A showdown between the top two teams in the Cotton States League turned into a run-rule rout, with the North Delta Dealers beating the Tippah Tribe 16-3 in four innings Sunday at BNA Bank Park in New Albany. Both are now 10-6 with three games left in the college summer league’s regular season. Tripp Benson, a Belhaven University alum, went 3-for-3 with a homer and five RBIs in Sunday’s game. Connar Gardner (Itawamba Community College) and Ian Biblioni (Lakeland native) drove in three runs each, and Markarius Lee (Mississippi College) scored twice. Lee, batting .373, leads the league in runs with 19, and Benson (.346) is tied for the lead in RBIs with 17. Biblioni (.378) and Gardner (.348) also rank among the top 12 in batting. The Dealers play again tonight against the Golden Triangle Jets. The Tribe is back in action Thursday against the Tallahatchie Rascals. … Sam Williams, a Magee High product, leads the Tribe in hitting at .359, and teammate Braden Quesinberry tops the CSL in wins with four and sports a 1.85 ERA. … The league’s top hitter is Nathan Herron (Belhaven) of the GT Jets at .419. Klay Houston, a Fulton native who pitches for Angelo (Texas) State, has an impressive 38 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings for Tallahatchie. P.S. Mississippi State’s Jordan Westburg extended his hitting streak Monday to seven games for Hyannis in the Cape Cod League. Westburg is 23-for-63 (.365) with three homers and 11 RBIs in 15 games.
JaCoby Jones came off the injured list on Friday and looked to be in fine form on Sunday, making two outstanding catches in center field and hitting a home run in Detroit’s 4-3 win against Toronto. Ex-Richton High star Jones’ homer, his 10th, came off former Ole Miss pitcher Jacob Waguespack. Jones, who missed 11 games with a back injury, is batting .252 (.295 over his last 30 games). … The day after Jones was activated, Madison Central alum Spencer Turnbull, a member of the Tigers’ rotation, went on the 10-day IL with a back problem. … Also hitting the IL is former Wheeler High and Mississippi State standout Brandon Woodruff, who had to leave Milwaukee’s game on Sunday with an oblique injury. That’s a blow for the playoff-contending Brewers. Woodruff, an All-Star this year, is 11-3 with a 3.75 ERA. … MSU product Mitch Moreland reportedly will be activated from the IL this week by Boston. He has played three straight days at first base for Triple-A Pawtucket on a rehab assignment. He went 0-for-9 in those three games. … Ex-Ole Miss star Lance Lynn, the first pitcher in MLB to reach 12 wins this season, suffered a second straight loss on Sunday when Houston beat his Texas club 5-3. Lynn, who fanned 12 in seven innings, is 12-6, 3.93. … A prolonged slump coupled with the return of Ender Inciarte will cut into Austin Riley’s playing time in Atlanta. The DeSoto Central product, who sat out Sunday, is batting .170 over his last 15 games. He is at .248 with 16 homers on the season. … Current DeSoto Central star Blaze Jordan and Columbia Academy’s Slade Wilks are scheduled to play in today’s Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. MLB Network will televise the game live at 2 p.m. Both Jordan (a State commit) and Wilks (Southern Miss) are on the rosters for the Perfect Game All-American Classic to be played Aug. 11 at Petco Park in San Diego.
Doug Nikhazy, Ole Miss’ Freshman All-America left-hander, got the start today for the Collegiate National Team in the decisive fifth game of its series against Japan. Nikhazy allowed just three hits and one run in three innings but took the loss as Team USA fell 6-1 in Tokyo. Mississippi State’s Tanner Allen went 1-for-3, as did his Bulldogs teammate Justin Foscue. Team USA managed just four hits. The team went 8-6 overall on its summer tour. Nikhazy, 9-3 with a 3.31 ERA for Ole Miss, finished with a 5.14 ERA in four appearances. Allen, who hit .349 for the Bulldogs and was drafted by Colorado in the 34th round, hit .308 with three RBIs and three runs for Team USA. Foscue, who batted .331 with 14 homers for the Bulldogs, hit .255 with five RBIs and two runs.
