31 Jul

around the horn

Trade chatter has not distracted Lance Lynn. The Ole Miss product registered his fifth straight quality start for St. Louis on Sunday, going six innings to beat Arizona 3-2. “I told you guys all along, I’m not going anywhere,” Lynn said in an Associated Press story. “So, I’m not worried about anything.” Lynn, a pending free agent, is 9-6 on the season and now has 70 career MLB victories. Former Mississippi Braves outfielder Jose Martinez drove in all three Cardinals runs. … Ex-Southern Miss star Brian Dozier had a hot-and-cold kinda day for Minnesota. He led off the game at Oakland with his 17th homer – 23rd career leadoff blast – then struck out five times in the 12-inning loss. … Former Mississippi State standout Dakota Hudson made his first Triple-A start in the St. Louis system and yielded four runs in seven innings. He was 9-4, 2.53 ERA at Double-A Springfield. … Petal High product Anthony Alford went 3-for-5 with a home run for Double-A New Hampshire. It was his fourth homer of the year for the Fisher Cats, first in nine games since he returned to the team. Alford made his big league debut with Toronto in May but was injured and sent back to the minors. He is batting .312 in 42 games all told at New Hampshire. … Ex-State star Ryan Gridley, a 2017 draftee by Oakland, has a nine-game hitting streak in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League. He is batting .302. … The North Delta Dealers beat the Tallahatchie Rascals 7-6 to win the Cotton States League title in New Albany. Beau Simpson drove in three runs and Delta State’s Sam Williams two for the Dealers, who got six strong innings from Collin McPherson. The Rascals’ four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh came up just short. … Brandon High’s J.T. Ginn was recognized by Baseball America for having the “best fastball” in Saturday’s Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Ginn hit 97 mph during his two-inning scoreless stint. Hattiesburg’s Joe Gray took an 0-for-4 but impressed with his throwing arm in the outfield.

30 Jul

zooming up the charts

Though he is hitting just .241, Jarrod Dyson is on pace for a career year in most categories in his first season with Seattle, where he has gotten more playing time than he did in his seven years in Kansas City. The former Southwest Mississippi Community College star from McComb matched his career-high RBI total of 25 with a big two-run hit against Jacob deGrom in Saturday’s 3-2 win over the New York Mets. Dyson also stole a base, No. 23 on the season and No. 199 of his career. His career-best for steals is 36, which he set in 2014, when he was used a lot as a pinch runner by the Royals. Dyson, playing regularly in center field for the Mariners, has 290 at-bats (299 is his career-high), 70 hits (76), 50 runs (52), five homers (never more than two before 2017), 13 doubles (14) and 24 walks (30). While his batting average is down from his .257 career mark, his on-base percentage is roughly the same (.319 to .324 career). And his defense is always superb, which is one of the reasons Seattle traded for him in the off-season. The normally effervescent Dyson reportedly cried when he learned he was leaving the Royals, who drafted him (50th round in 2006) and with whom he won a World Series ring. But he has said he is glad to be getting more playing time with Seattle. Dyson, who turns 33 next month, will be a free agent after this season, and there is some speculation that if the Royals lose center fielder Lorenzo Cain to free agency, they might re-sign Dyson.

29 Jul

eye on …

Chuckie Robinson, drafted in the 21st round by Houston in 2016 after a breakout season at Southern Miss, has continued to shine in pro ball. The 22-year-old catcher is batting .288 with 10 home runs and 54 RBIs in 79 games at Class A Quad Cities. He is batting .361 over his last 10 games, including a 2-for-4 on Friday night. And his team is in first place. Robinson, one of just a few Mississippi-connected catchers in the minors, was a Midwest League All-Star this year and a New York-Penn League midseason All-Star in 2016. He batted .275 with two homers and 18 RBIs at Tri-City in his first pro season. Robinson was an All-Conference USA pick in 2016 and also made the league’s all-tournament team after helping the Golden Eagles win the league title. In his only season as the full-time catcher, Robinson batted .288 with seven homers and 44 RBIs. The Astros also picked a catcher in the third round last year – Jake Rogers from Tulane. He is currently playing – and playing well — at the high-A level. Garrett Stubbs, a 2015 draftee from Southern Cal, is in Double-A. Both are rated as top 20 prospects in the Astros’ system, but the unrated Robinson is holding his own. That could be an interesting competition going forward.

28 Jul

memphis-bound

Dakota Hudson is taking the next step toward the big leagues. The Mississippi State product and St. Louis prospect has been promoted from Double-A Springfield to Triple-A Memphis, according to several reports. Hudson, a first-round pick in 2016, was 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA at Springfield and started the Texas League All-Star Game in late June. “This kid is a winner, a Cardinals-type player,” his Springfield manager, Johnny Rodriguez, told ozarksportszone.com. Baseball America and MLB Pipeline rank the 6-foot-5 right-hander as the No. 9 prospect in the Cardinals’ system. St. Louis brass are “excited about the potential four-pitch mix Hudson has at his disposal,” the MLB Pipeline scouting report says. The hard-throwing Hudson has enhanced his curveball this season. … The Redbirds are at home tonight against Salt Lake, completing a suspended game and then playing the regularly scheduled game at AutoZone Park.

