03 May

holding his own

The shadows cast in the New York Yankees’ bullpen are considerable. There’s Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren — they get most of the high-leverage work. But Jonathan Holder, the Mississippi State product from Gulfport, has earned his seat in that bullpen. And he figures to get more pressurized opportunities as the season progresses for a team that looks like a playoff contender. Scouting reports rave about Holder’s swing-and-miss stuff. In his second big league tour, he has posted a 3.00 ERA in 11 appearances, including a scoreless ninth inning in Tuesday’s 11-5 win over Toronto. He has fanned 10 and walked one in nine innings, yielded no homers and been credited with two holds. He didn’t get a hold on April 28, when he did some of his most impressive work. When Holder came on in the seventh, the Yankees trailed Baltimore 11-4. Holder shut the O’s water off, retiring all five batters he faced. The Yankees rallied for a stunning 14-11 win in 10, with Clippard and Chapman also hanging up scoreless frames. Holder was a record-setting closer at State and was drafted in the sixth round in 2014 by New York, which converted him to starter in the minors for two years. He went back to the pen in 2016 and sailed through three levels – with a 1.65 ERA — to arrive with the Bronx Bombers on Sept. 2. He had mixed results (5.40 ERA) then, but he made the big club out of spring training and has continued to impress. P.S. Former Petal High star Anthony Alford made Baseball America’s All-Prospect team for April. The highly regarded Blue Jays farmhand, now playing in Double-A, hit .356 with two homers, eight RBIs, 12 runs and seven steals.

Mike Christensen

Mike Christensen

A long-time sports fan and 30-year newspaper veteran muses on all things baseball in Mississippi. Contact: mwchristens@gmail.com
Mike Christensen

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