24 Jul

numbers to crunch

4 – Wins in four consecutive starts for Kendall Graveman, the former Mississippi State star now pitching for Oakland. Graveman went nine innings on Saturday to beat Tampa Bay – thanks to a pair of ninth-inning homers – and is now 7-6 with a 4.15 ERA. At one point, he was 1-6, 5.48.
12 – Hits in his last 10 games for Anthony Alford, the former Petal High star now in A-ball with Toronto. Alford, in an injury-plagued campaign, is now batting .210 with four homers and 23 RBIs for Dunedin.
7 – Wins in their last nine games for the Double-A Mississippi Braves, who beat Tennessee 3-0 on Saturday behind the pitching of Lucas Sims and Jason Hursh. The M-Braves are 16-13 and in first place in the Southern League South.
31 – Steals for Billy Hamilton, the ex-Taylorsville High star playing for Cincinnati. Hamilton, batting leadoff on Saturday, went 1-for-4 with a bag and a run in the Reds’ 6-1 win against Arizona. Hamilton has a six-game hit streak that has boosted his average to .251 with 46 runs in 82 games.
3 – Runs scored by Ole Miss product Seth Smith in Seattle’s 14-5 win against Toronto on Saturday. Smith, batting .273, has 43 runs in 83 games for the Mariners. He also has 11 home runs.
7 – Consecutive scoreless appearances for Jonathan Papelbon, the former Mississippi State standout who pitches for Washington. Papelbon yielded a hit and a walk in the ninth against San Diego on Saturday but got the win thanks to a walk-off triple by Stephen Drew. Papelbon is 2-2 with 19 saves and a 2.56 ERA for the first-place Nationals.
3 – Number of former Mississippi Braves who started for the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday (Yunel Escobar, Andrelton Simmons and Todd Cunningham). Two ex-M-Braves started for Atlanta (Freddie Freeman and Jeff Francoeur).

14 Jun

it’s a first

Jonathan Papelbon, reported to be unavailable to close Washington’s 4-1 win against the Chicago Cubs on Monday, won’t be available for at least 15 more days. The Mississippi State product was placed on the disabled list today — for the first time in his 12 years in the big leagues – with an intercostal strain. Papelbon, 35, is 16-for-18 in save chances with a 3.28 ERA for the Nationals, who lead the National League East. In his last outing on Sunday, he yielded a go-ahead home run in the ninth against Philadelphia but got the win when the Nats scored twice in the bottom of the inning.

06 Jun

adventure time

Jonathan Papelbon is 15 of 17 in save chances and his team, the Washington Nationals, is in first place. There have been no dugout confrontations. But there have been some adventures on the field, such as the one Sunday at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. On to protect a two-run lead in the ninth, former Mississippi State star Papelbon gave up a single, a walk, a run-scoring double and an intentional pass to load the bases. He then got a pop out, a strikeout (of ex-Ole Miss standout Zack Cozart) and a fly out (to the warning track in center field) to escape the jam and close out a 10-9 victory. “I think my motto has always been, ‘Bend but don’t break,'” Papelbon told mlb.com. Well, maybe, but there are concerns about Papelbon in Washington beyond his explosive temperament. Now 35, he doesn’t get the punchouts he used to (only 18 in 22 2/3 innings). His ERA is up to 3.18 and his WHIP to 1.37 (career average 1.03). It’s a situation that bears watching. You don’t want your closer leading too many adventures.

