I caught up with Ole Miss baseball coach Mike Bianco a few minutes ago to talk about some highlights after two weeks of fall practice.
One of those is sophomore first baseman Sikes Orvis.
“We’re really happy with the way he’s progressed from his freshman year to the start of his sophomore year. He’s really changed his body. He went off to the Northwest League and got a ton of at-bats. You look at him defensively at first base, and he’s so much improved. His bat continues to get better, a big left-handed batter who will end up in the middle of our lineup,” Bianco said.
The arrival of junior college transfer catcher Stuart Turner should improve things for Will Allen, who caught more innings last year than Bianco would have preferred because of a lack of depth at the position.
“That allows us to play Allen at first base some, some at DH, and to take some pressure off him,” Bianco said. “I thought last year Will kind of underachieved offensively, and some of that was because we put so much pressure on him behind the plate, and he had to catch just about every inning of every game.”
Bianco said center fielder Auston Bousfield, impressive as a freshman last year, has made a noticeable leap from Year 1 to Year 2.
It’s pitching, though, that will pay the bills in the spring.
With Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers the Rebels will have one of the top one-two tandems in the SEC.
The question will be who steps up as the third starter.
It won’t be Brett Huber, who will set the career saves record with his next save. Huber is back for his senior season, and while there has been talk before about experimenting with Huber as a starter, that’s not the plan right now.
Huber is also on the mend from minor surgery.
“We’ll probably start him in the bullpen for two reasons, one you want an experienced guy on the back end, and two, he had off-season surgery on his elbow to remove some loose parts and move a nerve. It was a surgery, but it wasn’t a major deal, and he’s already back throwing. He should be throwing off the mound by next week, but we wouldn’t have the entire fall to kind of watch him and add to his innings.”