High School Sports

This Mississippi State signee has always swung a hot bat. His numbers are still climbing.

Hancock's Landon Jordan
Hancock's Landon Jordan jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com file

From the time he was an eighth-grader getting at-bats with the varsity baseball squad at Hancock High School, everyone knew Landon Jordan could swing a bat.

Jordan's batting average made a significant leap from his freshman to sophomore season with the Hawks, going from .371 to .486.

In 2017, Jordan took a slight step back at the plate while dealing with a nagging hamstring injury. He played in 14 of 23 games and finished with a .394 batting average, three homers and 10 RBIs.

Jordan committed to Mississippi State in August of 2016, but the Bulldogs weren't scared away by the injury troubles of his junior year.

That patience has paid off for the MSU program, which signed Jordan in November.

He has made nearly a .200-point leap in his batting average this season, hitting .588 with two homers and eight RBIs through 20 games.

“It's just staying healthy,” Jordan said Monday. “This is pretty much the first season since my freshman year that I haven't had to miss a game.”

Jordan's greatest assets as a hitter are his ability to quickly recognize the pitch out of the pitcher's hand and impressive bat speed.

As a senior, Jordan says he feels like he is seeing the ball better than ever.

“I'm doing pretty well with recognizing pitches earlier and reading in and out,” he said.

Hancock coach Anthony Dewitt, who was a pitching standout at Southern Miss and played four years in the Houston Astros system, has been around a lot of good hitters during his baseball career. When asked to compare Jordan to another hitter he's seen, Dewitt eventually pointed to another former USM star, Clint King, in terms of bat speed.

King hit .394 with 23 homers and knocked in 77 runs during his final year at USM to earn a third-round selection in 2003 by the Chicago White Sox.

In Jordan's own pursuit of an early-round selection in the MLB Draft, it's doubtful that he will be out-worked.

“He works his tail off,” Dewitt said. “He works really hard. He's one of those guys that has super good vision. He sees the ball great, recognizes pitches out of the hand very quickly.

“He is one of the best hitters I've been around throughout my playing and coaching career.”

Jordan, who throws right-handed and bats from the left side, credits Cooper Farris, a former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College head coach and current D'Iberville assistant, for playing a large role in his development as a hitter.

“He coached in the Cape Cod League for a while and he's helped tremendously,” Jordan said. “He just always preached to hit the first fastball because being the good hitter I am, I'll probably only see one good pitch every at-bat. He just said, 'Don't miss your pitch.' ”

Jordan, who has also stolen seven bases in 10 attempts this year, is playing shortstop for a Hancock team that stands at 11-9 overall and 1-6 in a tough Region 8-6A. He seems likely to slide over to second base when he arrives in Starkville.

And while Jordan has made strides at the plate, his biggest improvement this season may have come in the field.

“His range has improved greatly,” Dewitt said. “He's getting to balls he didn't get to last year.”

Dewitt believes the transition from high school to college will come relatively easily for Jordan.

“I think he's going to adjust well,” he said. “He's got great bat speed and hand-eye coordination. With travel ball, he's faced quality pitching and still had great success. He's going to have a lot of success.”

Gary Henderson is serving as the interim head coach at Mississippi State following the resignation of Andy Cannizaro early this season, creating some uncertainty for the program.

But Jordan has been unfazed in his commitment to MSU throughout the tumult in Starkville.

“I've heard that (MSU athletic director John Cohen) has found the guy. He just hasn't released it yet,” Jordan said. “We know as mach as anyone else does.

“I trust Cohen is going to bring in someone good. He's going to bring in someone with a lot of experience and can get the job done.”