A couple of Mississippi products took star turns on Tuesday night in Boise, Idaho, when the Pioneer League and Northwest League All-Stars faced off in the annual clash of rookie-level circuits. Former Mississippi College standout Blaine Crim went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and earned Top Star honors for the NWL squad. He was upstaged a bit by Sam McWilliams, a Meridian Community College alum from Magee who hit a two-run homer, one of the four homers mashed by Pioneer stars in their 11-7 victory. “It was great to be here with the best guys around the league and just have fun for a night,” Crim told milb.com. “Definitely worth the trip.” Crim, the Gulf South Conference player of the year in 2019, was a 19th-round pick by Texas in June and is having an excellent season at Spokane. The first baseman/DH is hitting .341 with four homers and 24 RBIs. McWilliams, a 19th-round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018 off a loaded MCC club, is batting .291 with 11 homers and 29 RBIs at Ogden. A second baseman, he hit .276 in the Arizona League last season. P.S. Former Mississippi Braves Cristian Pache and Drew Waters, both promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday, made smashing debuts on Tuesday, Waters going 3-for-5 with an RBI and Pache 2-for-5 with an RBI. Pache is the Braves’ No. 1 prospect, Waters No. 2.
Mississippi high school products dominated MLBPipeline.com’s Prospect Team of the Week for July 27-Aug. 2. The 10-member team includes DeSoto Central’s Austin Riley (who hit .393 with three homers and 13 RBIs for Atlanta’s Gulf Coast League team) at third base; Harrison Central’s Bobby Bradley (.381, four, nine in A-ball for Cleveland) at first base; and Richton’s JaCoby Jones (.409, three, eight in Double-A for Pittsburgh and Detroit) at shortstop. Also on the team is former Mississippi Braves star Jose Peraza (.435, six runs in Triple-A for Atlanta and the Los Angeles Dodgers) at second base. P.S. Ole Miss product Christian Trent and East Mississippi Community College alum LeDarious Clark will be on opposing sides in Tuesday’s Pioneer League-Northwest League All-Star Game at Spokane, Wash. This is the first All-Star matchup between the two short-season Class A leagues. Trent, a left-hander picked in the 24th round in June by Milwaukee, is 2-1 with a 4.01 ERA in seven appearances for Helena of the PL. Outfielder Clark, a 12th-rounder by Texas, is batting .307 with eight homers, 20 RBIs and 19 steals for Spokane of the NWL. Clark, currently in the throes of a 2-for-36 slump, was pulled from a game last week for not running out a pop-up but was back in the lineup the next day.
Earl Burl III, the 902nd player picked in the recent MLB draft out of Alcorn State, made quite a splash in his pro debut on Thursday night: 2 hits (both doubles), 3 runs, 3 RBIs, 2 steals and a walk. Batting leadoff and playing center field, he sparked Vancouver to an 11-2 win over Salem-Keizer on opening day in the short-season Class A Northwest League. Toronto picked Burl in the 30th round. He was an All-SWAC performer this season, batting .298 with five homers and 20 steals for the Braves.
The Ferriss Trophy, awarded annually to the state’s best college player, has been around since 2004, and of the 11 winners to date, only one — Ole Miss product Drew Pomeranz (the 2010 winner) — has reached the major leagues and six of them are out of the game. Odd, isn’t it? Among those no longer playing is Southern Miss alumnus Tyler Koelling, the 2011 winner who played only 34 pro games. But note, too, that former Mississippi State standouts Chris Stratton (2012) and Hunter Renfroe (2013) have reached Double-A and appear on track to make The Show in the next couple of years. And this year’s Ferriss winner, ex-UM star Auston Bousfield, is off to a promising start in pro ball. A fifth-round pick by San Diego, Bousfield is batting .267 with two homers, five RBIs and eight stolen bases in 25 games for Eugene in the short season Northwest League. He played in Tuesday night’s NWL All-Star Game (along with ex-Hinds Community College standout Travious Relaford, now a third-year pro). Bousfield batted .336 with six homers, 50 RBIs, 61 runs and 19 steals in 69 games for the Rebels this year, helping them make a deep run in the College World Series.