We interrupt your regularly scheduled college football countdown for a bit of quick Ole Miss baseball news. Junior outfielder Will Jamison and freshman infielder Brantley Bell are leaving the Rebel program, according to a report by Chase Parham of Rivals. This news comes roughly one week after it was announced that freshman second baseman Dalton Dulin was departing.
In related news, last Friday was the deadline for MLB teams to sign their draft picks, meaning we now have a finalized list of which current players and recruits are leaving for the pros. I'll jump into the Jamison/Bell/Dulin news then come back to the draft signings.
Why are they leaving?
According to Parham, Jamison is leaving the sport of baseball altogether and heading over to the University of Tennessee to work on becoming a nurse anesthetist. Parham specifically mentioned that there were "no hard feelings" and this was a decision based solely on Jamison's longterm goals.
Bell and Dulin appear as though they're looking for more playing time. Though Preston Overbey's graduation opens up second base, Dulin would have had to beat out incoming recruit Tate Blackman, once rated as the top middle infielder prospect in the country by Perfect Game.
Bell's decision is the most perplexing. He would have competed with Colby Bortles at third and could have been in the mix at second after Dulin left. Parham suggested that Bell wants to be an everyday shortstop, something that he couldn't do with Errol Robinson in Oxford.
There's been no word on where Bell and Dulin are transferring.
How does this affect the 2015 team?
The biggest loss, in my opinion, is Bell, who showed some real promise at the plate with a .304 freshman batting average. His brief foray in the field was disastrous (.892 fielding percentage) but that could have hopefully been ironed out moving forward. I thought he had a real chance to replace Anderson at third, and at the very least could have been a dangerous designated or pinch hitter.
Most importantly, he was a Ninja Turtle.
Jamison leaves Ole Miss with 98 career starts over three seasons. He split time in right field during that span, never developing into a reliable full time starter thanks to struggles at the plate (his .248 average was the lowest among the 2014 starters), but he was a strong defender and provided quality depth. Both Braxton Lee and Auston Bousfield have signed pro contracts, which leaves J.B. Woodman as the only experienced outfielder on the roster. Jamison would have certainly seen heavy rotation in the outfield in 2015.
Dulin hit .264 and fielded at a .978 clip as a freshman. He started only 11 games and is definitely the most expendable of the three departures. Still, it would have been nice to have him around to compete with Blackman and provide depth. The biggest blow is the recruiting connection to his dad, who runs one of the best travel teams in the Mid-South.
In the end, you shouldn't be freaking out too much about these losses. This knocks the Rebs' depth a bit, but none of these guys were sure starters next season.
Who signed MLB contracts?
The Rebels had nine players taken in the MLB draft, more than any other school in the nation. In the end, eight of them ended up signing by Friday's deadline. The good news is that the one who didn't was Christian Trent, who should be one of the top Friday night aces in the SEC next year (and who hashtagged 'Tits Out for the Rebs' in his official Twitter announcement).
Here's the complete list of draft picks. Keep in mind that Anderson, Will Allen and Aaron Greenwood were graduating seniors who the Rebs were going to lose anyway.
- Chris Ellis (3rd round, Los Angeles Angels) - SIGNED
- Auston Bousfield (5th round, San Diego Padres) - SIGNED
- Austin Anderson (9th round, Baltimore Orioles) - SIGNED
- Josh Laxer (9th round, Detroit Tigers) - SIGNED
- Braxton Lee (12th round, Tampa Bay Rays) - SIGNED
- Will Allen (13th round, Detroit Tigers) - SIGNED
- Hawtin Buchanan (20th round, Seattle Mariners) - SIGNED
- Christian Trent (20th round, Los Angeles Dodgers) - RETURNING
- Aaron Greenwood (28th round, Houston Astros) - SIGNED
The Rebs also lost some recruits to the draft. Foster Griffin -- a left-handed pitcher rated by MLB.com as the No. 28 prospect of the draft -- and Ti'Quan Forbes -- a shortstop considered the top prospect in Mississippi -- both went on day one and signed contracts back in June.
Blackman, who went in the 20th round, turned down the Milwaukee Brewers and will be on campus to hopefully take over at second.
It's unclear at this point whether Clay Casey, a power hitter out of Desoto who could help fill the void in the outfield, ever signed with the Washington Nationals, who took him in the 33rd round. Parham tweeted after the deadline that there had been "no indication" that Casey had signed, but that he hadn't been able to confirm it. The Nationals official draft tracker lists him as unsigned (though the MLB hasn't kept those updated very well) and his current Twitter photo is him standing on the field at Swayze.