Today’s subject: Frank W. Baker. Not to be confused with Frank “Home Run” Baker, an early 1900s star, or Frank Baker Jr., who played for Cleveland in 1969 and ’71, this Baker was a second-round draft pick out of Southern Miss by the New York Yankees in 1967. Baker, a lanky, left-handed hitting middle infielder, is one of a large contingent of players from the Meridian area to make the majors. He played three years at USM, where he is in the Hall of Fame, and parts of four years in the big leagues. After batting .259 at Triple-A Syracuse in 1970, Baker debuted with the Yankees on Aug. 9, going 0-for-3 against Baltimore’s Jim Palmer. In 146 MLB games with New York and then Baltimore, Baker batted just .191. He hit his one big league homer in 1973. He was out of the game by 1975.
After making a strong finish in his 2017 season, Cody Carroll got off to a similar start in his Arizona Fall League debut on Tuesday. The ex-Southern Miss star worked two scoreless innings to notch the save in Scottsdale’s 7-4 win against Mesa. Drafted in 2015 by the New York Yankees, 6-foot-5 right-hander Carroll reached Double-A this summer and posted a 2.66 ERA with five saves in 39 games at Trenton. Carroll did not allow an earned run over his last eight appearances, registering four saves and a win. He has a 2.73 ERA in 79 career pro games with 205 strikeouts in 184 1/3 innings. … Elsewhere in the AFL, which opened on Tuesday, four 2017 Mississippi Braves pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts in eight innings in Peoria’s 4-3 victory over Glendale. Max Fried, who made it to Atlanta this summer, fanned seven in three innings. Touki Touissant, Josh Graham and Corbin Clouse joined Fried in the punchout parade. Among their victims was former Harrison Central star Bobby Bradley (a Cleveland prospect), who went 0-for-4 with three K’s for Glendale. DeSoto Central product Austin Riley, also a 2017 M-Brave, was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts for Peoria. Picayune native Braxton Lee (Miami), who played at Pearl River Community College and Ole Miss, was 1-for-4 with a run for Salt River, which beat Surprise 4-3.
Keep an eye on Mitch Moreland in today’s American League Division Series opener between Boston and Houston. The former Mississippi State star has very good numbers against Justin Verlander, the future Hall of Famer who’ll start for the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Moreland, the Red Sox’s lefty-hitting first baseman, is 10-for-29 (.345) against Verlander with six doubles and six RBIs. Moreland hit .246 with 22 homers and 79 RBIs in his first year with Boston; he has a .216 career postseason average in 33 games, all with Texas. Verlander, who has 188 career wins, went 15-8 with a 3.36 ERA this season, 5-0, 1.06 with Houston. … Tony Sipp, the Moss Point High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College alum, was not expected to make the Astros’ ALDS roster. Left-hander Sipp had a 5.79 ERA this year, almost two runs higher than his career mark. … There will be two Mississippians in uniform for today’s New York-Cleveland ALDS opener. Ole Miss product Mickey Callaway is in his fifth year as the Indians’ pitching coach, and Louisville native and ex-East Central CC star Marcus Thames is in his second as the Yankees’ assistant hitting coach. … Former Mississippi State pitcher Jonathan Holder, who had a 3.89 ERA in 37 MLB games in 2017, was not on the Yankees’ active roster for the wild card game and isn’t likely to be on the ALDS roster. … Belated props to Hawtin Buchanan, the former UM standout from Biloxi who won a championship with the York Revolution in the independent Atlantic League last Friday. Buchanan posted a 3.40 ERA in 38 games for York.
The must-see prospects on the Birmingham Barons’ roster include outfielder Eloy Jimenez, catcher Zack Collins and pitchers Alec Hansen and Spencer Adams. As the Barons visit the Mississippi Braves for a regular season-ending series, a fair number of fans in the seats will have an eye on Birmingham’s No. 20, Mason Robbins, the right fielder. A former Mr. Baseball at George County High and All-C-USA pick at Southern Miss just a few short years ago, Robbins comes to Trustmark Park swinging a hot bat. Though he is not among the Chicago White Sox’s top-rated prospects, Robbins, 24, is a .286 hitter over four pro seasons, including a .314 mark in A-ball in 2016. In his Double-A debut this year, Robbins has been up-and-down, but he is batting .300 over his last 40 at-bats and is currently at .270 with three homers, 36 RBIs and 47 runs in 120 games. The main knock on the 6-foot, 220-pound lefty hitter continues to be his lack of power as a corner outfielder: 18 homers in pro ball. But if keeps making contact (only 46 strikeouts all year), the power may yet come. Not that Robbins seems to be stressing over it. “Any time you get to wake up every morning and play baseball, it’s a fun opportunity,” he recently told Biloxi’s WLOX. P.S. Jacob Lindgren has begun throwing live batting practice, the Biloxi Sun-Herald reports. The Biloxi native and former Mississippi State standout, now in the Atlanta system, had Tommy John surgery last August. Drafted in the second round by the New York Yankees in 2014, lefty Lindgren blew through their system to reach the big leagues in 2015. He missed most of 2016 with the arm injury. The Yankees did not offer him a contract after last season, and he signed with the Braves. He has a career minor league ERA of 1.83 with 85 strikeouts in 54 innings.