04 May

ups and downs

After missing two games with pain in his right knee, ex-Ole Miss star Zack Cozart is back in the Cincinnati lineup today, batting leadoff against San Francisco. Former Taylorsville High standout Billy Hamilton, who reinjured his left thumb on Tuesday, will not start for the Reds. Cozart, who is batting .347 with two homers and nine RBIs, left Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh with an issue in his surgically repaired knee. Hamilton, who has recently boosted his average to .215, first hurt his thumb last month. … After Jonathan Papelbon blew a save on Tuesday, Washington manager Dusty Baker said the Mississippi State alum is in no danger of losing his job as closer. Papelbon is 9-for-11 in save chances. After allowing three runs in the ninth inning against Kansas City on Tuesday, his ERA jumped to 4.50. … Don’t be surprised if Itawamba Community College product Desmond Jennings is not in Tampa Bay’s lineup tonight. He is in an 0-for-24 skid that has dropped his average to .173. Jennings, who played only 28 games in 2015 because of injuries, actually got off to a good start this spring.

12 Apr

tilting at curveballs

The biggest disappointment in the big leagues so far would have to be Minnesota, which is 0-7. Ex-Southern Miss star and Twins second baseman Brian Dozier was quoted during spring training as saying, “The last couple years, we thought we would be good, but this year we expect it.” Like his team, 2015 All-Star Dozier isn’t meeting expectations: .192 with a solo homer. … Among the surprises in MLB is Cincinnati, off to a 5-2 start. Ole Miss alum Zack Cozart is batting .412, and Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton, while hitting just .176, has contributed a homer, a steal, three walks and four runs. … The only thing Jonathan Papelbon has throttled this season for Washington has been opposing batters. The former Mississippi State star has saved all four of the Nationals’ wins, allowing just one run. … Tampa Bay wanted power from ex-Meridian Community College star Corey Dickerson, and the ex-Colorado slugger has delivered with three homers through six games. He has only two other hits, however. … McComb native Jarrod Dyson is 1-for-4 with two walks in two rehab games at Triple-A Omaha; no definite return date has been set for the Kansas City Royals speedster. … Former Mississippi Braves star Mallex Smith’s line from his MLB debut for Atlanta on Monday: 1 hit, 1 run, 1 caught stealing, 5 stitches in his forehead. But, he may start again tonight. … Though the M-Braves are 1-4, don’t blame Ozzie Albies or Chris Ellis for the poor record. Albies, the flashy shortstop prospect, is batting .364. Ellis, the highly touted Ole Miss alum, won his only start, throwing six shutout innings. … Petal High product and Toronto prospect Anthony Alford, injured (leg) in Class A Dunedin’s opener last week, is on the club’s 7-day disabled list. Alford’s Dunedin teammate D.J. Davis, a Stone County alum, is off to a 3-for-21 start. … Not only does the Magnolia State have three nationally ranked NCAA Division I teams, but D-II Delta State is 26-11, NAIA William Carey is 29-13 and jucos Jones County and Meridian are 31-3 and 26-6, respectively. … On the schedule today are two interesting intrastate matchups: Mississippi Valley State visits Delta State at Ferriss Field in Cleveland and Mississippi College and Millsaps hook up at Twenty Field in Jackson in a Maloney Trophy Series game.

