Lance Lynn was good on Monday night. Unfortunately for the ex-Ole Miss star, Justin Verlander was better. Looking much sharper in his second start for Minnesota than in his first, Lynn tossed five shutout innings with nine strikeouts, but the Twins fell to Verlander and Houston 2-0 at frigid Target Field. Lynn, a free agent signee in Minnesota after several years with St. Louis, allowed five runs in his first inning with the Twins last week. “I feel like I’ve gotten off to the worst start I’ve ever got off to in the big leagues,” the big right-hander told mlb.com. “Good thing is there’s a lot of season left, so I’ll be all right.” Northwest Mississippi Community College product Cody Reed, in his 2018 debut with Cincinnati, endured a rocky start at chilly Philadelphia, allowing three earned runs on four hits and a walk in three innings. Poor starts have been a theme for Mississippi-connected pitchers this season. Mississippi State product Kendall Graveman, Oakland’s No. 1 starter, is 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA in three starts, having yielded five homers. (He has had the misfortune of facing the Los Angeles Angels twice.) Ex-State standout Chris Stratton, who won a job in San Francisco’s rotation in the spring, is 0-1, 4.35 in two starts. Ole Miss alum Mike Mayers had a 4.50 ERA in two appearances with St. Louis before being sent down when Greg Holland was activated. Brandon Woodruff, an MSU product, posted a 5.14 in three games (one start) for Milwaukee before he, too, was demoted to the minors, and fellow Bulldogs alum Jonathan Holder was sent down by the New York Yankees lugging a 20.25 ERA over three appearances. P.S. Ex-Ole Miss standout Drew Pomeranz, who started the season on the disabled list for Boston, had made one rehab appearance, allowing two earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in a Triple-A start. He should be ready for prime time soon.
Fifty years ago this season, Jim Miles made his big league debut. The Grenada native did not make much of an imprint, appearing in just 13 games for the Washington Senators over two years in The Show. Miles, of course, is much better known for what he did after pro ball: coaching at Northwest Mississippi Community College, his alma mater, for 20 years. The Rangers’ field in Senatobia now bears his name. Also in 1968, Bill Melton, a Gulfport native, debuted with the Chicago White Sox and went on to make quite a dent. Melton, sometimes called “Beltin’ Bill,” hit 160 career homers in 10 seasons and won an American League home run crown with 33 in 1971. If Melton isn’t the best third baseman from the Magnolia State, Charlie Hayes is. The Hattiesburg native made his MLB debut 30 years ago and went on to bat .262 with 144 homers over 14 years. Hayes won a World Series ring with the 1996 New York Yankees. Among the first Mississippians to play in the majors was Dode Criss of Sherman; he broke in 110 years ago – 1908 – with the St. Louis Browns and hit a sweet .341 in 82 at-bats that year. Morton native Atley Donald came along 80 years ago, playing the first of his eight seasons with the Yankees in 1938. “Swampy” won 65 games all told and a World Series in 1941. Hard to believe, but it has been 20 years since Byram’s Chad Bradford – he of Moneyball fame — arrived in the big leagues. The Hinds Community College and Southern Miss alum, known for his submarine-style delivery, posted a 3.26 ERA in 561 games – and a 0.39 in 24 postseason appearances. Time marches on: Bradford’s son Keller now pitches for USM.
Tim Anderson picked the wrong opening day to go off. The former East Central Community College star hit two home runs for the Chicago White Sox on Thursday but was topped by teammate Matt Davidson, who launched three round-trippers in a 14-7 win against Kansas City. Davidson joins Vicksburg native Dmitri Young and two others as the only players with three homers on an opening day. For Anderson, it’s a good start as he attempts to bounce back from a trying 2017 season (see previous posts). … Southwest Mississippi CC alum Jarrod Dyson had a sweet debut for Arizona, going 2-for-4 with a triple, a stolen base, two runs and an RBI in an 8-2 win vs. Colorado. … Ex-Ole Miss star Zack Cozart delivered three hits, including a homer, in his first game with the Los Angeles Angels, who lost to Oakland 6-5 in 11 innings. Cozart went deep against former Mississippi State star Kendall Graveman, who also had the dubious distinction of surrendering the first hit by the Angels’ touted Japanese import Shohei Ohtani. … UM alum Mickey Callaway got a win in his debut as New York Mets manager, and ex-East Central CC standout Marcus Thames, now the Yankees’ hitting coach, watched his club – and new addition Giancarlo Stanton — whip Toronto. … Former Mississippi Braves Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies homered as Atlanta rallied to beat Philadelphia, and Biloxi Shuckers alum Orlando Arcia got the game-winning hit in the 12th inning as Miwaukee topped San Diego. … Ole Miss product Braxton Lee was added to Miami’s 25-man roster on Thursday but did not make his big league debut in the Marlins’ loss to the Chicago Cubs. Stay tuned for that. Meanwhile, Northwest CC alum Cody Reed was recalled by Cincinnati on Thursday; the Reds’ game with Washington was postponed until today.
