By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco late Thursday said the ace of his pitching staff was not yet a professional baseball player.
A Twitter message earlier Thursday by Baseball America’s Jim Callis reported that Wahl had signed with the A’s for $500,000.
Bianco said Thursday evening he had spoken with Wahl, who denied the report. Where the talks presently stand and what might happen from here is unclear.
There has been hope from many Ole Miss fans that Wahl would return for his senior season after he slipped to the fifth round of the Major League Baseball draft earlier this month.
He was projected as a first-rounder but was not taken until the fifth with the 161st pick by Oakland.
Wahl did not return two messages on Thursday.
After the draft Wahl said that signing the contract was not a done deal, that he was pondering a return and “would have thought about it even if I’d have gone in the top 10 picks.”
He’s the third Ole Miss pitcher under Bianco to win 10 games in a season as he went 10-0 with a 2.03 earned run average. The ERA remained below 2.00 throughout the regular season.
His return would be an obvious lift for Ole Miss, but his departure has been anticipated. That scenario would leave the Rebels with two holes in their SEC rotation going into the 2014 season.
Mike Mayers, the Rebels’ No. 2 pitcher this season and a junior like Wahl, was drafted in the third round by St. Louis and ha signed.
Ole Miss will return one experienced weekend starter, sophomore Sam Smith, a right-hander who was 3-1 with a 3.41 ERA.
Junior college signee Cody Reed was drafted with the 46th pick by Kansas City and signed quickly.