The agonizing hours are over. The 2019 MLB Draft started on Monday and continued today, giving Ole Miss fans everywhere anxiety. Fans were seemingly hanging on to each and every pick as they came in and waiting to hear or not hear Jerrion Ealy’s name.
It was never announced.
So now everyone can relax.
Sports Illustrated’s Emily Caron is reporting that Ealy informed MLB teams that he intends on playing both sports in Oxford.
Ealy notified MLB organizations that he plans to stay committed to Ole Miss, the five-star football recruit told ESPN.com. Ealy was the highest-rated commit in Ole Miss’ 2019 signing class and chose to join the Rebels over offers from schools including Clemson and Alabama. Ealy was initially projected as high as a top-10 pick in the MLB draft as an outfielder.
The five-star running back and outfielder from Jackson Prep (Miss.) also announced his intentions to not wait any longer and is almost certainly getting settled in to his dorm room in Oxford and preparing for the 2019 football season.
HYDR!!!!— Jerrion Ealy (@ealy_1k) June 4, 2019
So what happened with his draft stock?
The former first-round lock had unfortunately dropped in recent mock drafts and top prospects lists after scouts started to give way and come to terms with the fact that is raw ability and athleticism wouldn’t be enough to drop six-to-seven figures and more so that his game and style of play doesn’t exactly translate to Major League Baseball quite like it would have say 10 years ago.
As mentioned in our post on Monday, scouts have soured a bit on him as of late.
For all of Ealy’s tools and athleticism, however, the industry has soured on him this spring as he’s struggled offensively against below-average Mississippi competition. While Ealy does have impressive hand-eye coordination and solid pure bat-to-ball skills, he has long needed refinement in his plate discipline, approach and mechanical setup at the plate—which is mostly to be expected from a two-sport athlete at his level. However, scouts thought he would hit much better this spring and have been disappointed with the lack of progress he has shown in the batter’s box. Given Ealy’s upside on the gridiron and underwhelming performance this spring, he figures to be a tough sign out of Mississippi. He no longer projects as a first-round talent—like he did last summer—but still has tremendous upside if he ever focuses exclusively on baseball.
This isn’t a knock on Ealy as a baseball prospect in the future as a Rebel, but most organizations aren’t leaning on stolen bases and covering a ton of ground in the outfield these days. Baseball nowadays is more about dudes who are 6’2-to-6’4 hitting for power and possessing WAR numbers that make people drool all over the programs.
Lest we forget he can play football.
Then there’s the whole “well, he’s also extremely talented on the football field” thing. Ealy has always been a stud on the gridiron. Whether it was leading Prep to four-straight state titles as a running back or torching four and five-star prospects at the Under Armour All-American Game, he was always going to have a shot to be special with a football in his hands.
The nation’s No. 3 running back in the 2019 class ran for 5,168 yards in high school, scoring 73 touchdowns for the Patriots. He was also a weapon out of the backfield, hauling in receptions for 1,454 yards and 21 touchdowns in his injury-shortened career. The young man who reminds a lot of people of J.K. Dobbins and former five-star Mississippi prospect Cam Akers was wanted by EVERYONE in last year’s cycle. Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney paid him visits in Flowood yet he chose to stay home and picked Ole Miss.
And me thinks the hiring of new offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez may have played a part in that. The originator of the zone read and the dude who essentially invented a video game offense with Pat White, Steve Slaton, and Noel Devine while the head coach at West Virginia is now going to be coaching the fastest player in the country who also just so happens to be 5’10, 200-pounds.
This instantly helps the Rebel offense that is replacing Mt. Rushmore of the nWo and looking to reload on the offensive line. Granted the 2018 starter at running back, Scottie Phillips is back, but Rodriguez is going to be more than happy to help spell him in games in order to get Ealy’s feet wet early and often in his run-first, zone-read attack.
The future of the outfield is in good hands.
You know who else is happy? Mike Bianco.
There is still an outside shot I guess that Ealy, who is ranked by Perfect Game as the No. 12 overall prospect in the country, could sign a contract similar to what former Ole Miss receiver A.J. Brown signed with the Padres which contractually obligates him to make his way out to Arizona in the summers to play a few weeks before returning to Oxford for summer football workouts. But, with his newly-updated Twitter bio including “outfielder” as well as “running back”, it looks like he might be wearing the red and blue at Swayze Field next year as well.
And boy oh boy can you imagine an outfield with him out there? Especially after a few years with converted catchers and infielders out there roaming the green grass (no offense to Thomas Dillard and Ryan Olenek), best believe Bianco is head over heels excited about the prospects of having Ealy and fellow two-sport Ole Miss signee John Rhys Plumlee out there running around, shagging fly balls. Also, don’t forget the No. 27 overall prospect Connor Walsh, who just so happens to be the second-fastest player in the country, is also a baseball signee and a phenomenal athlete who has not heard his name called either in this year’s MLB Draft.
We’re talking unprecedented outfield speed here, y’all. Like having three clones of Jordan Henry running around out there not letting anything touch the ground but the rain.
The bat is still raw, but with those raw mechanics comes plenty of raw power. He still has some work to do in the batter’s box and there’s no guarantee that he will immediately start but the speed plays every single day, his range in center field is arguably the best Ole Miss will ever have, and he has a plus arm as well. I would look for him to have a similar freshman year to Senquez Golson, pinch-hitting and running here and there, barring some big-time improvements at the dish.
This is no knock on Jerrion, SEC baseball is not an easy thing to get ready for as an 18-year old. But, his defense could be good enough to get him on the field plenty if the Rebs need it. So be patient, y’all.
Despite most of the suspense dying down over the last few weeks, there was still some concerns that a team might take a chance on Ealy, throw some money at him, and see if he would take it and be their minor league project. Alas, that did not happen and now he will come to school, ball out in two sports, and ultimately have a chance to make a roster in the NFL in a few years thanks to his five-star potential on the football field.
This was a win for Ole Miss, Matt Luke, and Mike Bianco.
Now all Jerrion has to do is try to convince Matt Corral to switch numbers.