Keep an eye on Mitch Moreland in today’s American League Division Series opener between Boston and Houston. The former Mississippi State star has very good numbers against Justin Verlander, the future Hall of Famer who’ll start for the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Moreland, the Red Sox’s lefty-hitting first baseman, is 10-for-29 (.345) against Verlander with six doubles and six RBIs. Moreland hit .246 with 22 homers and 79 RBIs in his first year with Boston; he has a .216 career postseason average in 33 games, all with Texas. Verlander, who has 188 career wins, went 15-8 with a 3.36 ERA this season, 5-0, 1.06 with Houston. … Tony Sipp, the Moss Point High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College alum, was not expected to make the Astros’ ALDS roster. Left-hander Sipp had a 5.79 ERA this year, almost two runs higher than his career mark. … There will be two Mississippians in uniform for today’s New York-Cleveland ALDS opener. Ole Miss product Mickey Callaway is in his fifth year as the Indians’ pitching coach, and Louisville native and ex-East Central CC star Marcus Thames is in his second as the Yankees’ assistant hitting coach. … Former Mississippi State pitcher Jonathan Holder, who had a 3.89 ERA in 37 MLB games in 2017, was not on the Yankees’ active roster for the wild card game and isn’t likely to be on the ALDS roster. … Belated props to Hawtin Buchanan, the former UM standout from Biloxi who won a championship with the York Revolution in the independent Atlantic League last Friday. Buchanan posted a 3.40 ERA in 38 games for York.
Hattiesburg native and onetime big leaguer Robert Carson is still out there chucking it in the hinterlands of pro baseball. Carson is a main bullpen piece for Southern Maryland, which won the first-half title in the Freedom Division of the independent Atlantic League. The Atlantic League, which is filled with a lot of veteran talent, is in the last week of its regular season with the playoffs looming. Carson, 28, a large left-hander, has a 4.00 ERA and a 3-4 record in 55 games for the Blue Crabs. He is in his 11th pro season, with 447 appearances on his ledger, including 31 for the New York Mets in 2012-13. Also in the league is former Ole Miss pitcher Hawtin Buchanan, who has put up a 3.26 ERA in 37 games as a reliever for York. The Revolution is close to clinching the second-half race in the Freedom Division. The 6-foot-8 Buchanan, originally drafted by Seattle in 2014, was released by Cincinnati in the spring. Alcorn State product Angel Rosa is the shortstop for Bridgeport, hitting .219 with two homers and 16 RBIs for a team that has the league’s best overall record but likely will miss the playoffs. Rosa, who played in the Southern League for Mobile this year, was released in mid-summer by the Los Angeles Angels. Jackson native Stan Cliburn, a veteran Atlantic League manager, is the skipper in New Britain, but his Bees are not a postseason contender in 2017.
Former Ole Miss standout Aaron Barrett is now a free agent after refusing an assignment to the minors by the Washington Nationals. Barrett, 28, missed all of 2016 because of injuries. The right-hander has a 3.47 ERA in 90 MLB relief appearances. … Jackson native and former big leaguer Stan Cliburn will speak at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi on Friday as part of the “Our Love Affair with Baseball” exhibit. Cliburn was recently named manager of the year in the independent Atlantic League after steering the expansion New Britain Bees to a 71-69 record. Cliburn has won over 1,600 games as a minor league skipper. … A couple of Mississippi products were saddled with losses on Wednesday in the Arizona Fall League. Mississippi State alum Chris Stratton gave up nine hits and five runs in three innings for Scottsdale. Stratton, who made his big league debut with San Francisco this season, is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three AFL appearances. Madison Central High product Spencer Turnbull, a Detroit prospect, allowed just two hits and one earned run in three innings for Salt River but saw his record dip to 0-2 (5.00 ERA) in three starts. … Anthony Alford, the ex-Petal High star and Toronto prospect, had a triple and three RBIs for Mesa in the AFL and is now batting .306. … Joey Meneses of the 2016 Mississippi Braves is playing for his hometown team, Culiacan, in the Mexican Pacific League and batting .288 with two homers and 12 RBIs for the Tomateros. Meneses, an outfielder/first baseman, hit just .234 for the M-Braves after batting .342 at Class A Carolina to begin last season. … Colby Bortles, enjoying a huge fall ball campaign at Ole Miss, homered and doubled on Wednesday to pace Team Bortles to an 8-1 win over Team Blackman in the opener of the Pizza Bowl at Oxford-University Stadium. James McArthur got the win. Game 2 of the best-of-3 series is today. … Southern Miss will conclude its fall season with a 3-game Fall World Series set for Friday, Saturday and Tuesday at Pete Taylor Park. … Cole Gordon hit a bomb for the Maroon team in a 4-0 win over the Gray on Wednesday in Game 8 of Mississippi State’s 19-game fall scrimmage schedule. They’ll play again today (and Saturday and Sunday) at Dudy Noble Field.
