23 Sep

independent variables

Stan Cliburn’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs begin play in the independent Atlantic League postseason tonight. Currently in his 24th season managing a minor league club, Jackson native Cliburn reached 1,500 wins this year en route to winning the Freedom Division first-half title. He also got a contract extension for 2016. The Blue Crabs (69-71 overall) open the division playoffs on the road for Games 1 and 2 against Lancaster, then return home on Sept. 25 for the rest of the best-of-5 series. Fred Lewis, the former Stone County High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College star is a key player for Cliburn’s club. Ex-big leaguer Lewis hit .238 (.335 on-base percentage) with 39 RBIs and 63 runs in 118 games. P.S. Hattiesburg High product Robert Carson also toiled in the Atlantic League this season as he tries to get his career back on track. The left-hander was hit with a drug suspension this past off-season, which cost him an invite to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ spring training camp. Released by the Dodgers, Carson signed with the Bridgeport Bluefish and went 7-3 with a 2.88 ERA in 23 games, mostly as a starter. He might have shown enough to get another look from a major league club. Carson, 26, was a 14th-round draft pick in 2007 by the New York Mets and has made 31 MLB appearances (6.82 ERA), the last in 2013.

27 Jul

off the beaten path

One of the hottest hitters in the independent Atlantic League is Fred Lewis, the former Stone County High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College star. The 34-year-old Lewis is hitting .389 over his last 10 games and is up to .264 for the year. Playing for Jackson native Stan Cliburn’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, Lewis has three homers, 30 RBIs, 42 runs, six steals and a league-best six triples in 77 games. Lewis played parts of seven years (2006-12) in the majors, hitting .266. … Gulf Coast CC product Roy Corcoran, 35, has 17 saves and three wins (despite a 5.11 ERA) in 35 games for Aguascalientes in the Mexican League. The last of his 82 MLB games came in 2009 with Seattle. … Former Mississippi State standout Luis Pollorena is 5-1 with a 2.06 ERA for the Laredo Lemurs of the indy American Association. Pollorena, a 5-foot-8 lefty who won 17 games over three seasons at State, spent the previous two years in the Texas Rangers’ organization. … Ole Miss’ Errol Robinson rapped out three hits on Sunday to boost his average to .314 for Hyannis in the Cape Cod League. He is among the league leaders with 20 runs. … Also in the Cape on Sunday, Reid Humphreys of MSU blasted his fourth homer of the summer for Bourne. Humphreys is batting .239 with 11 RBIs. … Southern Miss’ Dylan Burdeaux hit a pair of homers on Saturday in the New England Collegiate League, giving him six for the season. His USM and Ocean State teammate Chuckie Robinson also has six homers, tied for fourth in the league behind another teammate, Tim Lynch, who has nine, which equals the league-best. … Delta State’s Will Robertson is hitting .479 with a homer, 13 RBIs and 24 runs in 18 games for the Tippah Tribe in the Cotton States League.

12 Jul

whatever happened to …

Travious Relaford, a former juco All-America shortstop at Hinds Community College, is back on the field at Class A Augusta, where he is batting .272 with 24 RBIs and 24 runs in 48 games. Relaford went 3-for-6 with an RBI and a steal in a doubleheader on July 7, his first game action after a month on the disabled list. It’s hard to get a read on how Relaford stands in the San Francisco Giants’ grand scheme. Drafted in the 44th round in 2011, he didn’t start his pro career until 2012. He got a look in Double-A in 2013 but hit only .188 and found himself on a short-season Class A team in 2014. He batted .283 with three homers and 28 RBIs for Salem-Keizer and made the Northwest League All-Star Game. He appeared in a couple of major league spring games this year, then was assigned to the low Class A South Atlantic League. He isn’t on any of the lists of the Giants’ top prospects, but he is only 23 and he appears to be progressing. P.S. Sixteen years after the Jackson Generals last played at Smith-Wills Stadium, there are two alums of the old Houston Double-A affiliate still playing. Daryle Ward, at age 40, is in the independent Atlantic League, batting .253 with one homer for Southern Maryland (Jackson native Stan Cliburn’s club). Ward hit 90 MLB homers and has 189 others as a pro. Freddy Garcia, 38, is pitching in the Mexican League. The big right-hander, in his 21st pro season, has a 6.00 ERA in five games for Tabasco.

