Left-handed relievers always seem to be in demand, so it’s likely that Tony Sipp will find a big league job for 2014 without much difficulty. The Pascagoula native and former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College star has declared himself a free agent; he had been designated for assignment by Arizona. Sipp, 30, didn’t pitch well in his one season with the Diamondbacks. He posted a 4.78 ERA — almost a run higher than his career average (3.84) — in 37 2/3 innings and walked 22 batters, hit three more and yielded six homers. The D’backs even sent him to the minors for a while. Sipp had four solid years with Cleveland before the Indians traded him last off-season, so perhaps 2013 was an aberration. A hard thrower (9.3 strikeouts per nine innings for his career), Sipp is not a closer (two career saves in eight chances) but still has value as a lefty specialist. He’ll land somewhere.
The somewhat surprising acquisition of the high-priced Prince Fielder by Texas doesn’t necessarily mean Mitch Moreland’s days as a Ranger are done. Fielder, acquired from Detroit for second baseman Ian Kinsler, will be the Rangers’ starting first baseman, taking the position former Mississippi State standout Moreland has held for three seasons. But, Texas GM Jon Daniels told mlb.com, “Mitch is still in our plans.” Moreland, a left-handed hitter (like Fielder), can play the outfield and DH. For what it’s worth, he is a better defensive first baseman than Fielder. Moreland batted just .232 in 2013, though he did belt a career-high 23 home runs. Texas apparently wanted more power from that spot. For his career, Moreland, who debuted in 2010, is hitting .253 with 63 homers and 186 RBIs. There were reports earlier this month that some teams had expressed an interest in Moreland, so it wouldn’t be a shock to a see him moved despite what the Texas GM said on Wednesday.
After spending seven years in the Arizona system and never receiving a big-league call, Ed Easley will get his next opportunity with the St. Louis Cardinals. The former Mississippi State star — a Ferriss Trophy winner and first-round pick in 2007 — has signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals and will go to spring training to compete for the backup catcher job behind Yadier Molina. Easley, who turns 28 next month, hit .334 with six home runs and 49 RBIs in Triple-A in 2013. The right-handed batter is a career .262 hitter.
Edwin Maysonet, the former Delta State standout who has had some big league time, got three knocks Friday and is hitting .342 for Santurce in his native Puerto Rico. Maysonet, now 32, played at Triple-A Iowa in the Chicago Cubs system this past season, batting .242 with six home runs and 33 RBIs in 72 games. He last played in MLB with Milwaukee in 2012. … Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton, also with Santurce, leads the Puerto Rican (Roberto Clemente) Winter League with six steals, and former Jackson Generals catcher Ramon Castro, a Puerto Rico native playing for Caguas, leads the league with seven RBIs. … Former Mississippi Braves star Ernesto Mejia belted two homers Friday for Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League. Still Atlanta property, he is batting .235 with six bombs and 14 RBIs. Mejia had a monster year with the M-Braves in 2011: .297, 26 homers, 99 RBIs, 82 runs. … Tommy LaStella, the M-Braves’ second baseman in 2013, hit .290 with a homer and 10 RBIs for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League. He was named an MiLB Double-A All-Star for 2013 after batting .343 in 81 games for the M-Braves. … Also with Scottsdale were former Ole Miss hurlers Cody Satterwhite (2.77 ERA in 11 games) and Phil Irwin (1-2, 8.62 in five starts). Satterwhite is a New York Mets farmhand; Irwin is with Pittsburgh. … Noticed on the transaction wire: Washington released former M-Braves infielder Mauro Gomez, who reportedly is bound for Japan; ex-M-Braves outfielder Antoan Richardson signed a minor-league deal with the New York Yankees; and former M-Braves catcher J.C. Boscan inked a minor deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Southern Miss product Brian Dozier, shifted from shortstop to second base this season, was named the Minnesota Twins’ defensive player of the year by Wilson. Dozier committed just six errors and posted a .992 fielding percentage. … Brian McCann, the former Mississippi Braves star, reportedly is interested in the Texas Rangers. McCann, a free agent, got a qualifying offer from Atlanta but isn’t expected to return, which is sad. He was the first M-Braves alum to make the majors in 2005 and has been, when healthy, a standout in Atlanta. McCann, soon to turn 30, hit .256 with 20 home runs and 57 RBIs this season. … Jarrod Saltalamacchia, another ex-M-Braves catcher and free agent, wasn’t offered by Boston (though he might return there anyway). Wonder if Atlanta might have an interest in bringing Salty back? He batted .273 with 14 homers and 65 RBIs for the world champs. He is 28. … Tupelo native and former Jackson State star Dave Clark, recently cut loose from Houston’s field staff, was hired by Detroit as third base coach for new manager Brad Ausmus. … Belhaven left-hander Chris Good, 14-3 with a 2.18 ERA in 2013, has been named an NAIA Preseason All-American. … Mississippi College’s Mike Rice Baseball Field House is slated to open in March. Rice, an Alabama businessman who made a large donation toward construction of the 2,500-square foot facility, was a Choctaws star in the 1970s. … Billy Hamilton, the ex-Taylorsville High star, has four stolen bases in four Puerto Rican Winter League games. And two hits.
Billy Hamilton went 0-for-4 with a walk in his Puerto Rican (Roberto Clemente) Winter League debut on Saturday. The former Taylorsville High star, who made a nice splash in his MLB debut with Cincinnati in September, is playing for Santurce along with former Delta State standout Edwin Maysonet. Hamilton batted . 256 with six homers, 41 RBIs and 75 steals at Triple-A Louisville last season and then hit .368 with 13 steals in 13 games (19 at-bats) with the Reds. Hamilton should have a real shot at Cincy’s center field job in the spring. … Atlanta has signed former Jackson Mets pitcher Roger McDowell to a new two-year deal as pitching coach. The Braves led baseball with a 3.18 ERA in 2013. As Atlanta’s pitching coach since 2005, McDowell has worked with a large group of former Mississippi Braves pitchers as they broke into the big leagues.