19 Jan

making a list

Six Mississippians cracked Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects lists for the 30 MLB organizations. (BA published the last of the lists today on its website.) Brandon Woodruff, the ex-Mississippi State star who made his big league debut in 2017 but still has rookie status, was rated No. 2 in Milwaukee’s system. The right-hander was 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA in eight starts last year and figures to compete for a rotation spot this spring. Anthony Alford, the former Mr. Baseball from Petal, was No. 3 in Toronto’s system, and Bobby Bradley, the ex-Harrison Central High standout, was Cleveland’s No. 3. Alford, an outfielder, had a cup of coffee with the Blue Jays last spring and is coming off a strong winter league showing. Bradley, a first baseman, has intriguing left-handed power but didn’t have a great season in Double-A and scuffled in the Arizona Fall League. Still, the 21-year-old is rated the No. 6 overall first base prospect by mlb.com, and he did get another invite to big league camp. DeSoto Central High product Austin Riley climbed to No. 6 on Atlanta’s chart. The power-hitting third baseman reached Double-A Mississippi last summer and likely will start 2018 in Triple-A. Brent Rooker, who had a monster season for MSU last spring, continued to rake (.281, 18 homers, 52 RBIs) in Minnesota’s system and earned a No. 7 rating. Dakota Hudson, another ex-Bulldogs star, is St. Louis’ No. 9 prospect after going 10-3 with a 3.01 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017. Not yet on the 40-man roster, Hudson probably will get some time in the big camp this spring. Worth noting: Ke’Bryan Hayes, son of Hattiesburg native and ex-big leaguer Charlie Hayes, is the fourth-rated prospect in Pittsburgh’s organization.

21 Dec

waiting in the wings

You won’t find Anthony Alford’s name on the Toronto Blue Jays’ outfield depth chart that appears on mlb.com. But the former Petal High star will certainly get a long look in spring training, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him make the opening day roster. Alford, 23, has enhanced his credentials with his play in the Mexican Pacific League, a winter assignment he reportedly asked for. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound right-handed hitter is riding a nine-game hit streak that has boosted his average to .344. He has two homers, 15 RBIs, 17 runs and eight steals in 23 games for Jalisco. “Anthony can make your day on and off the field on a regular basis,” Toronto general manager Ross Atkins recently told the Toronto Sun. Alford spent most of 2017 in Double-A, batting .310 with five homers. He played four games in the majors early in the season before being derailed by a hand injury. Expect his next big league stay to be much longer.

06 Dec

quality at-bats

Limited to 81 games – four in the majors — in 2017 because of injury, Anthony Alford is making up for the lost at-bats in the Mexican Pacific League. The ex-Petal High star, a highly rated Toronto prospect, debuted for Jalisco on Nov. 22 and is batting .367 over his first 12 games. He has two three-hit games with a homer, six RBIs and eight runs. Alford, 23, jumped from Double-A to the big leagues last May but got hurt and spent the rest of the season in the minors. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound outfielder batted .310 with five homers in 68 games at New Hampshire. P.S. Detroit has signed veteran Leonys Martin, ostensibly to compete with Richton High product JaCoby Jones for the center field job. Jones batted .170 with three homers, 13 RBIs and six steals in 56 games with the Tigers. He was hit in the face by a pitch early in the season and spent time on the disabled list.

02 Dec

trade winds

Any player news is big news right now, so here we go: Former Ole Miss star J.B. Woodman, who just finished his second pro season, is changing teams, going from Toronto to St. Louis in a Friday trade for major league infielder Aledmys Diaz. Woodman, a lefty-hitting outfielder, batted .240 with seven home runs in the Class A Midwest League in 2017. He was rated the No. 15 prospect in the Blue Jays’ system in The Sporting News’ 2017 preseason magazine after hitting .297 in his debut season. Toronto drafted him in the second round in 2016 following a big year at Ole Miss. Woodman hit .322 with an SEC-leading 14 homers plus 55 RBIs. He is also considered a good defensive outfielder.

