Replacing Dylan DeLucia and Hunter Elliot was always going to be a tough proposition. Coach Bianco brought in Xavier Rivas last season in an attempt to do just that. While Rivas had an awful ERA (6.35) he did lead the Rebels in strikeouts, wins, innings and starts.
Now the one sure thing from last years rotation is no longer an option:
So what is the state of Ole Miss pitching heading into the 2024 season?
Sophomore JT Quinn is the returner with the most starting experience after making 12 starts in his freshman campaign. Quinn pitched 55 innings to the tune of a 6.83 ERA and 3-4 record. Quinn will likely be one of the first guys to get a shot at starting on the weekends.
Kyler Carmack joins the fold by way of Arkansas State. Last season he was named Second Team All Freshman by D1 Baseball after posting a 5-3 record and 3.23 ERA in 16 appearances, 12 of them starts. Carmack projects to be the possible Friday starter after loss of Rivas.
Grayson Saunier was the only player not named Xaiver Rivas to have all his appearances be starts. After a solid start from the true freshman, Saunier moved to mid week starts as he struggled to consistently find the strike zone. He finished with a 2-4 record and 6.85 ERA. The stuff is there and if he can regain control, the sophomore could easily slide back into a weekend role.
Liam Doyle is a sophomore transfer from Coastal Carolina who made seven starts and 23 total appearances, finishing with a 4.15 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 56 innings pitched.
Yet another sophomore will be in the mix as Ryne Rodriguez joins the team by way of Weatherford College. Rodriguez earned First Team JUCO All American honors after going 11-0 in 17 starts with over 100 strikeouts. A lefty that can touch the mid-90’s on the radar, Ryne could end up being the guy by time SEC play rolls around.
Another left handed rotation candidate is JUCO transfer Corey Braun from Santa Fe College. Braun went 7-1 in 12 starts with a 3.78 ERA. The impressive part about his game is that he only surrendered 16 walks and 1 home run in 64 innings pitched. Granted the competition level is going to increase significantly, the Rebels need a guy who limits base runners as well as the long ball.
That is 5 sophomores and 1 junior that enter the season with any type of starting experience at the collegiate level. Typically not ideal, but plenty of options.
Freshman in the Fold
There are a handful of freshman pitching available for coach Bianco as well:
Patrick Galle 6’2” RHP
Gabe Smith 6’5” RHP (Illinois Player of the Year)
Wes Mendes 6’1” LHP/OF
Taylor Rabe 6’5” RHP (South Carolina Player of the Year)
Hudson Calhoun 6’4” RHP
Hudson Mattox 6’3” RHP
Austin Simmons 6’2” LHP/QB
Smith and Rabe seem to be the leading candidates to make a push for a rotation spot as freshman but with 6 guys ahead of them with collegiate experience, they will need to stand out to get that shot.
The Rebels will have the defense behind them in the field. The questions behind the plate and at the dish will have to be answered, but Bianco just needs 2-3 of these guys to step up. He’s brought in solid options, now it’s on them.