22 Feb

big league chew

Grapefruit and Cactus League games start Friday, and Mississippians Corey Dickerson, Lance Lynn, Seth Smith and Tyler Moore, among others, don’t yet have a team to play for. Zack Cozart, Jarrod Dyson, Alex Presley and T.J. House are suiting up for new teams. Hunter Renfroe may soon be doing that, too. Brian Dozier is finally in camp after a detour to have a kidney stone removed. Austin Riley, Cody Carroll and Dakota Hudson are in big league camp as non-roster invitees for the first time. Mickey Callaway is now a manager, and Ron Gardenhire, the old Jackson Met and ex-Minnesota skipper, is back in the saddle. So, yeah, there’s a lot of interesting stuff to keep tabs on. Start with Renfroe, the former Mississippi State standout who hit 26 homers as a rookie for San Diego last year but may now be squeezed out of a roster spot. The Padres’ signing of Eric Hosmer and shifting of Wil Myers to right field has fueled rumors that Renfroe will be traded. “We’re all chess pieces in a huge game here – that’s the way you look at it,” Renfroe told mlb.com. … Dyson, the ex-Southwest Mississippi Community College star, signed a two-year, $7.5M deal with Arizona earlier this week. A good defensive outfielder, Dyson, 33, had a strong offensive season with Seattle in 2017, batting. 251 with 56 runs and 28 steals in 111 games. He has 204 career steals over eight seasons. … Ole Miss product Presley signed a minor league deal with Baltimore, which had been seeking a lefty-hitting outfielder. Presley, 32, hit .314 in 71 games last year with Detroit, the fifth different MLB club he has played for over eight seasons. … Dozier, the former Southern Miss standout, reportedly won’t play in Minnesota’s games on Friday and Saturday as he eases into the spring routine. A pending free agent after this season, he batted .271 with 34 homers last year and says he wants to remain a Twin. Stay tuned. … UM alum Bobby Wahl is in Oakland’s camp as a non-roster pitcher this year, trying to bounce back from a shoulder injury that required surgery and cost him his spot on the A’s 40-man roster. Wahl, who pitched just 7 2/3 innings as a rookie in 2017, used to throw 100 mph. Can he get there again? “The way the ball’s coming out, it feels easy,” he said last week in an mlb.com article. “So far, this is the best I’ve felt throwing a baseball in a long time.” … Tim Anderson, the former East Central CC star who had a tough year with the Chicago White Sox in 2017, said he feels refreshed this spring. “Getting away from it definitely helped me and kind of gave me some breathing room,” he told mlb.com. “I’m hungry and excited about this season coming up.” Anderson lost a close friend to a shooting and scuffled at times on the field, batting .257 with 28 errors at shortstop. … This should be a fun spring for Marcus Thames, another former East Central CC standout. Thames, recently named hitting coach of the New York Yankees, gets to work with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius, et al., an array of sluggers that some expect to threaten the MLB home run record. Once the games begin to count, there might be a little pressure there for Thames.

11 Feb

springing ahead

Kendall Graveman lost his arbitration case with the Oakland A’s, but the former Mississippi State standout will still be a happy camper in spring training, which formally begins this week in Arizona and Florida. Graveman, who made $545,000 in 2017, will get $2.36 million this season, not the $2.6M he had asked for. Hi ho. Graveman, 27, Oakland’s opening day starter last year, went 6-4 with a 4.19 ERA, missing considerable time with an arm injury. He is 22-24, 4.11 career. Ole Miss alum Braxton Lee, on Miami’s 40-man roster, is headed for his first big league camp, while ex-State star Dakota Hudson and Southern Miss product Cody Carroll got coveted non-roster invites from St. Louis and the New York Yankees, respectively. On the flip side, big league vets such as Lance Lynn, Seth Smith, Jarrod Dyson, Chris Coghlan and Tyler Moore remain among the throng of unsigned players.
Here’s the list of Mississippians headed for camp:

