It’s no secret the Diamond Rebels will once again be watching the MLB Draft very closely next month.
Just bring up the name of tall, hard-throwing Biloxi product Hawtin Buchanan around recruiting coordinator Carl Lafferty and without being prompted, he’ll mutter something along the lines of, “I know the big question is the draft and certainly he’s a high profile guy and we’re just going to have to wait and see right now with the draft approaching,” like he did prior to Monday’s practice at Oxford-University Stadium.
Buchanan is just one of several good-but-are-they-too-good signees the Rebels are hoping will make it on to campus by August.
This past season Buchanan consistently pitched in front of scouts, upwards of 20 or 30 in games against fellow top prospects Mason Robbins of George County and Chase Nyman and Senquez Golson (both Ole Miss-bound) of Pascagoula.
With the draft less than a month away, Buchanan has also been receiving calls on a regular basis from scouts.
While he admits the whole process has been “a really neat thing,” Buchanan maintains that he tries to block it all out and expects to be in Oxford at the end of June for the second summer session.
“Of course it’s something to think about considering this is about the time all the scouts come up to talk, but like I told Coach Lafferty and Coach (Mike) Bianco, when I look at next year I see myself in an Ole Miss uniform,” said Buchanan, who has been projected to go as high as the fourth round. “Ole Miss is where I want to be.
“Going to college, getting college coaching and getting better than I already am, I think that would be a good idea.”
In addition to gaining experience in the Southeastern Conference, Buchanan credited Lafferty for swaying his decision to commit to the Rebels prior to his junior season over interest from Mississippi State, LSU and Alabama.
“He’s a great guy to talk to and knows how to sell the program,” Buchanan said. “It’s one of the best programs in the country. He loves what he does, loves getting out there and when he likes somebody he wants he goes after them.”
Staying in state
Buchanan believes the amount of homegrown talent that has either signed or verbally committed to play for the Rebels means good things for the future of Ole Miss’ program.
“I think Coach Lafferty has done a really good job since he took over the recruiting role of making sure he gets a lot of the in-state talent. That’s where it starts, setting a base in your home state and working from there,” he said. “Usually when a lot of in-state guys decide they want to stay home a lot of the other guys follow so it also helps with future recruiting classes.”
As for why Lafferty recruited Buchanan, that question brings forth an obvious answer.
“He’s obviously an imposing figure on the mound at 6-foot-8 and throws the ball really hard. He’s a super competitor and has that quarterback mentality where he just knows how to win games. He’s done that over his high school career and certainly we’re looking forward to seeing him do that in a Rebel uniform,” Lafferty said. “The thing about him is when you have a great fastball like he does and you’re throwing from a 6-foot-8 frame it’s really down hill and it makes it hard to square up so you’ve seen that with high school hitters. They swing and miss a lot at his fastball.”
This past season Buchanan’s velocity jumped from the 88-91 miles-per-hour range to consistently 93-94 and even hit 96.
Buchanan also utilizes a curveball in the mid-70s and a changeup in the upper 70s to lower 80s.
This past season Buchanan dominated on the mound for the Indians, posting a 6-3 record in nine appearances with two complete games. The right-hander struck out 70 and walked 24 in 48.0 innings of work and posted a 1.75 ERA. (May 17, 2011, Page 6)