28 Aug

in the distance

Jerrion Ealy, Jackson Prep’s two-sport star, checks in at No. 10 on mlb.com’s new list of the top 10 high school prospects for the 2019 draft. (Just think: It’s less than 10 months away!) The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Ealy, an outfielder who has signed with Ole Miss in football, is widely hailed for his speed. He stole 18 bases and legged out five triples at Prep this past season while hitting .364 in 77 at-bats, according to MaxPreps. Ealy participated in both the Under Armour and Perfect Game all-star contests and the East Coast Pro Showcase this summer. Perfect Game rates Ealy the No. 4 prep prospect. … Southern Miss outfielder Matt Wallner was ranked No. 8 by mlb.com on the 2019 college prospect list published last week. Wallner, a lefty hitter who also pitches, batted .351 with 16 homers for the Golden Eagles in 2018 and spent time with Team USA and in the Cape Cod League over the summer.

24 Aug

rookie report

He may have been the fourth player chosen out of Mississippi in the June draft, but Southern Miss product Nick Sandlin has taken a back seat to no one on the field this summer. Sandlin is the only Mississippian drafted this year to reach the Double-A level. The right-hander, picked in the second round by Cleveland, debuted for Akron on Wednesday with – what else? – a scoreless inning. In 21 games and 20 1/3 innings spread over four levels, Sandlin has a 1.31 ERA and 30 strikeouts with just two walks. He has two wins and five saves. “He’s uber-competitive and he trusts that he’s better than any hitter that steps in the box,” Kirk McCarty, Sandlin’s former USM teammate and fellow Indians farmhand, recently told milb.com. … There were two first-rounders from the state this year but only Ryan Rolison signed. (Brandon High star J.T. Ginn is now at Mississippi State.) Left-hander Rolison, tabbed 22nd overall by Colorado out of Ole Miss, has pitched well at the rookie level: 1.96 ERA over 23 innings. Second-rounder Joe Gray, taken by Milwaukee out of Hattiesburg High, is batting .182 (.347 on-base) with two homers and nine RBIs in the Arizona League. He hasn’t played in a game since last week. Ex-State ace Konnor Pilkington (third round, Chicago White Sox) has worked just 10 innings at two rookie levels and has a 9.00 ERA. Ex-Ole Miss catcher Nick Fortes (fourth round, Miami) also has scuffled, batting .212 with no homers in the Gulf Coast League. (Marlins late-rounders Davis Bradshaw and Milton Smith Jr., both Meridian Community College alums, have excelled, Bradshaw hitting .444 in short-season A-ball and Smith .343 in the GCL.) UM alum Brady Feigl, a fifth-round pick by Oakland, is currently injured but has a 1.73 ERA in 11 games at two levels. Luke Reynolds, a USM, State and Hinds CC alum, has had a solid debut season; a 10th-round pick by the Chicago Cubs, the third baseman is at .293 with a homer and 13 RBIs in 27 games at the short-season A level. Madison Central’s Regi Grace, a 10th-rounder by Minnesota, is 2-1, 2.70 in the GCL.

30 Jul

smart shopping

The Miami Marlins did some shopping in Mississippi during draft season and might just have found a couple of real bargains in the lower rounds. After nabbing highly regarded catcher Nick Fortes out of Ole Miss in the fourth round, the Marlins picked up Meridian Community College outfielder Davis Bradshaw in the 11th and his Eagles teammate Milton Smith Jr. in the 22nd. Both MCC alums signed for modest bonuses, and both are off to great starts in pro ball. Playing in the rookie Gulf Coast League, Bradshaw took a few games to heat up but is currently batting .362, with 17 hits in his last nine games. This probably should come as no surprise. The left-handed hitting Bradshaw batted a crazy .756 as a senior at McLaurin High in 2017 and followed that with a .442 season at MCC. He can also run. He is seven-for-seven in steal attempts and has three triples. Smith, also a lefty-swinging outfielder, hit .349 in his first 15 games with the GCL Marlins and was promoted to high Class A Jupiter, where he went 5-for-11 in five games before being sidelined by an injury. The former Starkville High standout returned to the GCL club on Saturday and got a knock in his first game back. … Fortes, who got a $400,000 bonus as the 117th player drafted last month, is on the roster of the short-season Class A Batavia team but has appeared in only one game. He hit. .319 with 11 homers for the Rebels in 2018.

