The St. Louis Cardinals’ playoff hopes ended on Thursday, and Ole Miss product Lance Lynn’s tenure with the team apparently is done, as well. “It’s not a good feeling,” Lynn told The Associated Press. The Cardinals lost 2-1 in 11 innings to what a St. Louis newspaper called the “Cubs’ scrubs.” Chicago clinched the National League Central on Wednesday and rested most of its starters. Lynn, a free agent after this season, his 10th in the Cardinals’ organization, went to the post for the 33rd time and worked five innings, allowing three hits, four walks and one run. He was saddled with his 14th no-decision. After missing 2016 following Tommy John surgery, Lynn finishes 11-8 with a 3.43 ERA. … Elsewhere on Thursday: Former Meridian Community College star Corey Dickerson went 2-for-5 with his 27th homer as Tampa Bay dealt New York a 9-6 loss that damaged the Yankees’ chances of an American League East title. They’re 3 back of Boston with three to play and can only hope to force a playoff. Mississippi State alum Jonathan Holder yielded hits to the only two batters he faced in the Rays’ pivotal seven-run fifth. … Ex-State standout Mitch Moreland’s 22nd homer was just eyewash in Boston’s 12-2 drubbing at the hands of Houston. … Milwaukee stayed alive in the NL wild card battle with a 4-3 win over Cincinnati, defying the efforts of Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton (1-for-4, 59th steal), UM alum Stuart Turner (1-for-4) and Northwest Mississippi CC product Cody Reed (one clean inning).
A gem of an outing by Jarod Wright of Northwest Mississippi Community College has shaken up the pecking order in the MACJC standings. Wright threw a four-hitter against previously undefeated, No. 1-ranked Jones County JC in Senatobia on Saturday as the Rangers took an 11-1 win. Jones (23-1, 5-1) bounced back to win Game 2 14-2 behind Logan Robbins’ strong start and a grand slam by Shelton Wallace. But first place in the league now belongs to East Central, which improved to 6-0 (and 20-4) with a jaw-dropping sweep of Holmes in Goodman on Saturday. The Warriors, ranked seventh in NJCAA Division II, won 30-1 and 11-2. They hit seven homers on the day, six in Game 1, including a Wyatt Ball grand slam. Cole Prestegard went deep in both games, and pitchers Dylan Marsh and Tanner Elders weren’t too bad either. As fate would have it, JCJC and ECCC hook up Tuesday in Decatur. Could be classic. … Pearl River is also unbeaten in the league at 4-0 (13-5 overall) after a sweep of Northeast in Poplarville on Saturday. New coach Michael Avalon’s Wildcats, who’ve won eight straight, are at Gulf Coast on Tuesday and at Itawamba next Saturday. … ICC moved to 5-1 in the league (18-4 overall) by battering Meridian 17-2 and 5-2 on Sunday. Keith Stepter hit three homers and Tyreque Reed two in the first game of that twinbill. … Sitting at 3-1 in the MACJC is Mississippi Delta, under first-year coach Dan Rives.
Well, that could’ve gone better. Cody Reed, the former Horn Lake High and Northwest Mississippi Community College star, gave up 10 hits, four walks, an HBP and 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings for Cincinnati vs. San Francisco on Monday. The left-hander is vying for a spot in the Reds’ rotation and had pitched fairly well before Monday’s outing, which jacked his Cactus League ERA to 7.08. Reed had a tough rookie season with the Reds in 2016, going 0-7, 7.36 in 10 starts, but is considered one of the club’s better pitching prospects. He had strong minor league numbers (3.66 ERA) coming up first in the Kansas City system and then with the Reds after a 2015 trade. Reed was a second-round draft pick by the Royals in 2013 out of NWCC. … Ole Miss alum Stuart Turner homered for the Reds in Monday’s loss; he is hoping to make the roster as a backup catcher (see previous posts). Itawamba CC product Desmond Jennings, a non-roster invitee, went 0-for-2 to drop his spring average to .195. P.S. Ex-Gulf Coast CC star Tony Sipp, who has been bothered by a stiff back, threw 28 pitches to three batters for Houston on Monday, yielding a hit and a walk with one strikeout. The only lefty expected to make the Astros’ bullpen, Sipp has a 5.06 ERA this spring and is coming off a down year. Still, he told mlb.com, “I feel like I’m ready for the season.” … St. Louis optioned ex-UM standout Mike Mayers to Triple-A. The lefty, who got knocked around a bit in his MLB debut last season, posted a 1.64 ERA over 11 innings in the Grapefruit League. He’ll be back.
In Goodyear, Ariz., Cincinnati and San Diego hooked up in a wild Cactus League game on Wednesday that saw several Mississippians make an imprint. For the Padres, former Mississippi State star Hunter Renfroe hit his first homer of the spring, a two-run shot in the first inning against Northwest Mississippi Community College alum Cody Reed. Renfroe, expected to be the Padres’ opening day right fielder, is hitting .278 this spring. Lefty Reed, battling for a job on the Reds’ staff, went 3 2/3 innings and allowed four hits, a walk and three runs while punching out seven. His CL ERA is now 4.91. The Reds rallied to win the game 8-7 as Billy Hamilton, Zack Cozart and Stuart Turner chipped in with noteworthy contributions. Taylorsville’s Hamilton, batting just .233 this spring, went 3-for-3, stole two bases, scored a run and drove in one. Ole Miss product Cozart, a .360 hitter, went 2-for-3 with his first CL homer, and ex-Rebels star Stuart Turner, in camp as a Rule 5 draftee, boosted his average to .450 with a pair of hits. P.S. Greenwood native Louis Coleman, yet another Mississippian with the Reds, made his spring debut on Tuesday and threw a clean inning. He had been shelved by a minor arm problem.