With the trade winds starting to intensify in the major leagues, it looks as if ex-Ole Miss star Drew Pomeranz will soon be on his way to a new club. MLB.com reports there is a lot of interest in the San Diego left-hander, who just appeared in his first All-Star Game. Boston, Baltimore, Texas, the New York Mets and Miami are among the teams that could be in the bidding. Former Mississippi Braves Arodys Vizcaino (now Atlanta’s closer) and Yunel Escobar (the Los Angeles Angels’ third baseman) are also mentioned as hot commodities. … Former Mississippi State standout Hunter Renfroe went 0-for-2 in the Triple-A All-Star Game in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday night. His Pacific Coast League team, which also included former Mississippi Braves reliever James Hoyt, lost to the International League 4-2. Former Jackson Mets star Wally Backman managed the PCL stars. … Jackson native and ex-big leaguer Stan Cliburn managed the Freedom Division to a 3-1 win in the independent Atlantic League’s All-Star Game on Wednesday night at Lancaster, Pa. Cliburn’s Southern Maryland team won the Freedom Division title in 2015, which earned him the managerial honor, though he now skippers the New Britain Bees, who play in the Liberty Division. … Former Ole Miss star J.B. Woodman, the first position player picked out of the state in this year’s MLB draft, is heating up after a chilly start to his pro career. Woodman, a lefty-hitting outfielder with Toronto’s short-season Class A Vancouver team, has hit .290 with eight RBIs over his last 10 games. His average has jumped some 70 points in that span. … Alex Gunn, a Clinton High and Hinds Community College product, got the win in his first appearance for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ rookie Arizona League team. Signed late last week out of the independent American Association, Gunn went 5 2/3 innings, yielding four hits, two walks and two earned runs on Wednesday. Gunn, who also pitched at the University of Memphis, was 2-0 with a 3.37 ERA this season for the Gary South Shore RailCats. … Pearl River CC product Zach Clark has signed with Milwaukee, which drafted the shortstop/outfielder in the 19th round last month. Clark, who had been an Alabama commit, batted .325 with 11 homers and 41 RBIs for the Wildcats.
Jackson native and ex-big leaguer Stan Cliburn will manage in the independent Atlantic League’s All-Star Game on July 13 in Lancaster, Pa. Cliburn’s Southern Maryland team won the Freedom Division title in 2015, which earned him the managerial honor even though he now skippers the New Britain Bees, who play in the Liberty Division. (So, yes, he’ll be managing against some of his own players.) … Jones County Junior College alum Mason Irby will play on the NJCAA National Team in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan. Irby, a Southern Miss signee from Meridian, batted .387 with eight homers and 76 RBIs for the NJCAA Division II national champion Bobcats. He is a first-team NJCAA All-America pick and an ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove recipient as an outfielder. The NBC World Series will be held July 29-Aug. 13 at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. … Hunter Renfroe, the former Mississippi State slugger, has been chosen for the Triple-A All-Star Game, set for July 13 in Charlotte, N.C. The San Diego Padres prospect, who leads all of Triple-A with 18 home runs, already is slated to appear in the All-Star Futures Game on July 10 in San Diego. … Also on the Pacific Coast League team for the Triple-A Game are former Biloxi Shuckers star Orlando Arcia and ex-Mississippi Braves Gorkys Hernandez and James Hoyt. Onetime Jackson Mets shortstop Wally Backman is the PCL manager. Stu Cliburn, Stan’s brother and another Forest Hill High alum, is the pitching coach for the International League team; he is with Rochester in the Minnesota system. … Something about summer ball seems to suit Mississippi State’s Brent Rooker. Playing for Brewster in the Cape Cod League, Rooker is batting .391 with eight RBIs through 11 games. Rooker, who was drafted last month but apparently will return to the Bulldogs, was MVP of the New England Collegiate Baseball League last summer, when he batted .360 with 11 bombs. He’ll be in Omaha on Sunday for the College Home Run Derby, along with Ole Miss’ Colby Bortles. … Also in the Cape, Southern Miss’ Kirk McCarty is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA for Orleans. … The North Delta Dealers have had the best hand in the Cotton States League to date, winning nine of their first 10 games in the New Albany college summer loop. East Mississippi Community College’s Garrett Ainsworth is 1-0 with a save in 7 1/3 innings, while John David Kubiszyn (Auburn) is batting .462 with three homers for the Dealers.