40-man roster members
Position players
Anthony Alford (Petal), Toronto; Tim Anderson (East Central CC), Chicago White Sox; Zack Cozart (Ole Miss), Los Angeles Angels; Brian Dozier (Southern Miss), Minnesota; Corey Dickerson (Meridian CC), Tampa Bay; Adam Frazier (Mississippi State), Pittsburgh; Billy Hamilton (Taylorsville), Cincinnati; JaCoby Jones (Richton), Detroit; Braxton Lee (Ole Miss), Miami; Mitch Moreland (Mississippi State), Boston; Hunter Renfroe (MSU), San Diego; Stuart Turner (Ole Miss), Cincinnati 
Pitchers
Kendall Graveman (MSU), Oakland; Jonathan Holder (MSU), New York Yankees; Jacob Lindgren (MSU), Atlanta; Mike Mayers (Ole Miss), St. Louis; Drew Pomeranz (Ole Miss), Boston; Cody Reed (Northwest CC), Cincinnati; Tony Sipp (Gulf Coast CC), Houston; Chris Stratton (MSU), San Francisco; Brandon Woodruff (MSU), Milwaukee

Non-roster invitees
Position players
Bobby Bradley (Gulfport/Harrison Central), Cleveland; Jack Kruger (MSU), Los Angeles Angels; Austin Riley (Southaven/DeSoto Central), Atlanta; Kade Scivicque (Southwest CC), Atlanta
Pitchers
Cody Carroll (USM), New York Yankees; Chad Girodo (MSU), Toronto; David Goforth (Ole Miss), Washington; T.J. House (Picayune), Chicago White Sox; Dakota Hudson (MSU), St. Louis; Cody Satterwhite (Ole Miss), Washington; Bobby Wahl (Ole Miss), Oakland

Free agents: Jarrod Dyson (Southwest CC); Seth Smith (Ole Miss); Lance Lynn (Ole Miss); Chris Coghlan (Ole Miss); Desmond Jennings (Itawamba CC); Tyler Moore (MSU); Alex Presley (Ole Miss); Louis Coleman (Greenwood/Pillow Academy); Scott Copeland (USM)

29 Mar

departures and arrivals

Chris Coghlan will get a World Series ring next month. He’s looking for a uniform to wear. The Ole Miss alum was released by Philadelphia in a bit of a surprise move on Tuesday. Trying to make the lowly Phillies as a non-roster invitee, Coghlan, 32, didn’t have a great spring (.231, five RBIs) but did offer a left-handed bat and the versatility to play several positions. Coghlan batted .250 with six homers last year, which he split between Oakland and the champion Chicago Cubs. Over an eight-year career interrupted by injuries, Coghlan batted .260 with 52 homers. He hit .321 with Florida in 2009 when he won rookie of the year honors but never came close to that figure again. … Catching up on other roster news: Former Rebels star Stuart Turner apparently will make Cincinnati’s big club as a backup catcher, and lefty Cody Reed out of Northwest Mississippi Community College is going to stick in the Reds’ bullpen. However, Greenwood native Louis Coleman, a relief pitcher, was sent to the minor league camp, as was ex-Itawamba CC star Desmond Jennings, who reportedly can choose to be a free agent. … JaCoby Jones – who, it should be noted, did play a little football at Richton High – appears to have won Detroit’s center field job after batting .333 this spring. He debuted with the Tigers last summer. Former Ole Miss standout Alex Presley, despite batting .452 in a bid to win an outfield spot, was sent down by the Tigers. … Ex-Mississippi State star Jonathan Holder, who made his MLB debut last summer, appears to have claimed a job in the New York Yankees’ bullpen. He has had a strong spring (3.00 ERA). … MSU product Chad Girodo was sent out by Toronto. The lefty had a 2.08 ERA this spring after posting a 4.35 as a rookie last season.

28 Mar

wrong turn

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.

