As coach Bianco said earlier, we are very fortunate to return so many guys on our pitching staff and we do have a lot of depth. Obviously, recognizable names are Lance Lynn, Cody Satterwhite, Justin Cryer, Scott Bittle. But this year, guys that maybe pitched for us in a limited role last year will get some opportunities. Guys like Phillip Irwin, Jake Morgan. Then also, I think you're going to get a chance to see some great arms that redhsirted for us last year, such as Jake Morgan and Matt Smith. Then you look forward to the newcomers to the program; Drew Pomeranz out of Memphis; a highly-touted freshman that's definitely going to push for time that's had a great fall had a great spring. Even Garrett Duff, a junior college guys from Texas has come on and thrown terrific this spring as well.
We're looking forward to this weekend. On Friday night we're going to start Lance Lynn. Saturday; Cody Satterwhite. Sunday; Nathan Baker and forgive me, I forgot Nathan. He was a freshman All-America and obviously we're really happy to have him back as well.
But in relief, we can fill that closer role with Justin Cryer. A guy such as Scott Bittle, Pomeranz, Irwin, those are all guys that will figure into this weekend.
Looking forward to next week I'll be quite honest with you; not sure who's going to start those midweek games. Obviously names like Bittle, Irwin, and Pomeranz are guys that could figure in, but at the same time we're looking forward to seeing how this weekend goes and you know, how much they pitch in relief appearances or what not.
Q: status of Michael Park?
A: Michael Park, his back has healed well and he was able to get on the mound for the first time in almost a year this spring and has done exactly what we thought he would. He's been an upper-80s guy, just been able to fill the zone up with a breaking ball, slider, and really compete. Right now not 100% sure as far as defining a role for him yet, but pleased with what he's done this spring.
Q: Where do you see Wade Broyles?
A: Actually I apologize for not mentioning him earlier. Wade had a terrific summer. He's a guy that looks to be out of the bullpen for us this year. A guy that's mid to upper-80s guy. He has a plus breaking ball and I think that's really a pitch for him that set him apart from other guys; you look at velocity and "stuff". Broyles is terrific and we look for good things out of him this year and look for him to be a guy out of the bullpen for us.
Q: What separated Baker?
A: Nathan's had some very good outings. Obviously, his maturation process, as a freshman he started on the weekend for us. You have to grow-up fast in this league and he's done that. This fall and this spring he showed a lot more poise on the mound. His stuff is great; he's an upper-80s, low-90s fastball guy, throws a hard slider around 80, and the thing that I've seen out of Nathan that he's done so well is that he's gone out and pitched. He's really been able to command both sides of the plate with the fastball and throw his slider for a high strike percentage. He's been very affective this spring in intrasquads.
Q: Matt Tracey's progress?
A: Again, it's funny y'all brought up a couple names I missed but that tells you how deep we really are and you know we've talked about the condensed schedule, that's definitely a plus for us. But Matt Tracey, another left-handed freshman arm. Talented guy, big guy, 6-4, pitches with a lot of confidence for a freshman. Look for him to come out of the pen and do some things for us.
A: I think that's something that you kind of figure out as you go along. As you've heard coach Bianco say many times, the opening day lineup and rotation is usually never the same at the end of the year. Cryer brings the mentality and experience and personality that you like in a closer and obviously we expect him to do well. Scott Bittle closed last year, Garrett Duff is another guy that comes in, is a juco guy that's a hard thrower, strike thrower, that may figure into that equation. It's one of those situations where the season will dictate that and how guys fall into certain roles.
Q: Matt Smith's development?
A: That's another guy that could be a possibility for our closer role because he's a two-way guy and a very talented two-way guy. On the mound you're going to see him go out with a little bit of adrenaline running up to the mid-90s and throw a hard slider. He's shown the ability like a lot of position players who are two-way guys to be a strike thrower; to be able to command the fastball. Slider has become more of a pitch for him, something he's worked on in the fall in bullpens and now intpo the spring. It's becoming a pitch rather than just the catcher puts down a signal and I throw it. It's become a tool for him or a weapon.
As many of you probably know, we have a very deep, talented, impactful group of outfielders this year. Coach spoke earlier how we return seven of the nine starters from last year. We actually return all three starting outfielders on opening day from last year in Logan Power, Fuller Smith, and Jordan Henry., We also return redhsirt freshman David Kindred as well. In addition the returners, we have newcomers Michael Hubbard, Michael; Guerrero, and Jeremy Travis. The uniqueness, I believe, with this outfield is we have four or five true centerfielders which is rare. So, we have a lot of options, we have the ability to do a lot of different things defensively so we're very versatile in the outfield. I would expect to see several different configurations, especially early on.
