06 Jun

draft update

Drafted in the 35th round out of McLaurin High in 2017 by Milwaukee, Davis Bradshaw elected to eschew pro ball and go to Meridian Community College. He told the Meridian Star last year that he loved the campus, loved Scaggs Field and loved the coaching staff headed by Dillon Sudduth. A year later, Bradshaw’s love will be tested. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound outfielder was drafted again, in today’s 11th round, this time by Miami. The signing offer will be better, which may make for a tougher decision on whether to go pro or stick at MCC for another season. Scouting reports on Bradshaw rave about his speed. The first state juco player to be selected this year, he batted .442 with eight homers and 22 steals for an Eagles team that made it to the NJCAA Region 23 championship game. He hit a jaw-dropping .756 as a senior at McLaurin, a small school in Rankin County. P.S. Also picked today, in the 15th-round by Arizona, was Delta State All-American Zack Shannon, who set the state’s all-division home run mark this year with 31. … Dallas Woolfolk, who left the Ole Miss team late in the season after a difficult year, was drafted in the 13th round today by Oakland. … Willie Joe Garry Jr. of Pascagoula High was perhaps the most intriguing pick from the state on Day 2, going in the ninth round to Minnesota. Garry, an outfielder and Pearl River CC commit, didn’t appear on either the Baseball America or mlb.com lists of top draft prospects. In the 10th round, the Twins picked Madison Central High pitcher Regi Grace.

05 Jun

draft doodles

All the news wasn’t great for Mississippi State on Monday. The Tallahassee Regional champs saw two of their top recruits for 2019 picked in the first round of the MLB draft, which likely means they’ll never wear the maroon and white. Brandon High’s J.T. Ginn, the state Gatorade player of the year, went to the Los Angeles Dodgers with the 30th pick and Carter Stewart, a highly touted pitcher from Florida, was taken eighth overall by Atlanta. Three other players from Mississippi schools were chosen among the 78 players drafted on Monday: Ole Miss’ Ryan Rolison 22nd by Colorado, Hattiesburg High’s Joe Gray 60th by Milwaukee and Southern Miss’ Nick Sandlin 67th by Cleveland. … We could be seeing Gray – an Ole Miss commit who, per Baseball America, “has plus raw power, plus speed and a plus throwing arm” — in a Biloxi Shuckers uniform in a few short years. Atlanta’s second-round pick on Monday – 49th overall — was Wichita State first baseman/outfielder Greyson Jenista, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound left-handed hitter with power who was the Cape Cod League MVP last summer. It wouldn’t be a total surprise to see him move quickly and arrive in Mississippi by 2019. … Day 2 of the draft includes Rounds 3-10. State’s Konnor Pilkington, expected to go on Day 1, and Jake Mangum and Ole Miss’ Ryan Olenek and Nick Fortes are among the names to watch for. P.S. Keep in mind that you don’t even have to be drafted to make the major leagues. Greenville native Frank White wasn’t. As the story goes, White was playing at a junior college in Missouri when he was recruited by the Kansas City Royals to attend their newly created baseball academy in 1970. Three years later, he made The Show and went on to enjoy an All-Star career that lasted 18 years. Former Ole Miss star Bobby Kielty, who played seven years in MLB, was signed as an undrafted free agent by Minnesota in 1999 after leading the Cape Cod League in hitting in the summer of ’98. He debuted with the Twins in 2001.

