Catching Up With Carl

Carl Lafferty has recruited them and seen them go through fall ball. Now he's eager to see them in preseason practices headed toward a regular season.

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The Ole Miss recruiting coordinator and assistant baseball coach led the charge to bring in a recruiting class ranked as high as third nationally by Collegiate Baseball. Lafferty sees a lot of diversity among the talent in the first-year Rebels.

"You talk about the different types of needs that were met with that class," he said. "Guys like Will Jamison and Senquez Golson, guys who can really run and change the complexion of the game, not only with their glove and bat but also on the base paths as well. And on the mound too. You look at Josh Laxer and Hawtin Buchanan, Chris Ellis, and so on are guys who look to be weekend guys here, if not this season then in the future."

Lafferty said some of the class stepped up in the fall and others are expected to as preseason practice gets underway Jan. 15.

"On the mound, the newcomer that had the best fall was Josh Laxer. He's a guy that can compete, has great stuff, and understands how to pitch. A true definition of a three-pitch mix guy, with a fast ball, slider, changeup. Also Hawtin Buchanan. Like a lot of freshmen he had some really good outings and he had some tough outings. That's to be expected. Even guys in the past like Lance Lynn and Drew Pomeranz, their ERAs in their (first) falls, they were actually pretty big. The reason for that is kids are getting adjusted to college and the workouts, and they're facing college competition for the first time. Certainly pleased with Hawtin and Josh.

"There are newcomers offensively like Will Jamison, who I think is going to be a very exciting player. He's kind of in that Jordan Henry mold in center field. Sikes Orvis, with left-handed power and a guy that can really swing the bat. Auston Bousfield is a guy that in the era of the new bat, he can really change the game playing the outfield position. He can really throw. He had like six assists from the outfield (in the fall), runners he threw out that were advancing to score. And he really swung the bat, can run the bases and steal bases. There are a lot of newcomers, and I'm sure I'm leaving some out, but they were some of the highlights from the fall."

Carl Lafferty
Bruce Newman

Lafferty said a real key to the season is setting the tone early. That's why January is so important.

"There have been guys that have had great falls and came out and struggled in January and vice versa," he said. "The thing that we really challenged our guys was to come back in shape, come back ready to go. Once we start practice, we only have three or so weeks before the season starts. We have to hit the ground running."

The freshmen and junior college players who arrived late last summer are now even more experienced than they were just a few months ago.

"The new guys now have a fall under their belt," Lafferty said. "They kind of know what to expect. You see some of those freshmen and even some of those new junior college players really taking off. So we're excited to be back and get going here in January."

Lafferty had some other comments of significance:

On traveling teams and having a strong connection with teams like Dulin's Dodgers in Memphis, the Orlando Scorpions, Marucci Elite in Louisiana, and the Texas Sun Devils, all who have provided recent players to Ole Miss baseball:

"Certainly those are some of the best travel teams in the country. We're trying to recruit the best players in the country, so a lot of times they are on the best teams. And we've had a lot of success recruiting those programs. Certainly there's a lot of homegrown talent in the state of Mississippi. And that's one thing that Cliff (Godwin) has brought in. We're really trying to contact all the Mississippi coaches and find out those Mississippi players that are out there. Certainly we want to control our own state and get the best players in our state. This great recruiting class that we talk about here now, there's Josh Laxer, Hawtin Buchanan, Senquez Golson. Those are guys that are instate guys, and even in Memphis, just outside the borders and a guy like Will Jamison. Memphis is not instate, but certainly we want to be very active there as close as it is to Oxford. The kids that have come from those programs have great experiences here. When they go home, they certainly have an impact on the kids coming back through."

On the draft and what it might mean to the recent class signed in November:

"The class we just signed is exceptional and one that we're very excited about. If you read some of the publications and know the players in it, there are some very high-profile guys who can go in the top two rounds of the draft. That's always a little scary. It's a fine line to balance that. There's a high chance we won't get all of them on campus. But we do our homework enough on the front end so that we know the guys we're likely to lose, and we plan for that. Certainly it's hard to replace a first-round pick. But sometimes it happens. The class coming in, there were nine of the ten that were Area Code (Games) kids or East Coast Pro (Showcase) kids. The three junior college players are exceptional, so we're very excited about that class."

On the draft itself and changes made recently by Major League Baseball:

"They cut down on the rounds to 40. Each major league club is given a signing bonus pool budget. It's different for each club based on where they pick in the first round. And there are penalties that are incurred if they go over that budget, which I think will kind of monitor the spending. So I think you're going to see a lot of good players get to college. There's going to be some better high school and junior college players that are pushed toward going to school rather than pro ball, because the big-league clubs aren't going to be able to pay as much money. At least that's what we think. And they changed the date (that players have to decide college or pro) to mid-July from mid-August. The big thing is there are certain players that want to sign, and there are certain players that don't. The draft's going to always be there."

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