The Pittsburgh Pirates plucked a pair of Mississippi-connected players in the early rounds of last month’s draft – and they’ve got to be pleased as punch with the early production. Richton native and former Mr. Baseball JaCoby Jones (third round out of LSU) and Mississippi State product Adam Frazier (sixth round) are the top two hitters for the Jamestown Jammers of the short-season Class A New York-Penn League. Jones, having shifted from infield to center field, hit his first pro home run on Wednesday and is batting .406 with eight RBIs in seven games. Frazier, playing shortstop as he did at State, is hitting .375 with five RBIs in seven games. … Through six games in the rookie Arizona League, Cleveland draftee Silento Sayles, who set the national prep stolen base record at Port Gibson, has yet to get a bag. P.S. The numbers were .293, 40 doubles, 19 homers and 105 RBIs. Jeff Francoeur put up that impressive line with the Atlanta Braves in 2007. And the former Mississippi Braves star has been searching for that stroke virtually ever since. He is 2-for-8 with an RBI and two strikeouts in two games at Triple-A Fresno, where San Francisco sent him after he signed earlier this week. When will Frenchy get back to The Show? “Sooner the better,” he told the Fresno Bee. The Giants do need some outfield help. Maybe, just maybe, Francoeur still has some 2007 magic in his bat.
On his best day, Jarrod Dyson can fill up a box score. Take last Saturday, for instance. The dash-fast outfielder from McComb went 3-for-3, drew a walk, scored a run, drove in a run, stole two bases and even picked up an assist. His Kansas City Royals won that day, 4-3 over Oakland. They lost badly on Sunday — Dyson was a quiet 1-for-4 — and thus lost the 3-game series to the visiting A’s. KC, brimming with young talent but confoundingly inconsistent, stands 41-44, third in the American League Central, 6 games out of first place. Dyson is hardly the linchpin for these Royals. In fact, whatever they get out of him might feel like a bonus. Remember, he was a 50th-round draft pick out of Southwest Mississippi Community College. A 5-foot-9 lefty hitter, he is batting .268 with 12 steals, two homers, 13 runs and 10 RBIs in 30 games, having recently become a regular in a lineup that features high draft picks who have raised expectations for the long-struggling Royals. KC is entering a key stretch of the season: The Royals play the Yankees in New York tonight through Thursday, then have a road series against AL Central leader Detroit followed, after the All-Star break, by home sets with Cleveland and Baltimore. It could be a telling stretch also for manager Ned Yost, the former Jackson Mets catcher who has yet to guide this club to a winning season much less the playoffs, a drought that dates to 1985. Is this the year? We may know soon enough. Dyson doesn’t have the kind of game to carry a team, but he can light the fuse, as he did last Saturday. He could be an unsung reason that this team catches fire – if it ever does. P.S. Weir’s Roy Oswalt, 0-4 with a 7.64 ERA in four starts for Colorado, is headed to the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Wonder if he’ll be back at all. … Former Mississippi Braves ace Todd Redmond, now pitching for Toronto, notched his first big league win on Sunday, beating Minnesota and ex-M-Braves hurler Scott Diamond.
Keep an eye on the progress of Alex Yarbrough, a 2012 fourth-round pick by the Los Angeles Angels out of Ole Miss. Yarbrough, a second baseman, is hitting .319 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs at Class A Inland Empire in the California League. He didn’t homer in 63 games in his first pro season. … East Central Community College product Tim Anderson, the second of Mississippi’s two 2013 first-round draftees, is hitting .288 in 14 games for Class A Kannapolis in the Chicago White Sox system. … Mississippi State’s Hunter Renfroe, the other first-rounder, has yet to sign; the deadline is July 12. … The Mississippi Braves (6-10 in the second half) won on the Fourth of July — halting a six-game skid with a 1-0 victory behind the pitching of ex-big leaguer Mitch Atkins — but they also took a loss on Thursday. Closer Mark Lamm (10 saves) went to Triple-A Gwinnett. … Former M-Braves first baseman Joey Terdoslavich, promoted to Atlanta on Thursday, fanned in a pinch-hit appearance. He is the 77th M-Braves alum to advance to The Show. … Former MSU star Paul Maholm (9-6, 3.69 ERA) will lock horns with ex-Meridian CC standout Cliff Lee (9-2, 2.49) when Atlanta plays Philadelphia tonight. … Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, the MSU product, appears to have shaken out of his funk, posting four scoreless innings and three saves in his last four outings. He’s got 17 saves for the year. … Itawamba CC alum Desmond Jennings is batting .316 over his last 10 games for surging Tampa Bay, same average former Ole Miss star Seth Smith has put up during the last 10 for first-place Oakland. … Not so hot: MSU alum Mitch Moreland, who is batting just .162 over his last 10 games for Texas. … Former Hillcrest Christian and Ole Miss standout Cody Satterwhite recently signed with the New York Mets out of an independent league. Satterwhite, a former second-round draft pick who had a 0.65 ERA for the Sioux City Explorers, has yet to be assigned to a minor league club.
