If you got the joke in the headline, kudos to you.
Though basketball is still hurtling its way toward a disappointing finish in the second round of the NIT, many Rebel fans have turned their sights to baseball (where a disastrous 2011 season has magically disappeared from our memory). Baseball and beer is here. Let's pop a top and dive right in.
Freshmen account for 11 of the roster spots posted on the Ole Miss athletic website, but it's not likely that many of these players will crack the every day roster or get much PT in SEC play.
So here's their introductions sans walk-out music and the projections we have for 2012 in terms of playing time and impact to the team.
Auston Bousfield - R/R OF - This 5'10'' 170 lbs. product out of Florida seems like he could provide some speed to the line-up and a decent contact bat. Bousfield hit nearly .400 in his high school career, notching 11 triples in that career. It's possible that the Rebel outfield could have one or even two freshmen in its rotation with Tanner Mathis and Zach Kirksey likely to see the most time. Bousfield should be able to get some legitimate PT from the start.
Hawtin Buchanan - RHP - He's gigantic. Standing at 6'8'' and weighing in at 250 lbs., Buchanan has to be one of the largest pitchers in Bianco's tenure at Ole Miss. The tall frame allows pitchers the advantage of throwing down with a lot of movement coming off an elevated mound. There are a lot of right handed arms in the Rebel pitching arsenal, so the competition will be stiff for freshmen coming in though Buchanan should get a fair number of innings.
Chris Ellis - RHP - Another tall righty for the Rebels, Ellis is from Birmingham (Spain Park). SPHS is a very solid baseball program in Alabama, and Ellis had a 4-3 record with a 2.90 ERA in his senior season. His very late draft selection (50th round) could mean he's not quite ready for the next level, and it may be a long shot for him to get many innings this season.
Senquez Golson - R/R OF - If you don't already know this story, Golson turned down $Texas to go to Ole Miss instead of the Boston Red Sox. His high school batting average was not astronomically high, which is the first thing some fans will point out about him, but if I was an opposing high school coach, I would've chosen to pitch around him as often as possible. Golson should at least be seen in pinch running duties this season, but the open race in the outfield gives him a shot at playing often.
Will Jamison - L/L OF - Memphis always seems to churn out good to great baseball talent for the Rebels. Jamison could be the next in line as his senior stats show power (10 HR as a senior) and good contact (.476 BA as a senior). Also, he can pitch (9-1 record with a 1.60 ERA). An all-around baseball athlete and a winner (led high school to state championship), I can't imagine that he wouldn't get some ABs as the season progresses especially since he offers power from the left side of the plate.
Austin Knight - R/R C - Knight comes from the national champion Sumrall High School just outside of Hattiesburg. This team was a legit dynasty in south Mississippi (where baseball tops breathing and eating as a priority). Bianco puts a lot of his team's success on catchers, because he was a catcher himself back in the day. I'd put Knight as a dark horse for first year playing time behind the dish with Taylor Hightower coming back.
Josh Laxer - RHP - The Mississippi Co-player of the Year out of Madison Central had a perfect 11-0 record last season and a near sub-two ERA. He also hit .448 his senior season, so he could factor in eventually as a good pinch hitter and sub for relief in the future. Laxer will get some innings this year in the mid-week as he is one of the better young arms in our arsenal.
Casey Mulholland - R/R RHP/OF - I'm not sure about how to characterize Mulholland due to an injury that shortened his final high school season. He had only 4 appearances as a pitcher his senior season but did well in those appearances. He also hit roughly .300 in only 10 games. His 6'4'', 180 lbs. frame is great for baseball, and I would hope he can bounce back from an early in the career injury and see some PT in 2012. Bianco may also err on the side of caution more than likely.
Sikes Orvis - L/R C/IF - Definitely gets the frattiest name award for the freshman class. His dad might own Orvis, the outdoor apparel company, and hopefully he does. Orvis would be most likely seen in mop up duty at C, 3B or 1B.
Jake Overbey - R/R IF - Kid has some power, 10 HRs as a senior and hit .400. Younger brother of Preston Overbey who had a decent 2011 with the Rebels. A 10th round draft pick by the Phillies, he's going to be playing in 2012 as it is likely he's headed to the majors after three years. We need to get as much out of him as we can in my opinion. With the JCs who have been added to the infield though, it's going to be a tight competition. We've also got a plethora of IF talent who have D1 experience.
Chase Reeves - L/L OF/LHP - A lefty bat with some pop (34 HRs, 180 RBI in his high school career), Reeves could possibly DH or work his way into the OF line-up in 2012. The big question is if his fantastic stats at the Mississippi 2A level will translate to success in college ball.
Sam Smith - RHP - Smith is an undrafted righty out of Louisiana. He only made 10 appearances in his senior season but did well in his work there. He is most likely a project pitcher who will see very limited time in 2012 if at all.
So there's our 2012 freshman class. Any additional stories about performances you saw from their high school years are much appreciated. Comments? Get after them.