The Major League Baseball draft has completed two of its three days of selecting the top high school and college talent in the nation.
And fortunately for Ole Miss, some of the biggest names and most sought after talent are most likely going to be spending three years in Oxford rather than in the minor leagues. Yes, Mike Bianco is going to follow up a super regional season and a talent laden roster with a top five baseball recruiting class and more momentum heading into next year.
To put in perspective, the 2016 baseball recruiting class was ranked in the top five as high as first or second in the country depending on what website you use. That’s a lot of talent - and some of it is most likely leaving for the greener pastures of minor league baseball.
Enter a recruiting class that is ranked as high as No. 4 for Ole Miss baseball, which most detractors said was artificially high, because there would be “at least two or three” players going to the pros. And so our brows furrow and the sweat begins to bead.
There’s no reason to worry though as hundreds of picks in the MLB draft rolled on, the players fans were most concerned would be picked weren’t picked.
Let’s dive on in to see what kind of affect the MLB draft did have in the last two days for departures and who will end up in Rebel powder blues come fall.
Who are the departed?
I have no sources saying any of these guys are coming back or leaving, but I think it’s safe to say you can probably move on from them wearing the powder blue.
Grae Kessinger - SS
Going in the second round almost assures a baseball player of a seven figure pay-day, so it is highly doubtful we see Grae Cub back in 2020. It will be okay, just like that time we lost Zack Cozart and then Sean Stuyverson came in....oh wait.
Cooper Johnson - C
Coop a loop was selected in the sixth round, and he’d be nuts to return for his senior season with the incoming talent and who is coming back. Go make your money with your cannon arm and we wish you the best.
Thomas Dillard - OF
Pro baseball needed a guy with ham hocks for forearms, and then they noticed Dillard chilling in the fifth round just waiting to be picked. Now, the Oxford native will have a great chance to play in the pros for some decent signing money (approximately $315K)
Will Ethridge - RHP
At the 159 spot, Willie E ought to see more than $300K in bonus money, which according to my wife “isn’t that much money, he should come back.” WOMEN BE SHOPPIN’ WILL...just keep that in mind before you sign that line, my dude.
Who is gettin’ that degree in baseball?
Let’s be real here, these guys have plans to play three years in Oxford, develop further as players, and boost their draft status to get the big time pay day they want. And one of these fellows may end up going pro in something other than baseball!
Jerrion Ealy - OF
WELL. WELL. WELL. Have you heard of this gentleman? He is being tabbed as one of the best running backs in the country. He entered his senior season of baseball with some scouts putting him in the top ten overall. You can’t teach or coach speed, and he has plenty to burn with a 6.13 sixty-yard dash. Pretty much, he could come in and immediately be one of if not the best athletes on the team.
Hayden Dunhurst - C
Teams either looked over Dunhurst or he made it clear to them he wanted to be under the tutelage of Mike Bianco for three years. Bunting, the trademark swagger waddle, and getting dumb pitchers to throw high fastballs - that’s what you’ll learn and more the next three years! Dunhurst went into the draft as the highest profile prospect with some scouts projecting him in the top 50.
Connor Walsh - INF
One short stop leaves and another arrives with Walsh being touted as one of the best 150 prospects in the MLB Draft this year. He most likely is going to play second base with Anthony Servideo moving over to short stop next season, but don’t rule out him playing outfield if it’s needed. Walsh is a fantastic athlete who also played wide receiver at Niceville (Fla.) High School. He’ll have all the tools to be used just about anywhere on the field.
Derek Diamond - RHP
The All-American pitcher who flipped to Ole Miss from Stanford will be able to come in and shore up the weekend rotation potentially. With Ethridge’s departure, Doug Nikhazy and Gunnar Hoglund will return as an experienced 1-2 punch with a Sunday role up for grabs. With a guy like Diamond in the mix, if his repertoire is as filthy as advertised, it should be his to lose.
Seniors Ryan Olenek and Jacob Adams will be departing as well and we’re not even mentioning new guys like Andrew McDaniel and John Rhys Plumlee who will almost certainly factor into this equation. It seems like the program has a plan to not even miss a beat. Especially if above mentioned players show up and meet expectations from the scouts who projected them as pro prospects, picking up where the draft class of 2019 Rebels left off.