03 Jun

mr. 500

Baseball America found room for 16 Mississippi college and high school players in its recently released Top 500 MLB draft prospects list. No. 500, the last one in, is Simon Landry, a right-handed hitting first baseman from Pearl River Community College who has some intriguing power. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Landry, a Louisiana native and University of Houston signee, belted 35 homers for the Wildcats the last two seasons, 19 for the MACJC champions in 2018. He also batted .392 this year. His name won’t be called in the early rounds, but it’s one to watch for on the last day of the three-day draft. The highest-rated Mississippi product on the BA list is Ole Miss left-hander Ryan Rolison at No. 21; mlb.com has him at No. 17. He likely will be chosen in Round 1 on Monday — but you never know. Some team might also take a first-round flier on Brandon High’s J.T. Ginn (BA No. 39), Hattiesburg’s Joe Gray (No. 52) or Mississippi State’s Konnor Pilkington (No. 60). State’s Jake Mangum, Southern Miss’ Nick Sandlin and UM teammates Ryan Olenek and Nick Fortes also made the top 200. In addition to Ginn and Gray, three other state prep players made BA’s Top 500: Hattiesburg’s Dexter Jordan, Oxford’s Drew Bianco and Madison Central’s Regi Grace. The top-ranked juco player — and the only other one in the Top 500 — is Will Freeman, a big right-hander at Jones County JC, at No. 489. Freeman was a strikeout machine for the Bobcats. Meridian CC’s Davis Bradshaw is another juco player with a specific tool — speed, in this case — that might interest a big league club. Delta State’s record-setting slugger Zack Shannon didn’t make the Top 500 and is ranked the No. 22 prospect in the state by BA. Seems a little low. … For the record, the highest any Mississippi college product has been picked is second overall (State’s Will Clark in 1985). The highest a prep player has gone is third overall (Laurel Oak Park’s Ted Nicholson in 1969).

03 Jun

role players

If the Minnesota Twins are going to make a playoff run this year, they’ll need more of what they got from Lance Lynn and Brian Dozier on Saturday. With the Mississippi tag team leading the way, the Twins took down first-place Cleveland for the second straight day and, despite a 24-30 record, moved to within 4 1/2 games of the Indians in the American League Central. Former Ole Miss standout Lynn, whose role has grown even more important with Ervin Santana still on the disabled list, worked six innings to notch his third straight win. After a horrid start with his new club, he is 4-4 with a 5.46 ERA. He yielded just two hits but walked five and plunked a batter in what manager Paul Molitor termed a “pretty gritty” effort in the 7-1 victory. Ex-Southern Miss star Dozier had a game-tying RBI triple in the third inning off Trevor Bauer and scored the go-ahead run on an Eddie Rosario homer. Dozier doubled in another run in the fourth as the Twins broke it open. Dozier, who always seems to be in the middle of things when Minnesota wins, is batting just .241 but has 23 RBIs and 34 runs in 54 games. … Surprising Detroit (28-30, 2 1/2 GB in the AL Central) has won eight of 10, and former Pillow Academy (and LSU) star Louis Coleman has played a key role in this stretch for the Tigers as a middle reliever. The sidearming right-hander picked up a win on Saturday with a clean eighth inning against Toronto and is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in 10 games since getting called up in mid-May. Coleman’s career ERA is 3.40 spread over seven MLB seasons. … Tony Sipp’s role with Houston has diminished, but the left-hander out of Moss Point High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College has been effective in middle relief of late. Sipp worked a 1-2-3 eighth for the Astros on Saturday, including a strikeout of Mississippi State alum Mitch Moreland, and now has hung up eight straight scoreless appearances, trimming his ERA to 3.09. Sipp’s Astros lost to Boston 5-4 and have been caught by Seattle in the AL West standings.

02 Jun

the stuff of fantasy

Collectively, the nine of them banged out 13 hits and even went for the cycle. They drove in six runs and scored 10. And the one who started on the bump threw six shutout innings. Yes, it was good to be a Mississippian in the majors on Friday. Among the position players who started, former Richton High star JaCoby Jones enjoyed arguably the best day, going 2-for-4 with a triple, two RBIs and a run in Detroit’s 5-2 win over Toronto. The red-hot Tim Anderson, ex-East Central Community College standout, had just one hit, but it was a tie-breaking two-run triple — he also scored on a subsequent hit — in the Chicago White Sox’s 8-3 win against Milwaukee. Meridian CC product Corey Dickerson and Mississippi State alum Adam Frazier had two hits each and accounted for four runs all told as Pittsburgh took a 4-0 victory against St. Louis in a National League Central battle. Ex-State star Mitch Moreland hit the lone home run, his ninth of the year, in Boston’s 7-3 loss to Houston. Southern Miss product Brian Dozier had two hits, including a double, and scored a run for Minnesota in a 7-4 win over Cleveland. Former Bulldogs standout Hunter Renfroe went 2-for-4 for San Diego in a 7-2 loss against Cincinnati, which got a walk and a run from Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton. McComb’s Jarrod Dyson had a hit, a walk and a run as Arizona beat Miami 9-1. Not to be overlooked among all this offensive production is Chris Stratton, the ex-State star from Tupelo who notched his fourth straight win for San Francisco, which beat Philadelphia 4-0. Stratton, now 7-3 with a 4.50 ERA, allowed just four hits and one walk with seven punchouts. For the record, he also put down two sacrifice bunts. P.S. It wasn’t a great day for Ole Miss alum Zack Cozart, the Los Angeles Angels infielder who sat for the third straight game with what reportedly is a minor arm injury. And ex-USM star Scott Copeland, who threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings Thursday in his first MLB appearance in three years (see previous post), was designated for assignment Friday by the New York Mets. It’s likely he’ll return to their minor league system.

