The draft is always critical to a program's future. This may be the most important one for the immediate future of Ole Miss baseball in a while. The Rebels need some help. There is some on the way, too, unless the draft sidetracks things and it could.
There's a decent chance all three weekend starters from this past spring – Matt Crouse, David Goforth, and Austin Wright - get drafted and will be gone.
If so, what does that initially mean? It means young pitchers like Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers have to be super sophs if the Rebels are going to have a chance to get back to postseason next season. And not just those two. Incoming freshmen pitchers have to arrive as well.
What about arms like Hawtin Buchanan, Josh Laxer, and Chris Ellis, to name a few? They are all incoming freshmen whose names will likely appear in the draft in the next three days. They'll have decisions to make.
In talking with all three, there seems to be a good chance they'll all be in red and blue in the spring of 2012. But we won't know for sure until August. Remember, they don't have to actually decide until then.
Back to the incoming players. Michael Reed, son of former Ole Miss football player Benton Reed, is an outfielder who should hear his name fairly early. He's said his dream is professional baseball. Jake Overbey, the brother of Preston, is a shortstop who could be drafted. He's said he is excited about the draft, but indications are at this point he's planning on being in Oxford.
Sikes Orvis, the infield slugger from Orlando, is one to keep an eye on in the draft and throughout the summer. Casey Mulholland, so highly thought of by scouts more than a year ago before surgery and rehab, is an important piece of the incoming Rebel puzzle.
Junior college catcher Ryan Hornback, high school outfield speedster Will Jamison, JUCO LHP Dylan Chavez, Orlando outfielder Auston Bousfield, Hamilton High star Chase Reeves all are but some of the names of Rebel signees who could have some decisions in the next few days and weeks.
And of course there is football signee Senquez Golson, who could be drafted higher than all of them. If so, does he make it to campus as a two-sport player, or does he take the pro money and go play for pay?
It's a quality class of players coming in. There are needs that have to be met, and this class has some of the potential answers. But the draft, along with decision time in August, has to be kind to Ole Miss for that to happen.
The bottom line is we'll know whose names are called by Wednesday. But we won't likely know much more for the group as a whole – both those entering and those returning – until August.
Speaking of some of the above, I caught up with four of them in Pearl Saturday at the D.M. Howie Mississippi High School All-Star Games. Here is some of what they had to say.
Senquez Golson on the draft:
"Just going with the flow with the draft thing. I'm waiting on Monday. I'm not going to know everything to make a decision until I make that phone call. I don't know what to expect really. There are so many things that I'm just going with the flow."
Golson on what he'd like to do:
"First thing first as it has always been is that I'm going to college, but if the baseball thing works out, that'll be what I'm doing. If I had to do something tomorrow, it would be Ole Miss, but baseball could work out. I don't know."
Golson on the key to his decision:
"I would say it's all about a number. Is it going to be enough to keep me from getting a degree? Is it a life-changing situation? That's what it comes down to."
Golson on what he is hearing as far as where he might be drafted and how he feels about it:
"I went to one or two (pre-draft workouts). The earliest I heard is sandwich round, so I guess that's what I'm looking at. I'm not nervous. There's nothing to be nervous about. Either way it'll work out."
"I'm waiting to see what happens, but at the end of the day, Ole Miss is where I want to be. I told Coach Bianco that and Coach Lafferty that. They know it. It would take an absolute miracle to get me away from there."
Buchanan on what it would take for him to go pro, and what he's heard:
"If it's something that's good, then it'll give me something to think about. But when I look at next year I see myself in Oxford, Mississippi, not in Montana in some small town on a bus. A lot of it depends on signability, but I've heard anything from the first (round) to the fifth.
Buchanan on his summer now and down the road:
"I'm driving up to orientation on Monday with my family and then deal with the draft thing and my phone ringing off the hook. I'm going to the second summer session in late June to get in the weight room and get on the field to get my arm ready."
Josh Laxer on what he's heard about the draft:
"I wish I knew what to expect. All the scouts say they don't know until the day of or day before the draft, so they haven't told me anything directly. So I'm not sure. I've heard from two or three guys that I'll be between the second and third or the sandwich, somewhere in there. That's what two have said – one in the Major League Scouting Bureau.
Laxer on what money it will take for him to go pro or go to college:
"I definitely want to go to college, but I have a number that will prevent me from going to college. I let the number out two weeks ago. My family and I sat down and came up with a number of $900,000. That's what it'll take for me to not go to college. It's something I can't turn down. From the finanacial point of view, that's what would cover me I think."
Laxer on his feelings currently:
"I can't explain my excitement to go to Ole Miss. I'm also excited to play Major League Baseball. That's a goal in life and another dream for me. Right now I plan to be coming to summer school (in late June at Ole Miss).
Chase Reeves on his summer ahead:
"That's all this summer's about, getting ready for next year. High school's over. You want to go into next year and perform. All my summer is based on is getting better for next year."
Reeves on where he believes he will play at Ole Miss and how his senior season went in high school:
"I think my best chance is in the outfield. But they're going to give me a chance to pitch, so if I go in and do a good job, I may have a good chance. I had a good year. I hit like .480 with seven home runs. I pitched good and had a good year. I've played center field the past four years. They sent me a workout. I've been doing a lot of sprints. I've gotten a little faster. I'll keep working on that. (Reeves runs a 6.9 in the 60).
Reeves, who committed to Ole Miss in 2009, on his excitement to be nearing his arrival time in Oxford:
"It took forever to get here, and now it's finally here. So I'm excited. I've just got to work hard and go in and do my job."