27 Jul

time for a breakout

It is a three-team scrap, at the moment, in the American League East. Boston clings to a 1-game lead over the New York Yankees with Tampa Bay hanging 2.5 back. The Rays are visiting Yankee Stadium for a four-game series that starts tonight. Boston hosts surging Kansas City, an AL Central and wild card contender, for three starting on Friday. It’s not a good time to be in a slump, but both Corey Dickerson of the Rays and Mitch Moreland of the Red Sox are in one. Former Meridian Community College star Dickerson, a first-time All-Star this year, is batting .209 with one homer and four RBIs over his last 23 games. His average has plunged to .303. Yankee Stadium is a great hitter’s park for lefties, and Dickerson is batting .343 with three bombs against Yankees pitching this season. So … a breakout might be coming. The Rays would love to see it. Moreland, the ex-Mississippi State standout, is hitting .124 without a homer in his last 24 games and went 2-for-17 on the club’s recent road trip. His average is down to .239, and he’s been dropped in the BoSox’s order. He suffered a broken toe in mid-June but played through it and says it’s fine now. If there is a positive for Moreland entering the weekend, he is a better hitter at Fenway Park: .253 with six of his 12 homers and a .341 on-base percentage. He doesn’t have a hit in seven at-bats against Royals pitchers this year, so … perhaps he is due. The Red Sox surely hope that’s true.

27 Jul

moving forward

Injuries have dogged former Madison Central High star Spencer Turnbull for the past two seasons and caused his prospect status to dip. When he’s healthy – as he apparently was on Wednesday – Turnbull looks like a future big leaguer. The 24-year-old right-hander, pitching for Class A Lakeland in the Detroit system, allowed just one hit and one run in seven innings of work to improve to 5-3 with a 3.67 ERA in 12 starts. It was his third start for the Flying Tigers since he returned from a stint on the disabled list with elbow tendinitis. Turnbull missed a chunk of 2016 with a shoulder problem. “(Y)ou always face adversity in this game,” he told milb.com, “so you just have to take it and move forward as quickly as you can. I’m just happy to be back.” A second-round pick out of Alabama in 2014, Turnbull (17-10, 3.43 career) is currently rated the Tigers’ No. 25 prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was No. 12 last year. In Wednesday’s game, he retired Mississippi State product Brent Rooker twice; Rooker, a first-round supplemental pick by Minnesota in June, is batting .194 for Fort Myers. Turnbull’s Lakeland teammate Jake Robson, another ex-Bulldogs star, had two hits and boosted his average to .333. P.S. Jackson State alum Bryce Brown, a 15th-round pick in June by Tampa Bay, leads the rookie Appalachian League with 12 stolen bases in 28 games. He stole 27 bases this past season at JSU while batting .374. … Houlka native Tyreque Reed is riding a five-game hit streak and batting .351, which amazingly ranks just seventh in the rookie Arizona League. Reed, a .500 hitter at Itawamba Community College this season, was an eighth-round pick by Texas.

26 Jul

alive and kicking?

They have a pulse. Given up for dead two weeks ago when their record fell to 4-15, the Mississippi Braves have come alive on the current homestand. The 11-19 record still looks bad, and they’re in last place, but they’re just 3.5 games back of first-place Jacksonville in the Southern League South. After starting the second half 0-10 at Trustmark Park, the M-Braves have won five of six on this homestand, three by walk-off, including the victory against Jacksonville on Tuesday night. Those kind of wins can energize a team. They’ve got the starting pitching — always the key ingredient — to make a run at the division title. Mike Soroka – a true ace at 10-5, 2.32 ERA – Kolby Allard and Luiz Gohara rank in the top 10 in Baseball America’s recently updated Atlanta prospect chart. Max Fried is a prospect, too, his 2-11, 6.44 ledger notwithstanding. The bullpen has been a bit of a revolving door, with 11 different pitchers recording at least one save, but there are good arms out there. The lineup, on paper, doesn’t scare anybody. The averages, 1 through 8, from Tuesday: .220, .187, .244, .263, .273, .215, .269, .202. Mega-prospect Ronald Acuna is gone to Triple-A. Recent arrivals Austin Riley and Tyler Neslony, the Nos. 3 and 4 hitters, would certainly help the cause if they can muster big finishes. Riley, the highly regarded former DeSoto Central High star, has power. Neslony, a 2016 draftee out of Texas Tech, hit .309 at Class A Florida before his promotion. Joey Meneses (.273), Jared James (.272) and Southwest Mississippi CC alum Kade Scivicque (.269) have been solid all season. Travis Demeritte and Connor Lien have struggled but do provide pop with 13 and nine homers, respectively. There are 40 games left in the half. The M-Braves have time. And, as they’ve shown these last few days, they have a pulse.