Colton Ledbetter has made a major impact in his first year at Mississippi State. There was a buzz around the junior outfielder when he joined the program after a productive two-year stint at Samford and a highly productive summer in the New England Collegiate Baseball League in 2022.
Ledbetter was a well-regarded transfer addition and has lived up to those expectations this season. He is Mississippi State’s top offensive player, excelling against premium pitching while receiving national attention.
Ledbetter is eligible for July’s MLB draft and has enhanced his status due to his productive spring. His skill set, development and potential have caused scouts to project the offensive-first outfielder as a potential first-round pick in the draft.
“I came to Mississippi State because the expectations here are a lot higher on you,” Ledbetter said. “As a baseball player, I want to get better every day. I put myself in a good opportunity and surrounded myself with really good players and coaches. It’s pressed me to be the best version of myself.”
Ledbetter is a 6-foot-2, 205-pound left-handed hitter known for his plate discipline, power and speed. He has a well-balanced skill set, with his offensive tools his best attributes.
He uses a short, compact swing and quality approach to consistently square up the baseball and drive pitches hard into the gaps. His approach leads to many walks, allowing him to make an impact on the bases with his speed.
“I take great pride in my plate discipline, whiff percentage and contact rate,” Ledbetter said. “I always take pride in that. I’d like my power numbers to be up slightly, but it’ll come. I just have to keep thinking about hitting low-line drives, and they’ll go out for me.”
Ledbetter is Mississippi State’s starting center fielder. He was a corner outfielder at Samford, primarily playing left field. He is a quality athlete with respectable speed and average arm strength.
Ledbetter is comfortable playing all three outfield spots. He hopes to remain in center field long term. He also profiles well in left field.
“I’m always trying to get better and be the best center fielder I can be for the next level,” Ledbetter said. “I just want to see growth as a center field. I feel like I’ve done a good job covering the big gaps here at Mississippi State. But, I’d like to see my growth evolve a little more in center field.”
This season, Ledbetter is hitting .325 with 11 doubles, 11 home runs, 47 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 44 games. He has displayed tremendous plate discipline, tallying 42 walks compared to 25 strikeouts in 206 plate appearances.
Ledbetter’s performance has led to him improving his draft stock this year. Despite the draft attention, Ledbetter has kept his attention on helping Mississippi State perform well in the regular season and earn an NCAA Tournament bid.
Mississippi State has sometimes been inconsistent this season, sitting with a 24-20 record. The Bulldogs won 50 games and captured the national title in 2021. Last season, they missed the tournament with a 26-30 record. The Bulldogs hope to return to postseason play this spring.
“I haven’t paid too much attention to the draft,” Ledbetter said. “With social media, I’m going to see it. It’s a blessing. But I’m trying to keep my focus on this season and winning as many ball games as we can. I want to become a better player each and every day.”
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Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for eight years. He has interviewed 433 of the top draft prospects in that period, including four No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today, MLB.com, The Arizona Republic and The Dallas Morning News, have quoted his work, while he has appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.