Cleveland put on a pitching clinic against Kansas City over the weekend, shutting out the Royals three straight games. Starters Ryan Merritt, Mike Clevinger and Carlos Carrasco each worked at least six innings, and an array of relievers cleaned up. The Indians opened up 9-game lead on third-place KC in the American League Central and are 6.5 up on Minnesota. The Tribe leads all of MLB with 15 shutouts and leads the AL with a 3.60 ERA. Behind the scenes, directing this show of arms, is Mickey Callaway, the ex-Ole Miss pitcher now in his fifth year as manager Terry Francona’s pitching coach. The Indians have ranked among the league ERA leaders in each of those seasons. Last year, with a staff thinned by injuries, Cleveland made it past Boston and Toronto in the playoffs and all the way to Game 7 of the World Series before falling to the Chicago Cubs. Callaway, widely considered managerial material, rates a chunk of credit in all of this. Next on the agenda for him and his staff is the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium, a power-hitting team in a hitter’s park.
Cody Carroll, a 22nd-round draft pick two years ago out of Southern Miss, is looking like quite a steal for the New York Yankees. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has reached Double-A and is having success at that level with an impressive arsenal of pitches. In 11 relief appearances for Trenton, Carroll has a 1.50 ERA. He put up a 2.25 with two saves at high Class A Tampa before earning a late May promotion. He has 60 strikeouts in 44 innings all told. Carroll has added a split-finger pitch to his upper 90s fastball and slider, according to reports. At age 24, he could be poised to move up again soon. Carroll went 4-4, 3.15 with three saves at low-A Charleston in 2016, making six starts among his 26 appearances. He has pitched solely in relief in 2017 but isn’t confining himself to that role. “I can definitely be a whatever-you-need kind of guy,” Carroll told scout.com. Carroll was a solid if not outstanding pitcher at USM. As a junior in 2015, he went 5-5, 3.08 but was overshadowed by Ferriss Trophy winner James McMahon. P.S. Mississippi State product Jonathan Holder, who was fast-tracked by the Yankees after being drafted in 2014, is back on the big league roster after a brief demotion to Triple-A. Holder has a 3.78 ERA in 32 games for New York in 2017. He first reached the majors late last season.
Bobby Bradley made some headlines with a three-homer game for Double-A Akron on Tuesday. The former Harrison Central High star also drove in seven runs, boosting his season totals to 14 homers and 48 RBIs. Bradley, who recently turned 21, is on a 12-for-36 roll that has raised his average to .254. He has struck out just four times in that stretch. Cutting down on the punchouts is a key to his advancement, various scouting reports say. First baseman Bradley, who hit 29 homers a year ago and 27 in 2015 in A-ball, is rated Cleveland’s No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline with an ETA of 2018. … The headlines weren’t as welcome for another Gulfport native, Jonathan Holder, who was sent down to Triple-A by the New York Yankees. Holder was 1-1 (0-for-2 in save chances) with a 3.78 ERA in 32 games, all in relief. Drafted in 2014 out of Mississippi State, Holder reached the majors last summer, then won a big league roster spot in spring training this year. The 24-year-old right-hander will be back. … Ole Miss product Mike Mayers, recently promoted by St. Louis, has yet to make his 2017 debut for the Cardinals. He was 5-6, 3.74 ERA as a starter at Triple-A Memphis but is expected to work in long relief in the big leagues. The right-hander pitched in four games for St. Louis in 2016. … The current list of Mississippians on the MLB disabled list: Anthony Alford, Chris Coghlan, Zack Cozart, Kendall Graveman, Alex Presley, Bobby Wahl and Brandon Woodruff.