Anxious Holliman Ready to Begin Pro Career

It wasn't quite so much a surprise when right-hander Mark Holliman, the Cubs' 2005 third round draft pick from the University of Mississippi, signed a professional contract this week.

Perhaps the only surprise was that it didn't happen sooner.

Holliman, who turns 22 in one month, was the last of the Cubs first 14 overall draft picks to sign with the organization. He says he knew on the day he was taken with the 100th overall pick that playing professional baseball with the Cubs was what he had planned on all along.

Nonetheless, Holliman paid respect to Ole Miss and kept his options open to another season in Oxford before officially deciding on the Cubs. He was the last of eight Rebel players taken in this year's draft to sign.

"I'm really excited right now," said Holliman, a career 21-14 pitcher with a 3.59 ERA in three seasons at Mississippi. "I was glad the Cubs picked me because I knew what a good organization they were. I'm happy [the wait] is over."

Holliman didn't officially sign until Thursday. He had one year of eligibility remaining at Ole Miss and with Head Coach Mike Bianco.

While at Mississippi, Holliman majored in Liberal Arts. Per his contract, the Cubs agree to let him finish school and obtain his degree whenever he should decide to do so.

"That was one of the things I wanted to have the opportunity to do," said Holliman, who made a team-high 18 starts for the Rebels in 2005. "It's not something I'm thinking about at this moment. Right now my only focus is to play baseball. There was never anything major to work out, nor was I ever really worried about the negotiations."

Two Cub representatives in particular remained in close contact with Holliman throughout the ordeal: scouting director John Stockstill and area scout Bob Rossi.

Rossi, a former Mets scout who now makes his home in Baton Rouge, La., is also responsible for the signing of fellow SEC pitcher - and outfielder - Morrow Thomley of Alabama. Thomley is currently with the Arizona League Mesa Cubs.

"I had a good relationship with the Cubs throughout this whole process," Holliman added. "I knew it was only a matter of time."

Holliman will soon report to Mesa himself, although he isn't sure exactly when.

"I just signed yesterday, so I haven't been given a schedule or had time to talk about anything yet," he said. "I'm just ready to play pro ball."

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