Mike Mayers, Jonathan Holder and Brandon Woodruff got good news over the weekend, and Hunter Renfroe and JaCoby Jones also would appear to have reason to smile. With opening day just three days off, tough decisions are coming down on big league roster spots. Former Ole Miss star Mayers, who has had a brilliant spring (12 scoreless innings), was informed on Saturday that he’s earned a spot in St. Louis’ bullpen. “I got hugs from everybody,” he told mlb.com. Mississippi State product Holder will make the New York Yankees’ 25-man club thanks to new manager Aaron Boone’s decision to carry eight relievers. Woodruff, another former Bulldogs standout, earned a spot in Milwaukee’s rotation. MSU alum Renfroe reportedly will stick with San Diego as the Padres’ fourth outfielder. Jones, the former Richton High star, reportedly will make Detroit’s club, also as a reserve outfielder. Northwest Mississippi Community College product Cody Reed was optioned to Triple-A by Cincinnati, and ex-Ole Miss standout Alex Presley, in Baltimore’s camp as a non-roster invitee, was reassigned to the minors.
Fans in Goodyear, Ariz., were treated to a noteworthy Mississippi matchup in the Cactus League on Saturday. Cody Reed, the former Northwest Mississippi Community College star from Horn Lake, opposed Chris Stratton, the ex-Mississippi State standout from Tupelo, as Cincinnati took on San Francisco. Both pitchers are trying to nail down a job on the big league roster. Reed, a left-hander, had the better day in a 5-4 Reds win, going four innings and allowing two runs – on solo homers in his final inning – with three strikeouts and no walks. “Throwing strikes – that was big for me,” Reed said in a video posted on mlb.com. “I got a lot of swing-and-misses today. … I feel good.” He has a 5.11 ERA this spring and a 6.75 in 22 big league games with the Reds over the last two seasons. Right-hander Stratton threw four shutout innings for the Giants before giving up four runs in the fifth. He allowed six hits with four punchouts and no walks as his spring ERA rose to 3.86. Stratton has appeared in 20 MLB games the last two years and has a 3.67 ERA. Reed-Stratton is a matchup we might be seeing again during the 2018 season, when as many as six Magnolia State products may be starting games in The Show. The others: Lance Lynn, Drew Pomeranz, Kendall Graveman and Brandon Woodruff.
Cody Reed had gotten rave reviews from Cincinnati manager Bryan Price during workouts in Arizona, but his first appearance in a spring training game was a dud. The ex-Northwest Mississippi Community College star from Horn Lake was touched for five hits and four runs in two innings against Colorado on Saturday. Nolan Arenado took Reed deep. The 6-foot-5 left-hander is competing for a spot in the Reds’ bullpen, though he says he would prefer to start. He has a 3.63 ERA in the minors working primarily as a starter. A second-round pick by Kansas City in 2013, Reed moved to the Reds in a 2015 trade and went 6-2 with a 2.17 ERA for Pensacola in the Double-A Southern League. He made the big leagues as a highly rated prospect in 2016 but hasn’t fulfilled his promise in The Show, posting a 1-8 record and 6.75 ERA. He’s better than that. P.S. Mississippi State product Jonathan Holder notched a save on Saturday with a scoreless inning for the New York Yankees against Pittsburgh, and ex-State star Chris Stratton worked two scoreless (though not exactly clean) innings in a start for San Francisco against the Los Angeles Dodgers. … Ole Miss alum Alex Presley, in his Baltimore debut, went 1-for-3 with a walk against Philadelphia. … Former Pillow Academy standout Louis Coleman has signed a minor league deal with Detroit. The veteran right-hander last pitched in the majors in 2016 and spent last year in Triple-A with Cincinnati and Arizona. … The honor of being the first Mississippi product to homer in spring training went to Tim Anderson, the ex-East Central Community College star who went deep for the Chicago White Sox on Friday against the Dodgers. … Itawamba CC alum Tim Dillard, on assignment from minor league camp, pitched a scoreless inning for Milwaukee on Friday. The veteran right-hander has been in pro ball since 2002.
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).