If you missed Tucker Davidson’s eight shutout innings on Thursday and Ian Anderson’s 10-strikeout effort on Friday, don’t fret. There’s a good chance you’ll see another brilliant pitching performance tonight at Trustmark Park in Pearl. Joey Wentz goes to the bump for the Mississippi Braves, whose starting rotation is filled with prospects who are delivering on their promise at the Double-A level. Wentz, ranked as Atlanta’s No. 9 prospect by MLB Pipeline, has yielded just three runs in 24 1/3 innings over his last four starts. The left-hander, drafted 40th overall out of a Kansas high school in 2016, is 4-7 with a 4.34 ERA; his record is largely a reflection of the M-Braves’ offensive struggles. On Sunday in the homestand finale, Jasseel De La Cruz gets the ball against Pensacola. Atlanta’s No. 22 prospect has a 3.83 ERA (and a 2-5 record) since he was moved up from Class A Florida. He’s followed in the rotation by lefty Kyle Muller, the No. 10 prospect, who has a 3.50 and a 6-5 mark. Davidson, No. 18 on the prospect chart, has a 2.04 ERA (4-6 record) that is among the best in the minors, and Anderson, No. 26 (with a bullet), leads Double-A baseball with 129 strikeouts. He is 7-5 with a 2.80. Among his wins is the combo no-hitter in late June. M-Braves starters for the season have registered 34 quality starts.
The projected MLB arrival time (per MLB Pipeline) for Petal’s Demarcus Evans is 2020. The big right-hander, pitching at Double-A Frisco in the Texas system, appears to be running on schedule. Evans, 22, has not allowed an earned run in nine straight appearances and has a 1.40 ERA over 15 games since being promoted from Class A Down East in late May. He posted an 0.81 and six saves for Down East. On Thursday night, Evans worked a clean ninth inning in a 4-2 win over Tulsa to notch his first Double-A save. He has 33 strikeouts and 13 walks in 19 1/3 innings. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Evans, a 25th-round draft pick out of Petal High in 2015, throws what is described as an exploding fastball and a quality curve. He has averaged 13.7 K’s per nine innings in his five-year pro career. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him move up to Triple-A before this season ends. P.S. Playing shortstop for Tulsa in that Texas League game was Errol Robinson, the former Ole Miss star. He had two hits, including a homer, and boosted his average to .318 for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ affiliate. (He did not face Evans.) Robinson started this season in Triple-A but struggled (.220) and was sent down in late June to Tulsa, where he has begun to perk up.
After a sluggish start to his pro career, Willie Joe Garry Jr. has taken off in Year 2. The former Pascagoula High star, 19, is batting .314 with a homer, seven RBIs and 12 runs in 21 games for Elizabethton, a rookie-level club in Minnesota’s system. Garry went 3-for-3 with three RBIs in an E-Twins win on Wednesday. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound lefty hitter batted just .160 in the Gulf Coast League in 2018. He was a ninth-round pick by the Twins in 2018, the third prep player drafted out of the state behind Brandon’s J.T. Ginn and Hattiesburg’s Joe Gray. Garry’s draft stock soared following a strong showing with his travel team in the summer of 2017, according to a story in the Biloxi Sun-Herald. A five-tool talent, he then hit .432 with three homers and 21 steals as a senior at Goula. Garry, a second cousin of former Southern Miss football star Ben Garry, told the Sun-Herald he credits some of his development as a player to ex-big leaguer Matt Lawton, his youth league coach. (Lawton also was drafted by the Twins and played seven years in Minnesota.) Garry plays center field for the E-Twins, usually flanked in right field by USM alum Matt Wallner, a first-round pick this year who is hitting .316 with a couple of homers. P.S. Jarrod Dyson, the former McComb High and Southwest Mississippi Community College star, left Wednesday’s game for Arizona with a hamstring cramp. Dyson helped fuel the Diamondbacks’ 19-4 win at Texas with three hits, including his career-high sixth homer. The 34-year-old outfielder is batting .254 with 43 runs and 21 stolen bases in 77 games.