Offensively, all the outfielders, really it's one of those, it almost sounds too good to be true, but offensively, they all bring something to the table. They've all shown that they can be impactfull in the lineup offensively as well as defensively. We feel this is a very special group of outfielder we have this year and I would bet on seeing just about all of our outfielders in some form or fashion contributing to what we do this year.
On Friday night, starting in leftfield will be Logan Power. Veteran outfielder, started every game last year, actually in centerfield, but he will be in leftfield. In centerfield, we will have Michael Hubbard, junior college transfer from Arkansas. Rightfield, Jordan Henry, who also started every game in rightfield last year, will be starting again in rightfield on Friday night. In the DH role, Michael Guerrero from Meridian C.C. will be dhing, but I would expect to see, we would expect to see Michael Guerrero draw a start possibly in centerfield at some point in the weekend. Like I've said, all of these outfielder can play multiple positon0s, they're very versatile so we do have the option with the lineup to move them around from different positions.
Q: Logan Power
A: Logan Power, last year, was our best defensive outfielder which is why he played centerfield. He was not the fastest, but with Jordan Henry it's tougher to get faster than that, but he had the best idea of what he was doing and was very good last year. It's been neat because he's actually, he has improved. Granted, he's not playing centerfield, that should tell you how deep and talented we really are, but he has improved since last year. I think that the talent around him has made him better and he's taking more of a leadership role this year.
Q: Hubbard in center?
A: Logan is a terrific outfielder and can play any position. Hubbard, really, just is a little bit faster going with 60 times. As far as reads and everything, they're about the same, but Michael Hubbard is a little bit faster so it makes for sense to have him in center, but they're both terrific outfielders.
Q: How has Jordan improved defensively?
A: Again, having the talent that we have out there, defensive talent, it's kind of caused the guys like Jordan Henry, Logan power, Fuller Smith, to rise to the occasion because there is a lot of competition and Jordan Henry has. He has made significant strides. We have had him in centerfield quite a bit during the fall and spring workouts and he's settling in. He can get away with a lot of things because he is so quick and he really picked up the position very quickly and I would expect him to be a tremendous outfielder this year, next year, to be one of the best outfielders that's ever played here. We forget that he's only played the position one year, but he is getting better.
Jeremy Travis, Junior college transfer from Texas. He's another terrific outfielder. Has played centerfield, we've had him mostly in rightfield, but he can also play leftfield. He's quick, has decent speed, I believe is a sub-7 runner. He has a terrific arm from the outfield. He is definitely in the top 3,4,5 outfielders in the mix.
Q: Aggressive base stealers?
A: We think so. We have a lot of speed, yes, and the most important thing is it seems like these guys, none of them are scared to steal bases. We have a lot of confidence in our guys and they have a lot of confidence in themselves. I haven't looked at the stats, but we're probably stolen more bases, or had more attempts in the fall this year than we've had in recent years. So yes, I would expect to see more of that.
I guess the reoccurring theme you guys have head all day is how deep we are and that goes right along with our infield. We're very lucky to have a very talented, deep group of infielders. Looking around the positions, we lost Zack Cozart at shortstop who was tremendous, but we feel like we have a lot of quality players that have come into the program and have retuned to the program to step into those positions and keep us going at that same level of defense that we've played in the SEC over the years. Last year you heard that we were rated fourth in the country in overall defense which was a tremendous achievement for us and I think this year's team will be just as equally good defensively.
