy of Missouri State baseball and type of players they recruit, Coach Guttin told us, “Our staff has been in tact for quite a few years and we look for blue collar guys with great tradition of Missouri kids over the years. This is my 31st year and I am from Missouri, and our coaching staff also being from Missouri and the Metro East area has made for a good base of recruiting. That is how we will continue to proceed.”

“Our philosophy is we don’t recruit quantity, we recruit quality. Obviously you need pitching every year and athletes every year, but if you look at the history of our classes they have been quite a bit smaller than a lot of schools. Give opportunities and develop the players that we do bring in. We do have a smaller roster of 30, so we try to be careful with those numbers.” 

“I think continuity of coaching staff is a factor,” Coach Guttin went on to say about why recruits have chosen Missouri State in the past and why they would want to play for the Bears in the future. “Combined the three of us (Guttin, Brent Thomas, and Paul Evans) have been at Missouri State for 77 years, and we have a real good feel for what works for us and the type of player we are looking for and can develop best in our system.” 

“Expectations of coaches are to develop players. Expectation of players is to make the same commitment to winning and development as the coaches have through practice preparation, play your best game,” Guttin continued. 

As far as how the recruiting process has changed over the years, Guttin said, “It has changed significantly over the time I have been here. It is more ‘select and travel baseball’ and showcases. I think from a coaching perspective, going to tournaments allows us to see 8 teams of 15 kids, and those kids will play at some level of college baseball. Years ago you would try to ‘dig out guys on rosters,’ there aren’t many rocks to dig out now.

Missouri State has made eight appearances in the NCAA tournament under Guttin’s coaching, including a trip to the College World Series in 2003.  “You go to college to participate in baseball to be a team player, and if you get the opportunity to play after, that is wonderful. The reason you play is to reach the postseason and we did that last year, and feel good about this year’s club going in.”