13 Sep

something to celebrate

Coming through with big hits in the postseason is a good way to impress the brass in the minor leagues. Tyreque Reed came through on Thursday night. The ex-Itawamba Community College star from Houlka went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs to help Hickory stave off elimination in the South Atlantic League Championship Series. “What I was thinking and doing tonight, it worked,” Reed said in an milb.com story. The Crawdads’ cleanup batter was 1-for-7 in the first two games as Lexington took both. Reed, drafted in 2017 by Texas, hit .282 with 13 homers and 48 RBIs for the Crawdads in his second stint with the low Class A club after scuffling at the high-A level to start 2019. … Bobby Bradley, the Harrison Central High product, celebrated an International League pennant on Thursday night when Columbus finished off a sweep of Durham for the Governors’ Cup. He went 0-for-3 with a walk in Game 3 but was 6-for-20 with two homers and eight RBIs during the Clippers’ postseason run. Columbus will play the Pacific Coast League champ in the Triple-A title game on Sept. 17 at Memphis. Bradley is surely anticipating a recall to Cleveland. P.S. Mississippi State alum Hunter Renfroe and East Central CC’s Tim Anderson are among the 30 nominees, one per MLB team, for the Roberto Clemente Award. The award is “the annual recognition of a major league player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.” As part of the selection process, fans can vote through Sept. 29 for the overall winner via this link: mlb.com/clemente21.

05 Sep

minor matters

Former Mississippi high school stars Bobby Bradley (Harrison Central) and Austin Riley (DeSoto Central) faced off, sorta, in the International League playoffs on Wednesday when Columbus and Gwinnett tangled in the semifinals. Riley homered for the Gwinnett Stripers (Atlanta’s Triple-A club), but Columbus (Cleveland) won Game 1 5-4 as Bradley went 2-for-5 with two RBIs, a run and a stolen base. Riley, currently on a big league rehab assignment, hit 15 homers for the Stripers this season before moving up to the majors, where he hit 17 more for the Braves. Bradley, who also got a look in MLB this summer, led the IL with 33 homers. … Biloxi won its Southern League South playoff opener 11-10 on a Dillon Thomas walk-off homer in the 10th inning at MGM Park. In the North opener, Delta State product Dalton Moats threw a scoreless inning in Montgomery’s 4-0 win against Jackson. … Ex-DSU star Zack Shannon hit a home run for Kane County in a loss to Clinton in the Class A Midwest League playoffs. Shannon hit 12 homers during the season. Also in the MWL, Ole Miss product Grae Kessinger and former Southern Miss standout Matt Wallner, both 2019 draftees, are on opposing sides in the Quad Cities-Cedar Rapids series. Kessinger had a hit and a run QC’s Game 1 win, while Wallner went 0-for-4. … Former Itawamba Community College star Tyreque Reed belted a homer for Hickory as the Crawdads beat Delmarva in the Class A South Atlantic League playoffs. Reed hit .282 with 13 homers for Hickory this season. … Walker Robbins, the George County High alum, notched a hold for Johnson City as the Cardinals beat Burlington to claim the rookie Appalachian League championship. Robbins, in his fourth pro season but first as a fulltime pitcher, posted a 2.52 ERA in 17 games for Johnson City.

30 Aug

coming soon

Act II of his big league career should be starting soon for Bobby Bradley, the ex-Harrison Central High star who made his MLB debut with Cleveland back in June. With rosters expanding on Sunday, the Indians’ No. 7 prospect likely will be recalled then or shortly thereafter. The lefty-hitting first baseman, who has been scuffling of late at Triple-A Columbus, made some noise on Thursday when he went 4-for-5 with two home runs, bringing his season total to 33, 34 if you count the one he hit for the Indians during his 15-game call-up. Recently named an International League All-Star, Bradley is batting .263 with 72 RBIs, 62 runs, 44 walks and 151 strikeouts in 103 games. With 148 homers in six pro seasons, he could help supply some power for the Indians, who are chasing a playoff berth and recently lost Jose Ramirez for several weeks due to injury.

21 Jun

coming attraction

Someday, perhaps very soon, Bobby Bradley and Brent Rooker will be slugging it out as American League Central rivals. On Thursday, they gave us a preview. Gulfport’s Bradley and Mississippi State product Rooker, batting fourth as the DH for Columbus and Rochester, respectively, in the Triple-A International League, combined for three home runs in Thursday’s game. Rooker, a Minnesota Twins prospect, hit his 10th of the year, and Bradley, a Cleveland Indians prospect, hit Nos. 23 and 24, which leads the IL. Both have been on hot streaks. Rooker has homered in three straight games and is batting .289 in 43 contests; he missed some time with a wrist injury. Bradley has gone deep twice in three of his last six games and has lifted his average to .295. Both strike out a lot, but in today’s game that seems to matter less and less. The Twins and Indians may be battling for the AL Central title down the stretch – with Rooker and Bradley in the middle of the fray.