The award for Best Performance, College Baseball Team, Mississippi Division is a no-brainer. Mississippi State had its best season ever, going 51-20, reaching the championship series of the College World Series and, in the process, driving up the price of maroon ink on the local market. So if the Bulldogs are No. 1 in the state, who’s No. 2? In the spirit of making lists, and closing the curtain on the 2013 college season, here goes: 2. Millsaps. The Majors (38-14) went to the Division III CWS after winning both the regular season and conference titles in the Southern Athletic Association. 3. Delta State. The Statesmen, regular season Gulf South Conference champs, made it to a Division II regional, where their season ended with a 44-11-1 mark. 4. Ole Miss. The Rebels won 38 games, losing 24, but couldn’t get out of the NCAA regional at Raleigh, N.C. 5. Southern Miss. The Eagles, 30-27 after a sluggish start, tied for the C-USA regular season crown and made it to the championship game of the league tournament. 6. Jackson State. The Tigers (34-22) won their division in the SWAC and won the SWAC Tournament, claiming the league’s automatic NCAA berth. 7. William Carey. The Crusaders (36-23) finished third in the tough Southern States Athletic Conference regular season race and were awarded an NAIA regional, where their season ended. 8. Belhaven. A fourth-place finish in the SSAC and a lackluster league tournament effort didn’t get the Blazers (37-21) an invite to the NAIA regionals. 9. Alcorn State. The Braves made the SWAC Tournament with a 14-10 league record and finished 16-41. 10. Mississippi College. The Choctaws suffered their second straight losing season (17-22) and didn’t make the postseason in the American Southwest Conference. 11. Blue Mountain. The Toppers, in their third NAIA season, finished 13-39. 12. Mississippi Valley State. The Delta Devils went 5-44, missing the SWAC Tournament a year after making the championship round. 13. Tougaloo. The Bulldogs, an NAIA independent, went 9-33. 14. Rust College. Based on available info, the D-III Bearcats were winless in 2013.
Is there worry in St. Louis? The Cardinals have been passed by red-hot Pittsburgh in the National League Central and their ace, Lance Lynn, is in a bit of a tailspin. Former Ole Miss standout Lynn lost his second straight start on Tuesday night. He is 10-3 with a 3.75 ERA for the year, but the right-hander has a 4.45 ERA over his last 10 starts and has allowed 21 runs in his last five (30 2/3 innings). “He has the stuff to stop the bleeding,” Cards manager Mike Matheny told mlb.com. “He just couldn’t figure out how to do it.” St. Louis lost to the Los Angeles Angels 5-1 and slipped 2 games behind the Pirates in the division. Third-place Cincinnati is just 2 back of the Cardinals. … Roy Oswalt, the former Weir High and Holmes Community College star, has made three starts for Colorado. He is 0-3 with a 7.88 ERA. He took the loss Tuesday as the Rockies were rocked by the LA Dodgers 8-0. In 16 innings, Oswalt has yielded 27 hits. The Rockies, in dire need of pitching, are just 1.5 games behind first-place Arizona in the NL West, but the surging Dodgers are now just a game back of Colorado. P.S. Itawamba CC alumnus Desmond Jennings hit his 10th home run and swiped his 10th base in Tampa Bay’s 8-0 win over Houston on Tuesday. Only four other American League players have reached double digits in both homers and steals.