In Baseball America’s recent rankings of the Best Tools in the major leagues, Aaron Hicks, Kevin Kiermaier and Alex Gordon were 1-2-3 in the American League’s Best Outfield Arm category. In the NL, it was Yoenis Cespedes, Mississippi’s own Hunter Renfroe and Yasiel Puig. The MLB leader in outfield assists is … none of the above. Jarrod Dyson, the ex-Southwest Mississippi Community College star from McComb, tops that list with 11. The Seattle center fielder got one on Tuesday night, cutting down Baltimore’s Manny Machado at the plate in the Mariners’ 3-1 victory in a meeting of AL playoff contenders. Dyson has 47 assists in his eight-year career, and he hasn’t played regularly for much of that time. Dyson did show up in three of the Baseball America Best Tools rankings, which are based on a poll of managers, coaches and scouts. He was the AL’s Best Bunter – he put down a nice sacrifice on Tuesday – and ranked second in Best Baserunner and Fastest Baserunner. … It’s impressive that the names of four Mississippi natives show up in the rankings. In addition to Dyson and Crystal Springs’ Renfroe, Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton was No. 1 in the NL’s Fastest Baserunner – duh – and Best Baserunner categories and No. 3 in Best Defensive Outfielder, and Amory’s Mitch Moreland was second in the AL’s Best Defensive First Baseman chart. P.S. East Central CC product Tim Anderson led off with a first-pitch home run against Alex Wood in Tuesday night’s Chicago White Sox-Los Angeles Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium. It was Anderson’s 14th homer and fifth in nine games. It was the only run former Mississippi Braves ace Wood would allow in seven innings, but he took a no-decision in the Dodgers’ 6-1 win. He is 14-1 for a team that is now a jaw-dropping 84-34. … Ole Miss alum Colby Bortles homered in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game in York, N.Y. Bortles has only one homer in 35 regular season games for Connecticut in the Detroit system. A 2017 draftee, he is batting .273 with 15 RBIs.
Competition was stiff for MLB Line of the Night, Mississippi Division. Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton put up a 4223 (AB-R-H-RBI) on Tuesday, with a homer and a triple, his eighth, which ranks second in the big leagues. Ole Miss product Seth Smith had a 3223 with a double. Jarrod Dyson, the ex-Southwest Mississippi Community College star, produced a 5221 with a stolen base, No. 24 on the year. Former Mississippi State standouts Hunter Renfroe (3220) and Adam Frazier (4030) also put up some numbers worthy of mention. But Line of the Night must go to State product Mitch Moreland, whose 5323 included a double, a homer, his 13th, and a “productive” out that figured prominently in Boston’s crazy 12-10 win against Cleveland. With two outs and one on in the ninth at Fenway Park, the Red Sox down a run, Moreland reached first on a wild-pitch third strike. Christian Vazquez followed with a three-run bomb that beat Indians closer Cody Allen and moved Boston back into first place in the American League East. P.S. Dyson’s stolen base was the 200th of his career. He has an amazing 85 percent success rate. The McComb native ranks third among Mississippians on the all-time steals list, behind Hamilton (228) and Gee Walker (223). … Smith’s big night helped Baltimore beat Kansas City and give Buck Showalter his 1,481st managerial victory. The former State star moved into sole possession of 24th place on the all-time list, ahead of Earl Weaver. … Former Mississippi Braves Lucas Sims and Ozzie Albies debuted for Atlanta on Tuesday. Sims took the loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing three runs in six innings. Albies went 0-for-2 with a run.
Time to check in on the All-Mississippi Home Run Derby. Four from the Magnolia State went yard in MLB games on Tuesday: Corey Dickerson, Brian Dozier, Mitch Moreland and Jarrod Dyson. Former Meridian Community College star Dickerson, leader of the pack and a likely All-Star, hit his 15th for Tampa Bay to move two ahead of Mississippi State alum Hunter Renfroe. Southern Miss’ Brian Dozier moved into third with his 11th, one of Minnesota’s franchise-record 28 hits in a 20-7 victory over Seattle. Southwest Mississippi CC product Dyson hit his career-high third bomb for the Mariners in that crazy game at Target Field. Ex-State star Moreland belted No. 9 for Boston, matching Ole Miss alum Zack Cozart of Cincinnati for fourth on the derby chart. P.S. Milwaukee placed MSU alum Brandon Woodruff on the disabled list with the hamstring problem that caused him to miss what would have been his big league debut on Tuesday. Odd note: Ex-Petal High star Anthony Alford, shortly after debuting with Toronto, landed on the DL, where Ole Miss products Bobby Wahl, who debuted last month with Oakland, and Stuart Turner, a rookie with Cincinnati, are also stuck.
