There are always some interesting names that pop up on the Caribbean winter league rosters. To wit: Anthony Lerew, who was the starting pitcher for the Mississippi Braves in their inaugural game in 2005, was back on the bump last week for La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League. The 35-year-old right-hander allowed three runs in five innings. Lerew, who was among the first wave of M-Braves to reach Atlanta, last pitched in the big leagues in 2010 with Kansas City and last worked in affiliated ball in 2014. Perhaps he is plotting a comeback. At least four other members of the M-Braves’ original 2005 roster played this year: Brian McCann, Blaine Boyer and Gregor Blanco in the big leagues and Iker Franco in the Mexican League. … Southern Miss product Scott Copeland, who made one appearance with the New York Mets this season, is wintering in the Mexican Pacific League with Hermosillo. Now a free agent, the 30-year-old Copeland took a loss on Sunday, yielding four runs in three innings. He pitched well between Double-A and Triple-A in 2018. … Ex-Ole Miss star David Goforth has made two scoreless appearances for Culiacan, also in the MPL. The Meridian native and erstwhile big leaguer, 30, posted a 3.46 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse in Washington’s system this season. … Former Mississippi State standout Jacob (Jake) Robson, a rising prospect in Detroit’s system, is playing for Estrellas in the Dominican Winter League. Robson, a lefty-hitting outfielder from Canada, batted .295 with 11 homers between Double-A and Triple-A in 2018.
Luis Hernandez, who was the starting shortstop for the Mississippi Braves for their inaugural opening day in 2005, is currently playing second base for Caribes de Anzoategui in the Venezuelan Winter League. (Yes, it’s amazing the number of familiar names one runs across while scanning winter league box scores.) Hernandez, a Venezuela native, is one of the six members of the M-Braves’ opening day lineup to make the big leagues and one of just a handful from that team still playing at any level. He is 33 now and has been in pro ball since 2002; his last stint in affiliated ball was with the Los Angeles Angels’ Triple-A club in 2015. Hernandez played for 14 different minor league clubs and four different MLB teams. The 5-foot-10 switch-hitter batted .243 (with five triples) for the 2005 M-Braves and .268 the next season. He reached the majors in 2007 with Baltimore. P.S. From looking back to looking ahead: Alay Lago is a name to watch for when the M-Braves’ 2018 roster is announced. Lago, a second baseman/third baseman, led the Class A Florida State League in hitting at .303 last season for the Florida Fire Frogs. A Cuba native, Lago is 26 but will be playing just his second season in the States in 2018. He played in Mexico in 2016. Other 2017 Fire Frogs who could arrive in Pearl next April include first baseman Carlos Castro (.283, 10 homers); outfielder Anfernee Seymour (.280, 17 steals); catcher Brett Cumberland (.269); and outfielder Braxton Davidson, a onetime touted prospect who hit just .217 with seven homers last year.
Former Mississippi State standout Hunter Renfroe shook out of a slump on Tuesday with a couple of hits, including a home run, in the Arizona Fall League. Renfroe, who had gotten off to a hot start in the AFL, is now batting .232 with two homers and six RBIs in 15 games for Surprise. Renfroe, a fast-rising San Diego Padres outfield prospect, is slated to play in the AFL’s Fall Stars Game on Saturday. “It’s going to be cool,” Renfroe told mlb.com. Also booked for the all-star contest is Daniel Castro, who finished the 2014 season as the Mississippi Braves’ starting shortstop. Castro, from Mexico, is batting .231 for Peoria; he batted .277 in 51 games for the M-Braves. … Tim Anderson, the ex-East Central Community College star now in the Chicago White Sox system, also had a good day in the AFL on Tuesday, going 3-for-4 for Glendale. Anderson, a shortstop, is hitting .309 with a homer and six RBIs. … Itawamba CC product Tim Dillard, in the Milwaukee system in 2014, still has not allowed a run over 9 1/3 innings for Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League. P.S. Ole Miss has set its rosters for the Pizza Bowl fall ball championship. The series, which is essentially a 16-inning game spread over two days, will be held on Friday and Saturday at Oxford-University Stadium. … In Starkville, junior college transfer Logan Elliott and returning star Ross Mitchell combined on a two-hit, five-inning shutout as State continued its fall ball schedule. The Bulldogs are scheduled to play again on Saturday at Dudy Noble Field.
Tim Anderson, the former East Central Community College star, is heating up in Arizona after a chilly start. The Chicago White Sox’s 2013 first-round pick has five hits, including his first home run on Wednesday, over his last two games for Glendale in the Arizona Fall League. In six games, Anderson, 21, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound shortstop, is batting .400 with four runs, two RBIs and three steals. He spent most of the 2014 season, his first full pro year, at Class A Winston-Salem, hitting .297 with six homers, 31 RBIs and 10 steals. After he recovered from a late-season broken wrist, Anderson was sent to Double-A Birmingham and hit .364 in 10 games. … Kyle Wren and Daniel Castro, who played for the 2014 Mississippi Braves, are hitting .300 and .263, respectively, for Peoria in the AFL. … Former Saltillo High and Itawamba Community College standout Tim Dillard is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in three appearances for Zulia in the Venezuelan Winter League. Dillard, 31, a onetime big leaguer, posted a 3.13 ERA at Double-A Huntsville in the Milwaukee system this past season. P.S. Wednesday was a big day for Butch Thompson. The Mississippi State associate head coach was named the national assistant coach of the year for 2014 and also was announced as an inductee into the Itawamba Community College Athletic Hall of Fame. Thompson, an Amory native, was a closer at ICC in 1989 and ’90. He is currently in his seventh year of working with MSU’s pitchers. … State’s second fall scrimmage is slated for Friday at Dudy Noble Field.