14 Dec

on the move

’Tis the season for the Rule 5 draft, which went down today without much hoopla. Former Jones County Junior College standout Lane Ratliff and Ole Miss alumnus Will Allen were picked in the minor league phase and will be changing organizations for the 2018 season. Ratliff, a left-hander, was taken by Arizona out of the Seattle system. A 2014 draftee by the Mariners, he spent most of 2017 in the Class A Midwest League. His career ERA is 5.98, but someone saw something they liked. First baseman/catcher Allen, a 2014 draftee by Detroit, was plucked by Miami. He played in the Class A Florida State League last season, batting .245 with nine homers and 40 RBIs at age 25. Allen had a big senior year in Oxford in 2014, hitting .339 with seven homers and 64 RBIs. P.S. Ryan Rolison’s ranking improved a notch in Baseball America’s latest list of the Top 100 college draft prospects for 2018. The Ole Miss left-hander is up to No. 6 after standing seventh in the magazine’s October ranking. Rolison went 6-3 with a 3.06 ERA for the Rebels in 2017 and pitched well in the Cape Cod League over the summer. Mississippi State’s ace lefty, Konnor Pilkington, slipped to No. 19 from 17th. Pilkington was 8-5, 3.08 last season. Rebels closer Dallas Woolfolk and State outfielder Jake Mangum are also in the top 100.

07 Dec

seriously?

There’s clearly not much cooking on the Hot Stove when Rafael Palmeiro’s comment on making a comeback gets so much attention. Former Mississippi State star Palmeiro floated the idea in a published report that he can still play at the big league level. It’s hard to take this seriously. He is 53. He last played in an MLB game 12 years ago. True, he did go 2-for-4 in one appearance for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters in 2015. But it’s a long way from the Atlantic League to the major leagues. Palmeiro is in both the 500-homer and 3,000-hit clubs but not the Hall of Fame, mainly because of a failed drug test in 2005 that came not long after he defiantly wagged his finger at Congress during its inquiry into PEDs. Palmeiro fell off the Hall of Fame ballot in short order. “Maybe 12 years later, if I can come back and prove I don’t need anything as an older player with an older body, then people might think, OK, maybe he didn’t do anything intentionally,” Palmeiro told The Athletic. That sounds pretty far-fetched.

17 Nov

fall finish

Braxton Lee, the ex-Ole Miss star from Picayune, went 3-for-5 in Thursday’s regular season finale to finish at .347, good for seventh in the Arizona Fall League batting race. Playing for Salt River, the Miami prospect had eight steals, which ranked fourth in the league. … Peoria takes on Mesa in Saturday’s AFL championship game (2 p.m., MLB Network). Peoria, managed by 2017 Mississippi Braves skipper Luis Salazar, features a bunch of M-Braves alumni, most notably ex-DeSoto Central High star Austin Riley and uber-prospect Ronald Acuna. Riley hit .300 with six homers. Acuna batted .325 and led the loop with seven bombs. Spencer Turnbull and Zac Houston, both Detroit farmhands, are on Mesa’s roster. Turnbull, a Madison Central product, went 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA as a starter. Houston, a Mississippi State alum, had a stellar AFL campaign: no runs allowed on four hits with 18 strikeouts and one walk in 11 1/3 innings. … Ex-Southern Miss star Cody Carroll (New York Yankees) was also outstanding: 0.00 ERA, league-best four saves and 18 K’s in 11 2/3 innings for Scottsdale. … Former Harrison Central standout Bobby Bradley, at 21 one of the younger players in the league, mostly scuffled, batting .230 with two homers and 32 strikeouts for Glendale. Bradley is one of Cleveland’s top prospects. … Meridian Community College alum Wade Wass (Los Angeles Angels), a late add to Scottsdale’s roster, went 1-for-24.

16 Nov

land of the free

Free agency should be good to Zack Cozart. The former Ole Miss star, a good-hit/good-field shortstop, is rated No. 11 on the list of 184 available free agents by sports.yahoo.com. He is coming off a career year, having made his first All-Star Game. He earned $5.3M in 2017. The one issue, the Yahoo writer suggests, might be Cozart’s age: 32. Not exactly ancient, but for a shortstop … . Oddly enough, on a recent MLB Now segment on MLB Network, Cozart was mentioned as both the “most underrated” and “most overrated” player on the market. UM product Lance Lynn, who bounced back strong in 2017 after Tommy John surgery, was No. 13 on Yahoo’s list, Mississippi State product Mitch Moreland No. 47, ex-Southwest Mississippi Community College star Jarrod Dyson No. 52 and former Rebels standout Seth Smith No. 73. Other Mississippians on the market (as minor leaguers) are Tyler Moore, Alex Presley, David Goforth, Scott Copeland, Joey Butler and Cody Satterwhite as well as Chris Coghlan, Desmond Jennings and Louis Coleman, erstwhile big leaguers released during the 2017 season.

