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Ole Miss hires pitching coach Joel Mangrum from Cleveland Guardians

Mike Bianco
Head coach Mike Bianco and the Ole Miss baseball program announced the hiring of Joel Mangrum as pitching coach on Thursday (Photo courtesy of UM Athletics)

Just over a week ago, Ole Miss Athletics Director Keith Carter vowed to a group of Rebel fans and alumni at an event in Memphis, Tenn., that a pitching coach would be making his way to Oxford. That promise was fulfilled on Thursday with Joel Mangrum being announced to fill the role.

The Brandon native will embark on a new journey with Ole Miss after professional and college coaching stints with the Cleveland Guardians, Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State, Austin Peay, Milligan College, and Hinds Community College.

Mangrum takes over the bullpen of an Ole Miss baseball program that has been in the cellar of the SEC since winning a national championship in 2022. The Rebels ranked 12th in the conference in pitching the past two seasons with a team earned run average (ERA) of 6.40 in 2023 and 5.88 in 2024.

“We are super excited to bring Joel to Oxford and Ole Miss baseball,” head coach Mike Bianco said. “He has a unique and dynamic way of developing pitchers and has proven his success at both the professional and collegiate levels.”

Carter decided to keep Bianco on board after two seasons that did not live up to program standards, despite a growing portion of the Ole Miss fanbase calling Bianco to be fired after 24 seasons at the post. While Carter echoed sentiments that he believes the skipper deserves another opportunity to right the ship, that decision also had financial justifications as Bianco is the second-highest-paid coach in college baseball at $1.625 million with his contract not set to expire until 2028. Another financial reason to keep Bianco is an incoming revenue-sharing model the NCAA agreed to that will cost Ole Miss roughly $20 million in payments to student-athletes.

Bianco’s club finished 27-29 in 2024 with an 11-19 record in SEC play. Since winning the national championship two season ago, Ole Miss has gone 52-58 and 17-43 in league action.

Acknowledging the angst experienced by a substantial portion of Ole Miss faithful, D1Baseball managing editor Kendall Rogers is optimistic that the right pitching coach could bring the Rebels back to glory.

“Look no further than Starkville on how quickly things can change,” Rogers said on SportsTalk Mississippi. “Chris Lemonis was ‘fired’ by every Mississippi State fan in the middle of February. At the end of the year, they were arguably a top-16 type of seed. They could have easily hosted, probably should have hosted.”

Mississippi State, after missing the postseason twice following the team’s first-ever national championship in 2021, was a program in dire straits — much like Ole Miss is now. The Bulldogs then brought in South Carolina pitching coach Justin Parker, which yielded positive results immediately and maybe even saved Lemonis’ job. In 2023, Mississippi State posted an SEC-worst team ERA of 7.01. One year later, with Parker calling pitches, a drastic shift in outcomes was achieved. The Bulldogs posted a team ERA of 4.17 and logged 101 more strikeouts than in the previous campaign, leading the way for Lemonis’ squad to return to the NCAA Tournament.

A proven commodity in the college ranks, Mangrum helped guide New Mexico State to consecutive 30-plus win seasons during his three-year tenure in as the pitching coach in Las Cruces. After finishing with a record of 11-38-1 in 2015, Mangrum and the Aggies finished 2016 with a record of 34-23, the best win improvement in the country.

In his most recent venture with the Guardians’ farm system, Cleveland’s Double-A team has posted the second-best ERA in the Eastern League in three of the four seasons. Mangrum has also worked with and helped develop former Rebel pitchers Doug Nikhazy and Dylan DeLucia.

“I’m really excited to be joining the Ole Miss baseball family. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity that Coach Bianco has provided me and my family,” Mangrum said. “This is a dream come true. We look forward to making Oxford home and helping continue the tradition of Ole Miss Baseball being a national power in college baseball.”

Ole Miss will begin the 2025 campaign in mid-February.

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