A Rebel Instead

R.J. Hively was drafted by the Yankees in the 26th round two weeks ago. But on Sunday he'll come to Oxford to be a Rebel.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound junior right-handed pitcher from Santa Ana (Calif.) College had already been thinking "Ole Miss" for next school year. It didn't take long after the draft for him to solidify his decision.

"I was already leaning toward Ole Miss," said Hively, who attended Cal-State Fullerton as a freshman before going the junior college route. "Of course, I wanted to see what would happen. But I'll be there Sunday, and I'm ready to get in the weight and conditioning program. I'll take some classes this summer as well."

Hively has pitched so far this summer with the Wilmington (N.C.) Sharks of the Coastal Plain League. He said he's ready to work toward being the best pitcher he can be in the SEC.

"I want to be able to repeat my mechanics every pitch," said Hively, who finished with Santa Ana's top ERA this past season at 3.06 in 21 appearances, including 10 starts with five saves in 79.1 innings pitched. "I want to limit my walks and how many balls I throw. Improving those will make me a more effective pitcher."

Hively at Cal State-Fullerton

The Rays, Nationals, and Padres all showed major interest.

"Probably more than the Yankees did," Hively said.

But it was the American League team in New York that selected him back in early June.

"I'd heard I might have a chance to go higher, but you never know," he said. "It was not something you want to wrap your mind around. It was nice to get that call, especially from the Yankees, which is ‘the team' of baseball."

Hively said he didn't spend a lot of time worrying about it or giving it a whole lot of thought.

"Honestly, I didn't even watch it," he said. "I had talked to my advisor the night before, and he walked me through what to expect. I really just watched TV that day and got a couple of calls."

Because for the most part Hively had Ole Miss on his mind and playing baseball in Oxford, a place he's seen just once, and that was during the Arkansas series in May – after he had already signed with the Rebels.

"I wanted to experience what it's like to be in a program at a prestigious school like Ole Miss," he said, confidently. "I wanted to be a part of a college town where everything revolves around the school, where they live and breathe it."

Starting Sunday when he arrives for good, that will indeed be the case for R.J. Hively.

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