01 Jun

shuttle run

Meanwhile, back in St. Louis, there’s Mike Mayers, picking up a win for the Cardinals, the beneficiary of a five-run ninth inning capped by Yairo Munoz’s walk-off homer that beat Pittsburgh 10-8 on Thursday night. Former Ole Miss star Mayers is 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA in 11 relief appearances for the Cards. Funny thing is, those 11 appearances are spread over six different stints with St. Louis. Mayers, who first made the big leagues in 2016, still has options. What that means is, the Cardinals can option him to the minors this season as many times as they see fit. They have seen fit to do so five times. And it’s only June. Mayers was sent to Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday, joining the Redbirds in New Orleans, then was recalled on Thursday as an injury replacement and flew back to St. Louis. He entered Thursday’s game in the eighth, got the final out in that inning and worked a 1-2-3 ninth. The rally that followed may have seemed a bit like déjà vu for Mayers. His other win, on May 6, also came via a walk-off homer. After a strong winter league showing and a good spring, Mayers began the 2018 season on the Cardinals’ 25-man roster. On April 9, he was optioned to Memphis for the first time, and the shuttle run began. “If anything,” Mayers told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after Thursday’s game, “this season has taught us that baseball is crazy.”

31 May

who are those guys?

These aren’t household names – ballpark names? – that are coming to Oxford for the regional. Tennessee Tech, Missouri State, St. Louis. But they are hardly chumps. Tech has 48 wins and is ranked 25th by Baseball America. Missouri State is No. 23 and won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. St. Louis won the regular season and tourney titles in the Atlantic 10. Fourth-ranked (and national 4-seed) Ole Miss isn’t likely to coast through to the Super Regional round. The Rebels likely will face a stern test in Friday’s opener against St. Louis’ Miller Hogan, the A-10 pitcher of the year and a 10-game winner with strikeout stuff. Tech, a heavy-hitting club, brings the OVC player of the year: Kevin Strohschein (.406, 18 homers, 65 RBIs). Missouri State shortstop Jeremy Eierman is a highly regarded draft prospect. The SEC champion Rebels, 46-15 and a top 10 team most of the season, roll out an impressive crop of stars: Ryan Rolison, Ryan Olenek, Nick Fortes, Parker Caracci and those other guys in the bullpen. Yet the deciding factor for the Rebels might just be the crowds at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. “It’s going to be a rowdy, rowdy, rowdy group,” SLU coach Darin Hendrickson, who has been to Oxford before, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. P.S. Southern Miss, nationally ranked and a double champion in C-USA, got kind of a tough draw from the NCAA, being sent to the Fayetteville Regional at Baum Stadium, where the national 5-seed Arkansas Razorbacks are 30-3. The Hogs are 9-15 elsewhere. Baum Stadium is a homer-friendly park, and USM can play that game. Led by Matt Wallner, the Golden Eagles rank 15th nationally in homers. Of course, first-round foe Dallas Baptist ranks ninth and Arkansas third. Watch for bombs at the Baum. … There is an interesting subplot to watch in Mississippi State’s regional opener in Tallahassee, Fla.: Bulldogs ace Konnor Pilkington and Oklahoma’s Jake Irvin, the likely starters, were roomies last summer when they played for Team USA. “That’ll be a fun matchup for sure,” Irvin told newsok.com. OU outfielder Steele Walker, a top pro prospect, was also on that squad. Florida State, the host and the national 7-seed, will be a tough out at Howser Stadium. But MSU, the 2-seed in the regional, has played well the role of giant killer this season, going 9-1 against top 5 seeds Florida, Arkansas and Ole Miss.