16 Jun

here and there

Ex-Southern Miss right-hander Christian Talley has signed as a free agent with the Colorado Rockies, the school announced today. USM had three pitchers drafted last week: Cody Carroll, Ryan Milton and Ferriss Trophy winner James McMahon, who was picked by the Rockies. … Stan Cliburn, the former Forest Hill High star from Jackson, recently notched his 1,500th win as a professional baseball manager. Cliburn’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs are currently tied for first in the independent Atlantic League’s Freedom Division. One of his regulars is ex-big leaguer Fred Lewis, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College product who is batting .238 with 13 RBIs and 18 runs in 44 games. Cliburn, who also played in the big leagues, managed his first team in 1988 and has been working in pro ball ever since. His twin brother Stu, also an MLB vet, is the pitching coach for Chattanooga in the Southern League. … Former Hattiesburg High standout and onetime big leaguer Robert Carson has signed with Bridgeport of the Atlantic League. The big left-hander, 26, was recently released by the Los Angeles Dodgers on the heels of a 50-game drug suspension that cost him an invite to major league spring training. … Itawamba CC alum Tim Dillard is soldiering on in his 13th pro season. The onetime big leaguer, now 31, has a 4.24 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Colorado Springs in the Milwaukee system. Dillard recently moved into the Sky Sox starting rotation. … Here’s a young player to watch: Mason Irby. The lefty-hitting catcher, a Southeast Lauderdale High product, was a second-team NJCAA Division II All-America pick as a freshman at Jones County Junior College this past season after batting .395 with three homers and 51 RBIs. He is playing for Niagara in the New York Collegiate Baseball League and at last look was hitting .359 with five doubles and six RBIs in 11 games.

17 Apr

junk and stuff

On this date in 1934, Columbus native Red Barber called his first game on the radio, doing play-by-play for the Cincinnati Reds in a 6-0 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Crosley Field. It was the first major league game Barber had ever seen. He would go on to make the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a broadcaster best known for his work with the Brooklyn Dodgers. … It’ll be interesting to see how Bobby Bradley fares this season. The former Harrison Central High standout, only 18, has been placed by Cleveland in the Class A Midwest League to start his second pro season. He is one of just two 18-year-olds on the Lake County roster. Bradley, a left-handed hitting first baseman, was drafted in the third round by the Indians in 2014 and stamped himself as a true prospect by batting .361 with eight homers and 50 RBIs in the rookie Arizona League. He even got into a big league spring game in March. Through his first seven games for Lake County, Bradley is 4-for-20 with a homer and a triple. “His swing is pretty sound, especially for his age,” Captains manager Shaun Larkin said in a story on an Indians blog site. … Stan Cliburn, the former big leaguer out of Forest Hill High, will manage the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the independent Atlantic League this season. On the Blue Crabs’ roster are Fred Lewis, a Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College product, and 39-year-old Daryle Ward, onetime Jackson Generals standout. Both Lewis and Ward are big league vets who played in the APBL last year. Opening Day in the league is April 24.

11 Sep

scanning the radar

Former major leaguers Bill Hall and Fred Lewis are plugging away in the independent Atlantic League, though neither is on a team enjoying much success. Nettleton’s Hall, 34, who played 11 years in the big leagues, is batting .258 with three home runs and 18 RBIs for Long Island, the defending league champ but a sub-.500 club in 2014. Lewis, 33, the ex-Stone County High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College star, is hitting .259 with six homers, 39 RBIs and 12 stolen bases this year. The 7-year MLB veteran began the season with Lancaster but is now with Bridgeport, the league’s worst team. … In Japan, Pascagoula’s Joey Butler, another ex-Gulf Coast CC standout, is playing sparingly in his first season with Orix, which stands second in the Pacific League with just a handful of games remaining. Butler, 28, who has 17 MLB at-bats on his ledger, is hitting .231 with two homers and six RBIs in 21 games for the Buffaloes.

21 Jul

independent thinking

Former big leaguer Bill Hall of Nettleton is back on the roster of the independent Long Island Ducks, the team he helped to an Atlantic League championship in 2013. Hall, 34, who can play the infield and outfield, was signed on Friday. He hit 16 homers and drove in 63 runs for the Ducks last year. Long Island is managed by former Jackson Mets shortstop Kevin Baez. … Also toiling in the Atlantic League is Stone County High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College product Fred Lewis. Former big leaguer Lewis, 33, who played in Japan in 2013, is batting .233 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 40 games as an outfielder for the Lancaster Barnstormers.

30 Apr

going independent

Fred Lewis is playing in the States again, currently with the Lancaster Barnstormers in the independent Atlantic League. Lewis, a Stone County High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College product, spent last year in Japan after a his six-year major league tour ended with the New York Mets in 2012. Lewis, 33, is career .266 hitter in MLB with 27 homers and 53 stolen bases. He had a good year in Japan but apparently found no interested parties among major league clubs. … Also with Lancaster is former Ole Miss star Bobby Kielty, another ex-big leaguer. Other Mississippians in the Atlantic League — the best of the indy loops — include Delta State product Edwin Maysonet and ex-UM pitcher Matt Maloney with Somerset, Gulf Coast CC alum Roy Corcoran with Sugar Land and former Rebels star Cody Overbeck with Bridgeport.