Happy Opening Day, y'all. After the Cubs and Cardinals kicked off the 2015 MLB season on Sunday night, pro baseball gets underway in earnest on Monday with the rest of the league taking the field. It's as good a time as ever to get you caught up with where former Ole Miss Rebels are playing their pro ball this season.
Former Reb Lance Lynn will be on the bump for the Cardinals on Tuesday in Chicago as he begins his fifth season in the bigs. Lynn, the Brownsburg, Ind. native and former first-round pick, had a stellar season last year as he went 15-10 on the mound with 181 strikeouts in 203.2 innings and posted an improved 2.74 ERA. Lynn figures in as the Cards' third starter and should be a prominent member of their staff for the fourth straight year.
Possibly facing Lynn at the plate will be former Rebel Chris Coghlan, who is now an outfielder for the Cubs in his sixth season. The Tarpon Springs, Fla. native and former 2009 National League Rookie of the Year split time between the Second City and Iowa and hit a combined .263 with nine home runs and 47 RBIs. The former All-American got off to a good start on Sunday night in a losing effort against St. Louis going 1-for-4 at the plate with a double.
In Cincinnati, the former Blonde Don of Oxford and Collierville, Tenn. native Zack Cozart will be looking for a rebound year in the Queen City when he starts his fourth big league campaign. Cozart, after hitting a combined .275 in his first three seasons for the Reds, hit just .221 and only collected four home runs and 38 RBIs last season (he had a combined 29 HR and 101 RBI in first three seasons). It shouldn't surprise anyone that Mr. Cozart was nominated for the Gold Glove among National League shortstops last season. Four years removed from Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, look for Cozart to return to form in 2015.
Another Collierville, Tenn. native and former Ole Miss All-American will start his fourth year in professional baseball as the Oakland Athletics' Drew Pomeranz will look to rebound from a broken right hand and continue his stellar play on the West Coast. The southpaw hurler started out in the bullpen and was an effective middle reliever but eventually moved into the starting rotation. Pom went 5-4, posted a 2.35 ERA and struck out 64 in only 69 innings.
Another Indiana native and Ole Miss pitcher will be hitting the diamond in D.C. as Aaron Barrett will be in his second season with the Nationals. After a senior season in Oxford that saw Barrett go 7-5, the young man from Evansville was 3-0 with a 2.66 ERA in the nation's capital. Barrett continued his trend of being a power arm with impressive strikeout numbers as he cut down 49 in 40 innings last year for Washington.
Lastly, the most seasoned Rebel in the majors is Seth Smith, who embarks on his eighth season in the MLB and first with the Seattle Mariners. Eli Manning's former backup on the football team was a part of some of the most impressive teams in Oxford in the early 2000s when Mike Bianco first arrived at Ole Miss. After five years with the Rockies, two in Oakland, one in San Diego, Smith is now a Mariner. A career .265 hitter, Smith will look to earn a starting spot in the outfield and find that power he had in Denver to try and reach a milestone (needs 15 HR to have 100 for his career).