Getting to the big leagues is hard. Staying in the big leagues might be even harder. Bobby Bradley, the former Harrison Central High standout, was sent back to Triple-A by Cleveland on Tuesday. The Indians needed to call up a starting pitcher, so Bradley, just 8-for-45 with one homer since making The Show, was bumped from the 25-man roster. “It’s not going to hurt him to get at-bats at Triple-A,” Indians manager Terry Francona told cleveland.com. Of the five Mississippians to debut in the majors this year, only ex-DeSoto Central star Austin Riley hasn’t gone back down. Mississippi State product Nate Lowe has been sent down twice by Tampa Bay; he is currently with the big league club again (and hitting a ton). Ole Miss alum Jacob Waguespack also has been yo-yo’ed by Toronto; he was recalled Tuesday to make a spot start. Then there’s Chris Ellis. Ellis, a former UM and Mississippi Braves ace, made Kansas City’s opening day roster as a Rule 5 draftee out of St. Louis’ system. He pitched a scoreless inning in his debut on March 31. He was dropped from the active roster a couple days later and, per Rule 5 rules, was returned to the Cardinals. The 26-year-old right-hander has struggled mightily at Triple-A Memphis, with a 7.74 ERA and four blown saves in five chances over 30 appearances. One has to wonder if he’ll ever get another big league look. Bradley, only 23, surely will, though it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the demotion. He was killing it at Columbus (.292, 24 homers) before his call-up.
Milwaukee needs a stopper to step up, and it’s Brandon Woodruff’s turn. The Mississippi State alum from Wheeler goes to the bump tonight against first-place Atlanta, aiming to stop the skidding Brewers’ 1-5 tumble. He would seem to be the right guy to do it. Woodruff, whose last appearance was in the All-Star Game a week ago, is 10-3 with a 3.67 ERA. He has faced the Braves once before, on May 19 in Atlanta, when he threw eight strong innings but got a no-decision in a game the Brewers won 3-2 in 10. He yielded six hits – including homers by Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna – with six strikeouts and no walks. Milwaukee has lost eight of 10 to fall to 48-47, third in the National League Central. The Braves, who’ve won eight of 10 and are comfortably atop the NL East, will throw rookie and former Mississippi Braves righty Bryse Wilson. P.S. Ex-Ole Miss star Lance Lynn, who is an MLB-best 12-4, 3.69, gets the start tonight for Texas against visiting Arizona, and another former Rebel, Jacob Waguespack, will start for Toronto against Boston at Fenway Park. It’ll be the third career appearance for Waguespack (1-0, 5.00), who beat the Red Sox on July 3 with a solid five-inning effort.
On this date in 2005, former Mississippi State star Rafael Palmeiro, playing for Baltimore, rapped his 3,000th career MLB hit. It was a double at Safeco Field in Seattle. He became just the fourth player in history with both 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. There are now six in that exclusive club that also includes Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray. Shortly after recording hit No. 3,000, Palmeiro was suspended for failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs. He returned from that suspension in mid-August, put in a few more games with the Orioles but never played in the majors thereafter. Though he staunchly denied using PEDs, the four-time All-Star fell off the Hall of Fame ballot in 2014 after four years without ever coming close to election. Palmeiro is in the MSU, Mississippi Sports and College Baseball Halls of Fame.
The top-rated pitching prospect on the Chicago Cubs’ Double-A roster is Lucedale’s Justin Steele. But the oft-injured Steele has been outperformed on the Tennessee club by another Mississippi native who hasn’t yet cracked the MLB Pipeline prospect ratings. Southaven’s Wyatt Short, a former Ole Miss standout, is 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA and six saves for the Smokies. In 38 1/3 innings, he has 40 strikeouts and 11 walks. And he made the Southern League All-Star Game last month. “I feel like I’m really scratching the surface here,” he recently told the Memphis Commercial Appeal, “so hopefully as the year goes on, it only gets better and better.” The 5-foot-8 left-hander, drafted in the 13th round in 2016, has a 2.49 career ERA and 35 saves in 47 opportunities. He posted 11 saves as UM’s closer in 2016 and finished his Rebels career with 24. … Meanwhile, Steele, a lefty starter and the Cubs’ No. 8 prospect, has spent much of the season on the injured list and is 0-6 with a 5.59 ERA in 11 games for the Smokies. He bounced back strong last summer from Tommy John surgery, finished the 2018 season in Double-A, pitched in the Arizona Fall League and went to big league camp as a member of the Cubs’ 40-man roster. Not much has gone well since.