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October 18, 2011OXFORD, Miss. -- Comparisons are a quick and effective way to describe athletes. Call out someone similar, and there's a base idea of what to expect on the field.
The likenesses to Ole Miss freshman outfielder Will Jamison have been frequent and quite complimentary. Jamison, who was drafted in the 45th round by the Indians during the 2011 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft, is a contender for a spot in the Rebels' outfield this coming spring. Speed is necessary out there, and he has it in bulk.
The Memphis, Tenn., native has been clocked at 6.40 seconds in the 60-yard dash. To compare, former Ole Miss signee Ryan Bolden parlayed his 6.38 time into an 829,800 signing bonus with the Angels in 2010.
And when asked to talk about Jamison, head coach Mike Bianco uses a different player - a more familiar one in his assessment.
"For the readers and the fans, he plays a lot like Jordan Henry but he's more advanced as an outfielder," Bianco said. "People forget Jordan was a high school shortstop."
Henry, who immediately switched to the outfield when he arrived at Ole Miss, was the 2007 Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and is currently in Double-A with the Indians organization. Also a speedster, Henry was known in college for his ability to put bat to ball and avoid strikeouts. That's a major importance for Jamison in the early going.
"Obviously the first couple intrasquads were a little different because I hadn't seen pitchers like Bobby Wahl at 95 MPH, but I've gotten used to it and comfortable," Jamison said. "Coach (Cliff) Godwin has given me pointers and spread me out. That's been a big help to make me more consistent.
"You have to look at competition as just baseball. It's SEC baseball, but the rules are the same. It's easy to think about the level and how big of a spot you're in, but you have to slow the game down. It's still the same game. That's what's helped me - 90 feet between bases."
Jamison is hitting .291 this fall and has seven stolen bases. The average and base running aren't a problem, but contact percentages and strikeout-to-walk ratios are a point of emphasis. He has nine strikeouts and two walks in just more than 50 intrasquad at-bats.
"He's been terrific," Bianco said. "Certainly his work ethic and energy are off the charts. We knew he was talented and we're excited to get him on the field. He always plays in a high gear, and it's infectious. He brings the level of play up for those around him. Will needs to understand his strengths and weaknesses and focus on what he does well. He can steal bases. He needs to work on his bunting, just like most freshmen."
Jamison is pushing junior Tanner Mathis for center-field duties, and his defense has already improved. Early in the semester, Jamison's outfield routes were too flat, and he needed to refine his lines to the ball. Those things have quickly shored up. He's more efficient with his movement.
"I've been working hard on getting reads off the bat," Jamison said. "That's one of the big things for me coming out of high school. I had to take better angles in the outfield, and I feel like it's better."
Jamison may also see some action from the mound. He's pitched five innings this fall and only walked one batter. He had a perfect inning this past Friday. The left-hander relies on control and should sit in the high 80s with his fastball.
"He does a lot of things, and that's valuable," Bianco said. "You want guys like him all over your dugout."
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