Looking forward to Friday night, Cody Overbeck will be the starting third baseman. Many of you know that last year he was our leading homerun hitter and he hit 14 homeruns for us. Spent the summer, at the coach's request, in the weight room trying to get a bigger and a little bit bulkier, and he did that. I think if you've been out to watch scrimmages you've seen a little bit stronger Cody Overbeck; he's always had a tremendous bat but the thing that I would say about him is confidence, confidence, confidence. He is overflowing with it; he believes in himself, he's ready to step into the middle of the lineup and be that run-producing type guy. Defensively, he makes all the plays; he has a very strong arm, good hands, and he's done a great job over at third base. Moving over to shortstop will be Evan Button on Friday night. Evan had a great, great fall for us. He's bounced around from position; he's played the outfield, he's played first base, he'/s played second base, third, he's been everywhere at shortstop mainly because of Zack Cozart. Now is his time to step in there and take that position over and he's more than capable of doing that. He's got tremendous hands, he's a phenomenal athlete, strong arm, hell do a great job at short for us. Moving over to second base, Zach Miller returning. He was an All-America last year, had a great season for us. Very capable infielder, makes all the routine plays. He's kind of that throwback, what I call the old dirt bag gritty type player, he's very fun to watch and he's a very good offensive player as well. Moving over to first base will be Matt Smith. Matt was a redshirt freshman for us last year, he's best known for his towering homeruns in batting practice and he's a physical force. The reason that he's moved over to first base is he's very athletic. He played there this summer and that was really the first time he played the position and he played it very well.. He's very athletic, good around the bag, he's a big target and that'll be an asset to the other infielders as they throw with him everyday. That will pretty much be our starting infield going into this weekend. We're very lucky with a lot of depth and I'm going to mention some other guys. Sean Stuveryson is a junior college transfer from Florida who's had a great fall and spring an play all three infield positions, he's very talented, catches the ball well, is a pretty good offensive player, so he's another guy that you could see in there at some point helping us out defensively and on the offensive side of things. Another guy which is an exciting player as a freshman is Tim Fergusson from Beaumont, Texas. Tim is a freshman, but very exciting. He can really do it offensively. Defensively, he's another guy who can play all three infield position, plays them well. He's a good runner and he's a guy that you'll see in there a some point,. The toughest part is finding playing time for all these quality players and that's a coach's toughest job to do, but we're lucky beaus as we've talked about we have interchangeable positions so you can put guys in different positions and not skip a beat and I think that's a good problem to have and I thi9nk that's a good problem to have. I think that's pretty much our infield. We do have some other guys who have had tremendous times here. Logan Williams is another freshman from Arkansas, can really swing the bat, he's really proved from the fall to the spring defensively at third base he's a really capable defender. Cliff Vaughn is another freshman fro Texas, big0bodied kid. He's got some power in his bat, he's improving everyday at first base but he's another guy who's been swinging it pretty well for us. Yogi Gunther, Barry Gunther's younger brother is another multi-talented infielder. We've had him at second and at third and he's done well for us also. The also position I'm going to talk about real quick is the catching spot. Friday night Brett Basham will be the opening day starter at catcher. He's obviously a returner, caught the majority of the time last year. Kyle Henson is a junior college transfer and he's had an awesome fall and spring for us and you will see Kyle at some point as well. He's a very capable defender, very good offensively so when you add those two guys behind the plate, playing five games a week you really have to have two quality catchers and I think both of those guys can handle the workload.
Offensively., it's been a great fall for us., We've hit a lot of homeruns and when we looked back at coach Bianco's opening press conferences when he was hired here, he talked about bringing a special type of offensive mentality to Ole Miss; being an aggressive-type hitting team, wanting to hit homeruns, wanting to be a scary offenssive club and doing it in different ways; hitting homeruns, hitting doubles, putting pressure on defenses by running, by stealing bags, by going first to third. Not to say that we didn't do that last year, that we got away from it, but we really wanted to make an emphasis that this year we were going to get back to some of those things that helped this program get ot where it is today, and offensively that was one of things that we wanted to do. We want to be scary, we want to be aggressive, we want to swing the bats. In the fall we hit 59 homeruns, which is a large amount, and I think we've hit 23 homeruns. That's a lot of homeruns. Watch us, it's a different style offense, there's aggression there, they really get after it, and I think that will help us going into the spring. Those are the kind of things that we've really worked on and we've got the ability to steal bags, to leave the yard with homeruns, and I think this is going to be a great offensive team this year.
Q: Dip in BA after rise in HR?
A: it all kind of goes into it. We're going to be a good hitting team. We're going to have a good average and we are going to increase our power numbers and I think a lot of that comes from just the mentality of being aggressive and swinging the bats. Last year we were a good hitting team, we hit .310 as a club, but the power wasn't there and sometimes when you swing and you swing and you emphasize that, yeah you may not hit a home run but you'll hit a double and sometimes instead of just getting jammed and just popping it up to the infield it'd make it over their heads because the swings are different, they're more aggressive. I think our average is still going to be there; we've always been a good hitting team here and we'll continue to do that, but our power numbers will be probably the main thing that you'll see make a jump.
Q: Speed and power 1-9?
A: We're definitely very blessed because Jordan Henry will be the top of the order and obviously he's a runner and the catalyst of the offense. He gets on base, is going to score a lot of runs. We're lucky because we do go pretty deep. Our 3,4,5,6,7,8 hole guys are all capable of driving in runs, hitting homeruns and being productive offensive players for us, so those things are definitely going to be an advantage. There's a lot of depth, as you said, and I think our offense will be pretty scary- that's the word we like to use.
Q: Options at DH?