27 Mar

spring flings

An injury may play a role in Tyler Moore’s chances of making Miami’s opening day roster. Moore, the ex-Mississippi State star from Brandon, is fine. It’s the injury to Martin Prado that could open a spot for Moore, who is in the Marlins’ camp as a non-roster invitee. Prado, the former Mississippi Braves standout, will start the season on the disabled list, with Derek Dietrich manning third base. Moore, a first baseman/outfielder, is batting .295 with five homers this spring and has made a strong case for being the right-handed hitting half of a platoon at first with Justin Bour. … Ole Miss product Stuart Turner might also benefit from an injury. Cincinnati’s No. 1 catcher, Devin Mesoraco, will start the season on the DL as he recovers from two surgeries last year. Tucker Barnhart will be the starter, with the Reds deciding between Turner and Rob Brantly for the backup job. Turner, hitting .414 in 29 at-bats this spring, was a Rule 5 draft pick from Minnesota who’ll likely return to the Twins — and the minors — if he doesn’t make the Reds’ 25-man roster. … Yet another injury, this one in Detroit’s camp, may enhance JaCoby Jones’ chances of opening the year with the Tigers. J.D. Martinez will start on the DL, opening the door for another outfielder. Richton High alum Jones, battling two others for the center field job this spring, is batting .341 with two homers. Former UM standout Alex Presley, a non-roster invitee who is hitting .414, might also have a shot if the Tigers want to keep Jones, a top prospect, playing regularly in the minors. … Ex-UM star Lance Lynn reportedly will start Thursday’s Grapefruit League game for St. Louis after leaving Saturday’s contest with “upper back stiffness.” Lynn, coming off Tommy John surgery, has a 1.20 ERA in five starts this spring. … Picayune’s T.J. House, in Toronto’s camp as a non-roster player, has not yet returned to the mound since getting struck in the head by a batted ball on March 10. … Entering the last week of spring training, Seth Smith hasn’t gotten much work with Baltimore, his new team. The Ole Miss product was out for roughly two weeks with a hamstring problem. He returned to go 2-for-3 on Saturday – he is 3-for-14 this spring – then sat again Sunday. “At-bats are great, and I’d like to get them, but being 100 percent going into the season is No. 1,” Smith told mlb.com. … Philadelphia was expected to make some roster decisions on Sunday, but there was no immediate word on Chris Coghlan’s status. The ex-Rebels star, who won a ring with the Chicago Cubs last fall, is in Phillies camp as a non-roster invitee. The versatile veteran is batting .243.

23 Mar

fish tales

Good day for Tyler Moore, who is trying to earn a roster spot with the Miami Marlins. Not so good for Scott Copeland, who is trying to do the same thing. Mississippi State product Moore hit two home runs in his two at-bats on Wednesday, giving him five for the spring. Southern Miss product Copeland got the start against the New York Mets at Port St. Lucie, Fla., and faced 15 batters. Nine of them reached base and six scored. Moore, 30, is an MLB-seasoned right-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder who spent last year in the minors with Atlanta. He signed a minor league deal with Miami in the off-season and is batting .282 this spring. Copeland, 29, who has limited big league experience and also spent 2016 in the minors (and Korea), would appear to face longer odds of sticking than Moore. The right-hander has made six appearances in the Grapefruit League and, despite a 2-0 record, has a 9.00 ERA.

21 Mar

hits keep comin’

He hit in high school. He hit in college. He has hit in pro ball, including an RBI knock in his first major league spring training at-bat on Saturday. Mason Robbins keeps passing the tests. The next one he faces will be the biggest yet. The former George County High and Southern Miss standout should play at the Double-A level in the Chicago White Sox’s system this season, which would put him in Birmingham of the Southern League. Robbins, a 25th-round pick in 2014, has batted .292 over his three seasons in the minors, including a .314 season at high-A Winston-Salem in 2016, when he was a postseason Carolina League All-Star. He was Mr. Baseball and a prep All-American as a senior at George County and a freshman All-America pick at USM, where he was a three-year starter. The lefty-hitting outfielder rarely walks but doesn’t strike out much either. He flashed some power at Winston-Salem with 33 doubles, seven triples and five home runs. Robbins hasn’t yet cracked the White Sox’s top 30 prospect rankings listed on mlb.com, but if he hits in Double-A – as he has everywhere else – getting attention won’t be an issue. P.S. Former East Central Community College star Tim Anderson reportedly has agreed to a 6-year, $25 million contract with the White Sox. He hit .283 in 99 games as a rookie shortstop in 2016.