Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds pulled off another Spider-Man act on Friday night, scaling the center-field wall at Busch Stadium to steal a home run from a St. Louis batter. But as jaw-dropping as the Taylorsville High product’s snag was, it might not have been the most stunning highlight from a Mississippian in the majors on this particular night. Brandon Woodruff, the ex-Mississippi State star from Wheeler, a pitcher for Milwaukee, crushed — yes, crushed — a home run into the right-field seats at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. It was the first career homer for Woodruff, a righty who bats lefty. Just called back up — for the fifth time in 2018 — from Triple-A Colorado Springs, Woodruff also threw three scoreless innings in middle relief as the first-place Brewers fell to the Pirates 7-3.
Will it be the Dodgers? Red Sox? How ’bout the Brewers? There are many teams rumored to be interested in trading for Brian Dozier, the ex-Southern Miss star currently playing second base for Minnesota. And why not? He’s a Gold Glover-caliber defender with power and, from all indications, a great clubhouse presence. He’s also a free agent after this season. While the conventional wisdom is that the Twins’ season has gone off the rails, Dozier, not surprisingly, begs to differ. “Everyone keeps talking about trade deadlines and trades and selling and all this; this game can turn in a minute,” he told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press on Tuesday. “And I have a feeling it’s turning now.” Alas, despite Dozier’s 14th homer, the Twins’ five-game win streak ended Tuesday night with a 9-4 loss at home to Kansas City, which had lost 10 straight. The Twins are 40-49, 8 1/2 games behind first-place Cleveland in the American League Central. Yes, they made an improbable rally last year to earn a wild card berth. Doing that again, considering the other contenders, would seem even more improbable. It’s much more likely they’ll trade Dozier for prospects. The Dodgers, if they don’t get Manny Machado, would seem to be a very nice fit.
Nick Sandlin, former Southern Miss All-American and 2018 Ferriss Trophy winner, already has been promoted to the low Class A Midwest League by Cleveland. The second-round draftee pitched a scoreless inning for Lake County in his MWL debut on Saturday. Sandlin, 21, made three scoreless appearances in the rookie Arizona League. … Hattiesburg’s Joe Gray, a second-round pick by Milwaukee in last month’s draft, made his pro debut over the weekend. He was 1-for-3 with a double in his first game on Saturday for the Arizona League Brewers, then went 0-for-4 on Sunday. … USM’s Matt Wallner is 2-for-13 with four runs in four games and Ole Miss’ Parker Caracci has five strikeouts in two innings pitched for the Collegiate National Team, which is currently playing games at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, N.C. … Ole Miss’ Thomas Dillard hit 32 home runs to finish third in Sunday’s College Home Run Derby in Omaha, Neb. … Logan Tanner of George County High and Olive Branch native Kendall Williams (now at IMG Academy in Florida) participated in the USA Baseball Under-18 National Team Trials last week. Tanner went 1-for-5 and pitched an inning, while Williams went 4 1/3 innings (no earned runs) and got a win in his one game. Jackson Prep’s Jerrion Ealy played in the earlier Tournament of Stars portion of the event. The U18 Team USA roster will be announced in the fall. … The Tupelo Thunder leads the Cotton States League standings with a 10-2 record. Trey Jolly, onetime Mississippi State player from New Albany, is hitting .500 with two homers and nine RBIs for Tupelo, and Northeast Mississippi Community College alum Nikolas Wilcher is 3-0 with a 0.69 ERA.
