The MLB Draft is set to kick off Sunday July 17th and it will be a big day for the baseball program in Oxford, MS. There are a number of scenarios in play that could deplete the Rebels 2023 roster or bolster it for another title run.
Tim Elko is out of eligibility and his fate is in the hands of the MLB GMs. The biggest advantage for Elko is the addition of the universal DH, allowing for National League clubs to be more comfortable with drafting guys who just rake. Elko will be playing for someone in August, drafted or not.
Kevin Graham is a major point of interest for Rebel fans. KG actually has eligibility left and is not highly touted heading into the draft due to his weird fit defensively. There is a real chance Graham opts to improve his stock and return to Oxford if he does not like the offer presented to him.
Justin Bench can play anywhere on the field and is a base hit machine. His lack of true power hurts him, but his defensive versatility almost assures someone takes a flyer on the senior.
Hayden Dunhurst is the highest ranked Rebel player on roster and is a top 10 catcher in the draft. His stock dropped from the beginning of the season due to his struggles at the plate but the cannon attached to his shoulder and the fact that he is an actual brick wall behind the plate will guarantee the backstop gets paid.
TJ McCants is a draft eligible sophomore that has some intrigue for pro scouts. He has played out of position at Ole Miss, being a true shortstop, but McCants has the speed, power and arm to tempt scouts. He was horrendous throughout the season at the plate, so it may benefit him to return to Oxford and make more contact.
Dylan DeLucia is the most interesting case of the underclassmen because no one has a true gauge on his draft stock. While certainly rising, he could be better off betting on himself as a starter for an entire season and being one of the top college arms in the 2023 draft instead. Regardless, his performance in the College World Series has assured himself the opportunity to play next level and no one would blame him for jumping on an offer.
Bianco’s top recruit Jackson Ferris is projected to go first round as a lefty who throws straight gas. It would take a borderline miracle for the Rebs to get Ferris to Oxford, but if a team wanted to try and lowball him, he may opt to play college ball instead.
The Rebels desperately need a true outfielder and they have a stud on the way in Roman Anthony. Unfortunately it could be one of those “could-have-beens” as Anthony won’t slide past the second round and could go in the first. Like McCants, he his slender and struggles with contact, so fingers crossed he comes to Ole Miss to improve his stock as well.
Grayson Saunier out of Collierville is a two-way player that can swing it and sling it. When I last spoke with him in May, Saunier and his family were still discussing what would be the lowest offer they would accept to skip Ole Miss and jumpstart his professional career. Currently he is projected in the fourth-fifth round.
If Ole Miss can strike gold with the returns of Graham and DeLucia as well as the freshman opting to come on campus, the Rebels will be an early favorite for Omaha again.