The No. 24 Rebels needed a pick-me-up after dropping two of three at Mississippi State this weekend.
Right-hander John Wesley Ray was more than willing to oblige.
After visiting Oxford for the Arkansas series, and weighing his options, the 6-foot-5, 195 pound sophomore from Christian Brothers High School in Memphis decided it was time to commit Monday.
“They said they needed a smile after last weekend,” Ray said Wednesday. “Hopefully I’ll be helping them in a couple of years.”
Ray admitted he grew up a Mississippi State fan due to allegiances of family members from Holly Springs and New Albany, but after considering interest from Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Southern Miss and MSU, and visiting Oxford, he knew where he wanted to play his college ball.
“I’ve always known that Ole Miss was a good baseball school. I grew up a Mississippi State fan, but I knew (Ole Miss) was somewhere I could go and the fit seems perfect,” said Ray, who will be a member of the Rebels’ 2014 signing class. “I went on three visits down to Mississippi State and they came to watch me pitch twice. Ole Miss, the facilities, the atmosphere, I just loved everything about Ole Miss.
“There were some things at Mississippi State that I was kind of iffy about.”
Originally, Ray wanted to wait and see out the recruiting process.
But after an off game on the mound last week, the right-hander decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and call the Rebel coaching staff with the good news.
“I figured nobody was going to beat Ole Miss,” he said. “We were planning on waiting, but I had a bad start after I got the offer and we both knew that stuff was on my mind, so I just told them that I knew that’s where I wanted to go to college.
“There wasn’t any doubt about it because nobody could beat what Ole Miss has with its atmosphere and stuff like that. So I just went ahead and committed.”
This summer Ray, like a lot of elite recruits and Major League Baseball draft prospects, won’t have a lot of down time due to being invited to participate in the Tournament of Stars in Cary, N.C., Area Code games in Washington, D.C and several showcases in Mississippi.
According to Ray, he tries to use his height to his advantage on the mound.
“I’m 6-5 so I try to throw downhill as much as I can,” he said. “My velocity is pretty good for my age. I’m 85-89 and I throw a cutter and a change up (plus a two-seam and four-seam fastball). My cutter is a decent pitch and my changeup is a decent pitch that I need to develop this summer.”
Ray is Ole Miss’ second 2014 commitment, joining 6-foot, 175-pound middle infielder Tate Blackman from Altamonte Springs, Fla. (May 3, 2012, Page 7)