16 Aug

mad skills

In Baseball America’s recent rankings of the Best Tools in the major leagues, Aaron Hicks, Kevin Kiermaier and Alex Gordon were 1-2-3 in the American League’s Best Outfield Arm category. In the NL, it was Yoenis Cespedes, Mississippi’s own Hunter Renfroe and Yasiel Puig. The MLB leader in outfield assists is … none of the above. Jarrod Dyson, the ex-Southwest Mississippi Community College star from McComb, tops that list with 11. The Seattle center fielder got one on Tuesday night, cutting down Baltimore’s Manny Machado at the plate in the Mariners’ 3-1 victory in a meeting of AL playoff contenders. Dyson has 47 assists in his eight-year career, and he hasn’t played regularly for much of that time. Dyson did show up in three of the Baseball America Best Tools rankings, which are based on a poll of managers, coaches and scouts. He was the AL’s Best Bunter – he put down a nice sacrifice on Tuesday – and ranked second in Best Baserunner and Fastest Baserunner. … It’s impressive that the names of four Mississippi natives show up in the rankings. In addition to Dyson and Crystal Springs’ Renfroe, Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton was No. 1 in the NL’s Fastest Baserunner – duh – and Best Baserunner categories and No. 3 in Best Defensive Outfielder, and Amory’s Mitch Moreland was second in the AL’s Best Defensive First Baseman chart. P.S. East Central CC product Tim Anderson led off with a first-pitch home run against Alex Wood in Tuesday night’s Chicago White Sox-Los Angeles Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium. It was Anderson’s 14th homer and fifth in nine games. It was the only run former Mississippi Braves ace Wood would allow in seven innings, but he took a no-decision in the Dodgers’ 6-1 win. He is 14-1 for a team that is now a jaw-dropping 84-34. … Ole Miss alum Colby Bortles homered in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game in York, N.Y. Bortles has only one homer in 35 regular season games for Connecticut in the Detroit system. A 2017 draftee, he is batting .273 with 15 RBIs.

10 Aug

big league chew

Rookie Stuart Turner took center stage Wednesday among Mississippians in the majors. Turner, the ex-Ole Miss star, struck his first big league home run, an upper deck shot in the Reds’ 8-3 win vs. San Diego. “It could’ve been a wall-scraper and I would’ve taken it,” Turner told The Associated Press. Turner, a catcher and a Rule 5 draftee from Minnesota, has played sparingly, with only 46 at-bats all season. He is hitting .174. Footnote: Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton got his 45th stolen base for the Reds. … Southern Miss alum Brian Dozier went 3-for-4 with his 22nd homer – and fifth in his last seven games – to spark Minnesota’s 4-0 win at Milwaukee. Dozier’s bomb came off ex-Mississippi State standout Brandon Woodruff, who took the loss in his second big league start. He went 5 2/3 innings, allowing two runs. … East Central Community College product Tim Anderson homered – his 11th – doubled and drove in three runs to help the Chicago White Sox knock off Houston 7-1. It’s been a tough sophomore season for Anderson, who is batting .242, but he has warmed up lately (.346, two homers over his last seven games). … Ex-State star Tyler Moore also has been scuffling in limited playing time for Miami. He got a start at first base on Wednesday vs. Washington and went 2-for-3, but he is just 3-for-16 in August. He is batting .233 with six homers, the last of those on June 17. … Boston beat Tampa Bay 8-2 for its eighth straight win, but former MSU star Mitch Moreland of the Red Sox and Meridian CC alum Corey Dickerson of the Rays had a quiet night. They were a combined 0-for-8. All-Star Dickerson’s average has slipped to .293. … Ex-Mississippi Braves star Dansby Swanson went 0-for-4 in his return to Atlanta. Fellow M-Braves alum Sean Newcomb (1-7) took the loss against Philadelphia, which won 3-2 and improved to 11-2 against the Braves. The Phillies are 42-69 overall. … Former Ole Miss standout Lance Lynn, 4-0 in his last six starts, goes to the bump for St. Louis tonight against Kansas City on MLB Network. Lynn is 10-6, 3.12 ERA for the Cardinals, who have won five straight. … UM product Chris Coghlan is 4-for-8 with two doubles in his rehab assignment at Class A Dunedin in Toronto’s system. He has been on the disabled list since June 16. … Former Rebel Bobby Wahl, on the DL with Oakland, reportedly will see a shoulder specialist in Dallas on Friday. Wahl has been out since May 24 and was shut down from a recent rehab assignment.

22 May

big league chew

Mitch Moreland, one of several Boston hitters caught in a power drought, is showing signs of breaking out. The former Mississippi State star from Amory homered for the third straight game on Sunday in a 12-3 Red Sox win at Oakland. He now has five on the year. The Red Sox, trying to keep pace with Baltimore and New York in the American League East, rank 29th in the big leagues with 38 homers. … Corey Dickerson, generating a lot of All-Star buzz these days, got two more hits for Tampa Bay on Sunday, boosting his MLB-leading hit total to 59. The Meridian Community College product is batting .347 (ninth in the big leagues) and slugging .635 (eighth). He has 11 homers, five in his last 10 games. … Former Ole Miss star Zack Cozart is hitting .351 (fourth in MLB) for Cincinnati. He didn’t play Sunday (sore wrist) as the tumbling Reds lost for the eighth time in nine games. … East Central CC alum Tim Anderson is 12-for-26 with three homers in six games since returning from a trip home to Birmingham for the funeral of a close friend. Anderson, in an early season slump, is now hitting .264 with five bombs and 11 RBIs for the Chicago White Sox. … Ex-Petal High standout Anthony Alford took an 0-for-3 on Sunday and is still looking for his first big league hit since last week’s call-up by Toronto. … Baltimore’s Adam Jones hit his 124th homer at Camden Yards on Sunday, equaling ex-State star Rafael Palmeiro for the most in the Orioles’ home park.