A new wave of Mississippians is about to hit the big leagues. Baseball America’s organizational top 10 prospect rankings are now posted for all of MLB’s six divisions, and the Magnolia State is well-represented. The highest rated are Petal’s Anthony Alford, No. 2 on Toronto’s list, and ex-Northwest Mississippi Community College standout Cody Reed, Cincinnati’s No. 2. Former Mississippi State star Hunter Renfroe is San Diego’s No. 3; ex-Harrison Central High standout Bobby Bradley is Cleveland’s No. 5; Richton’s JaCoby Jones is Detroit’s No. 6; MSU product Brandon Woodruff is Milwaukee’s No. 7; and State alum Dakota Hudson, a 2016 draftee, is St. Louis’ No. 9. Austin Riley, the ex-DeSoto Central star, just missed making Atlanta’s top 10. In a recent chat about San Diego prospects, Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser defended the selection of Renfroe as the team’s No. 3, calling him an “impact player on both sides of the ball, even with high Ks and low walks.” Crystal Springs native Renfroe made a nice impression (.371, four homers in 11 games) in his brief MLB debut last year and likely will start 2017 as the Padres’ right fielder. Reed, the bespectacled left-hander, also debuted in 2016 and will vie for a Reds rotation spot this spring, and Jones, who got some big league experience last summer, is expected to get a shot at the Tigers’ center field job. Woodruff had a strong year at Double-A Biloxi and is close to breaking through, while Hudson generated a lot of buzz in his 12-game pro debut. Alford and Bradley, rated the No. 4 first base prospect in the minors by MLB Pipeline, likely will start in Double-A this season.
The Corey Dickerson the Tampa Bay Rays thought they were getting in an off-season trade has emerged the last few weeks. The former Meridian Community College star from McComb has 15 hits in his last 27 at-bats and is batting .315 with five home runs and 19 RBIs over his last 30 games. Dickerson went 3-for-4 with his 20th homer of the year on Wednesday as the Rays – long ago reduced to the role of spoiler in the American League East – beat Toronto 8-1. Dickerson, a lefty-hitting outfielder acquired from Colorado in the Jake McGee trade, batted .299 in three seasons with the Rockies, playing half his games at hitter-friendly Coors Field. His recent hot streak has lifted his 2016 average to .247. On June 20, he was at .198. Tampa Bay, which has had myriad problems, was expected to be much better than its 62-83 record — and maybe there is hope for 2017. Dickerson’s homer on Wednesday was the 200th for the team, a single-season club record. “It’s something we can build off of,” Dickerson told mlb.com. P.S. Southern Miss alum Brian Dozier hit his 41st homer on Wednesday (for a Minnesota team that has 54 wins), moving a bit closer to the long-standing MLB record for homers by a player who was primarily a second baseman. Davey Johnson – the old Jackson Mets manager – hit 43 bombs in 1973 for Atlanta. With 81 extra-base hits, Dozier needs three more to match Tony Oliva’s Twins record, set in 1964. … A rough season in Cincinnati has been made even more frustrating of late for Mississippians Billy Hamilton, Zack Cozart and Cody Reed, all forced to sit because of injuries. Taylorsville’s Hamilton has an oblique, Ole Miss product Cozart a knee and ex-Northwest Mississippi CC star Reed a back problem.
Pinstripes and a playoff race in September. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that. And Jonathan Holder is feeling it. The former Gulfport High and Mississippi State standout has been summoned to the big leagues by the New York Yankees, who are very much in the hunt for an American League postseason berth. Holder, a 6-foot-2 right-hander, will join the Yankees’ bullpen tonight in Baltimore, where former State star Buck Showalter is the manager. Holder (see previous post) had a 0.89 ERA at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after putting up a 2.20 at Double-A Trenton. … Cincinnati has recalled former Northwest Mississippi Community College left-hander Cody Reed from Triple-A. Reed was 0-7, 7.36 in 10 starts with the Reds before being sent out on Aug. 15. … Pillow Academy product Louis Coleman is back in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bullpen; he had been in the minors as he recovered from a minor shoulder injury. … MSU alum Adam Frazier, a .321 hitter as a rookie, is back up with Pittsburgh; he was briefly sent out last week as the Pirates juggled their roster. … Former Bulldogs star Hunter Renfroe, named the Triple-A Pacific Coast League MVP on Thursday, is still waiting on the call from San Diego. P.S. Ex-Alcorn State star Corey Wimberly is playing again in Mexico, with the Leones de Yucatan. The switch-hitting outfielder had a 3-for-3 day on Thursday and is batting .300 over his last 10 games with five RBIs and seven runs. He signed with Yucatan in June, then was inactive for about a month before returning to the field in early August. Wimberly is 32 and in his 12th season in the minors.