08 May

time to step up

Game 1 of a four-game International League series in Lawrenceville, Ga., on Monday featured the Triple-A debut of former DeSoto Central High star Austin Riley, who went 1-for-5 for Atlanta affiliate Gwinnett. Game 2 could see the Class AAA debut of ex-George County High and Southern Miss standout Mason Robbins, now with Charlotte. Robbins, 25 and in his fifth pro season, was promoted by the Chicago White Sox on Monday. The left-handed hitting outfielder started this season on the disabled list but after being activated hit .350 with a homer and three RBIs in five games for Double-A Birmingham. He batted .265 with three homers in 125 games for the Barons in 2017. “I want to get more out of my swing than what I had last year,” Robbins told the Biloxi Sun-Herald in February, meaning he needs to show more power. In 2016 in high-A ball, he hit five homers with 33 doubles and seven triples while batting .314 and making the Carolina League’s postseason All-Star team. If Robbins starts tonight, he’ll face Gwinnett’s Kolby Allard, the former Mississippi Braves lefty who rates as one of Atlanta’s top prospects.

31 Oct

spirit of ’46

The 70th anniversary of the 1946 World Series (see previous posts) is worthy of any and all hoopla it receives. St. Louis and Boston, featuring Mississippians Harry Walker and Boo Ferriss, battled it out for seven games in what was truly a Fall Classic. But that World Series didn’t corner the market on thrills that fall, and Walker wasn’t the only Mississippi native toasting a title. In the ’46 Negro Leagues World Series, the Newark Eagles, led by Monte Irvin, Larry Doby and Hattiesburg native Rufus Lewis, beat the Kansas City Monarchs in seven games, winning the clincher 3-2 at Ruppert Stadium in Newark. Lewis, one of the aces of the Eagles’ staff, started and got the victory in Game 7 and went 2-1 with a 1.23 ERA in the series. Lewis never made the major leagues but did pitch in the minors in “organized baseball.” Of course, 1946 was also the year that Jackie Robinson broke the color line and led the Montreal Royals, a Brooklyn Dodgers farm club, to the International League and Junior World Series championships. Robinson’s manager in Montreal was none other than Clay Hopper, a Portersville native and Mississippi State alum who had a long and decorated career as a minor league skipper.

20 Sep

watch for it

A sliver of the baseball spotlight will be trained tonight on Memphis’ AutoZone Park, where Hunter Renfroe will lead El Paso against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a one-game showdown for the Triple-A championship. Renfroe, the ex-Mississippi State star from Crystal Springs, hit .306 with 30 home runs and 105 RBIs and won Pacific Coast League MVP honors with the Chihuahuas, a San Diego affiliate. International League champ SWB, a New York Yankees affiliate, is managed by former Jackson Mets star Al Pedrique. Both clubs feature several top prospects. Jonathan Holder, another MSU product, spent part of this season with SWB but is now in the big leagues. Renfroe, rated the Padres’ No. 3 prospect by mlb.com, may be in line for a call-up to The Show, but he says all he is focused on at the moment is his current team and tonight’s game. “San Diego will always be there, and when the time comes for them to make a decision, I’ll be here,” he told The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. The NBC Sports Network will televise the 7:05 game. P.S. For the first time in his seven seasons in the majors, Mitch Moreland was ejected from a game. Former State standout Moreland got tossed in the fourth inning Monday by home-plate umpire Kerwin Danley after “disputing,” while walking away, a called third strike during Texas’ game against the Los Angeles Angels. “It was obviously a pitch I didn’t agree with,” Moreland said in an mlb.com article. The Rangers won 3-2 in walk-off fashion, reducing their magic number for clinching the American League West to 3.

12 Sep

waiting game

The El Paso Chihuahuas’ season goes on, which apparently means Hunter Renfroe’s much-anticipated big league debut is on hold. Former Mississippi State star Renfroe, the Triple-A Pacific Coast League MVP, hit a go-ahead home run on Saturday that propelled El Paso into the PCL Championship Series, which will begin on Tuesday. When San Diego traded Melvin Upton and Matt Kemp in late July, it appeared it was clearing space in the outfield for prospects like Renfroe, who is among the Padres’ most highly regarded. The 2013 first-round pick has had a big year with the bat in the hitter-friendly PCL: .306, 30 homers, 34 doubles, 105 RBIs, .557 slugging percentage. And he’s also a good right fielder with a plus arm. If the Padres wait until El Paso’s playoff run is over to promote Renfroe, he’d still have a couple of weeks to audition for a regular job in 2017. Eight Mississippians (natives or college alums) have debuted in MLB in 2016: Chad Girodo, Chris Stratton, Tim Anderson, Cody Reed, Adam Frazier, Mike Mayers, JaCoby Jones and Jonathan Holder. P.S. Former Southern Miss standout Bradley Roney got the save in Saturday’s clincher as Triple-A Gwinnett beat Columbus 5-4 to advance to the International League finals. Roney is 4-for-4 in save chances with a 3.57 ERA and three wins in 27 games for the G-Braves this season. He had a 2.82 in 17 games for the Double-A Mississippi Braves, who are now in the Southern League title series. Atlanta’s low-A Rome club reached the South Atlantic League finals, fueled in part by DeSoto Central product Austin Riley, who went 3-for-10 with four RBIs in the first round series. Riley, Atlanta’s top pick in 2015, is batting .270 with 20 homers and 80 RBIs.