Though he is not heading to the MLB All-Star Game, Brian Dozier put on a star-worthy performance in his final game before the break. The Southern Miss product smacked a walk-off grand slam Sunday to give Minnesota a wild 11-7 win over Tampa Bay. He had five RBIs all told and scored a run by drawing a balk. The victory wrapped up a 9-2 homestand for the Twins, who are scrapping to stay in playoff contention. “I love it,” Dozier said in a postgame TV interview. The subject of trade speculation, Dozier hit .321 with three homers and 10 RBIs over the last seven games of the first half. He leads all Mississippians in the majors with 16 homers and 48 RBIs. East Central Community College alum Tim Anderson of the Chicago White Sox has 13 homers, and ex-Mississippi State standout Mitch Moreland – who is headed to the All-Star Game – has 11 for Boston. Moreland is second to Dozier among Mississippians with 46 RBIs and second to Meridian CC alum Corey Dickerson of Pittsburgh in batting average, .278 to .306. Dickerson, a 2017 All-Star with Tampa Bay, went 2-for-5 with his seventh homer on Sunday. … Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton, with Cincinnati, has 22 steals, one more than Anderson. … The break may have come at a bad time for State product Hunter Renfroe, who homered on Saturday and Sunday for San Diego to boost his season total to seven. He hit 26 in 2017, when he played more regularly. P.S. Dakota Hudson threw a clean inning and fellow MSU alum Nate Lowe went 1-for-2 with an RBI in Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game in Washington, D.C. … Down on the farm, Gulfport’s Bobby Bradley rated a headline on milb.com after hitting his 18th homer and diving into the stands to catch a pop fly for Double-A Akron. Bradley, a top Cleveland prospect at first base, is on an 11-game hit streak that has raised his average to .213. His homer total ranks second in the Eastern League.
There is a maroon tint to the U.S. roster for today’s All-Star Futures Game. Former Mississippi State teammates Dakota Hudson and Nathaniel Lowe were chosen for this showcase event, slated for 3 p.m. (on MLB Network) at Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C. Also on the rosters are Mississippi Braves alums Kyle Wright and Touki Toussaint (who’ll suit up for the World team), the Biloxi Shuckers’ Keston Hiura and Ke’Bryan Hayes, son of ex-big leaguer and Hattiesburg native Charlie Hayes. It’s certainly not a big surprise to see Hudson in this game. He was a first-round pick by St. Louis in 2016, immediately jumped onto their prospect lists and has soared through the system. He is 12-2 with a 2.42 ERA at Triple-A Memphis this year, perhaps on the brink of a call-up from the Cardinals. It’s fair to say Lowe has exceeded expectations. The big left-handed hitting first baseman was a 13th-round pick in 2016 by Tampa Bay. After a modest start to his pro career, he has taken off in 2018. He was killing it at Class A Port Charlotte and, after earning a June promotion to Double-A, has continued to do so for Montgomery. His numbers at the two levels: .349, 18 homers, 73 RBIs. Hard to ignore.
Whirlwind is a great word. Sounds like what it means: energetic, dizzying, a little bit chaotic. There may be no better word to describe the last few weeks for Mississippi State. Walk-off wins. Trip to Omaha. Disheartening finish. Top 10 rankings. Jake Mangum’s coming back. Gary Henderson’s not. Chris Lemonis is coming in. Konnor Pilkington and Jacob Billingsley are going pro. J.T. Ginn isn’t. When the Ginn news dropped late Thursday, it was truly a wow moment. Ginn, the state’s player of the year from Brandon and the 30th overall pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers, turned down big bucks – slot value of $2 million-plus – to follow a dream of playing for the Bulldogs. The centerpiece of a recruiting class that includes a slew of the state’s top players, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Ginn can both pitch and hit. He could have a major impact in 2019. And there’s also the possibility that signee Carter Stewart, the big right-hander from Florida drafted in the first round by Atlanta, will be coming to Starkville. Stewart was the eighth overall pick but hasn’t signed, reportedly because of concerns about a wrist problem. Signing deadline is today. Stay tuned. There’s already much anticipation for fall ball in Starkville. Most of the position players responsible for State’s amazing postseason run – including Mangum, the team leader and best hitter – are back. Lemonis and Ginn are in. The whirlwind goes on. P.S. Former State standouts Dakota Hudson (now in St. Louis’ system) and Nathaniel Lowe (Tampa Bay) have been named to the U.S. roster for the July 15 All-Star Futures Game. Also on the U.S. team are current Mississippi Braves pitcher Kyle Wright, Biloxi Shuckers infielder Keston Hiura (Milwaukee) and Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pittsburgh), son of Hattiesburg native and ex-big leaguer Charlie Hayes.
