OXFORD, Miss. – Three more Rebels had their names called as a part of the 2012 Major League Draft on Wednesday when R.J. Hively, Tanner Mathis and Zach Kirksey were taken on day three of the annual event.
Hively was taken in the 19th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks, while Mathis was taken in the 27th round by the Houston Astros and Zach Kirksey was selected in the 29th round by the Detroit Tigers.
The three Rebels selected on day three joined teammates Alex Yarbrough (4th round – Angels), Matt Snyder (10th round – Yankees) and Dylan Chavez (14th round – Red Sox) in being drafted by a Major League organization.
Hively was a workhorse for the Rebels in the 2012 campaign, beginning the season out as a starter in the weekend rotation before moving to the bullpen to help bolster the pitching staff halfway through the season.
The right-hander posted a 5-6 record on the year with four saves and helped the Rebels to a 10th NCAA regional appearance under head coach Mike Bianco and the ninth in the last 10 seasons. Hively picked up saves against No. 15 Arkansas, Southern Miss, Tennessee and eighth-ranked Texas A&M this season. He also posted wins over UNC-Wilmington, Miami (Ohio), Houston, Mississippi State and Tennessee.
Hively posted a 3.02 ERA for the season with 98 strikeouts and only 20 walks on the year.
“I’m super excited that I get an opportunity to go play professional ball and chase a childhood dream,” Hively said. “It’s a nice end to the season even though it wasn’t a season that we had in mind when we started things out. I’m going to talk to my family and figure out where things go from here. I’ll talk to the Diamondbacks and will probably be out there in a week or so for my physical and start my professional career.”
Mathis hit .359 for the Rebels during his junior campaign to finish second on the team in batting average and paced the team from his spot as the lead-off hitter in the lineup with a team-high 50 runs scored and 39 walks – the sixth most in the SEC this season. His 88 hits on the year was second most on the team behind Yarbrough and he posted a .460 on base percentage as he only struck out 18 times on the year and also drew seven hit by pitch to go along with his walks.
Mathis was also 8-for-8 in steal attempts as he played in all 63 games for the Rebels in the outfield.
“It’s awesome,” Mathis said. “It’s a great accomplishment to see your name come up in the draft. We’ll just have to see what happens. I’ll talk to my family, talk with the Ole Miss coaches and the Astros and make sure my heart and everything is in the right place. It’s a great honor to be drafted, but playing baseball at Ole Miss is a great place to be. It’s a hard decision to make, but neither is a bad option to have in front of you.”
Kirksey served most of the season as the designated hitter for the Rebels and contributed greatly to the team’s hot start out of the gates as he proved to be one of the top power hitters in the SEC during his senior campaign.
The left-handed hitter belted out a team-best 13 home runs and posted 47 RBI in 51 games played this past season. His home runs and RBI totals are third and sixth in the Southeastern Conference, respectively.
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