19 May

have a day

The numbers are good, very good: .367, six home runs, 15 RBIs, 12 runs. The numbers were posted by a collection of Mississippians in the majors – 12 of them – on Thursday night. Collectively, the 12 who played went 18-for-49. Adam Frazier (Mississippi State) and Tim Anderson (East Central Community College) had three-hit games. Frazier drove in four runs. He and Anderson homered, as did Seth Smith (Ole Miss), Hunter Renfroe (State), Mitch Moreland (State) and Jarrod Dyson (Southwest CC). Dyson scored three times and stole two bases. Frazier, Anderson, Billy Hamilton (Taylorsville) and Chris Coghlan (Ole Miss) rapped doubles. Zack Cozart (Ole Miss) had two hits and an RBI. Tyler Moore (State) and Stuart Turner (Ole Miss) struck out in pinch-hit appearances, but every Mississippian who started got at least one knock, save for Brian Dozier (Southern Miss). He had a tough day, going 0-for-9 in a doubleheader, though he did contribute a sac fly. All in all, a very good day for the Magnolia State boys. And the hottest hitter of them all, Corey Dickerson (Meridian CC, .335, nine homers, 18 RBIs), didn’t have a game on Thursday. P.S. Baseball America’s latest Top 500 draft prospects list shows just two Mississippians: State’s Brent Rooker at No. 64 and Jake Mangum at 160.

14 May

these are the times

These are trying times for Tim Anderson, the former East Central Community College standout and current Chicago White Sox shortstop. Anderson is away from the team this weekend, attending the funeral of a longtime friend who was shot and killed last weekend in Anderson’s hometown of Tuscaloosa, Ala. Anderson has been struggling on the field most of this season. He is hitting .221 with two homers and two steals in 29 games, and his defense also has been spotty. After a strong rookie season (.283, nine homers, 10 bags) in 2016, Anderson signed a 6-year, $25 million contract in the off-season. The White Sox drafted Anderson 17th overall in 2013, the year he led ECCC to a state championship. Obviously, the organization believes in him and believes he’ll bounce back from this adversity. As manager Rick Renteria told theathletic.com, “Experiences occur and you deal with them and then you hopefully grow with them.” Anderson is scheduled to return to the club on Monday in Anaheim, where they’ll play the Angels. We should wish him well. P.S. Adam Frazier, activated from the disabled list on Friday, was back in the Pittsburgh lineup on Saturday, batting leadoff and playing left field. The ex-Mississippi State star, who had been sidelined with a hamstring injury, went 1-for-5 as the Pirates beat Arizona 4-3 to stop a six-game skid. Utility man Frazier is hitting .291 with five RBIs and five runs.

28 Mar

power struggle

A gem of an outing by Jarod Wright of Northwest Mississippi Community College has shaken up the pecking order in the MACJC standings. Wright threw a four-hitter against previously undefeated, No. 1-ranked Jones County JC in Senatobia on Saturday as the Rangers took an 11-1 win. Jones (23-1, 5-1) bounced back to win Game 2 14-2 behind Logan Robbins’ strong start and a grand slam by Shelton Wallace. But first place in the league now belongs to East Central, which improved to 6-0 (and 20-4) with a jaw-dropping sweep of Holmes in Goodman on Saturday. The Warriors, ranked seventh in NJCAA Division II, won 30-1 and 11-2. They hit seven homers on the day, six in Game 1, including a Wyatt Ball grand slam. Cole Prestegard went deep in both games, and pitchers Dylan Marsh and Tanner Elders weren’t too bad either. As fate would have it, JCJC and ECCC hook up Tuesday in Decatur. Could be classic. … Pearl River is also unbeaten in the league at 4-0 (13-5 overall) after a sweep of Northeast in Poplarville on Saturday. New coach Michael Avalon’s Wildcats, who’ve won eight straight, are at Gulf Coast on Tuesday and at Itawamba next Saturday. … ICC moved to 5-1 in the league (18-4 overall) by battering Meridian 17-2 and 5-2 on Sunday. Keith Stepter hit three homers and Tyreque Reed two in the first game of that twinbill. … Sitting at 3-1 in the MACJC is Mississippi Delta, under first-year coach Dan Rives.

13 Mar

have a week

Talk about dialed in. Itawamba Community College’s Tyreque Reed went 11-for-12 in four games last week. The sophomore from Houlka hit four home runs, drove in 10 runs, scored eight times, stole three bases and walked four times to boot. A 6-foot-1, 260-pound third baseman/outfielder, Reed helped the Indians sweep doubleheaders from Blue Mountain’s JV team and Snead State, improving to 11-3 on the season. Reed is batting .512 overall with five homers and 19 RBIs. … For the record, Reed is not the MACJC’s top hitter. According to the NJCAA Division II stats page, Coahoma’s Zachary Gilder, a freshman from Olive Branch (Center Hill), is batting a robust .577 through 11 games. Not far behind Reed is East Central’s Luke Yancey, a sophomore from Morton (East Rankin Academy) who is at .500 through 14 games.