07 Nov

precocious talent

Blaze Jordan, the phenom from Southaven, is the centerpiece in a Baseball America story (posted today on the magazine’s web site) about the issue of early – or, more precisely, very early — commitments in the college game. It’s a good read. Jordan is a freshman at DeSoto Central High. He committed to Mississippi State as an 8th-grader. Jordan reportedly has prodigious power, having won a national home run contest in January – at age 14 — with a 504-foot blast at Marlins Park in Miami. He hit two homers in 13 games for the DeSoto varsity last season. He also impressed coaches and scouts during last month’s Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association World Championships in Florida. Jordan’s coach at the event compared him to Mookie Betts, Boston’s star right fielder. Keep in mind, the 6-foot, 215-pound first baseman is in the recruiting – and pro draft – class of 2021. … Also quoted in the BA piece are Hattiesburg High senior Joe Gray, another highly recruited player who committed to Ole Miss last January, and Rebels coach Mike Bianco.

06 Nov

numbers to crunch

Seth Smith, the ex-Ole Miss star from Jackson, is a free agent and could sign with a new team as early as today. Smith, 35, batted .258 with 13 homers for Baltimore in 2017. If you’re keeping track, the Orioles are the fifth different organization Smith, a .261 career hitter, has played for since breaking into the big leagues in 2007.
As we plunge into the off-season, here are some other numbers of interest for other Mississippians in the majors:
Brian Dozier: 106. The ex-Southern Miss standout topped the century mark in runs for the fourth straight season with Minnesota, while also hitting 34 homers and driving in 93 runs.
Drew Pomeranz: 173.2. The former Ole Miss star worked a career-high in innings in his first full year in Boston and posted a 17-6 record with a 3.32 ERA.
Corey Dickerson: .241. That was the Meridian Community College alum’s batting average after the All-Star Game, which he played in. He hit .312 before the break for Tampa Bay.
Zack Cozart: 55. The Ole Miss product, a free agent, set a career-high for extra base hits, including 24 homers and seven triples during an All-Star campaign in Cincinnati.
Lance Lynn: .605. That’s the career winning percentage for the big right-hander out of Ole Miss. A free agent, Lynn is 72-47 in six years with St. Louis.
Mitch Moreland: 34. The Mississippi State product, a free agent, notched a career-high for doubles and also belted 22 homers, one off his career-best, in his first season with Boston.
Adam Frazier: 7. That’s the number of positions (including DH) the ex-State standout played in 2017 for Pittsburgh. He batted .276 with six homers, 53 RBIs and nine steals in 121 games all told.
Jarrod Dyson: 204. The Southwest Mississippi CC alum, a free agent, topped 200 career steals last season and has 26 or more in each of the last six seasons, despite being a part-time player. He set career-highs for at-bats, runs, home runs and RBIs with Seattle in 2017.
Billy Hamilton: 0. Remarkably, the former Taylorsville High star has yet to win a National League stolen base title, despite stealing 56, 57, 58 and 59 bases over the past four seasons for Cincinnati.
Hunter Renfroe: 14. The former State star played 14 games in the minors in 2017 after being abruptly sent down by San Diego in August. He hit .509 with four homers at El Paso; he batted .231 with 26 homers for the Padres with 140 strikeouts and 27 walks.
Tim Anderson: 13. The East Central CC product walked only 13 times in 606 plate appearances and struck out 162 times. On the positive side, he hit .257 with 17 homers and 52 RBIs in his second season with the Chicago White Sox.
Alex Presley: 5,693. The former Ole Miss standout hit the home run, on Sept. 19, that tied the MLB single-season record for total bombs. That was one of the three homers he hit last season for Detroit.
Anthony Alford: 1. The onetime Mr. Baseball from Petal got his first – and, to date, only – career hit with Toronto on May 23. Alford’s MLB stint was interrupted by injury after four games, and he spent the rest of the season in the minors. He’ll likely vie for a starting job in the spring.

02 Nov

boys of fall

Alas, ex-Harrison Central High standout Bobby Bradley did not win in the fan voting for the final two rosters spots in Saturday’s Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game. Bradley, a top-rated Cleveland prospect with 87 home runs in four pro seasons, is batting .273 with two homers in 11 games for Glendale. … DeSoto Central High alum Austin Riley and fellow Mississippi Braves alum Ronald Acuna, who are in the Fall Stars Game, homered for Peoria on Tuesday, the fourth for each. That’s one off the league lead, which belongs to M-Braves alum Alex Jackson. Riley is batting .342, Acuna .377 with an amazing 18 runs in 15 games. … Ex-Southern Miss star Cody Carroll, who is not in the Fall Stars Game, leads the AFL with four saves for Scottsdale. The New York Yankees prospect has not allowed a run in nine innings of work and has 14 strikeouts. … Mississippi State product Zac Houston, a Detroit farmhand, struck out three batters in 1 1/3 innings for Mesa on Tuesday, running his AFL total to 11 in 6 1/3. He has yielded three hits and no runs. … Former Meridian Community College standout Wade Wass was a late addition to the Los Angeles Angels’ AFL team and is 1-for-9 in two games for Scottsdale. Wass, a catcher, hit .257 with 11 homers for Double-A Mobile this past season but was injured in late July and didn’t play again.