04 Oct

feeling a draft

The MLB draft is just around the corner. Well, no, that’s not true. It’s about eight months away. But speculation on the draft is never out of season, certainly not at Baseball America. Ole Miss left-hander Ryan Rolison, coming off a strong showing in the Cape Cod League this summer, is ranked seventh in the magazine’s new list of the Top 50 draft prospects in the college ranks. In a mock draft posted by BA on Monday, Rolison, a draft-eligible sophomore, was pegged to go 11th overall to Baltimore. Mississippi State’s ace lefty, Konnor Pilkington, who pitched well for Team USA this summer, is No. 17 in the Top 50, and Bulldogs outfielder Jake Mangum checks in at 44. Former Jackson Prep star Mangum was picked in the 30th round this year by the New York Yankees as a draft-eligible sophomore. … In the high school Top 50, Brandon High’s J.T. Ginn and Hattiesburg’s Joe Gray are ranked Nos. 24 and 28. Ginn is committed to State, Gray to Ole Miss. Odds are they’ll be in pro ball next summer. … There weren’t any juco players in BA’s college Top 50, but one to watch leading up to next summer’s draft is Jones County JC’s Will Freeman, a right-hander who was the top-rated prospect in the Prospect League this summer.

02 Oct

stats and stuff

Crystal Springs native Hunter Renfroe hit his 26th home run of the season for San Diego on Sunday, the last day of the MLB regular season. That’s an impressive total to be sure. But it’s not the record for homers in a rookie season by a Mississippi native. That belongs to Luke Easter, who hit 28 for Cleveland in 1950 – at the age of 35. Easter, a Jonestown native, was the first black Mississippian to play in the majors, breaking in late in 1949. Greenville native George Scott hit 27 “taters” as a rookie for Boston in 1966. Vicksburg’s Ellis Burks, Mississippi’s all-time home run leader with 352, hit 20 for the Red Sox in 1987, his first year. Worth noting: Renfroe hit four homers in 11 games at the end of the 2016 season but was still classified as a rookie this year. Calhoun native Dave Parker, who launched 339 career bombs, hit just four as a rookie in 54 games for Pittsburgh in 1973. McComb native Corey Dickerson hit 24 homers in 2014, his first full season with Colorado, but he no longer had rookie status. Gulfport’s Bill Melton cracked 23 in 1969 as a first-year regular for the Chicago White Sox, but he had exceeded rookie standards in 1968. … Billy Hamilton, the former Taylorsville High star, finished the season with 59 stolen bases, one shy of MLB leader Dee Gordon. Hamilton’s last attempt at a 60th bag on Sunday was foiled when the lead runner in a double steal was thrown out in Cincinnati’s win over the Chicago Cubs. Hamilton, with 243 career steals, is the all-time leader among Mississippi natives. … Ole Miss alum Zack Cozart went 0-for-3 to finish at .297 in what was probably his final game with the Reds. Cozart is among a sizable group of Mississippi-connected players headed for free agency, including Lance Lynn, Seth Smith, Mitch Moreland, Jarrod Dyson and Tyler Moore.

29 Sep

close the curtain

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).

26 Sep

a rough patch

Former Ole Miss ace Drew Pomeranz is due for one more start for Boston before the playoffs begin. Based on his performance on Monday, the big left-hander appears to need a little maintenance work. Pomeranz was knocked out in the third inning by Toronto, yielding five runs on seven hits and a walk with no strikeouts. His velocity reportedly was down and his command was lacking. Pomeranz shrugged it off, telling reporters he felt fine. “I really didn’t have a chance to get settled in …,” he told The Associated Press. The Red Sox, who have not yet clinched the American League East, lost the game 6-4. It was just the second loss Pomeranz has absorbed in his last 19 starts. Overall, in 31 starts, he is 16-6 with a 3.38 ERA. The Red Sox need “Big Smooth” to be just that for the postseason.