12 Jul

so far, so great

If there were questions about how Nick Sandlin’s stuff would play in pro ball, the former Southern Miss star has wasted little time providing answers. A second-round draft pick by Cleveland last month, Sandlin has made seven scoreless appearances, the last four for Lake County in the Class A Midwest League. His stuff certainly played in Peoria on Wednesday night, when the 5-foot-11 right-hander struck out the side, running his K total to eight in four innings for Lake County. He has allowed two hits and no walks in that stretch. He notched a save on Saturday, closing out a win for former USM teammate Kirk McCarty. Sandlin, as a starter, went 10-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 140 punchouts in 102 1/3 innings for the Golden Eagles in 2018. He won all kinds of awards. The previous two seasons, working as a closer, he posted 20 saves and 13 wins. Yet Sandlin’s size, velocity and funky delivery reportedly were concerns for pro scouts heading into the draft. The Indians took him with the 67th pick. One MLB Network analyst, lamenting the state of the Indians’ bullpen on the night of the draft, suggested Cleveland throw Sandlin directly into the mix. That wasn’t going to happen, of course, but he might not be too far away. It’s not unheard of for college pitchers to make the big leagues in their draft year. P.S. Former Mississippi State star Dakota Hudson (now in the St. Louis system) started and got the win – despite allowing a run in his one inning – for the Pacific Coast League in Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game. Ole Miss alum Bobby Wahl (Oakland) got the first out in the ninth for the PCL in its 12-7 win, and USM product Cody Carroll (New York Yankees) threw a clean inning for the International League team.

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.

08 Jul

smashing debut

Never regarded as a power hitter at Mississippi State, Hunter Stovall stepped to the plate for his first professional at-bat on Saturday night and — you guessed it — hit one out. He apparently enjoyed it so much, he hit another home run in his second at-bat for the Grand Junction Rockies of the rookie Pioneer League. A 21st-round pick by Colorado last month, Stovall finished 3-for-4 in his first game, driving in four runs all told. He hit .321 for the Bulldogs in 2018, helping fuel their run to the College World Series. But he hit just four homers in his three-year career at State. The ball does fly in Colorado, where Grand Junction is located, but still, it was an impressive debut. “You’re here for a reason, don’t worry about the numbers, just go out and play,” Grand Junction manager Zack Osborne told milb.com after the game. On base for both of Stovall’s homers was Will Golsan, the Ole Miss product who was drafted in the 26th round this year. He also went 3-for-4 on Saturday and is at .311 in 17 games. Golsan, playing left field, and Stovall, a second baseman, hit 1-2 in the order. Also on the Grand Junction roster is ex-Ole Miss pitcher Ryan Rolison, who was the 22nd overall pick by the Rockies this year. He has yet to make his pro debut. How’d so many Mississippi products wind up on this one club? It is no coincidence that Mississippian Damon Ianelli, a former Southern Miss assistant under Hill Denson, is a longtime Colorado scout.

06 Jul

whirlwind

Whirlwind is a great word. Sounds like what it means: energetic, dizzying, a little bit chaotic. There may be no better word to describe the last few weeks for Mississippi State. Walk-off wins. Trip to Omaha. Disheartening finish. Top 10 rankings. Jake Mangum’s coming back. Gary Henderson’s not. Chris Lemonis is coming in. Konnor Pilkington and Jacob Billingsley are going pro. J.T. Ginn isn’t. When the Ginn news dropped late Thursday, it was truly a wow moment. Ginn, the state’s player of the year from Brandon and the 30th overall pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers, turned down big bucks – slot value of $2 million-plus – to follow a dream of playing for the Bulldogs. The centerpiece of a recruiting class that includes a slew of the state’s top players, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Ginn can both pitch and hit. He could have a major impact in 2019. And there’s also the possibility that signee Carter Stewart, the big right-hander from Florida drafted in the first round by Atlanta, will be coming to Starkville. Stewart was the eighth overall pick but hasn’t signed, reportedly because of concerns about a wrist problem. Signing deadline is today. Stay tuned. There’s already much anticipation for fall ball in Starkville. Most of the position players responsible for State’s amazing postseason run – including Mangum, the team leader and best hitter – are back. Lemonis and Ginn are in. The whirlwind goes on. P.S. Former State standouts Dakota Hudson (now in St. Louis’ system) and Nathaniel Lowe (Tampa Bay) have been named to the U.S. roster for the July 15 All-Star Futures Game. Also on the U.S. team are current Mississippi Braves pitcher Kyle Wright, Biloxi Shuckers infielder Keston Hiura (Milwaukee) and Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pittsburgh), son of Hattiesburg native and ex-big leaguer Charlie Hayes.

02 Jul

there and here

Nick Sandlin, former Southern Miss All-American and 2018 Ferriss Trophy winner, already has been promoted to the low Class A Midwest League by Cleveland. The second-round draftee pitched a scoreless inning for Lake County in his MWL debut on Saturday. Sandlin, 21, made three scoreless appearances in the rookie Arizona League. … Hattiesburg’s Joe Gray, a second-round pick by Milwaukee in last month’s draft, made his pro debut over the weekend. He was 1-for-3 with a double in his first game on Saturday for the Arizona League Brewers, then went 0-for-4 on Sunday. … USM’s Matt Wallner is 2-for-13 with four runs in four games and Ole Miss’ Parker Caracci has five strikeouts in two innings pitched for the Collegiate National Team, which is currently playing games at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, N.C. … Ole Miss’ Thomas Dillard hit 32 home runs to finish third in Sunday’s College Home Run Derby in Omaha, Neb. … Logan Tanner of George County High and Olive Branch native Kendall Williams (now at IMG Academy in Florida) participated in the USA Baseball Under-18 National Team Trials last week. Tanner went 1-for-5 and pitched an inning, while Williams went 4 1/3 innings (no earned runs) and got a win in his one game. Jackson Prep’s Jerrion Ealy played in the earlier Tournament of Stars portion of the event. The U18 Team USA roster will be announced in the fall. … The Tupelo Thunder leads the Cotton States League standings with a 10-2 record. Trey Jolly, onetime Mississippi State player from New Albany, is hitting .500 with two homers and nine RBIs for Tupelo, and Northeast Mississippi Community College alum Nikolas Wilcher is 3-0 with a 0.69 ERA.

