21 Jun

back on track

Bradley Roney, drafted by Atlanta out of Southern Miss in 2014, reached Triple-A in 2016 and put up nice numbers as a closer there. But his rapid progress was suddenly derailed by injuries that cost him a big chunk of the 2017 season, all of 2018 and some of this season. He may be getting back on track. Roney, 26, was promoted to the Double-A Mississippi Braves on Thursday after a dominating stint at Class A Florida, where he worked 14 1/3 scoreless innings with 18 strikeouts and three walks. Roney pitched for the M-Braves in 2016 and ’17. He had 30 career saves at USM and is 20-for-25 with a 13-7 record and 3.38 ERA in his six minor league campaigns. … The M-Braves, currently playing a series in Biloxi, return to Trustmark Park on June 25. P.S. Blast from the past: Among the handful of players still active from the first M-Braves team in 2005 is Iker Franco, who was the backup catcher to Brian McCann. Franco, now 38 and in his 20th year of pro ball, is playing for Oaxaca in the Mexican League. Franco batted .296 with three homers in 48 games for the M-Braves before earning a brief promotion to Triple-A. A native of Mexico, he has played in the Mexican League since 2008 and was the championship series MVP in 2011. He is currently batting .260 with three homers, including a walk-off shot on May 28.

12 Oct

around the horn

No big surprise here: Austin Riley, the former DeSoto Central High All-Stater, was named Atlanta’s minor league hitter of the year by MLB Pipeline. The 21-year-old third baseman hit .294 with 19 homers at two levels (Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett). “The sky is the limit for this guy,” Braves assistant farm director (and former M-Braves second baseman) Jonathan Schuerholz told Baseball America, which also named Riley the Best Player in Atlanta’s system. Touki Toussaint, who started 2018 in Pearl and rose all the way to the big leagues, was named the system’s pitcher of the year by MLB Pipeline and BA. … Ole Miss product David Parkinson was named Philadelphia’s pitcher of the year. A 12th-round pick in 2017, he went 11-1 with a 1.45 ERA in A-ball this past season. His ERA was the lowest in the minors among qualifying pitchers. … Ex-Mississippi State star Nathaniel Lowe was Tampa Bay’s hitter of the year after batting .330 with 27 homers and 102 RBIs between A-ball and Triple-A. … In the Arizona Fall League on Thursday, Ole Miss alum Errol Robinson (Los Angeles Dodgers) debuted with a 2-for-4, two-RBI effort for Glendale, and in the same game Petal’s Demarcus Evans (Texas) threw two scoreless innings for Surprise. Delta State product Trent Giambrone (Chicago Cubs) banged out four hits in his debut for Mesa, while ex-George County High standout Justin Steele did not have his best stuff in that same game. He gave up four runs in 1 2/3 innings as Mesa’s starter. The Cubs’ No. 8 prospect yielded five hits, a walk, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. Former DSU star Dalton Moats (Tampa Bay) worked two hitless innings for Peoria on Wednesday, and Daniel Brown (Milwaukee), a left-hander out of MSU, tossed 2 1/3 hitless innings for the same club on Tuesday. … Starkville native and ex-big leaguer Julio Borbon won a Mexican League championship with Monterrey, which wrapped up the pennant on Tuesday. Borbon went 8-for-26 with three runs and an RBI in the title series. He hit .301 with 14 steals during the season. A former first-round pick out of Tennessee by Texas, the 32-year-old Borbon last played in the majors in 2016. … Ke’Bryan Hayes, son of ex-big leaguer and Forrest County AHS product Charlie Hayes, won a minor league Gold Glove award at third base for the second straight year. The younger Hayes, a first-round pick out of a Texas high school by Pittsburgh in 2015, played at Double-A Altoona in 2018. … On this date in 2010, the Texas Rangers scored a landmark victory, thanks in large part to former Meridian Community College star Cliff Lee. Lee threw a six-hitter with 11 strikeouts to beat Tampa Bay (and David Price) in Game 5 of the American League Division Series, giving the Rangers their first playoff series victory. Texas would go on to the World Series, losing to San Francisco. Lee, incidentally, was 7-3, 2.52 ERA with three complete games in 11 postseason starts but never won a ring.

