20 Sep

here and there

Ole Miss product Alex Presley’s second home run of the season on Tuesday was the 5,693rd by a major league player in 2017, which tied the single season record set in 2000. Shortly after Presley went yard for Detroit, Kansas City’s Alex Gordon hit the record-breaker. Presley, playing for a 2018 job, went 4-for-6 in the Tigers’ loss to Oakland and boosted his average to .322 in 61 games. The journeyman outfielder is in his 12th pro season and with his fifth big league club. … Ex-UM star Drew Pomeranz threw 6 1/3 shutout innings but got a no-decision in Boston’s 1-0 win in 11 innings against Baltimore. Pomeranz, who is 16-5, lowered his ERA to 3.15. … Orioles manager Buck Showalter, the former Mississippi State standout, may be headed for his first losing campaign since 2011. The O’s have lost 11 of 13 to fall to 73-79. … Ole Miss alum Zack Cozart hit his 23rd homer for Cincinnati — and fourth in seven games – as the Reds lost to St. Louis in 10. Cozart, an All-Star this year and a pending free agent, is batting .303. … There is speculation that former Taylorsville High star Billy Hamilton, on the disabled list with a broken thumb, might return as a pinch runner for the Reds before the year ends. He leads the majors with 58 steals, three ahead of Miami’s Dee Gordon. … Ex-State star Dakota Hudson started and worked three innings for Memphis in Tuesday’s Triple-A championship game, which the Redbirds lost to Durham. Hudson posted a 2.40 ERA in three postseason starts for St. Louis’ Triple-A club. He was 1-1, 4.42 in seven regular season starts after going 9-4, 2.53 in Double-A.

19 Sep

bombs away

The record for home runs by all teams in a major league season likely will be broken today. The current number is 5,677, 16 short of the mark that was set in 2000. Of those 5,677, a total of 175 were hit by Mississippians (natives or college alums). There are 108 players with 20 or more homers – that record should also fall this year – and four of those are Mississippians. Brian Dozier, the ex-Southern Miss standout, leads the All-Mississippi Home Run Derby with 31; he has 73 the last two years. (His ability to drive high fastballs was highlighted by Tom Verducci on MLB Network on Monday night.) Dozier is followed on the Mississippi chart by Corey Dickerson (career-high 26), Zack Cozart (career-high 22) and Hunter Renfroe (21 in his second year). Mitch Moreland is sitting on 19, and Tim Anderson, with 16, could also reach 20. Seth Smith is in double digits with 13, four shy of his career-best. Jarrod Dyson, who had seven career homers in seven previous seasons, hit five in 2017; he is out for the season with an injury. Adam Frazier also has five, one of them an inside-the-park job. (Still counts.) Rookies JaCoby Jones and Stuart Turner hit their first career homers this season. Jones has three all told and Turner two. There also have been a record number of strikeouts in 2017 – for the 10th straight year – and, of course, Mississippians have contributed their fair share of those, as well. Six already have topped the 100 mark, including speed demon Billy Hamilton, who has only four home runs. Indeed, the game has changed.

19 Sep

welcome back

It was, to use Hunter Renfroe’s own word, “humbling” to be sent back to the minor leagues after almost five months as a big league regular with San Diego. “You either grow from it or you fail from it,” the ex-Mississippi State standout told The Associated Press. The 25-year-old rookie returned to the Padres with some vigor on Monday, hitting a three-run homer in his first at-bat that propelled the team to a 4-2 win over Arizona. Renfroe went down to Triple-A El Paso on Aug. 18 and hit .509 with four home runs in 14 games, then helped the club reach Game 5 of the Pacific Coast League Championship Series. Monday’s homer was Renfroe’s 21st for the Padres. He also struck out for the 126th time; he has just 26 walks. How Renfroe handles the last two weeks of the season will be closely scrutinized. P.S. Brent Suter threw five shutout innings and fellow former Biloxi Shuckers star Brett Phillips threw out a runner from center field to end the game as Milwaukee kept its playoff drive alive with a 3-0 win at Pittsburgh.

