Now that the starters have been covered, in the coming days, I will go over some of the reserves that could see time both at the plate and on the mound next season, including the bullpen.
Friday Night: Drew Pomeranz 4-3, 4.16
Pomeranz burst onto the scene as a freshman and should be better next season after a full offseason of strength and conditioning. Earning the Saturday slot in his first year, it is expected that Pomeranz will move into the marquee Friday night role. The left-hander needs to improve on in-game adjustments, as the Memphis native struggled late in the season after a lineup saw him multiple times. But featuring a plus curve ball (that needs to be more consistent) and a mid-90s fastball, Pomeranz exhibits the necessary tools to be a dominant force to open every series.
Saturday: Aaron Barrett/Chris Corrigan
The two highly regarded JUCO prospects are expected to compete for weekend roles quickly. Both Barrett (Wabash Valley CC) and Corrigan (San Jacinto JC) are right-handers that consistently throw their fastballs in the 90s. Corrigan was 10-1 this past season and tossed eight shutout innings in his postseason start. Corrigan possesses four pitches, including a newly acquired changeup that can be thrown for strikes. Barrett was drafted in the 20th round this season by the Twins, but like with David Phillips, I am acting as though he will be in Oxford. Barrett is a power pitcher that was named one of the top five JUCO pitching prospects by Baseball America before his sophomore season.
Sunday: Brett Bukvich 2-1, 5.11
The 2008 season was looking to be a dismal one for Bukvich, but once he overcame a couple nagging injuries, the left-hander provided valuable innings as one of the Rebels' most consistent pitchers. The veteran from Northwest Rankin HS will be a fifth-year senior in 2009 and has contributed in many different ways during his career. Bukvich's ability to keep hitters off-balance with his curveball and changeup puts him as a top choice for the Sunday starter role, a spot he has manned in the past.
Midweek: Nathan Baker 3-6, 4.89
After an initial season where he was named a Freshman All-America selection, Baker slumped during his sophomore campaign, falling from a weekend starter to limited appearances out of the bullpen. The southpaw resurfaced to start the Coral Gables Regional championship game but was hit hard in the loss. Baker received bad fortune with defensive miscues behind him much of the season, but the rising junior needs to get tougher mentally. He would cruise until adversity hit, then Baker would allow the hiccup to snowball. The talent is there to regain a weekend role, but for now, Baker would be valuable and a huge advantage for Ole Miss during midweek action. After a year where nonconference losses were detrimental, that isn't such a bad thing.
Midweek: Phillip Irwin 2-1, 5.40
Control and leaving the ball up haunted Irwin through the majority of the season, but the rising junior finished off his year with a brilliant relief appearance against Bethune-Cookman during regional play. Irwin must become more consistent with his command, but the right-hander can be extremely effective when locating. Irwin supplied a couple quality starts early but struggled to find innings after a couple consecutive subpar outings during the midweek. Confidence is a key factor for Irwin, as he has a tendency to get too much of the plate when he doesn't trust his stuff.
2009 Starting Pitching Projections
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