13 Aug

role-playing

Spoiler. It’s not a role Zack Cozart, the ex-Ole Mis star, or any of his Cincinnati teammates want to be playing, but it’s where they are in mid-August. Buried in the cellar of the National League Central, the Reds (49-68) have a boatload of games left against the other four division teams, which are bunched within 3 games of each other in the division standings. Cozart in particular could be a major thorn in the side of those clubs. The starting shortstop for the NL All-Star team last month, he is having a career year and showing no signs of easing off on the gas. Since coming off a second stint on the disabled list last Sunday, Cozart is 9-for-26 with four home runs and seven RBIs. “I want to be playing and playing well the rest of the year,” he told mlb.com. “That’s the goal.” Overall, he is batting .316 with 16 homers (matching his career-best) and 46 RBIs. A pending free agent, Cozart has been the subject of trade rumors dating back to the off-season, but it doesn’t appear now that he’s going anywhere this season. That could be bad news for Milwaukee, which has seven games left with the Reds including today’s at Miller Park, the Chicago Cubs (10), St. Louis (six) and Pittsburgh (nine). … The Reds’ roster includes two other Mississippi-connected players, Taylorsville High alum Billy Hamilton and Ole Miss product Stuart Turner. Former Northwest Mississippi Community College star Cody Reed is pitching in Triple-A and could be added in September. P.S. Props to UM alum Drew Pomeranz, who notched his career-best 12th win – and fifth in a row – as Boston beat the New York Yankees 10-5 on Saturday. … Ex-Rebels star Chris Coghlan, who has been on Toronto’s DL for weeks, was designated for assignment, clouding the remainder of his year. … The Cardinals honored their 1987 pennant-winning team on Saturday (before beating hapless Atlanta) at Busch Stadium. Jackson native and Jackson State product Curtis Ford was a semi-regular outfielder on that club, which lost to Minnesota in the World Series.

09 Aug

coming up big

The home run was big, but the single proved bigger for Bobby Bradley on Tuesday night. Bradley, the ex-Harrison Central High star, delivered a walk-off hit in the ninth inning for Akron in a 4-3 win against New Hampshire in the Double-A Eastern League. Bradley hit his 19th homer in the sixth, helping the Rubber Ducks rally from a 3-0 deficit. The lefty-hitting first baseman, 21, one of Cleveland’s highest-rated prospects, is batting .242 with 73 RBIs in his Double-A debut. Bradley has a .335 on-base percentage thanks in part to 49 walks, and he has cut down on strikeouts (95 in 364 at-bats) this year. He is slugging .456. A third-round pick by the Indians in 2014, he has blasted 83 homers in his four pro seasons. He’s getting close. … Former Petal High star Anthony Alford, one of Toronto’s top prospects, was in New Hampshire’s lineup and went 1-for-4. Alford, 23, batting .308 in his first Class AA campaign, got a cup of coffee in the majors earlier this season before an injury knocked him back to the minors. He’ll likely return to the Blue Jays next month. P.S. Former Ole Miss and Mississippi Braves standout Chris Ellis notched his second straight win for Springfield, St. Louis’ Double-A club in the Texas League, on Tuesday. Ellis, who scuffled at Triple-A Memphis to start 2017, is 4-6, 3.60 ERA at Springfield. … Mississippi State product Zac Houston recently was elevated from low-A to high-A ball in the Detroit system. The 6-foot-5 right-hander, a 2016 draftee, has thrown 2 2/3 scoreless innings in his two appearances for Lakeland, where he has joined fellow Mississippians Will Allen, Jake Robson and Spencer Turnbull.

28 Jul

memphis-bound

Dakota Hudson is taking the next step toward the big leagues. The Mississippi State product and St. Louis prospect has been promoted from Double-A Springfield to Triple-A Memphis, according to several reports. Hudson, a first-round pick in 2016, was 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA at Springfield and started the Texas League All-Star Game in late June. “This kid is a winner, a Cardinals-type player,” his Springfield manager, Johnny Rodriguez, told ozarksportszone.com. Baseball America and MLB Pipeline rank the 6-foot-5 right-hander as the No. 9 prospect in the Cardinals’ system. St. Louis brass are “excited about the potential four-pitch mix Hudson has at his disposal,” the MLB Pipeline scouting report says. The hard-throwing Hudson has enhanced his curveball this season. … The Redbirds are at home tonight against Salt Lake, completing a suspended game and then playing the regularly scheduled game at AutoZone Park.