11 Jul

it’s a start

Ex-Ole Miss star Ryan Rolison, the first Mississippi product picked — 22nd overall — in the June draft, pitched two innings on Tuesday in his debut for Grand Junction, the Colorado Rockies’ rookie club. The left-hander, who threw 28 pitches, allowed one hit (a home run) and struck out two. He has spent a lot of time since he signed working with former major leaguer Doug Jones, the Grand Junction pitching coach, on improving his changeup. “I’m excited for the challenge,” Rolison told The (Grand Junction) Daily Sentinel when he first arrived there. “It’s challenging being in Colorado because the air’s so thin and the ball flies. Every day we work on drills to locate our fastballs down, keeping them at the knees, and also just developing my changeup into a key pitch for me along with my slider.” Because he threw almost 100 innings for Ole Miss this past season, the Rockies reportedly will limit his work at Grand Junction. P.S. Cody Satterwhite, the former Hillcrest Christian and Ole Miss standout, is pitching in the Mexican League, still chasing the big league dream 10 years after he was first drafted. Satterwhite, 31, has made three appearances this month for the Mexico City Red Devils. He signed there after being released in late May from the Triple-A Syracuse roster in Washington’s system. Drafted in the second round by Detroit in 2008, Satterwhite has endured several injuries and passed through several organizations over the years. His numbers are actually good: 3.47 ERA, 33 saves, 16 wins in 231 minor league games.

16 May

whatever happened to …

Desmond Jennings, the former Itawamba Community College star, is back in the game, playing for Monclova in the Mexican League. Jennings, who has 567 games of big league experience, was released twice by MLB teams in 2017 – Cincinnati in spring training and the New York Mets off their Triple-A roster in June. The 31-year-old outfielder still has some game, batting .339 with seven homers and 30 RBIs through 26 contests in Mexico, which is regarded as Triple-A level. Jennings, drafted by Tampa Bay in the 10th round in 2006, was a hot shot in the minors, winning Southern League MVP honors in 2009 and playing in two All-Star Futures Games. He hit .245 with 55 homers and 95 steals in his big league career; he last played in The Show with the Rays in 2016. … Alex Yarbrough, the ex-Ole Miss standout, is no longer in the game. The infielder retired quietly in February. Yarbrough, only 26, was a fourth-round pick by the Los Angeles Angels in 2012, earned Texas League player of the year honors in 2014 and reached Triple-A the next year. But that was his peak. He spent last year in the Double-A Southern League, batting .231 for Jacksonville in the Miami system.

18 Apr

there and here

Catching up on many fronts in pro ball: Chris Coghlan, the ex-Ole Miss star and veteran big leaguer, signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs earlier this month but has not yet been assigned to a club. Coghlan, who played for the Cubs during their championship run in 2016, was released by Toronto last summer. … UM product Drew Pomeranz is expected to be activated from the disabled list by Boston on Friday; the Red Sox will be at Oakland, facing former Mississippi State standout Kendall Graveman of the A’s. … Anthony Alford, the former Mr. Baseball from Petal, is 4-for-14 in five games on a rehab assignment with Class A Dunedin in the Toronto system. Alford, who made his big league debut last year, was injured in spring training. … Southern Miss alum Scott Copeland, Starkville native Julio Borbon and Hattiesburg’s Robert Carson have signed with teams in the independent Atlantic League. Copeland and Borbon, both ex-big leaguers, are with Somerset, Carson with York. A number of former Mississippi Braves also have signed on in the league, which opens next weekend. … Southwest Mississippi Community College product Kade Scivicque, released by Atlanta last week, signed with Detroit, the club that drafted him out of LSU in 2015. Scivicque, who played for the M-Braves in 2016-17, had just four at-bats with Triple-A Gwinnett this season. The Tigers sent him to Double-A Erie. … Rehabbing big leaguer Luiz Gohara, expected to be a key rotation piece in Atlanta, worked 3 1/3 innings (62 pitches) for the M-Braves against Pensacola on Tuesday night and yielded five hits, three walks and five runs (one earned). … Former M-Braves star Ronald Acuna hit his first homer and picked up his first two RBIs of 2018 for Triple-A Gwinnett on Tuesday. Acuna is batting just .175 after having a huge spring with the big league Braves. … Jacob Nottingham became (by unofficial count) the 18th Biloxi Shuckers alum to advance to the big leagues when he debuted with Milwaukee on Monday. … Former Jackson Generals ace and ex-big leaguer Freddy Garcia, at age 41, is pitching for Yucatan in the Mexican League; he’s 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA. The right-hander has logged more than 3,000 innings in a pro career that started in 1995.

04 Aug

the winding road

In his 11th pro season, and still without a day in the big leagues, Corey Wimberly shows no signs of slowing down. The former Alcorn State star is playing for Yucatan in the Mexican League and hitting .333 with a league-leading 85 runs and 29 stolen bases. He had a four-hit game on Sunday, his second four-hit game during a current seven-game streak during which he has 16 hits. The 31-year-old Wimberly, a switch-hitter, is playing center field and batting leadoff for Yucatan, which is in first place in the Triple-A caliber league. It would seem that a major league club could use a player with Wimberly’s skills; he’s a .294 career hitter with 336 steals. He was in the Minnesota system last year, the seventh MLB organization he has played for since Colorado drafted him in 2005. P.S. No longer playing in Mexico – though apparently not officially retired — is Hattiesburg’s John Lindsey, who began this season, his 21st in pro ball, with Tijuana. Lindsey, who got 12 MLB at-bats in 2010, was hitting .262 with three homers and 13 RBIs when he was released in late June. Lindsey, 38, homered in his final game for Tijuana on June 26. If that were indeed the last game of his career, it would be fitting that he went out with a blast. The big slugger has 331 homers all told in pro ball; he hit No. 1 in 1995 in rookie ball for the Rockies.