Ronald Acuna, who has been raking for the Mississippi Braves, jumped 52 spots to No. 10 on Baseball America’s new Midseason Top 100 Prospects chart. Acuna, a 19-year-old outfielder, is batting .314 with seven homers, 26 RBIs and 18 steals through 53 Double-A games. The M-Braves return to Trustmark on Sunday, but Acuna will be in Miami for the All-Star Futures Game. Also going to Miami is Mike Soroka, one of the three M-Braves starting pitchers in the new Top 100 released today on BA’s website. Soroka is No. 33, just behind Kolby Allard (23) and ahead of Luiz Gohara (76). Former Mississippi State star Brandon Woodruff of Wheeler jumped from 74 to 43. Slated to make his big league debut for Milwaukee on June 13, Woodruff injured a hamstring in warmups and went on the disabled list. He’ll be back with the Brewers soon. Petal High alum Anthony Alford is No. 38 on the list, down from 34 in the previous chart. He is also on the DL, having suffered a wrist injury in May, a day after getting his first MLB hit for Toronto. He was batting .325 in Double-A. Bobby Bradley, the ex-Harrison Central High standout, moved into the Top 100 at 93. The lefty-hitting first baseman is batting .270 with 15 homers and 58 RBIs for Cleveland’s Double-A club. P.S. Former Pillow Academy star and veteran big leaguer Louis Coleman has posted a 2.57 ERA in six games for Triple-A Reno in the Arizona organization. Coleman reportedly opted out of his minor league contract with Cincinnati last month and then signed with the Diamondbacks. He had a 2.21 ERA in 25 games at Triple-A Louisville.
Ole Miss product Zack Cozart, eligible to come off the disabled list (thigh strain) on Wednesday for Cincinnati, could be activated today, according to reports. The Reds host the Chicago Cubs this weekend at Great American Ballpark. Cozart is batting .320 with nine homers and 33 RBIs and led the voting for National League All-Star shortstop at last look. The rosters will be announced on Sunday on ESPN. … McComb native and Meridian Community College product Corey Dickerson was leading the vote for American League DH in the most recently released results. He is batting .330 with 17 homers and 39 RBIs for Tampa Bay. … Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton, the ex-Taylorsville High standout, was passed by Trea Turner for the MLB stolen base lead on Thursday, but with Turner now on the disabled list (broken wrist), Hamilton is the leading active thief with 33 bags. Turner has 35, Miami’s Dee Gordon 29. … Former Mississippi State star Hunter Renfroe hit his first home run in 13 days on Thursday, helping San Diego beat Atlanta. Renfroe has 16 homers – a record for a Padres rookie before the All-Star break – though he is batting just .225. … Former Mississippi Braves standout Freddie Freeman is expected to make a rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday. He could return to the Braves – at third base – next week. It’ll be interesting to see how that works out. M-Braves alum Johan Camargo has played fairly well at third for Atlanta and is batting .293 with 12 RBIs and 10 runs in 31 games all told. … Current M-Braves Mike Soroka and Ronald Acuna have been chosen for the World team in the All-Star Futures Game, set for July 9 in Miami. Former Biloxi Shuckers shortstop Mauricio Dubon, now in Triple-A, is also on the World roster. … Jake Mangum is off to a sizzling start in the Cape Cod League. The MSU star out of Jackson Prep is batting .359 with hits in nine of the 10 games he has played for Hyannis. Mangum had two hits in each of his first five games in the summer league. He was drafted in the 30th round by the New York Yankees as an eligible sophomore but is expected to return to Starkville for the 2018 season. … Brandon’s John “J.T.” Ginn and Hattiesburg’s Joe Gray have been participating in the Tournament of Stars this week in Cary, N.C. They are among the 80 prep players invited to the USA Baseball complex to compete for spots on the Under-18 National Team.