Baseball America’s chart of the top 20 prospects in the Southern League is chock-full of familiar names, with the Mississippi Braves and Biloxi Shuckers placing two players each in the rankings. From the M-Braves, outfielder Mallex Smith was No. 16 and right-hander Tyrell Jenkins was No. 20; both finished the season at Triple-A Gwinnett. For the Shuckers, shortstop Orlando Arcia was No. 3 and RH Jorge Lopez No. 7. Lopez was a September call-up by Milwaukee and won his only start. Also rated among the SL’s best was Tim Anderson, the former East Central Community College star who played for the Chicago White Sox’s Double-A club in Birmingham. A shortstop with speed, Anderson was ranked eighth. Northwest Mississippi CC product Cody Reed (Pensacola/Cincinnati) was No. 10; the left-hander was the No. 6 prospect in the Class A Carolina League. … BA’s Matt Eddy didn’t see much he liked from M-Braves third baseman Rio Ruiz, who didn’t make the top 20 list: “He almost literally never pulls the ball, he doesn’t run well at all and is a fringy defensive third baseman.” P.S. Southern Maryland, managed by Jackson’s Stan Cliburn, fell to the Somerset Patriots in the independent Atlantic League Championship Series. Somerset won Game 4 3-1 on Monday to win the series 3-1. Cliburn’s club, the Blue Crabs, won Game 1 7-3 last Wednesday, a victory highlighted by a three-run home run by former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and MLB star Fred Lewis. Lewis got two hits in Game 3 on Sunday and drove in the Blue Crabs’ lone run with a base hit in Game 4.
100 – Runs this season for Brian Dozier, the former Southern Miss star who scored again in Minnesota’s big (aren’t they all now?) win over Detroit on Saturday. Dozier has reached the 100-run mark each of the last two years.
22 – Years since Toronto last made the postseason, a drought that has ended on the watch of manager John Gibbons, the second former Jackson Mets catcher to get a team into the 2015 American League playoffs. (Ned Yost of Kansas City is the other. Former JaxMets skipper Clint Hurdle has his Pittsburgh team in the National League postseason, and the New York Mets are in, too, as NL East champs, though there are no former OJMs with the team in any capacity.)
12 – Holds by Tony Sipp, the ex-Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College star who notched his latest for Houston on Saturday in a crucial win against Texas in their AL West scrap.
5 – Hits by Corey Dickerson, the former Meridian CC standout, in Colorado’s two wins over NL West leader Los Angeles Dodgers in their current series. Dickerson, batting .323, also has three RBIs and three runs in the two games.
2 – Hits by Fred Lewis, the Gulf Coast CC product who added an RBI in Southern Maryland’s Freedom Division series clincher against Lancaster on Saturday. Jackson native Stan Cliburn’s club next plays for the independent Atlantic League championship.
0 – At-bats for Ed Easley, the former Mississippi State star, since St. Louis recalled him to the majors on Sept. 11. Easley is still seeking his first big league hit.