Rebel In The Making

Hawtin Buchanan, all 6-foot-8, 240-pounds of him, says his growth appears to not be quite as fast as it once was.

"I may grow a little more," said the 17-year-old Biloxi High School star athlete. "But I've slowed down a lot."

His baseball hasn't. This summer he's been all over the map. From showcase tryouts to playing with a traveling team, the Ole Miss commitment is a busy guy.

"I've played a lot this summer," said the right-handed pitcher who will sign in November. "It's helped me a lot."

From the Tournament of Stars in Cary, N.C., which consisted of the top 128 players in the country, to the Perfect Game National Showcase in St. Petersburg, Fla., Buchanan's reputation as a top pitcher has grown.

Perfect Game recently named him Mississippi's No. 1 prospect overall in the Class of 2011 and 57th overall in the country.

When he hasn't been showcasing his talents in those type situations, the rising senior at BHS has been pitching for Merucci Elite, one of the South's top summer league programs.

Hawtin Buchanan

"I've improved overall as a pitcher," Buchanan said. "Playing with Merucci Elite, we've played against a bunch of good teams. So that's helping me. There's been some really good competition."

Buchanan, son of Allison and Patrick Buchanan, has a fast ball, curve ball and changeup in his arsenal. He's normally 90-92 with his fast ball, mid to high 70s with his curve ball and high 70s-low 80s with his changeup.

As his summer winds down with the Merucci team, Buchanan has another trip to make. This time it's to Lakeland, Fla., for the East Coast Pro Showcase. He tried out for that at Smith-Wills Stadium in Jackson earlier.

His Biloxi High team finished second in the district and made the playoffs this spring. But they were eliminated in the first round.

As a junior, Buchanan was 5-4 with a stellar .89 ERA. He had 85 strikeouts in 55 and a third innings pitched, all in a starting role.

He also hit for the Indians this past season, mostly in the DH role. Sometimes when he wasn't pitching, he played first base. For the season at BHS, he batted .338 with 4 home runs, 7 doubles, and 19 RBI.

Hawtin Buchanan

He knows when he gets to Ole Miss he might have some chances to pitch and also to hit.

"But mainly I'm going up there as a pitcher," he said.

He's already looking forward to that in a big way.

"I just want to get in better shape as much as I can so when I come up there I'll be ready to compete to pitch as a freshman," said the grandson of former Ole Miss football standout Raymond Brown.

Having grown up an Ole Miss fan in an Ole Miss family, attending the school is important to Buchanan. He knows there is the possibility of being drafted high enough next June to at least give that direction some thought. But he says his sights are set on college first and then pro baseball.

"I've talked to some pro scouts, mainly since the East Coast Pro tryout," he said. "But I want to go to college. Going to college helps a lot of guys out, mature and become better."

He immediately gives out two recent and prominent examples.

"People like (Drew) Pomeranz and (Steven) Strasburg went to college," said Buchanan, who committed to the Rebels last November. "It helps a lot of guys out to go to college. Usually you see guys that go to college are more ready and more effective when they get there (to the pros)."

And as you would expect from someone as Red and Blue as Buchanan, his commitment to the Rebels is as firm as ever.

"I'm still excited, and I'm ready to get up there," he said. "I'll be there for some football and baseball games this year."

This year as a spectator, that is. Next year as an Ole Miss baseball player himself.

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