30 Aug

oil and water

The Cincinnati Reds should have known better. They should have known it wouldn’t work out. They put a former Ole Miss pitcher on the mound and a former Mississippi State catcher behind the plate on Saturday. That’s asking for trouble. And sure enough, the Reds lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-4. Ex-Rebel Matt Maloney gave up eight hits, two walks and five runs in five innings, taking the loss to fall to 0-3. Ex-Bulldog Craig Tatum, who surely did hit best calling pitches against the powerful Dodgers lineup, couldn’t pull Maloney through, though Tatum did belt his first big league homer in support. That blast was part of a 4-run third inning that tied the score at 4-all. But a run in the fifth was Maloney’s undoing. Chalk it up to bad chemistry in the battery.
P.S. Joey Gathright must be feeling a little frustrated. Baltimore traded him to Boston on Saturday. The Red Sox become the Hattiesburg native’s fourth team in less than a year. The Chicago Cubs signed Gathright in the off-season (taking him away from the Kansas City Royals) but hardly played him before dealing him to Baltimore. He never left Triple-A with the Orioles, despite hitting well above .300, and the Red Sox have assigned him to Triple-A Pawtucket. Perhaps he’ll get a September call-up. He has some value as a pinch runner, at least. … Atlanta may have planted some seeds of doubt in the mind of ex-Meridian CC star Cliff Lee on Saturday, when they roughed him up in a 9-1 win over Philly. Lee had been almost untouchable in his first five National League starts. The Braves seemed to figure him out, belting three homers against Lee in his five innings of work. It was a big game, at least for the Braves, and Lee came up small.

25 Aug

another reason

If you’re looking for another reason — or any reason — to head out to Trustmark Park this weekend, here’s a good one: Atlanta center fielder Nate McLouth will make an injury rehab appearance with the Mississippi Braves on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The M-Braves made the announcement earlier today. The M-Braves are essentially out of the Southern League playoff race, so McLouth won’t help them there. But he could be a boost to attendance, which is threatening to fall under 3,000 for the average per game this season. McLouth is a fun player to watch; he’s got power and speed and plays with a lot of energy.
P.S. Boston’s bullpen got a lot tougher today with the acquisition of former Jackson Generals lefty Billy Wagner. With Wagner and ex-Mississippi State star Jonathan Papelbon, another hard thrower with a nasty temperament, finishing games, you gotta like the Red Sox’s chances of nailing down the American League wild card. … Numbers to chew on: Former Meridian CC star Cliff Lee is 5-0 and has allowed just three earned runs in 40 innings since joining the Philadelphia Phillies last month; ex-Hillcrest Christian and Ole Miss standout Seth Smith is 15-for-32 as a pinch hitter for the Colorado Rockies.

22 Aug

fast company

Managers in the Eastern League like Cody Satterwhite’s fastball, which has been known to reach the upper 90s. The former Hillcrest Christian and Ole Miss standout, now with Detroit’s Double-A Erie club, was given the “best fastball” nod in the EL in Baseball America’s annual tools survey. Satterwhite is 4-5 with 12 saves and a 2.98 ERA in 33 games at Erie. He had 51 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings. … Former Itawamba CC star Desmond Jennings was rated the fastest baserunner in the Southern League, as well as its best defensive outfielder and most exciting player. Jennings, in the Tampa Bay system, is now in Triple-A, banging on the door to the big leagues. Current Mississippi Braves standout Jason Heyward, who has played only about 40 Double-A games, was rated the league’s best batting prospect.
P.S. Bill Hall, the pride of Nettleton, got an RBI hit in his first at-bat for Seattle on Friday night and finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs. The Mariners played him in left field. … The change in scenery hasn’t done much for former Jackson State ace Dewon Day, picked up by Oakland after his release by Tampa Bay. Day, a onetime big leaguer, has a 5.52 ERA in 11 relief appearances at Double-A Midland.

21 Aug

put up or pack up

The Atlanta Braves organization has taken a hard line with its Double-A club this summer. Five players who were on the Mississippi Braves’ opening day roster, including three who were in the starting lineup, have been released over the course of the season. That’s a high total for the Braves. These moves weren’t disciplinary in nature; they were all about production. Third baseman Eric Campbell, a former second-round pick and one-time Top 10 prospect in the organization, had been a disappointment at both the plate and in the field. On Tuesday, a day after hitting a home run, he was whacked. Catcher Phillip Britton, an oft-injured backup most of the year to J.C. Boscan, got the news Wednesday. Pitcher Bryan Dumesnil was released on July 31, first baseman Kala Ka’aihue — another huge disappointment — on July 4 and infielder Javier Guzman — last year’s regular shortstop — way back on April 30. The team is better today than it was at the end of the first half. Not much debate about that. But with only 16 games left in the season, and the team essentially out of the playoff picture, you have to wonder if there are any other struggling M-Braves looking over their shoulder?