18 Sep

school in session

Reid Humphreys, a dual standout at Mississippi State and Northwest Rankin High, is focused on pitching in pro ball, and he looked sharp in his second season. Humphreys, who’s on Colorado’s Instructional League roster for this fall, notched 13 saves in 14 chances with a 2.56 ERA at Class A Asheville. The Rockies drafted Humphreys – brother of Miami Marlins first baseman Tyler Moore, another ex-Bulldog — in the seventh round in 2016. Humphreys batted .310 with five homers and 44 RBIs and posted seven saves (despite a 5.56 ERA) in 17 mound appearances for State that year. The Rockies preferred him as a pitcher, and he has not disappointed. … Also slated for extended work in Instructional League in either Arizona or Florida are State product Ryan Gridley (Oakland), East Mississippi Community College alum Vijay Miller (San Diego), ex-State star Zac Houston (Detroit), Ole Miss alum Colby Bortles (Detroit), former UM standout Henri Lartigue (Philadelphia) and Ti’Quan Forbes, the 2014 Mr. Baseball from Columbia who was traded late in the season from Texas to the Chicago White Sox. Forbes, a former second-round pick now in his fourth pro season, hit .222 at Class A Down East before the trade and played just four games for Winston-Salem in the same league before the season ended.

18 Sep

exclamation point

Chuckie Robinson, the former Southern Miss star, capped an ascendant season with a brilliant performance in the Midwest League Championship Series clincher. Robinson went 4-for-5 with a homer, three RBIs and four runs as Quad Cities, a Houston affiliate, beat Fort Wayne 12-2 on Saturday to claim the Class A league’s pennant. “Talk about your storybook ending,” Quad Cities manager Russ Steinhorn told the Quad-City Times. Robinson, a second-year pro, was the only player from the River Bandits’ opening day roster still with the team for the playoffs. Robinson, named the series MVP, also homered in Game 1 of the best-of-5, which the River Bandits swept. “Since the playoffs started, all season really, we’ve shown a resilience. We never quit,’’ Robinson told the QCT. Robinson, a catcher, batted .274 with 15 homers and 77 RBIs during the season. He earned MWL midseason and postseason All-Star honors. And he’ll probably get an invite to the Astros’ big league camp next spring.

17 Sep

go figure

The sight of Tim Anderson coming to the plate likely doesn’t strike fear in the hearts of many major league pitchers. But Detroit’s Matt Boyd, one out away from a no-hitter, might rather have faced someone other than the former East Central Community College star. Anderson, a .262 hitter on the season, entered today’s game batting .429 in September and coming off his first career four-hit game for Chicago. What’s more, the right-handed hitting Anderson was 8-for-23 (.348) against left-hander Boyd over the last two seasons. He’s now 9-for-27. In the ninth, Boyd fell behind in the count 2-0, then threw a changeup, which Anderson was looking for. He sliced it into right-center field for a double, spoiling the no-no in what was otherwise an awful day for the White Sox, who lost 12-0 at Comerica Park.

17 Sep

shucker factor

The Milwaukee Brewers, desperate for every win they can get, will send former Mississippi State standout Brandon Woodruff to the bump today to face Miami, which is the “home” team at Miller Park. The Brewers are 4 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central and running 3 games off the pace in the wild card race. Woodruff, a rookie, has pitched well. The big right-hander is 1-2 with a 3.14 ERA in his five career starts. He is one of several former Biloxi Shuckers who could be key figures in the Brewers’ drive for the postseason. Seventeen Shuckers alums have reached the majors since the team debuted in 2015. The most accomplished of that group so far is shortstop Orlando Arcia, who is batting .273 with 14 homers, 48 RBIs and 13 steals in his second season as a starter. Brett Phillips, a spare outfielder for the Brewers, is the only other ex-Shuckers position player of note; he is batting .220 with two homers in 24 games. There are Shuckers aplenty on the Milwaukee pitching staff. Josh Hader, an electrifying left-hander, has had a significant impact out of the pen, posting a 1.85 ERA in 30 games. Brent Suter also has been effective with a 2-2 mark and 3.66 ERA in 19 games, including 11 starts. Jacob Barnes is 3-4, 4.29 with two saves. Taylor Williams (5.40 ERA in two appearances) and Aaron Wilkerson (scoreless inning in his debut on Friday) are the most recent call-ups. P.S. Northwest Mississippi Community College product Cody Reed notched his first career save for Cincinnati on Saturday, getting the last out against Pittsburgh. … Ex-State star Jonathan Holder has been recalled from the minors by the New York Yankees, who remain in the thick of the playoff race in the American League. Holder had a 1.69 ERA for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season and has a 3.58 in 34 games for New York.