Future is bright as Ole Miss baseball poised to retain top 7 recruiting class
As the sun set on day two of Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft yesterday, spirits in Oxford were on the rise as the Rebels appeared to have kept the key parts of their incoming recruiting class intact–and what a class it is!
It was just a week ago that the Rebels dropped game one of the Oxford Regional to PAC 12 Champion Utah, 6-5, in 10 innings on Friday and followed that up with a Saturday loss to Tulane by an identical 6-5 score. Ole Miss fans and players, alike, were crushed by the Rebels’ elimination from the tournament. At the post-game press conference, an understandably dejected junior third baseman Colby Bortles was asked to comment on the Rebels’ early exit and fought through tears as he said, “It’s really hard. It sucks. Our goal is to go to Omaha. It sucks.”
But things are looking up for head coach Mike Bianco and the Rebels as this class of incoming recruits may very well help Ole Miss reach Omaha in the near future.
Top 7 recruiting class headed to Oxford
With this year’s class ranked in the top 7 by Perfect Game, there were no doubt some nervous moments in the Ole Miss Baseball coaches office Thursday evening and Friday as each selection in the draft was announced. The Rebels’ 2016 class is highlighted by four members of the back-to-back State Champion Oxford (Miss.) Chargers and four high school baseball All-Americans.
One by one on Friday afternoon and evening, many of these highly touted signees excitedly voiced their future plans. Thomas Dillard and Grae Kessinger, two of the top players in the nation (both from Oxford High School) got the ball rolling with their tweets:
— Thomas Dillard (@thomas_dillard7) June 10, 2016
Baseball Factory ranks Dillard and Kessinger as the Nos. 59 and 72 high schoolers, respectively, available in the draft.
The Dillard and Kessinger tweets were soon followed by one from Jacob Wilcher, a 6’3″ star outfielder from Kossuth High School in Corinth:
Soon, Ryan Rolison, an elite left-handed pitcher who throws in the 90s, made it clear that he, too, would be in Oxford soon:
— Ryan Rolison (@RyanRolison24) June 10, 2016
Carmel catcher Cooper Johnson, who earned a spot on the Team USA 18U National Team last summer, later indicated he will join the other members of the Rebels’ class:
6-foot-5, right-handed pitcher Will Ethridge also confirmed his plans via twitter:
In an interview with Davis Potter, Sports Editor at The Oxford Eagle, Dillard elaborated on his plans to play for Ole Miss:
Thomas Dillard, Ole Miss commit
Rebels chosen in the draft
The incoming recruits will have big shoes to fill. Three stars from this year’s Ole Miss team have been drafted thus far: J.B. Woodman, Errol Robinson and Henri Lartigue.
With the 16th pick in the 2nd Round, the Toronto Blue Jays selected Woodman. Given the outstanding year he had both at the plate and defensively, Woodman’s selection was no surprise to the Rebel faithful.
Shortshop Errol Robinson was chosen in the 6th round, 191st overall, by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Philadelphia Phillies selected catcher Henri Lartigue in the 7th round.
Though the players have not yet confirmed their plans, it is expected Woodman, Robinson and Lartigue will all three sign with the organizations that drafted them and enter their farm systems this summer.
Thirty rounds remain
While one day and 30 rounds remain in the MLB Draft, it seems as if the 2016 class for the Rebels will be staying together.
So if you heard a deep exhale Friday night in Oxford, it very possibly could have belonged to Rebel Skipper Mike Bianco. If there are no surprises Saturday in the draft, the future of Ole Miss Baseball looks as bright as it has for years, with this class ranking as one of the all-time best, if not the best, in Ole Miss history.
The Major League Baseball Draft resumes Saturday at 11 a.m. CT beginning with Round 11 and continuing through the 40th Round.