Having been released by Pittsburgh, Ed Easley may have seen his playing career reach the end of the line. The Mississippi State product was batting .174 as a 30-year-old catcher getting limited playing time at Triple-A Indianapolis. Easley has played 10 years in pro ball and appeared in four MLB games, all last year with St. Louis, going 0-for-6. But don’t get the wrong idea. If indeed it is over, Easley’s career is one worth celebrating. After his senior season at Olive Branch High in 2004, he was the state’s Mr. Baseball, Gatorade player of the year and a Louisville Slugger All-America pick. At MSU, he was All-SEC and won the Ferriss Trophy and the Johnny Bench Award that goes to the nation’s best catcher in 2007. Arizona drafted Easley 61st overall in ’07, and he has batted .260 with 43 home runs in 770 minor league games. He has 683 minor league hits, including a single in what may have been his last game, on June 29.
Ed Easley’s strong season in Triple-A has been rewarded. The St. Louis Cardinals have added the former Mississippi State standout to their 40-man roster. He is currently one of four catchers, joining Yadier Molina, Tony Cruz and A.J. Pierzynski. Easley, who’ll be 29 in December, has played eight pro seasons but has yet to make the big leagues. He batted .296 with 10 home runs and 43 RBIs in 80 games at Memphis in 2014, his first season in the St. Louis system. There was speculation he might get his first call-up when Molina was hurt late in the season, but it didn’t happen. It appears now that Easley at least will get a fair chance to make the club in spring training. … Meanwhile, another former State star had a monster day in the Arizona Fall League on Monday. Hunter Renfroe, who homered in Saturday’s Fall Stars Game, belted two more (one an inside-the-parker) in Surprise’s 19-6 win against Glendale. Renfroe, San Diego’s first-round pick in 2013, went 3-for-4 with five RBIs, boosting his season stats to .279 with four homers and 13 RBIs. For the record, East Central Community College alumnus Tim Anderson (Chicago White Sox) went 1-for-5 for Glendale and is batting .304.
Watched a few innings of the Pacific Coast League game of the week on TV Thursday night. Eli Whiteside, the ex-Delta State star from New Albany, was catching for Iowa (Chicago Cubs) and Mississippi State product Ed Easley was behind the plate for Memphis (St. Louis Cardinals) at AutoZone Park. These are two guys who must really love the game. They are backup catchers in Triple-A. Both are scuffling in their limited time: Whiteside is batting .168, Easley .204. Whiteside, who’ll be 35 in October, is in his 15th pro season. He has 208 MLB games under his belt and won a World Series ring with San Francisco in 2010. The Cubs are the seventh organization Whiteside has played for. He last appeared in the majors — briefly — in 2012. Easley, 28, is in his eighth season. He has yet to play in a big league game. He hit .334 with six homers and 49 RBIs in Triple-A for Arizona in 2013, never got a call-up, then signed with St. Louis in the off-season as a minor league free agent. The chances that either Whiteside or Easley will get called to the big leagues this season are pretty slim. Yet they keep plugging away at the game’s most demanding position. There is something admirable about that kind of devotion. P.S. Tony Sipp has shown that he still has some gas in the tank. The Pascagoula native has not allowed a run in 9 2/3 innings over eight appearances with Houston. Sipp, given his release from a minor league contract with San Diego so that he could sign with the Astros, has yielded just one hit and one walk with 13 strikeouts for a club that is suddenly playing well. The Moss Point High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College alum is in his 11th pro season.
After spending seven years in the Arizona system and never receiving a big-league call, Ed Easley will get his next opportunity with the St. Louis Cardinals. The former Mississippi State star — a Ferriss Trophy winner and first-round pick in 2007 — has signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals and will go to spring training to compete for the backup catcher job behind Yadier Molina. Easley, who turns 28 next month, hit .334 with six home runs and 49 RBIs in Triple-A in 2013. The right-handed batter is a career .262 hitter.