27 Jul

off the beaten path

One of the hottest hitters in the independent Atlantic League is Fred Lewis, the former Stone County High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College star. The 34-year-old Lewis is hitting .389 over his last 10 games and is up to .264 for the year. Playing for Jackson native Stan Cliburn’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, Lewis has three homers, 30 RBIs, 42 runs, six steals and a league-best six triples in 77 games. Lewis played parts of seven years (2006-12) in the majors, hitting .266. … Gulf Coast CC product Roy Corcoran, 35, has 17 saves and three wins (despite a 5.11 ERA) in 35 games for Aguascalientes in the Mexican League. The last of his 82 MLB games came in 2009 with Seattle. … Former Mississippi State standout Luis Pollorena is 5-1 with a 2.06 ERA for the Laredo Lemurs of the indy American Association. Pollorena, a 5-foot-8 lefty who won 17 games over three seasons at State, spent the previous two years in the Texas Rangers’ organization. … Ole Miss’ Errol Robinson rapped out three hits on Sunday to boost his average to .314 for Hyannis in the Cape Cod League. He is among the league leaders with 20 runs. … Also in the Cape on Sunday, Reid Humphreys of MSU blasted his fourth homer of the summer for Bourne. Humphreys is batting .239 with 11 RBIs. … Southern Miss’ Dylan Burdeaux hit a pair of homers on Saturday in the New England Collegiate League, giving him six for the season. His USM and Ocean State teammate Chuckie Robinson also has six homers, tied for fourth in the league behind another teammate, Tim Lynch, who has nine, which equals the league-best. … Delta State’s Will Robertson is hitting .479 with a homer, 13 RBIs and 24 runs in 18 games for the Tippah Tribe in the Cotton States League.

12 Jul

whatever happened to …

Travious Relaford, a former juco All-America shortstop at Hinds Community College, is back on the field at Class A Augusta, where he is batting .272 with 24 RBIs and 24 runs in 48 games. Relaford went 3-for-6 with an RBI and a steal in a doubleheader on July 7, his first game action after a month on the disabled list. It’s hard to get a read on how Relaford stands in the San Francisco Giants’ grand scheme. Drafted in the 44th round in 2011, he didn’t start his pro career until 2012. He got a look in Double-A in 2013 but hit only .188 and found himself on a short-season Class A team in 2014. He batted .283 with three homers and 28 RBIs for Salem-Keizer and made the Northwest League All-Star Game. He appeared in a couple of major league spring games this year, then was assigned to the low Class A South Atlantic League. He isn’t on any of the lists of the Giants’ top prospects, but he is only 23 and he appears to be progressing. P.S. Sixteen years after the Jackson Generals last played at Smith-Wills Stadium, there are two alums of the old Houston Double-A affiliate still playing. Daryle Ward, at age 40, is in the independent Atlantic League, batting .253 with one homer for Southern Maryland (Jackson native Stan Cliburn’s club). Ward hit 90 MLB homers and has 189 others as a pro. Freddy Garcia, 38, is pitching in the Mexican League. The big right-hander, in his 21st pro season, has a 6.00 ERA in five games for Tabasco.

26 Nov

still slugging away

Though he has no major league home runs to his credit, John Lindsey has to be regarded as one of the great sluggers Mississippi has ever produced. The Hattiesburg native, at age 37, has hit two home runs in seven games this winter for Navojoa in the Mexican Pacific League. He has 328 minor league homers on his ledger, which dates back to 1995, when he was drafted out of Hattiesburg High by Colorado. He’s not slowing down: He hit 33 bombs (along with a .306 average and 99 RBIs) in the Triple-A caliber Mexican League in 2014. Lindsey, a 6-foot-2, 255-pound right-handed first baseman/DH, has played for at least 20 different teams over 20 years in pro ball, not including winter league assignments. He has played in 1,984 minor league games, with 7,044 at-bats and 1,360 RBIs. He got one hit (a single) in 13 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010, his only MLB stint. He really ought to be considered for the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. P.S. The all-time leader in minor league homers among Mississippi natives is Jack Pierce, a Laurel native who played parts of three MLB seasons in the 1970s. Pierce, who died in 2012, belted 395 minor league bombs, most of those in the Mexican League, including 54 in 1986. Pierce is in the Mexican League Hall of Fame.