The names of Mississippians popped up many times in Baseball America’s Midseason Organization Reports, some in good places, some in less-desirable spots. Hunter Renfroe, the former Mississippi State standout set to play in tonight’s All-Star Futures Game, and Bobby Bradley, the ex-Harrison Central High star, were named the “Best Player” in their organization, San Diego and Cleveland, respectively. JaCoby Jones, the former Mr. Baseball from Richton, was touted as making the “Biggest Leap Forward” this season in the Detroit organization, and MSU product Brandon Woodruff received the same designation in the Milwaukee system. He is currently pitching for the Biloxi Shuckers. There is also a category for “Biggest Disappointment.” Former Murrah High star Zack Bird (Atlanta), State product Jacob Lindgren (New York Yankees) and Anthony Alford (Toronto), another former Mr. Baseball from Petal, fell into that category. Injuries have played a part in the decline of each of those players, most notably Alford. Rated by some the best prospect in the Blue Jays’ system entering 2016, he suffered a knee injury on opening day at Class A Dunedin and a concussion in mid-June. Alford, a right-handed hitting outfielder, is in a 5-for-37 skid that has dropped his average to .183, with two homers, 18 RBIs and 22 runs in 48 games. It’s a good bet Alford will have found his stride by season’s end. … The best player in the Braves’ system is no surprise: Dansby Swanson, who is also slated for the All-Star Futures Game in San Diego. He is one of three current Mississippi Braves rated among the top 32 prospects in BA’s midseason update. Swanson is No. 7, Ozzie Albies No. 17 and Sean Newcomb No. 32. Milwaukee’s best player is left-hander Josh Hader, who started this season in Biloxi. He is also in San Diego for the Futures game. P.S. Line of the day for a Mississippian in the majors on Saturday belongs to Kendall Graveman: 8IP, 5H, 2R, 0BB, 3Ks. The ex-State star won his fourth straight game for Oakland, 3-2 vs. Houston, and is now 5-6 with a 4.37 ERA.
Heading into Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game in San Diego, Hunter Renfroe has the look of a future big league All-Star. The Mississippi State alum from Crystal Springs hit his 21st home run of the season on Thursday for Triple-A El Paso in the Padres’ system. Over his last 10 games, the outfielder is hitting .457 with four homers and 13 RBIs. He’s at .335 for the year. Surely he’ll be playing big league games in Petco Park in the near future. … Ex-Ole Miss star Drew Pomeranz, bidding to be a late pick for the MLB All-Star Game, allowed two hits over seven shutout innings for the Padres on Thursday to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers. Pomeranz is 8-7 with a 2.47 ERA for a last-place club. … About the only thing that could cool off Seth Smith was a day off. Seattle rested the UM product on Thursday (against Kansas City lefty Danny Duffy). Over his last seven games, Smith batted .385 with five homers and 14 RBIs. … Mason Robbins is making a case for promotion in the Chicago White Sox’s system. The former Southern Miss standout from Leakesville had a three-hit game on Thursday for Class A Winston-Salem, boosting his average over his last 10 games to .390 and his season number to .306. The lefty-hitting outfielder, in his third pro season, has two homers, 21 doubles, 33 RBIs and 26 runs in 69 games. … In the Cape Cod Baseball League, Mississippi State’s Brent Rooker and Jake Mangum rank in the top five in batting. Rooker leads the summer circuit with a .386 average for Brewster, while Mangum is fifth at .344 for Bourne.