27 Mar

scatter shots

A change of scenery might be what Tyler Moore needs, but a return to Triple-A Syracuse probably isn’t going to help. Moore, the former Mississippi State standout, was outrighted to Syracuse by the Washington Nationals on Friday after clearing waivers. Declaring free agency was not an option for the 29-year-old Moore, who doesn’t have enough service time. As a regular in the minors, Moore hit .271 with 107 homers, including back-to-back 31-bomb seasons, over 612 games. Playing irregularly in the big leagues, he has a .228 average and 24 homers in 277 games over four years. He is hitting .121 as a pinch hitter, and he struggled this spring. Moore, well-liked in Washington, needs an opportunity somewhere else. Maybe the Nationals will try to deal him. … Cleveland optioned Pascagoula’s Joey Butler to Triple-A Buffalo, but manager Terry Francona said he was “thrilled” that the Indians were able to keep the slugging outfielder in the organization. Butler, who flashed his potential with Tampa Bay in 2015, didn’t have a good spring with the Indians, but he’ll get another shot with them. … Delta State is suddenly cooking, with eight straight wins and back-to-back Gulf South Conference series sweeps. The Statesmen, after rolling over North Alabama on the road this weekend, are 20-9, 13-5. They’ll be climbing in the NCAA Division II polls. … This just in: Southern Miss can hit a little bit. The Golden Eagles mashed four home runs on Saturday to finish off a C-USA sweep of Texas-San Antonio and now have 33 homers in 25 games. Taylor Braley leads with eight and Dylan Burdeaux has seven for 19-6 USM. …. Big series. Big crowds. Big letdown in Oxford? After getting swept by South Carolina in a matchup of top 10 teams, Ole Miss finds itself with a 2-4 SEC record. It’ll be interesting to see how the Rebels respond. … Was anybody left at Dudy Noble Field on Saturday when Mississippi State’s game against Georgia ended? Was anybody awake? The home Dogs lost to the road Dogs 11-8 in a nine-inning game that lasted almost five hours and “featured” 22 walks and 10 pitching changes. State did win the first two games and is now 4-2 in the league. … Props to Itawamba Community College’s Rick Collier on becoming the school’s all-time winningest coach with 452 W’s in 14 years. The Indians, with two homers from Timothy Rowe, beat Meridian 10-3 in the second game of a twinbill on Friday to push Collier past Roy Cresap. … Nominee for Game of the Year: In Ellisville on Friday, Jones County Junior College got a game-tying three-run homer from pinch-hitter Marcus Hardy in the bottom of the ninth and a walk-off two-run shot from Erick Hoard in the 10th to beat Northwest 8-6. After completing the doubleheader sweep, Jones is 24-2 and 7-1, leading the MACJC standings.

10 Mar

storylines

Ex-Mississippi State standout Chad Girodo, in Toronto’s camp as a non-roster invitee, might have a legitimate chance to make the club out of spring training. “(H)e’s on the radar and you’re always looking for lefties who can get lefties out,” manager John Gibbons told mlb.com. Drafted in 2013, the 25-year-old Girodo advanced through three levels of the minors last season. He began the year in Class A Dunedin, moved to Double-A New Hampshire and then made a brief appearance with Triple-A Buffalo. He posted a combined 1.34 ERA while striking out 58 in 60 1/3 innings and also pitched well in the Arizona Fall League. He has not allowed a run in 1 2/3 innings this spring for a Blue Jays team that is a little thin in the bullpen. … Tyler Moore, another ex-Bulldogs star, hit his first home run on Wednesday for Washington. Coming off a 2015 season – his fourth in the big leagues — in which he batted .203 with six homers in 187 at-bats, Moore is just 2-for-16 this spring as he tries to win a job on the bench under new manager Dusty Baker. “It’s not an easy job at all and it’s sometimes very frustrating because you feel like you can contribute so much more than what you actually do,” Moore told federalbaseball.com about being a reserve. Moore is wearing No. 32 now, having given up his old No. 12 to Baker. That might be worth a few brownie points. … Though he isn’t expected to have an impact for Arizona this year, former Vancleave High star Colin Bray is certainly a player to keep an eye on. The switch-hitting outfielder, who got an at-bat in an MLB spring game on Tuesday, is rated the No. 24 prospect in the Diamondbacks’ organization, and the MLBPipeline report on him is fairly glowing: speed, defense, make-up. At Class A Kane County in 2015, the 6-foot-3, 197-pound Bray batted .308 with three homers, 52 RBIs and 27 steals. Bray, 22, a sixth-round pick out of Faulkner State (Ala.) Community College in 2013, could make it to Double-A Mobile in the Southern League this summer.