A: As Matt said, Michael Guerrero will be the starting DH on Friday night. Other guys that I think you'll see I there at some point this year is Kyle Mills the senior; tremendous power hitter, he's got a lot of pull side power and he is a power guy. One thing you can always count on Kyle is he's going to go in there and swing and swing hard and he did that when he came off the bench; hit three or four homeruns for us off the bench. I think he'll get a chance to be the DH some just because he brings that dimension of being able to swing hard and leave the yard and put some fear in people. Cullan Kight is another guy, he's kind of in that mix at first base with Matt Smith. Cullan is a returning guy for. He got some very goof swings and some quality at-bats late in the year, especially, the one that sticks out in my head is against Weathers from Vanderbilt when he came in like the 8th inning and was throwing like 98 and Cullen turned it around and almost left the yard, it was a great bit of hitting for us. Cullan is a guy that'll be in the mix at first and at DH. Fuller Smith is another guy that's in the outfield/ He's another senior, he's a captain for us, he's an emotional leader for us. He's had a great fall and spring swinging the bat so he's another lefthanded stick that could DH, but also you could see him coming off the bench.
Q: Batting order?
A: wow, that's a tough question. Obviously Jordan Henry, and this is all just kind of off my head, we've talked about it a little as a staff. I would imagine you'd see Jordan Henry leading off, Zach Miller in the two-hole. Cody Overbeck, I feel pretty good he's going to bat third just so he can get in there and he hits in the first inning every game because he's a very dangerous guy. After that, it's pretty mixed up, you have the Guerreros the Matt Smiths, Logan Power for sure- double-digit returning homerun guy. I think those guys are all in that 4,5,6 range. The catcher will be in the 7,8, hole in that area. Michael Hubbard is another guy with speed and power so you have some options with him. He can be a bottom of the order type guy that rolls over to the top of the order. He could end up , if he starts swinging it and gets hot and shows that power, he could be a middle of the lineup type guy 5,6 hole. I would say, right now, with all certainty, Jordan leading of and Overbeck in the 3 hole are the two certainties I can feel pretty confident telling you about.
Q: Button back at first?
A: When you watched Evan last year, and again he was always sitting there behind Zack, but you just always noticed him. He's one of those players that is exciting, is athletic, and he makes all the plays. He bounced around because of his bat, his bat got him in the lineup and being a good player got him in the lineup at different positions, but now that he;s back at shortstop and it's "his area" and "his spot" he feels very confident. He's ready to take that challenge on and be that guy. A lot of people have asked him that question; ‘are you ready to be the shortstop because Zack played there the last three years,' and his answer is yes. That's why he came here, was to play shortstop at Ole miss and it's his time and hes more than capable and he's ready to do that.
Q: Logan Williams?
A: He's done really well. In the fall, there were times where he wasn't as aggressive coming and getting balls and that's part of just learning the position and we worked on that at the end of the fall and the spring and he's gotten a lot better. He does swing a pretty good bat. He's got some power. Looking where he fits into the mix, that's a tough question because guys like Stuveryson who's a proven defender, who you know late in the game you can put him in and he's going to make all the plays. UI think he would probably be the first infielder off t he bench per say. Tim Fergusson is also a guy that can play all three positions, but Logan for sure is in the mix and looking forward to his future here is very bright.
Q: Matt Smith?
A: The way he swings the bat is pretty special. When you watch a guy take batting practice, it is BP, but when you watch it and balls are leaving the yard and hitting scoreboard on the bounce and going into that parking lot, it's kind of hard not to take notice of. He's a guy that if you give him enough at-bats and have confidence he's going to swing, he's going to do some damage. He;s going to hit some homeruns and Cullan Kight is the same way except he's lefthanded. And that's, I guess again the depth, the level of it is which one of these guys is really going to come and do it. I think both of them are capable and are going to get opportunities to do it. But you know, Matt, going forward, he's a very good defender because of his athleticism. He's good around the bag, he's pretty good at picking the ball. He's a big target, and Cullan brings a lot of those things too, but I just think right now the way that Matt swings the bat gives you a chance to do some pretty special things offensively and that's what has separated him to this point.
A: Fuller is a phenomenal kid and a very good baseball player. Last year he got off to kind of a slow start, but he's one of those guys that's a quality guy who never, ever let anything go bad for him. He kept his head up and was always ready to go. The thing with Fuller that sticks out in my mind is all those times where maybe he didn't have the success he wanted to, he never pouted, never got down, and when he got his chance, a la against Arkansas, he comes up with a big, big hit down in the corner and helps us win that game. I think that's what sets fuller apart; he is an emotional leader, he is a guy that thrives on that and that's what makes him go and I think our guys can feed off that because he's one of the guys, whether he's in the lineup or not, he's always pushing for everybody else and he's a great team guy.
Assistant Coaches Transcript
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