Catcher – Brett Basham / Kyle Henson
Basham, who has the best arm on the team, will get a chance to improve his offense this summer in the Cape Cod League, but either way, the rising junior will be challenged by Henson, who is a community college transfer. Henson has a big bat but also have to show superb receiving ability to play for Mike Bianco. Alex Kliman is also in the mix but a mediocre arm puts him at a disadvantage.
First base – Cliff Vaughn
Ole Miss struggled finding an everyday player at first base in 2007 and a power hitter must emerge at this position next season. Vaughn, an entering freshman from Houston, Texas may be the top player in line for the job. Vaughn has a large frame where he can add mass and already has the ability to provide immediate extra-base power.
Second base – Zach Miller
Thanks to a tremendous freshman campaign, the Keystone sack is Millers to lose. Strikeouts were a problem this past season, but a year of experience should improve Miller's contact hitting. He features solid range and the ability to make the great play. Consistency in the field must be addressed because Miller made several errors that were simply due to a lack of concentration. The two-hole in the lineup may be an ideal slot for the compact player.
Shortstop – Sean Stuyverson / Tim Ferguson
Zack Cozart has locked this position down for the past three seasons, but the battle between two newcomers will be the best thing to watch during fall camp. JUCO transfer Stuyverson and true freshman Ferguson are vying for the spot but feature different capabilities. Stuyverson is an advanced defensive player, while Ferguson will bring offense to the middle infield. Rising junior Evan Button is the leader at shortstop right now, but I think he will switch positions before opening day 2008.
Third base – Evan Button
As I was saying, Button's experience and great hands make the hot corner a logical option for the junior. It is a position that he is familiar with and played at times in 2007. Cody Overbeck will assuredly be the top man on the depth chart entering the fall, but he can't be a defensive liability and stay there. Button is superior to Overbeck in the field and will be comparable in batting average. Overbeck's power will have to get a chance somewhere in the order but maybe not at third base.
Leftfield – Fuller Smith
There is one open outfield spot, and it will probably be in leftfield. Smith is the best option returning and can be a productive option with formidable gap power at the plate. Smith showed highlights in his first year as a Rebel but consistency plagued the entire bottom of the order including Smith. Improving his contact and connecting for a higher percentage of quality at-bats could very well land Smith in the everyday order and not just against right-handed pitching.
Centerfield – Logan Power
Power roamed center in 2007 and quietly put together a quality year in the middle of the lineup. The rising junior has above average speed, but his instincts give him that extra step defensively. Power was the captain of a tremendously fast outfield this past season and will once again provide home run pop for the Rebels.
Rightfield – Jordan Henry
The reigning SEC Freshman of the Year is the fastest player on the roster and was a terror at the top of the Ole Miss lineup. Henry is a natural table setter and had unbelievable bat control for a first-year player. The brother to now former Rebel Justin Henry should improve his baserunning instincts with experience and become an even better outfielder considering he played infield in high school.
Designated Hitter – Cody Overbeck
Overbeck's bat can't be ignored and DH could be the perfect spot for the Rebels' clean-up man in 2007. Overbeck raked in RBI during the first half of the season but tailed off toward the postseason.
Friday Starter – Lance Lynn
Lynn may have been the ace as the Saturday pitcher last year, but that title will be without question in 2008. The big right-hander used the last offseason to work on his breaking ball, and the extra command helped make Lynn nearly unhittable on occasion. Lynn will be auditioning for the scouts in his junior year and will give Ole Miss an excellent chance on the first night of every series.
Saturday Starter – Cody Satterwhite
Satterwhite was slowed by injury and used exclusively out of the bullpen in 2007 but will be given the chance to start next season. The fireballer showed a glimpse of his potential with nine shutout innings against Mississippi State in relief and has the talent to team with Lynn for another staggering one-two Ole Miss pitching punch. Both are participating with Team USA this summer.
Sunday Starter – Brett Bukvich / Nathan Baker
The two southpaws showcase different styles and will once again fight it out for the final weekend spot. Bukvich has been in big games and can paralyze opponents with a sneaky fastball and sharp breaking pitches. Baker is more of a power hurler and can run his velocity over 90 MPH. He earned All-SEC Freshman honors and posted three SEC wins in 2007. Holding runners and staying composed will be Baker's offseason challenges. Twelfth round draft pick Drew Pomeranz has the talent to start as a newcomer, but the Memphis native is still undecided on Ole Miss or the Rangers organization. If he picks college, Ole Miss' staff has a compiled group that could rival last season's SEC-leading numbers.
Closer – Justin Cryer
Cryer waited two full seasons to take the field after Tommy John surgery, but the fourth-year sophomore to be has a plus fastball and a quality slider to keep hitters off-balance. Cryer put up solid outings out of relief for most of the year and should see more playing time soon.
2008 Projected lineup
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