29 Jun

minor matters

Mississippi State product Jacob Robson got a hit and stole a base in his Triple-A debut for Toledo on Thursday. The lefty-hitting outfielder, an eighth-round pick by Detroit in 2016, batted .286 with seven homers, 32 RBIs and 11 steals at Double-A Erie. Robson has hit .296 with 11 homers and 48 steals in his minor league career. He joins fellow former Bulldogs star Zac Houston and Southwest Mississippi Community College alum Kade Scivicque on the Toledo team. … Ex-Southern Miss standout Cody Carroll, a New York Yankees farmhand, and State alum Dakota Hudson, in St. Louis’ system, have been selected for the Triple-A All-Star Game, set July 11 at Columbus, Ohio. Former Mississippi Braves ace Kolby Allard also made the International League team. … MSU alum Nathaniel Lowe, who was wearing out the Class A Florida State League, is doing much the same at Double-A Montgomery, Tampa Bay’s Southern League affiliate. Lowe, a left-handed swinging first baseman, is hitting .355 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 16 games for the Biscuits. He already has won an SL player of the week award and hit a walk-off homer. A third-year pro, Lowe hit .356 with 10 homers and 44 RBIs at Port Charlotte to begin 2018. … Meridian Community College standout Milton Smith Jr., a 22nd-round pick by Miami earlier this month, is 10-for-26 with six runs and three steals in seven games for the rookie Gulf Coast League Marlins. He hit .404 with 67 runs and 37 bags in 52 games for the Eagles this season. … The recent signing by Konnor Pilkington (third round, Chicago White Sox) leaves only J.T. Ginn (first round, Los Angeles Dodgers) and J.P. France (14th round, Houston) as unsigned draftees among the Mississippians picked in the first 15 rounds. Signing deadline is July 6 for most picks.

27 Jun

odds and ends

Atlanta has called up pitcher Wes Parsons, who becomes the sixth former Mississippi Braves player to be promoted to the big club this season. The others are Jesse Biddle, Ronald Acuna, Mike Soroka, Dustin Peterson and Evan Phillips (who didn’t get into a game). Parsons was 1-2 with a 1.23 ERA in eight games for the Double-A M-Braves this season before being bumped to Triple-A Gwinnett in late May. He also pitched for the M-Braves last year. Over 130 M-Braves alums have risen to the majors since the team moved from Greenville, S.C., to Pearl in 2005. … Drew Pomeranz was slated to throw a simulated game today at Fenway Park as he tries to work his way back to Boston’s rotation. The lefty out of Ole Miss has missed most of June with arm and neck pain. A 17-game winner for the Red Sox in 2017, he is 1-3 with a 6.81 ERA this season. He’s also a pending free agent, which he says is not something on his mind these days. “I’m focused on just getting my stuff right and just being myself and we’ll see what happens,” he told masslive.com. … Bryce Brown, the former Jackson State star now in the Tampa Bay system, had an interesting box score line on Tuesday: 0-3-0-0. Brown walked three times and stole second base each time, scoring half of Hudson Valley’s runs in a 6-1 victory against Connecticut in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League. Brown is hitting .208 with seven steals in 10 games in his second pro season. … Justin Henry, ex-Ole Miss standout from Vicksburg and a longtime minor league player, is the Southeast area scout for Detroit and spent many hours observing overall No. 1 pick Casey Mize, the right-hander out of Auburn who signed Monday with Detroit for $7.5 million. … D.J. Davis, the Stone County High product and former first-round draft pick (see previous posts), was released earlier this month by Toronto. The 23-year-old outfielder was batting .239 in 36 games at Class A Dunedin. He hit .242 in seven pro seasons, never rising above A-ball. … Pearl River Community College alum Jacob Taylor, a fourth-rounder in 2015, retired in May. Dogged by injuries, the right-hander appeared in only 25 games in four years in Pittsburgh’s system, seven games in A-ball this year. … The Bray brothers from Vancleave also are out of the game. Tyler Bray, a pitcher who reached Triple-A in 2017 with St. Louis, was released in April. Outfielder Colin Bray was in high-A last year with Arizona but missed most of the season with injuries. He retired in March.