22 Sep

oh, snap

A streak has been snapped in Bobby Bradley’s career. For the first time in four seasons in pro ball, the Gulfport native did not make Baseball America’s list of the Top 20 prospects in his league. Bradley, at age 21, batted .251 with 23 homers and 89 RBIs for Akron in the Double-A Eastern League. Not a bad year at all, but apparently there are questions, at least in the minds of some EL managers, about his plate discipline. As BA’s Josh Norris wrote in an online chat on Thursday: “There was a little bit of love for him, but nothing overwhelming. The power is there, but managers saw him as more of a mistake-type hitter than someone who belonged in the Top 20 in the league. There are holes in his swing, and he has work to do defensively as well.” Bradley, a lefty-hitting first baseman who was starring at Harrison Central a little more than three years ago, might use this “snub” as motivation as he heads into the Arizona Fall League, which starts next month. He’ll play for Glendale. Bradley is a career .261 hitter (.352 on-base percentage) with 87 homers. It’s worth noting, of course, that he is still rated No. 5 by BA on Cleveland’s prospect list and is No. 3 on MLB Pipeline’s list. He made the top 10 in the Arizona League, Midwest League and Carolina League on his way up the ladder, and he was the high-A Carolina League MVP in 2016. … Anthony Alford, the former Mr. Baseball from Petal, did make the EL Top 20, checking in at No. 9. Alford, who had a cup of coffee with Toronto in May, hit .302 with five homers, 24 RBIs and 18 steals in 245 at-bats for New Hampshire. The outfielder spent time on the disabled list with a wrist injury suffered shortly after he made his big league debut. … Former Mississippi State star Dakota Hudson, a St. Louis prospect, was No. 10 on the Texas League chart.

29 Aug

bottom line

The work was a little sloppy along the way, but the finished product looked pretty darn good. Former Ole Miss standout Drew Pomeranz, who has emerged as a surprising stopper for Boston, notched his 14th win – tied for the American League lead – as the Red Sox beat Toronto 6-5 on Monday night. The first-place Red Sox had dropped four in a row; they are now 7-2 this season in Pomeranz’s starts following a loss. Pomeranz, whose Players Weekend nickname was “Big Smooth,” was anything but on Monday. He allowed seven hits, five walks and three runs, two in the first inning. But he pitched out of trouble several times, stranding eight runners all told. The visiting Red Sox trailed 3-2 after six but rallied for four runs in the seventh, and the game was turned over to their bullpen. It’s amazing to think that Pomeranz wasn’t even a lock to make the Boston rotation heading into spring training. But injuries and struggles by others have enabled him to move up the pecking order. Chris Sale is the unquestioned ace, but Pomeranz, who has a 3.23 ERA and 149 strikeouts in 142 innings, has become a valuable No. 2. P.S. T.J. House, the Picayune High product, has been designated for assignment by the Blue Jays after two appearances and will likely wind up back in their minor league system. … Former Mississippi State standout Adam Frazier, who has quietly had a very good year (.280, 45 RBIs, 46 runs in 104 games) has landed on the 10-day disabled list for Pittsburgh.

22 Aug

minor matters

It’s safe to assume Hunter Renfroe is on a mission to get back to the big leagues, and he is certainly off to a good start. Renfroe, the Mississippi State product from Crystal Springs, went 3-for-5 with a double and a triple Monday in his first game with Triple-A El Paso. The rookie outfielder was sent down by San Diego after hitting .230 with 20 home runs and 125 strikeouts through 111 games. … Ex-Petal High star Anthony Alford is on a similar mission. Alford, who got a brief call-up with Toronto in May, doubled, homered and stole a base Monday for Double-A New Hampshire. Alford is hitting .371 over his last 10 games and .322 for the season, with five homers, 23 RBIs and 15 bags. … Bobby Bradley, the former Harrison Central star and a top Cleveland prospect, also had a day: a double, a homer and four RBIs for Double-A Akron. Bradley, a lefty-hitting first baseman, has hit at a .389 clip over his last 10 games, raising his average to .246 with 21 homers and 82 RBIs. Not yet on the Indians’ 40-man roster, the 21-year-old Bradley may be a year away from the big leagues. … Ole Miss alum J.B. Woodman, a Toronto prospect in just his second pro season, went 2-for-5 with two doubles on Monday for Class A Lansing and is hitting .342 over his last 10 games. He’s at .255 with six homers and 42 RBIs this season.