Every successful baseball team has a season veteran leader: a guy that’s been in the young guys’ shoes, that rallies the troops, one that everyone looks to as the example of what to do and how to do it. There’s the guy that whether he’s serious or a goofball, when he speaks, everyone listens. Ole Miss has been fortunate enough to have a few of those over the years with one of the best, Will Allen, graduating last year leaving a senior leader void. Luckily for the Rebels, senior first baseman Sikes Orvis has stepped in to be that guy.
Despite being an elite high school player in Florida and the 19th round selection by the Boston Red Sox in 2011, Orvis came to Ole Miss without much of a role his freshman year. He had slugger Matt Snyder ahead of him on the depth chart and was allocated to a designated hitter and backup first base spot. Starting just eight games at DH, Orvis struggled in his freshman season, batting .232 with one home run, 11 RBI and 11 strikeouts in 56 at-bats. He came on a little more his sophomore year, his first as a starter, but still struggled with off-speed and wasn’t his old self, batting .237 with three home runs, 21 RBI and 31 strikeouts.
Then came 2014. Orvis became the power-hitting force he was in high school. The 6’2, 235-pounder hit .294 with 14 homers, 14 doubles, 53 RBI and walked a team-leading 37 times. Not only was he killing it at the plate but he flashed some good leather in the field, making just three errors against 515 putouts, good for a .995 fielding percentage, best on the team.
Now with the departures of not only Allen, but Auston Bousfield, Austin Anderson, Preston Overbey, John Gatlin and other veterans, Orvis is one of the lone upperclassmen left among position players. Already, he has embraced the role, leading the way for the freshmen and junior college transfers. He has led by example on the field, off the field and in the weight room, which could pay dividends across the board. We will have more on Orvis and his transition from freshman backup to senior star later in the week, but for today, he’s No. 2 on our list.
Recapping the list thus far:
18. Kyle Watson, INF
16. Wyatt Short, LHP
14. Connor Cloyd, OF
13. Holt Perdzock, C
2. Sikes Orvis, 1B
Michael Quirk is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at email@example.com.