21 Aug

chance meeting

Billy Wagner made his first comeback appearance for the New York Mets on Thursday night. And wouldn’t you know it … the first batter the former Jackson Generals star faced was former Mississippi Brave Reid Gorecki, now up with Atlanta. Wagner, showing flashes of his pre-Tommy John surgery self, struck out Gorecki with a 95 mph heater up in the zone. Wagner pitched a 1-2-3 eighth in the Mets’ 3-2 loss to the Braves.
P.S. Julio Borbon, the Starkville native who played at Tennessee, hit his first big league homer for Texas on Thursday. Borbon is up for the second time this season and likely will stay this time. He was hitting .385 through his first 10 games. He could be a factor in the Rangers’ drive for a playoff berth in the American League.

20 Aug

hall monitor

Bill Hall has resurfaced. The Nettleton native, whose career was in a serious tailspin in Milwaukee, was traded to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday for a minor league pitcher. Hall, whose best position is — or was — hitter, wasn’t in the Mariners’ lineup against Detroit today. Hall, hitting .201, was designated for assignment by the Brewers last week. He got a fat contract after blasting 35 home runs for Milwaukee in 2006 but hasn’t been the same player since. He has played just about every position save catcher, none of them particularly well. Maybe Seattle will give him some ABs at DH. At 29, Hall is young enough to get it turned around. But just barely.
P.S. Former Pearl River CC star Rhyne Hughes also got a change of scenery when Tampa Bay shipped him to Baltimore in the Gregg Zaun deal. Hughes, a power-hitting first baseman, will stay at the Triple-A level for the time being. … Eager to see what kind of stuff Billy Wagner has. The New York Mets are expected to activate the ex-Jackson Generals lefty very soon. He had arm surgery last summer. Wagner was scary fast in his prime, hitting 100 mph with apparent ease. … Former Mississippi Brave Reid Gorecki got his first big league hit and RBI in Atlanta’s 15-2 win over the Mets on Wednesday. He is the 41st M-Braves alumnus to rise to the majors during the club’s five years in Pearl.

11 Aug


Florida’s Chris Coghlan got hits in his first two at-bats against Houston’s Roy Oswalt tonight, running the former Ole Miss star’s streak of multi-hit games to a jaw-dropping 10.

11 Aug

watch for it

There’s a nice Mississippi-angled sidebar to tonight’s Houston-Florida game. Astros ace Roy Oswalt, the ex-Holmes Community College standout from Weir, makes his much-anticipated return after missing a couple of starts with a back problem, and among the Marlins he’ll face is sizzling hot Chris Coghlan. The former Ole Miss star, scheduled to hit leadoff tonight, has recorded a franchise-record nine straight multi-hit games. He is having a tremendous rookie season, despite having been shifted from second base to a new spot, left field, which he has had to learn on the fly.
P.S. Props, a bit belated, go out to Marcus Thames, who belted his 100th career home run for Detroit on Sunday. Even in this era of sluggers, that’s a noteworthy milestone for the former East Central CC standout from Louisville, who, by the way, hit his first career blast off Randy Johnson. … Props, too, to former Mississippi Brave Martin Prado, who has 52 hits since June 30. He’s a big reason the Atlanta Braves have become a factor again in the playoff race. … And one more nod to Hillcrest Christian and Ole Miss alumnus Seth Smith, who got yet another pinch hit on Sunday — that’s 15 for the year, unofficially — for resurgent Colorado.

05 Aug

eli’s here

Big things keep happening for Eli Whiteside, the former Delta State standout from New Albany who finally seems to have stuck in the big leagues. Whiteside hit his first career home run — a grand slam, no less — in San Francisco’s 10-6 win over Houston today. Less than a month ago, Whiteside was behind the plate for Jonathan Sanchez’s no-hitter, the first by a Giants pitcher in 33 years. Whiteside made his big league debut with Baltimore in 2005 and didn’t get back again until this season. Has Eli arrived? He’s making his case.
P.S. Add to the list of Mississippi free agents the name of Jonathan Van Every, the Itawamba Community College alumnus who was officially released last month by Boston, which had designated him for assignment. … Nettleton’s Bill Hall, whose slump earned him a demotion to Triple-A, is back with the Milwaukee Brewers, who stuck the erstwhile third baseman in right field on Monday night.

01 Aug

2 ships passing

While waiting for Brett Bukvich to launch his pro career, it’s time to bid farewell to his brother, Ryan Bukvich. Ryan, who pitched in 97 big league games, his last appearance coming last July with Baltimore, was recently released by the Newark Bears of the independent Atlantic League. The 31-year-old right-hander, an Ole Miss alumnus, had a 2-6 record and a 7.93 ERA. Clearly, something wasn’t right. Oddly enough, his name has come up in conversation at two different venues in recent weeks. Brett, a burly left-hander, was a fifth-year senior at Ole Miss this season and was picked in the 18th round by the Florida Marlins. Already 23 years old, Brett needs to get off to a fast start in pro ball if he hopes to follow in his brother’s footsteps and make the majors.
P.S. Two other ex-Rebels, outfielders David Dellucci and Bobby Kielty, also may be done. Dellucci, already released once this season (by Cleveland), was designated for assignment late last month by Toronto, and Kielty was cut loose by the New York Mets in June and hasn’t resurfaced.