12 Jan

from the stove

Having agreed to terms with free agent Gerardo Parra, Colorado may look to deal an outfielder, and Meridian Community College product Corey Dickerson is a candidate to be moved. Not only is Dickerson a quality left-handed bat, but he is four years from free agency. Baltimore, where Parra finished 2015, is a possible destination. … Ole Miss product Chris Coghlan, who figures to see limited playing time with the talent-laden Chicago Cubs, might be a fit in Baltimore, some have speculated. Coghlan has enjoyed a career resurgence with the Cubs the last two years. … Former Ole Miss standout Zack Cozart’s time in Cincinnati could be coming to an end soon. The Reds are in the process of signing 21-year-old Cuban shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez, the 2014-15 Serie Nacional rookie of the year. Rodriguez is labeled “a glove-first prospect with good speed” whose bat still needs some polish. He’ll likely start 2016 in the minors but could eventually push Cozart out of his starting role. There already had been rumors that Cozart might be dealt this season by the rebuilding Reds. … Southern Miss and William Carey alum Dan Jennings, the ex-Miami Marlins GM and manager, is now a special assistant to the president of baseball operations for the Washington Nationals. (Can he help concoct a trade involving closer Jonathan Papelbon, the controversial ex-Mississippi State standout? Probably not.) … Months of wheeling and dealing by Atlanta’s front office has left just 11 Mississippi Braves alumni on the Braves’ current 40-man roster. Only three of those are position players: Freddie Freeman, Daniel Castro and Mallex Smith. The latest to go was power-hitting outfielder Joey Terdoslavich, put on waivers last week and claimed by Baltimore, which really must have a need for outfielders.

03 Dec

eye on …

He pitched only 16 2/3 innings last season, but Dakota Hudson looms as a player to watch at Mississippi State in 2016. The junior right-hander has been ranked No. 33 on what mlb.com calls its “early Draft Top 50” chart. He is described as having a lively fastball and a “nasty cutter/slider” among his four pitches. Hudson had a 4.32 ERA for the Bulldogs last season but did strike out 26. His work in the Cape Cod League over the summer no doubt boosted his draft stock. Pitching for Hyannis, Hudson went 2-3 with a 1.68, fanning 41 in 42 2/3 innings. In the postseason, he was even better: 2-0, 0.64 in two starts. P.S. Former Bulldogs star Tyler Moore has signed a one-year, $900,000 contract with Washington, avoiding arbitration. Moore, who also played at Northwest Rankin High and Meridian Community College, is primarily a pinch hitter for the Nationals, providing right-handed power. He hit six homers in 187 at-bats in 2015, hitting just .203. He has 24 career MLB bombs in 601 ABs. … The Biloxi Shuckers were named Baseball America’s minor league team of the year. The new Southern League club, a Milwaukee affiliate packed with prospects, won the South Division first-half title despite playing the first two months of the season on the road. The Shuckers reached the SL Championship Series, losing in five games.

22 Oct

remembering red

On this date in 1992, Hall of Fame broadcaster Red Barber, a Columbus native, died at the age of 84. Barber called major league games on the radio for 33 years, including stints with the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees. Best known for his many pet phrases – “sittin’ in the catbird seat,” “tearin’ up the pea patch,” “tied up in a croker sack” — Barber also broadcast Jackie Robinson’s historic debut season with the Dodgers in 1947. Barber was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1978. P.S. The Jackson Mets, who produced a boatload of big league talent in their time, left Mississippi in 1990, 10 years before the New York Mets made their last World Series appearance. For the record, there was a JaxMets alumnus on the New York club in 2000. Left-hander Rich Rodriguez, who played in Jackson in 1986 and ’88, appeared in 37 games that season but was not on the postseason roster. Drafted by the Mets in 1984, he first made the big leagues in 1990 with San Diego, one of eight clubs he pitched for. Also with the ’00 Mets was ex-Jackson Generals star Melvin Mora, who did play in the Series loss to the Yankees. … Former JaxMets standout Ron Gardenhire has interviewed for Washington’s managerial job. He also interviewed in San Diego. Gardenhire won over 1,000 games and directed six playoff teams in a 13-year stint as Minnesota manager.