Ole Miss sports have long held a tradition of transforming collegiate standouts into professional athletes, and baseball is no exception. With eight former Rebels currently on MLB rosters and another 24 climbing the minor league ladder, Ole Miss has truly established itself as a catalyst for professional development in the Bianco-era.
While plenty more are sure to join their ranks soon, here are some of the former Ole Miss stars making their marks on the MLB in the 2017 season:
No. 30 Anthony Alford | CF | Toronto Blue Jays
If Alford’s name doesn’t ring a bell to most Ole Miss baseball fans, it may be because he never even played baseball during his time at the University of Mississippi. Instead, Alford spent his Ole Miss athletic career as a defensive back for a Freeze-led football team. Following his relegation to backup safety, Alford decided to pursue a professional baseball career instead, spending five seasons in the minors. Following a May 19 call-up by the Toronto Blue Jays, Alford managed to obtain his first MLB hit before breaking his wrist and landing on the disabled list.
#7 Chris Coghlan | Free Agent
The former first-round pick and 2009 National League Rookie of the Year was released by the Blue Jays on Aug. 12. During his time with the Blue Jays, however, Coghlan picked up an unofficial “play of the year” nominee with a spectacular diving roll over Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina, simultaneously avoiding an out and scoring the game-winning run.
#2 Zack Cozart | SS | Cincinnati Reds
One of the most well-known Rebels in the MLB, Cozart is a 2017 All-Star batting a very impressive .308 (second on the club only behind fellow All-Star Joey Votto) and smashing 17 home runs on the season. The shortstop’s eye-catching play has remained pretty consistent, despite missing multiple games this season due to injury.
#31 Lance Lynn | RHP | St. Louis Cardinals
This 2008 first-round pick has been a textbook example of consistency for the Cardinals lately. The right-hander leads the team with a 3.17 ERA and is second on the squad with 124 strikeouts and a 10-6 record.
#31 Drew Pomeranz | LHP | Boston Red Sox
Boston’s division-leading success has been largely thanks to Pomeranz. With 13 wins, second in the AL, a top-five 3.18 ERA and an AL top-10 145 strikeouts, the former Rebel southpaw has been a major X-factor on the mound for the Sox.
#7 Seth Smith | RF | Baltimore Orioles
A quick contributor in his first season with the Orioles, Smith has hammered 12 homers so far (placing him eighth in the American League) and posted a respectable .269 batting average in 286 at-bats. The former second-round pick will attempt to increase his 77 hits and 28 RBI if he hopes to help pull Baltimore into the wild-card race.
#14 Alex Presley | OF | Detroit Tigers
While he remains in a reserve role, Presley’s limited opportunities have not produced limited results. The lefty boasts an impressive .293 average with 12 RBI and 39 hits on the season, all respectable numbers for only 133 at-bats.
While many have gone before them and many yet will follow in their place, the once-Rebels who are now in the majors deserve their due. Through the highlights and the slumps, it always remains clear that the time spent and lessons learned in Oxford never truly leave, no matter how high the athlete rises.