24 Sep

bad timing

It started – and ended – with a Rebel vs. Bulldog confrontation. The worst start of Lance Lynn’s MLB career began on Saturday with a double off the bat of Adam Frazier. Former Mississippi State star Frazier would also be the last batter ex-Ole Miss standout Lynn would face in the first inning of the Pittsburgh-St. Louis game. In between Frazier’s two at-bats – the second resulted in a walk — the Pirates scored six runs. Lynn, who recorded just two outs, would be charged with eight runs all told in the inning and took the loss in the Pirates’ 11-6 victory. Lynn’s ERA jumped almost 40 points to 3.47; his record dipped to 11-8. What’s worse, the Cardinals fell behind Milwaukee in both the National League Central and wild card races. The Brewers’ 4-3 10-inning, walk-off win over the Chicago Cubs moved them 4.5 games back in the division and 1 back of Colorado for the second wild card. St. Louis is 5 back and 1.5 back in those races. In sum, it was a bad time for a bad start for the usually reliable Lynn, a pending free agent. P.S. Ex-State star Mitch Moreland’s 20th homer of the year propelled Boston to a 5-0 win against Cincinnati and closer to clinching the American League East. The New York Yankees clinched at least a wild card by beating Toronto 5-1 but remain 4 back of Boston in the division. … Southern Miss alum Brian Dozier’s leadoff “little league home run” – he circled the bases on a pair of errant throws – started Minnesota on its way to a 10-4 win over Detroit as the Twins kept a grip on the second wild card in the AL. Kansas City is now third, 4 games back.

20 Sep

here and there

Ole Miss product Alex Presley’s second home run of the season on Tuesday was the 5,693rd by a major league player in 2017, which tied the single season record set in 2000. Shortly after Presley went yard for Detroit, Kansas City’s Alex Gordon hit the record-breaker. Presley, playing for a 2018 job, went 4-for-6 in the Tigers’ loss to Oakland and boosted his average to .322 in 61 games. The journeyman outfielder is in his 12th pro season and with his fifth big league club. … Ex-UM star Drew Pomeranz threw 6 1/3 shutout innings but got a no-decision in Boston’s 1-0 win in 11 innings against Baltimore. Pomeranz, who is 16-5, lowered his ERA to 3.15. … Orioles manager Buck Showalter, the former Mississippi State standout, may be headed for his first losing campaign since 2011. The O’s have lost 11 of 13 to fall to 73-79. … Ole Miss alum Zack Cozart hit his 23rd homer for Cincinnati — and fourth in seven games – as the Reds lost to St. Louis in 10. Cozart, an All-Star this year and a pending free agent, is batting .303. … There is speculation that former Taylorsville High star Billy Hamilton, on the disabled list with a broken thumb, might return as a pinch runner for the Reds before the year ends. He leads the majors with 58 steals, three ahead of Miami’s Dee Gordon. … Ex-State star Dakota Hudson started and worked three innings for Memphis in Tuesday’s Triple-A championship game, which the Redbirds lost to Durham. Hudson posted a 2.40 ERA in three postseason starts for St. Louis’ Triple-A club. He was 1-1, 4.42 in seven regular season starts after going 9-4, 2.53 in Double-A.

18 Sep

school in session

Reid Humphreys, a dual standout at Mississippi State and Northwest Rankin High, is focused on pitching in pro ball, and he looked sharp in his second season. Humphreys, who’s on Colorado’s Instructional League roster for this fall, notched 13 saves in 14 chances with a 2.56 ERA at Class A Asheville. The Rockies drafted Humphreys – brother of Miami Marlins first baseman Tyler Moore, another ex-Bulldog — in the seventh round in 2016. Humphreys batted .310 with five homers and 44 RBIs and posted seven saves (despite a 5.56 ERA) in 17 mound appearances for State that year. The Rockies preferred him as a pitcher, and he has not disappointed. … Also slated for extended work in Instructional League in either Arizona or Florida are State product Ryan Gridley (Oakland), East Mississippi Community College alum Vijay Miller (San Diego), ex-State star Zac Houston (Detroit), Ole Miss alum Colby Bortles (Detroit), former UM standout Henri Lartigue (Philadelphia) and Ti’Quan Forbes, the 2014 Mr. Baseball from Columbia who was traded late in the season from Texas to the Chicago White Sox. Forbes, a former second-round pick now in his fourth pro season, hit .222 at Class A Down East before the trade and played just four games for Winston-Salem in the same league before the season ended.