28 Jun

worth noting

Bobby Bradley made some headlines with a three-homer game for Double-A Akron on Tuesday. The former Harrison Central High star also drove in seven runs, boosting his season totals to 14 homers and 48 RBIs. Bradley, who recently turned 21, is on a 12-for-36 roll that has raised his average to .254. He has struck out just four times in that stretch. Cutting down on the punchouts is a key to his advancement, various scouting reports say. First baseman Bradley, who hit 29 homers a year ago and 27 in 2015 in A-ball, is rated Cleveland’s No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline with an ETA of 2018. … The headlines weren’t as welcome for another Gulfport native, Jonathan Holder, who was sent down to Triple-A by the New York Yankees. Holder was 1-1 (0-for-2 in save chances) with a 3.78 ERA in 32 games, all in relief. Drafted in 2014 out of Mississippi State, Holder reached the majors last summer, then won a big league roster spot in spring training this year. The 24-year-old right-hander will be back. … Ole Miss product Mike Mayers, recently promoted by St. Louis, has yet to make his 2017 debut for the Cardinals. He was 5-6, 3.74 ERA as a starter at Triple-A Memphis but is expected to work in long relief in the big leagues. The right-hander pitched in four games for St. Louis in 2016. … The current list of Mississippians on the MLB disabled list: Anthony Alford, Chris Coghlan, Zack Cozart, Kendall Graveman, Alex Presley, Bobby Wahl and Brandon Woodruff.

09 Jun

they did what?

When the St. Louis Cardinals come to bat tonight at Busch Stadium, the familiar figure of Chris Maloney will be missing from the third-base coaching box. As part of a series of personnel moves today, the reeling Cardinals announced that the Jackson native and Mississippi State alum has been reassigned within the organization. How that will help a 26-32 team that is coming off an 0-7 road trip remains to be seen. Maloney has been on the Cardinals’ big league staff since 2012, starting out as the first-base coach. He was a minor league manager for 18 years, 15 of those in the St. Louis system.

25 May

settling in

Dakota Hudson, a dominant starter at Mississippi State, has handled the move to pro ball with aplomb. Working in Double-A in his first full season in the St. Louis system, Hudson is 2-2 with a 3.35 ERA for Springfield. The 6-foot-5 right-hander is scheduled to start tonight, after a nine-day layoff, at Corpus Christi in a Texas League game. The 34th overall pick last June is already a top 10 prospect in the Cardinals’ organization. “He challenges hitters, and he relies on and trusts the stuff he has,” farm director Gary LaRocque told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In 40 1/3 innings over seven starts, Hudson has 36 strikeouts and 12 walks. The Cardinals eased Hudson into pro ball last summer, pitching him in relief. In 13 1/3 innings at two levels, he registered an 0.68 ERA, two wins and three saves. He got a look in big league spring camp this year and made an impression, especially with his signature slider, according to a recent Baseball America story. “As good as advertised,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said.

24 May

tough luck

By the numbers and under the circumstances, it was Lance Lynn’s best start of the season and among the best in his seven-year big league career. Alas, the Ole Miss product got a no-decision and his team, the St. Louis Cardinals, took a loss, 2-1 in 13 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Lynn went up against Clayton Kershaw in a battle of aces at Dodger Stadium and certainly held his own. In eight innings – 123 pitches – Lynn allowed just two hits and one run – a homer by Yasmani Grandal in the first inning – while striking out 10. Kershaw went nine, also struck out 10 and yielded just three hits. But a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth cost him a run and sent the game into extra innings. “(Y)ou knew when we headed into this, I figured it was going to be a well-pitched game on both sides,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told The Associated Press. “It was just going to be who got that big hit, and it was them.” Specifically, that would be a Logan Forsythe RBI double in the 13th. Lynn, a pending free agent who missed 2016 after Tommy John surgery, is 4-2 with a 2.53 ERA and 50 punchouts in 53 1/3 innings. P.S. Mark it down: Former Petal High star Anthony Alford got his first MLB hit on Tuesday, a pinch double in the seventh inning for Toronto against Milwaukee’s Rob Scahill.