By Robert Wilson
The late Brian Cole of Meridian is considered one of the greatest baseball players in Mississippi history. An incredible athlete who had Division I offers to play college football and was selected in the Major League Baseball draft out of Meridian High, Cole was named National Junior College Player of the Year at Navarro (Texas) Junior College and was on the fast track to the major leagues – being named the New York Mets Minor League Player of the Year in 2000 – before he was killed in an automobile accident at age 22.
Jackson Academy baseball coach Parker Harris, who played with Cole at Meridian, said that Cole is the only player he has seen whose bat speed compares with JA senior outfielder Dakota Jordan.
Jordan showed off his bat speed last week when he hit .545 (6 of 11) with 3 homers, 7 runs and 12 runs batted in in last week’s three-game, MAIS Class 6A series against Madison-Ridgeland Academy, the No. 1 team in Mississippi by MaxPreps.
For his outstanding performance, Jordan has been named the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Baseball Player of the Week.
The 6-foot, 215-pound Jordan, a Mississippi State football and baseball signee and Canton Academy transfer, is one of the hottest hitters in the country right now. He has hit nine home runs in his last seven games and broke the school record of Matt Denny (12 in 2011) Friday night in JA’s 10-5 victory over MRA at MRA when he hit two homers to give him 13 on the season. Jordan is tied for second in the nation in home runs, according to MaxPreps. The MAIS record for most home runs in a season is Copiah Academy’s Hunter Renfroe – now with the Milwaukee Brewers – who hit 20 in 2010.
“Like Brian,Dakota is special,” said Harris, who played with Cole at Meridian in the mid-1990s. “Brian had incredible bat speed. I’ve never seen anything like it. People compared his bat speed to Barry Bonds. Dakota’s is similar and he has very quick hands. He’s amazing. Dakota reminds me a lot of Brian. Dakota has really played awesome in the last three weeks. He is more patient at the plate, staying within himself, and focusing on hitting line drives. He is making solid contact. Not only that, but Dakota is also a great leader. He encourages his teammates and goes about his business and plays the game the right way.”
Cole hit 22 home runs – one short of the then Mississippi record of 23 by Shannon’s Dave Clark in 1980 – and hit .505 with 46 RBIs in 31 games for Meridian in 1997. After one year of junior college where he hit 27 home runs, Cole was drafted by the New York Mets and quickly became one of the top minor league players in the country when his potential great major league career was cut short by his tragic accident in 2001.
Jordan could possibly be on the similar path to the major leagues. His high school numbers are remarkable.
Jordan improved his batting average to .547 (47 of 86) and has 12 doubles, 3 triples and 13 homers. He scored three runs Friday to give him 42 runs and had five runs batted in to give him 47 RBIs for the season. Jordan could break school records for hits, runs and RBIs. He is on pace to break school records for on-base percentage (improved to .645 after Friday’s game) and slugging percentage (improved to 1.209 after Friday’s game).
Jordan is hitting .681 with a slugging percentage of 1.955 with 15 runs scored and 25 RBIs in his last seven games.
Athlon Sports listed Jordan as the No. 30 best high school prospect in the upcoming Major League Baseball Draft in a story this month. The 30th high school player was chosen as the 100th overall pick near the end of the third round in last year’s MLB Draft and his signing bonus was over $1 million.
JA, 18-10 overall and 5-7 in conference play, plays host to four-time defending MAIS state champion Jackson Prep, ranked No. 17 nationally by Perfect Game, this week in the last three-game, regular season conference series this season. Prep is 25-5 overall and 10-2 in conference play, in first place and has clinched a bye in the next week’s first round. JA is in currently in fourth place but could finish anywhere from third to fifth. The two teams play the first game today at 6:30 p.m. at JA in Northeast Jackson.