#32 Ole Miss Baseball 2016 Preview

Ole Miss Rebels
Overall Rank: #32
Conference Rank: #10 SEC
 Ole Miss Logo
Mississippi was playing pretty well going into the postseason. They had won six of their last seven games heading into the SEC Tournament. But then things fell apart for the Rebels. They fell to Alabama in the conference tournament 6-1 and followed it up with a two losses in the NCAA Tournament to Maryland and CSU Bakersfield. Coach Mike Bianco and company will hope to quickly put that behind them and make a run towards a more successful trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2016.
2015: 30-28, 15-14
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Mike Bianco
Field Players:
With the loss of Sikes Orvis and his 16 homeruns, Ole Miss will look to J.B. Woodman and Colby Bortles to provide much of the power. Woodman is one of the top MLB prospects in the college ranks and is hoping for a big junior season to boost his draft stock. As a sophomore in 2015 the outfielder hit .274 with 7 homeruns and 23 RBIs. Bortles is the team’s returning leader with 47 RBIs. Incoming freshman Nick Fortes has some pop to his bat too and could help generate some more runs. Outside of Sikes, Woodman and Bortles, nobody on last year’s roster was much of a power threat.
Brady Bramlett was the Rebels most effective starting pitcher last season and he will be the clear ace of the staff in 2016. The 6-4 junior went 7-4 in his 15 starts with a 3.74 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 84.1 innings pitched. Sophomore Will Stokes will need to be more efficient as a sophomore. He started six games as a freshman and earned three saves too, but his ERA with up there at 6.59. Some freshmen and junior college transfers will have to fill in a big chunk of the staff, but Coach Bianco has brought in some good ones. One spot he does not need to worry about is at closer where Wyatt Short returns after a ten save season. Short posted a 1.38 ERA and struck out 44 batters in 39.0 innings of work.
Who to Watch:
While the pitching staff retools a bit, Ole Miss will need to rely on the offense. Considering they scored just one run in each of their three postseason games, there is certainly room for improvement. That is where players like Connor Cloyd, Cameron Dishon, Will Goslan, Kyle Watson, Tate Blackman, Henri Lartique and Errol Robinson come into play. Those seven players were at least part-time starters a season ago, so there is plenty of experience in this lineup from top to bottom. While Woodman and Bortles may drive in most of the runs, the rest of the team must do a better job of getting on base and giving Woodman and Bortles opportunities to make those clutch hits. Robinson in particular is coming off of a very good sophomore season in which he tallied a team high 62 hits. He does not have a ton of power, but he can find the gaps.
Final Projection:
As always, the SEC is going to be brutal, but the nonconference slate is manageable for Ole Miss. Outside of a series with Louisville and a trip to Coastal Carolina, the Rebels should not run into too many issues before SEC play begins. And they will need to win a majority of their nonconference contests since reaching .500 in SEC play is not going to be easy. If they can avoid some of those bad out of conference losses that they suffered last year, it will give the team a little more margin for error in SEC play. And with the bats this team returns, they should be able to head into SEC play with a solid record even while Coach Bianco works out his pitching rotation.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: J.B. Woodman, OF, 212
Hits: Errol Robinson, IF, 62
Home Runs: Colby Bortles, IF, 7; J.B. Woodman, OF, 7
RBIs: Colby Bortles, IF, 47
Runs: J.B. Woodman, OF, 39
Stolen Bases: Cameron Dishon, OF, 17
Wins: Brady Bramlett, P, 7
Innings Pitched: Brady Bramlett, P, 84.1
Strikeouts: Brady Bramlett, P, 83
Saves: Wyatt Short, P, 10
Madness 2016 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#29 Nick Fortes
Madness 2016 Draft Rankings:
#54 J.B. Woodman