As we touched on in Part 1, the Ole Miss Rebel championship defense effort begins in less than a month as they host Delaware for a three game set. Big changes are afoot in Oxford after Coach Bianco had a lot of talent exit the program.
There is no replacing the likes of Elko, DeLucia, Graham, Bench and Dunhurst but the Rebels have brought in quite a bit of talent in an attempt to replicate the magic from last season. Ole Miss saw LHP prospect Jackson Ferris go in the second round to the Chicago Cubs and likely day one starter in the outfield Roman Anthony be selected by the Boston Red Sox. Nevertheless, there is some exciting new talent wearing the navy pinstripes this spring.
With the corner spots possibly up for grabs, Coach Bianco snagged a potential day one in Junior Ethan Lege. Lege was a D1 JUCO All-American in 2022 and was taken in the 16th round of the MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit .399 with 15 doubles and 36 RBI last season. There’s not a lot of pop in that bat, but you will always take someone that gets on base.
Outfield is another area desperate for help and Tulane transfer Ethan Groff could start right away in right field. Groff had 17 multi-hit games last season and only made one error on 77 attempts in right. He hit for a salivating .404 average with nine home runs and looks to be a solid replacement in right.
Who is going to play first base you ask? Look no further than Northwestern transfer Anthony Calarco. The 6-4 senior hit .325 with 13 home runs and 54 RBI. This is a guy who can come in right away swinging and not give you the defensive concerns a Tywone Malone might at first base.
Junior Tommy Henniger comes to us from the JUCO ranks where he composed a 17-2 career record. The more impressive stat is his compilation of more strikeouts than innings pitched: 148 k’s in 137 innings pitched. It is always a flip of the coin whether that kind of success will translate to the highest level of college baseball.
Junior Xavier Rivas from Indianapolis should slot in as the #2 guy behind Hunter Elliott this season. In his two year career, Rivas was 10-1 with a sub-3 ERA leading to a D2 All American season in 2022. Again, will his stuff transfer? Pitching is pitching and if you can miss bats and limit the walks, Ole Miss should have the team around him to win a lot of games.
2022 JUCO National Champion Cole Tolbert finds his way to Oxford from Pearl River Community College. He went 3-1 with a 2.44 ERA during his freshman and only season at PRCC. He only made 3 starts in JUCO and will likely be a bullpen arm as a sophomore.
While this lot of transfers will look to have immediate impacts, Part 3 of this series will take a look at the incoming freshman and which ones might also have a chance for an immediate impact.