SEE ALSO: Ole Miss Class Stays Together
Baseball America’s recruiting class rankings, compiled by national writer Teddy Cahill, are based on may conversations with college coaches and pro scouts across the country this fall, as well as countless more discussions during the spring as a part our information-gathering for the 2016 draft. The rank column in the charts below refers to the 2016 BA 500 (which included all draft-eligible players). Draft references are for 2016 unless otherwise noted. The rankings do not consider transfers from four-year schools.
|Rank, Name, Pos.||B-T||Ht.||Wt.||Drafted||Previous School|
|76 Cooper Johnson, c||R-R||6-0||180||Reds (28)||Carmel HS, Mundelein, Ill.|
|110 Ryan Rolison, lhp||R-L||6-2||180||Padres (37)||University School, Jackson, Tenn.|
|135 Will Ethridge, rhp||R-R||6-5||190||Mariners (35)||Parkview HS, Lilburn, Ga.|
|147 Thomas Dillard, c||B-R||6-0||220||Oxford (Miss.) HS|
|192 Grae Kessinger, ss||R-R||6-2||180||Padres (26)||Oxford (Miss.) HS|
|438 Korey Bell, rhp||R-R||6-5||240||Brentwood (Tenn.) HS|
|443 Greer Holston, rhp||R-R||6-4||190||IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.|
|Brady Schanuel, rhp||R-R||6-2||200||Athletics (36)||Parkland (Ill.) CC|
|Chase Cockrell, 1b||R-R||6-4||220||Hinds (Miss.) CC|
|Cole Zabowski, 1b/of||L-L||6-5||205||Collins Hill HS, Suwanee, Ga.|
The Rebels managed to navigate the draft all but unscathed (their only loss was A.J. Brown, who was expected to try to play football and baseball in college) and brought a national-best seven players from the BA 500 to campus this fall. That elite talent, combined with the depth and well-roundedness of the class pushes Mississippi to the top of the rankings for the first time in program history. Before this group of newcomers, its best ranking was fifth in 2011. The new Rebels are well positioned to provide immediate impact this spring. Johnson was one of the best defenders at any position in last year’s draft class and will have a chance to win the starting job as a freshman. He has raw power but is still developing his feel for hitting. Dillard is further along offensively but isn’t as good a defender. He has the athleticism to play elsewhere on the diamond to keep his powerful bat in the lineup. Kessinger will also have a chance to start right away at a premium defensive position. He has good infield actions, soft hands and enough arm strength to be a solid defender to go with his line drive-oriented approach at the plate. Cockrell and Zabowski both provide more thump to the Rebels lineup. Cockrell has more present power, while Zabowski is a solid hitter who should grow into more power as he fills out. On the mound, Rolison and Ethridge are polished pitchers that have the stuff to compete in the Southeastern Conference. Rolison has a solid three-pitch mix and can throw them all for strikes. Ethridge is more physical and has a bit better stuff but doesn’t locate it quite as well. Bell has a heavy fastball that gets up to 95 already, though he is still raw. Holston’s velocity has ticked up since the spring and he has been sitting around 90 mph with his fastball to go with a solid breaking ball and strike-throwing ability. Schanuel piled up strikeouts last year in junior college with a fastball-slider combination that gives him a chance to start or relieve.