The Ole Miss baseball team is halfway through the fall practice session of four weeks, but they have only played four of their scheduled 11 intrasquad games.
The final two weekends will be busy at the stadium as the Rebels will play three intrasquads this weekend, following that up with four the next weekend.
"We're still evaluating and figuring out a lot of things," said Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco. "Probably the pitching staff has been the biggest thing for us – who will pitch, who will help, what roles will they be in. Some guys have done real well and some guys haven't. Others have done just OK. But we have two more weeks of fall practice, then individual work after that, and then preseason practice in January and February. So we have some time to figure it all out. But our pitchers have been inconsistent for the most part.
"Not that we've pitched badly, but it would have been nice to have pitched a little bit better this fall so far," Bianco continued. "It would have been nice to see us pitch a little more consistently and a little more dominantly."
The flip side is that offensively the Rebels have been impressive this fall.
"We've scored a lot of runs," Bianco said. "We're swinging it well. There are some players who are really having good falls at the plate for us."
Replacing a bullpen full of pitchers – starters and relievers – was among the top priorities this fall. Senior LHP Tommy Baumgardner has been impressive in his five innings of work with an ERA of 0.00. Freshman RHP Cody Satterwhite has hit 95 mph on the radar gun several times, the latest this past weekend in an intrasquad. The Hillcrest grad has been consistently low 90s and in the 94-95 range some as well.
Junior newcomer RHP Nick Hetland has pitched well in his limited action, but a rib/muscle injury situation continues to bother him this week. There is a chance he may see little action the rest of fall drills to make sure he's ready for January preseason practice.
Freshman RHP Wade Broyles had a positive outing recently and his numbers are good. He's had six strikeouts in the intrasquads and no walks. Senior RHP Stoney Stone also has six strikeouts and no walks but has given up a couple of home runs and, like a lot of the pitchers this fall, has been inconsistent.
Freshman RHP Lance Lynn has been one of those inconsistent pitchers as well. With a 7.71 ERA for five innings, Lynn has four strikeouts but three walks. Much of Lynn's fall has been working on his conditioning and getting in better shape.
Junior LHP Garrett White has pitched well with an ERA of 3.60 with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Redshirt freshman RHP Brett Bukvich has been impressive on the mound, in the outfield, and at the plate. The big 6-foot-4, 235-pounder has had a solid fall. On the mound his ERA is 1.80 with six strikeouts and no walks.
An everyday catcher to replace the graduated Barry Gunther was also high on the list of to-dos this fall. Those in the mix have been impressive in all areas.
Junior veteran Justin Brashear is the frontrunner behind the plate, and is having a good fall so far. Newcomer Brett Basham has impressed as a catcher and with his bat. Returnee Alex Kliman is also in the mix along with two more newcomers, Miles Cabeceiras and Ryan White.
Brashear is batting .286 with two RBI. Basham is hitting .357 with a double, a home run, and two RBI. Kliman is batting .412 with three RBI, while Cabeceiras is batting .357 with two doubles and a home run.
While shortstop has mainly been Zach Cozart (.389, two doubles, one home run) with newcomer Evan Button backing him up, and third has been Chris Coghlan (.438, two doubles, four RBI) with freshman Devin Hicks as backup, second and first were up for grabs with the departure of Cooper Osteen at second and Stephen Head at first.
Senior C.J. Ketchum (.250, two doubles, one home run), with several big pinch hits last season, is currently the frontrunner at first. Sophomore Jon-Jon Hancock (.313, two doubles, four RBI), sophomore Peyton Farr (.357, seven RBI), and freshman Cullan Kight (.286, one home run, three RBI) are also playing some first.
Sophomore Justin Henry (.263, one triple) has moved into Cooper Osteen's old spot at second. Backing him up is freshman Zach Miller.
The outfield situation was also in a bit of transition with RF Brian Pettway and CF Miles Franklin gone. Junior Alex Presley (.333, two doubles, one home run), a veteran of the program, has all but sewn up the center field spot, which was predicted.
Right field has been a combo of players, led mainly by returnee Jon-Jon Hancock. In a relatively new move this week, junior Mark Wright (.421, three doubles, three home runs, seven RBI) will see some action in right field, moving from his normal left field location.
Bukvich (.357, two doubles, two triples) is likely going to see some time in left the rest of the fall. Other outfielders in the mix have been senior Luke Barthel in center, and RS freshman Cody Overbeck (.313, two doubles, five RBI) at either corner. RS freshman Logan Power was projected in the outfield mix this fall but tore a hamstring right before the fall practice session started.
The DH role could be filled by any number of the above mentioned players. Also junior Kyle Mills (.333, five RBI) is a leader at the DH spot.
Baseball Rebels near halfway point of fall
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