13 Jul

looking ahead

Three straight wins on the current homestand have put the Mississippi Braves in position to climb above .500 heading into the All-Star break. Behind left-hander Ian Thomas (six shutout innings), the M-Braves beat Chattanooga 2-0 on Friday night to move to 11-12 in the second half. They have two more games against the Lookouts at Trustmark Park before the 3-day break. The schedule sets up well for the M-Braves to make a charge at a half-season championship that eluded them in the first half. Mississippi has a 5-game series at Jackson, Tenn., following the break but then plays 15 of its next 20 at home, including a 10-game homestand July 23-Aug. 1. The M-Braves are 25-23 at the TeePee. They need to improve on that during the stretch ahead. And this is certainly a club with the talent to do it. They’ll send five players to the July 17 Southern League All-Star Game in Jacksonville: Starter Gus Schlosser (6-2, 2.36 ERA), catcher Christian Bethancourt (.262, five homers), third baseman Edward Salcedo (.257, 10 homers, 44 RBIs), right fielder Jose Martinez (.306) and shortstop Jaime Pedroza (.287). Closer Mark Lamm was selected to the South squad but has been promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett. Second baseman Tommy La Stella, batting .315 since his May 6 call-up, might have gotten more All-Star attention had he played in more games (37 to date). Still getting his feet wet at the Double-A level is left fielder Robby Hefflinger, batting just .196 with three homers in 13 games since coming up from Class A Lynchburg. Hefflinger, who blasted 21 homers for the Hillcats, made Baseball America’s Midseason Minor League All-Surprise team. He could be a difference-maker down the stretch. The M-Braves have also gotten 2012 SL ERA champ Gary Moran back from injury and could yet see highly rated J.R. Graham (shoulder woes) return to their rotation.

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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