The numbers are good, very good: .367, six home runs, 15 RBIs, 12 runs. The numbers were posted by a collection of Mississippians in the majors – 12 of them – on Thursday night. Collectively, the 12 who played went 18-for-49. Adam Frazier (Mississippi State) and Tim Anderson (East Central Community College) had three-hit games. Frazier drove in four runs. He and Anderson homered, as did Seth Smith (Ole Miss), Hunter Renfroe (State), Mitch Moreland (State) and Jarrod Dyson (Southwest CC). Dyson scored three times and stole two bases. Frazier, Anderson, Billy Hamilton (Taylorsville) and Chris Coghlan (Ole Miss) rapped doubles. Zack Cozart (Ole Miss) had two hits and an RBI. Tyler Moore (State) and Stuart Turner (Ole Miss) struck out in pinch-hit appearances, but every Mississippian who started got at least one knock, save for Brian Dozier (Southern Miss). He had a tough day, going 0-for-9 in a doubleheader, though he did contribute a sac fly. All in all, a very good day for the Magnolia State boys. And the hottest hitter of them all, Corey Dickerson (Meridian CC, .335, nine homers, 18 RBIs), didn’t have a game on Thursday. P.S. Baseball America’s latest Top 500 draft prospects list shows just two Mississippians: State’s Brent Rooker at No. 64 and Jake Mangum at 160.
Tampa Bay can’t be too happy with its record – 19-21, fourth in the American League East – but has to be thrilled with the production it’s getting from Corey Dickerson. The Meridian Community College product, in his second season with the Rays, is batting .340 with a .576 slugging percentage. He extended his current hitting streak to eight games on Sunday with a 4-for-6 effort in an 11-2 win against Boston at wet, windy Fenway Park. He has six homers, 13 RBIs and 21 runs. The lefty-hitting outfielder/DH belted 24 homers for the Rays in 2016 but hit only .245 after coming over in a trade with Colorado. … Ole Miss alum Drew Pomeranz took the loss for the Red Sox, departing with triceps stiffness after yielding two runs in three innings. He is now 3-3 with a 5.29 ERA. … Ex-Mississippi State star Tyler Moore’s 25th career MLB homer and fourth as a pinch hitter carried Miami to a 3-1 win over Atlanta. Moore smacked an R.A. Dickey knuckleball out of Marlins Park in the seventh inning, accounting for all of Miami’s runs. Moore is hitting .357 over his two stints with the Marlins this season, serving mainly as a pinch hitter. “I love being in the big leagues,” he told The Associated Press. “Whatever is going to keep me here, I like.” … Former Southwest Mississippi CC standout Jarrod Dyson hit his first homer of the year for Seattle at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. It was his eighth career home run and the first in a park other than Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, where he spent the first seven seasons of his career. … Hunter Renfroe went deep for San Diego, the sixth homer of the year for the State product but first since April 26. The rookie right fielder is batting .209 with 13 RBIs. … Among the major leaguers wearing No. 2 on Sunday, the day the New York Yankees retired Derek Jeter’s old number, were former Southern Miss star Brian Dozier and ex-UM standout Zack Cozart, both of whom came up as shortstops during Jeter’s heyday.
The Atlanta Braves have chosen the fast track for three of their prized young pitchers. Kolby Allard, Mike Soroka and Max Fried are jumping the high Class A level to start 2017 with the Double-A Mississippi Braves, who released their official roster today. They are rated the Nos. 3, 4 and 8 prospects in the system by MLB Pipeline. Fried, whose career was slowed by injury, is 23 and has been in pro ball for six years. Allard and Soroka are just 19, very young for Double-A. “The good ones get there early and these are two really good ones,” Braves GM John Coppolella told Baseball America. Both were first-round picks in 2015 and are among the six first-rounders on the M-Braves’ roster. Soroka is a big right-hander, Allard a slender lefty. Soroka, featuring a hard sinker, went 9-9 with a 3.02 ERA for low-A Rome’s 2016 championship club. “He goes right after hitters, throws a ton of strikes and makes outstanding adjustments on the mound,” according to the MLB Pipeline scouting report. Allard, blessed with a superb breaking ball, was 8-3, 2.98 for Rome and threw 12 scoreless innings in the South Atlantic League playoffs. “His stuff plays up even more because of deception in his delivery and his outstanding command,” MLB Pipeline notes. Are the young guns ready for Double-A? M-Braves fans will have a front row seat as this question is answered. The opener is Thursday at Trustmark Park. P.S. Among several returnees from last year’s M-Braves team, which reached the Southern League finals, is Kade Scivicque, the former Southwest Mississippi Community College (and LSU) star. The 24-year-old catcher is a .273 hitter over two minor league seasons and had eight hits in four games in the SL postseason last year after coming to the Braves in a trade with Detroit.
Gotta love this comment from Jarrod Dyson: “I want to take that job and run with it.” The ex-Southwest Mississippi Community College star was talking to an mlb.com writer about being Seattle’s everyday left fielder and leadoff batter. And of course, running is what Dyson does best. He has 176 stolen bases (and 211 runs) in 550 career MLB games. And he tracks down virtually everything in the outfield. The Mariners, who traded for Dyson in the off-season, want him to play every day. Manager Scott Servais has said the team is better with Dyson at the top of the lineup. The key will be how well the left-handed hitting Dyson fares against lefty pitching. He is a .231 career hitter against lefties, .260 overall with a .325 on-base percentage. The Royals used Dyson a lot as a pinch runner, pinch hitter and defensive replacement, and he played a key role in their World Series trips in 2014 and ’15. He had hopes of winning a regular job last spring but was derailed by an injury. Now the Mariners are going to give him another shot at full-time duty. The McComb native has had a great spring: .343, five steals. The former 50th-round draft pick is 32 but showing no signs of slowing down. He hit .278 with 30 bags for the Royals last summer.