If you could gather together in some astral realm all the Mississippi natives who’ve ever played in the big leagues, oh, the stories they could tell. Willie Mitchell struck out Babe Ruth in his first at-bat. Gee Walker cycled on opening day. Claude Passeau threw a one-hitter in the World Series. Dave Parker was an All-Star Game MVP. Jay Powell won a Game 7 in the Series. Billy Hamilton stole four bases in his first start. But for sheer shake-your-head wonderment, it’d be hard to top Marcus Thames’ tale of his first major league at-bat. Sixteen years ago Sunday – June 10, 2002 – Louisville native Thames, playing for the New York Yankees, walked to the plate at Yankee Stadium to face Arizona’s Randy Johnson, reigning Cy Young award winner, and smashed the first pitch he saw for a home run. Thames, a 30th-round pick by the Yankees in 1996 out of East Central Community College, took a while to reach The Show but was not a one-trick pony. He hit 114 more MLB bombs – including seasons of 26 and 25 – over his 10-year career and averaged one homer per 15.9 at-bats, which, a Cut4 article on mlb.com points out, is one of the best ratios in history. Thames is now the Yankees’ hitting coach. P.S. Ex-Mississippi State star Brandon Woodruff returned to the majors with Milwaukee on Sunday and, sans red beard, threw four strong innings before being lifted for a pinch hitter in a game the Brewers would lose to Philadelphia. … Ole Miss alum Mike Mayers, back up for a seventh stint this season with St. Louis, worked 2 1/3 innings in two games over the weekend. … Taylorsville High product Billy Hamilton contributed a triple, two runs and two outfield assists in Cincinnati’s win against the Cardinals on Sunday. A two-week slump has seen Hamilton’s average dip to .193. … Former State standout Adam Frazier was sent to Triple-A Indianapolis by Pittsburgh, presumably to get regular at-bats. In his third big league season, Frazier is batting .237 in 135 ABs.
Kind of a good news/bad news scenario for Kendall Graveman. Oakland brought Graveman, the Mississippi State product, back up from Triple-A Nashville to make a start on Friday. Great. The start would be against the sizzling-hot New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Oh. Unbowed, Graveman answered the call with a strong six-inning effort, allowing just three hits and one earned run and notching his first big league win of the season in a 10-5 Oakland victory. The A’s opening day starter, Graveman was sent to the minors to work on mechanics after going 0-5 with an 8.89 ERA. He may have put those troubles behind him on Friday. “I thought I attacked better and had a good mindset,” he told mlb.com. Graveman did allow two home runs, including a three-run shot by Aaron Judge in his final inning. But those three runs were unearned because of an error that started the inning. It’s unclear if Graveman will remain in the Oakland rotation, but he certainly made a good case for doing so. … Two other Magnolia State college alums made MLB starts on Friday, and it did not go well for either. Ex-State standout Brandon Woodruff, also recalled from the minors on Friday, lasted just three innings for Milwaukee, allowing nine hits, a walk and seven runs against Colorado (at Coors Field). Former Ole Miss star Lance Lynn went 4 2/3 for Minnesota but was KO’d after yielding eight hits, two walks and four runs against the Los Angeles Angels. Still, there was some good news for the pair: Their teams rallied to win.
Brandon Woodruff tossed 1 1/3 perfect innings Monday to notch his first win of the season for Milwaukee. But the Mississippi State alum from Wheeler didn’t get much love for the effort. That’s because Josh Hader, a fellow former Biloxi Shuckers pitcher, struck out all eight batters he faced – a first in MLB history – to record his fourth save in the Brewers’ 6-5 win over Cincinnati. Hader, a slender left-hander with nasty stuff, has a 1.00 ERA and 39 K’s in 18 innings. He was with the Shuckers in 2015 and ’16, posting an 0.95 ERA in 11 starts the latter season. Woodruff, by the way, has made two clean appearances since he was recalled from Triple-A and now has a 3.86 ERA for the season in five games. P.S. Ex-MSU star Mitch Moreland and Meridian Community College product Corey Dickerson each hit his third home run on the last day of April, joining Ole Miss alum Zack Cozart in a tie for third in the All-Mississippi Home Run Derby. Former Southern Miss standout Brian Dozier and East Central CC alum Tim Anderson each has four.
On this date in 2006, the Milwaukee Brewers slugged five home runs in one inning, tying a major league record. The first of those five was hit by Bill Hall, the pride of Nettleton. Hall went deep against Cincinnati’s Brandon Claussen in the bottom of the fourth at Miller Park. Damian Miller, Brady Clark, J.J. Hardy and Prince Fielder followed with bombs. The first four came against Claussen; Fielder hit his off Chris Hammond. Milwaukee won the game 11-0. For Hall, the April 22 homer was the third of the 35 he would hit that season, which was far and away the best of his 11 in the big leagues. A couple of weeks later, on Mother’s Day, Hall hit a memorable walk-off home run with a pink bat. He finished the 2006 season with a .270 average, 85 RBIs and 39 doubles. He hit 125 homers in his MLB career, which ended in 2012. He played a couple of years of independent ball after that.