It’s never too early to talk baseball and on Friday I was able to take in the Diamond Rebels first scrimmage of the fall before heading to Water Valley for the Blue Devils’ 27-21 victory over North Pontotoc.
QUICK HIT OBSERVATIONS:
—I’m glad the players were wearing jerseys and the Ole Miss website’s roster was updated because there are A LOT of new faces (20, to be exact…). The Rebels have 38 players on the roster right now, and Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said he expects the roster to sort itself out by the time the spring rolls around and the Rebels are limited to a 35-man roster. He said he would have liked to be at 40 players in part because of what happened to the team last year where pitchers Jake Morgan, Jon Andy Scott and Blair Wright each got hurt before the season began, and both Evan Frazar and Zach Lowery were dismissed from the team. Last year the team had 34 players at this point and with the injuries/dismissals Ole Miss bench was severely limited once the season began. Live and learn I suppose.
—Freshman 1B/3B/Corner OF Preston Overbey is good. Overbey, who was drafted in 2010 by the Tampa Bay Rays but opted to come to Ole Miss instead of turning pro, tallied a single, scored a run and made several slick plays at third base. Not only did he start a 5-4-3 double play, but also made a nice scoop and throw on a ball hit sharply down the line.
—Freshman 1B Jimel Judon is big. I’d seen the former Myrtle High standout the last two summers in the New Albany-based Cotton States Baseball League, so that wasn’t exactly a shock to me (not the case for RebelGrove.com‘s Chase Parham, who was getting to see Judon for the first time. He’s a big kid and a bit of a project. When he gets into an actual weight program (he’s never lifted regularly before) he might do some damage. He made several nice scoops on throws to first base and also walked twice in two plate appearances.
—For what it’s worth, the Red and Blue squads tied 3-3 in 4.5 innings.
MAKING SOME CHANGES: Right-hander Trent Rothlin has dropped his arm slot a bit to almost a side-arm position. The change is something they talked about doing towards the end of last season but didn’t actually follow through on until the offseason. Bianco is hoping the new arm angle will help get more ground balls. During the scrimmage Rothlin walked Austin Anderson, induced a 5-4-3 double play from Chris Ellis, struck out Casey Greene and got ground outs to third base from Gabe Woods and Austin Sullivan.
Also new on the pitching staff: Right-hander David Goforth has added a cut-fastball to his repertoire. The hope is it will help get batters off of his fastball, per Bianco.
A NEW No. 6: Ole Miss fans may recognize the player at shortstop at first glance. New shortstop candidate Blake Newalu will be wearing the same number as former Rebel Kevin Mort, who was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates. When asked if giving Newalu Mort’s former number, Bianco joked, “What? You thought we were going to retire it?”
GETTING THE START:
RED TEAM BLUE TEAM
C: Taylor Hightower Miles Hamblin
1B: Jimel Judon Chris Ellis
2B: Alex Yarbrough Gabe Woods
3B: Preston Overbey Casey Greene
SS: Blake Newalu Austin Anderson
LF: Zach Kirksey Jordan Poole
CF: Tanner Mathis Jordan King
RF: Eric Sauls Matt Smith
DH: Peyton Johnson Austin Sullivan
P: Austin Wright (LHP) Matt Tracy (LHP)
David Goforth (RHP) R.J. Hively (RHP)
Brett Huber (RHP) Matt Crouse (LHP)
Trent Rothlin (RHP) Eric Callender (RHP)
Brooks Oursler (RHP)
PITCHING: For the purpose of the scrimmage on Scout Day, each pitcher faced five batters (which is why several recorded four outs in one frame. Below is how batters fared against each pitcher:
Tracy: E1, K, 3U, H (RBI), K
Wright: H, BB, H (RBI), SF8 (RBI), F8
Hively: H, HBP/H, BB (RBI), BB (RBI), K
Goforth: BB, K, 5-4-3DP, F9, BB
Crouse: K, 5-3, 1-3, 6-3, H
Huber: 1-3, BB, 2B (RBI), 4-3, K
Callender: 6-3, P4, K, BB, K
Rothlin: BB, 6-4-3DP, 5-3, K, 5-3
Oursler: F9, 3U, F8, K, 6-3
AND THE HITTERS?:
Newalu: 0/2, R, SB
Hightower: 0/3, K
Sauls: 1/3, H, RBI, K
Yarbrough: 1/3, H, K
King: 1/2, H, R
Hamblin: 0/0, 2BB, 2R, SB
Smith: 2/2, H, 2B, 2 RBI
Tracy: 0/2, RBI
Poole: 0/2, K
Overbey: 1/2, H, R
Allen: 1/, HBP, R
Mathis: 0/1, K, BB, RBI
Judon: 0/0, 2BB, RBI
Johnson: 0/2, 2K
Anderson: 0/0, 2BB
Ellis: 0/2, K, GiDP
Woods: 0/2, GiDP
Greene: 0/2, K
Sullivan: 0/1, BB
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Ole Miss will return to the diamond on Sunday, hosting its second intrascrimmage of the fall at 1 p.m. Freshman Will Allen will get the start at catcher for one of the teams and Bobby Wahl is expected to throw at some point. Both, like Overbey, were drafted but opted to come to Ole Miss. Morgan is also expected to throw.
**Be sure to check Monday’s edition of the Oxford EAGLE for a full recap from the weekend. (September 18, 2010)