The commits keep rolling in for the Ole Miss Rebels baseball program.
After getting outfielder Jordan Poole (Calhoun, Ga.,) to commit Wednesday, the Rebels garnered commitments from right-handed pitcher Casey Mulholland (Bradenton, Fla.,) on Friday and Ryan Bolden (Madison) on Saturday, bringing the number of 2010 commitments to 10.
Mulholland is arguably the highest profiled commit in the class, having played for the past six seasons at The IMG Academy School at IMG Academy in his hometown of Bradenton, Fla. and recently being named to the Under Armor All-American game to be played at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Aug. 8.
After receiving interest from seemingly every school in the country, Mulholland called the Ole Miss coaching staff Friday morning to officially commit, choosing the Rebels over finalists North Carolina, Miami, Clemson, Central Florida and South Carolina.
“My heart was set on Ole Miss a long time ago and when it came down to it, I knew where I wanted to go,” said Mulholland, who that he’s spent the last couple of weeks confirming his choice.
Oxford and the Ole Miss coaching staff played a major role in Mulholland’s decision-making.
“For me, it was the campus, people around campus and the area,” he said. “I didn’t want to go to a big city. Oxford was perfect with its small-town feel.”
Mulholland also wanted to go to a school where he could continue to develop and learn.
“Obviously finding a baseball team with good coaches to help me improve while I’m there was important,” said Mulholland, calling himself a student of the game.
“He’s always been more or less my sponge on road trips, sitting up front with me on the bus,” IMG Academy head coach Kevin Sharpe said. “He’s always just wanted to learn the game over and over and over again. He wanted to go to the best program where he could still learn a lot about the game and that’s what he raved about when he came back from his visit, their staff.”
On the mound, Mulholland’s pitch repertoire consists of two fastballs, a changeup and a curveball.
While his changeup is considered his best secondary pitch by Sharpe, and his curveball is equally as destructive because of it’s spin, Sharpe said his delivery is also an asset.
Mulholland has a high leg-kick and is able to hide the ball well before delivery.
“It comes at you at the last second out of his arm slot, making his 88-92 (mile-per-hour) pitch look like it’s going 95,” Sharpe said, adding that Mulholland also has great command of both sides of the plate and typically operates between 88 and 92 mph.
Boasting a 6-0 record with a 1.39 ERA and a 73-10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 40.2 innings pitched, Mulholland is considered to be one of the top pitching recruits to come out of Florida in the ’10 class, but he also has the capability to be an outfielder in the Southeastern Conference according to Sharpe.
“He’s one of the best defensive center fielders I’ve ever seen, and not just at the high school level,” said Sharpe, whose coaching resume also includes stints at St. Joseph’s University and Temple. “Batting is probably his third-best ability, next to pitching and fielding, but he’s definitely a D1 hitter.”
“I know I’m going to go in as a duel-position player to play the outfield and pitch,” he said. “As to whether I’m a Friday night guy, Saturday or closer? I don’t know. We’ll just have to wait and see.
“I’ll have to get in there and prove myself first.”
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At the plate last season, Mulholland hit .355 with eight RBIs, 22 hits in 69 plate appearances. He also collected five doubles and three triples.
While the process of choosing a school may have been nerve wrecking, Mulholland was ready to be a Rebel.
After making the call on Friday, Mulholland said he had a bowl of cereal, drank a glass of milk out of an Ole Miss cup he’d gotten during the weekend series against Georgia, and bought some Ole Miss gear online.
Following Bolden’s official visit Saturday he called the coaching staff to officially commit, choosing Ole Miss over interest from Mississippi State, LSU, Samford and several other smaller schools.
Bolden had come up to Oxford numerous times for football and baseball games, but said Saturday’s visit solidified his decision.
“It’s the school that I’ve always liked,” Bolden said. “I had my other choices down and it was the school I most wanted to be at.”
According to Madison Central head coach Greg Perry, Bolden is a five-tool player.
“He’s a special player that has all the tools; there’s no doubt about it,” Perry said. “He runs well, throws well and has some pop in his bat.”
Bolden considers himself a base-hit batter, and his 6.58-second 60-yard-dash speed stands out to most observers, but he also has some power.
“He probably has the most pop of any player I’ve coached,” Perry said of Bolden, who hit two home runs last season. “You watch him take batting practice and it’s unbelievable what he can do.”
For Perry’s Class 5A State Championship team, Bolden started in right field and batted in the middle of the lineup, hitting .280 with 18 RBIs, four doubles, four triples and 10 stolen bases. He also struck out 25 times and walked eight.
Perry added that he wouldn’t be surprised if Bolden is drafted next year because of his potential.
“He’s the kind of guy that even if colleges weren’t hard on him, I was thinking he could get drafted,” Perry said. “He’s more of a potential guy right now, but hopefully with us next year and when he gets to Ole Miss he can become more polished.”
When Bolden was younger, he often played with and against fellow Ole Miss ’10 commit, Hillcrest pitcher Austin Hartzog.
On Sunday, Hartzog said he had bumped into Bolden just last week in Starkville.
“He’s good and real fast. He’s gotten a lot bigger,” Hartzog said of Bolden, who is 6-foot-2, 175 pounds. “When we were younger he was small and fast and could leg-out singles on balls hit to the shortstop.”
Mulholland and Bolden join Poole, Bobby Wahl (RHP; Springfield, Va.), Will Allen (C; Gainesville, Fla.), Casey Greene (RHP/INF; Southaven), Hartzog (RHP;Jackson), Jimel Judon (RHP/1B/OF; Myrtle) and Preston Overbey (RHP/INF/OF; Jackson, Tenn.) and Gabe Woods (INF; Albany, La.),.
Hartzog said he’s had a good summer playing for the Mississippi Bandits travel team and the Mississippi team in the Sunbelt Classic in Oklahoma.
In addition to watching him pitch for the Bandits in a tournament this weekend in Southaven, Hartzog said the Ole Miss coaching staff was also there scouting Hamilton High standout Chase Reeves.
Reeves, a rising junior, is considered to be one of the top recruits in the 2011 recruiting class and was named a 2009 Louisville Slugger All-American as a left-handed pitcher.
In a few weeks Hartzog may have another decision to make — whether or not to play football.
Hartzog has not played football since his freshman year, but new Hillcrest head coach Johnny Mills has inquired about Hartzog’s interest in quarterbacking the Cougars this season.
Hartzog would be the team’s starter and hopes to make a decision by the time two-a-days start. He added that it may be neat to play quarterback since it’s his senior season. Hartzog is also a standout basketball player for Hillcrest.