30 Jun

sizzlin’ start

As an eighth-round pick — and the third Mississippi product drafted — earlier this month, there might have been some expectations heaped upon Corey Dickerson in his debut season as a pro. Suffice to say, he has met them — and then some. The former Brookhaven Academy and Meridian Community College star is hitting .455 with three homers and 12 RBIs for the Casper Ghosts (no kidding) of the short-season Class A Pioneer League. Dickerson, who hit .459 with 21 homers as a sophomore at juco power MCC, was lured away from Mississippi State by the Colorado Rockies, who have to be thrilled with the left-handed hitting outfielder’s hot start. “I just want to put up big numbers and show that I’m worthy of where they drafted me,” Dickerson told the Casper Star-Tribune. “I just want to be the best player I can be every day.”
P.S. The Mississippi Braves had four players named to the Southern League All-Star Game: pitcher Brandon Beachy, catcher Orlando Mercado, outfielder Willie Cabrera and — surprise! — outfielder Cody Johnson. Johnson, hitting .210 and leading the league in strikeouts, made it on potential, one supposes. He is Atlanta’s No. 9 prospect, but he has a long way to go.

29 Jun

he gone

Mike Minor, the Southern League leader in strikeouts and an All-Star Futures Game selection, was promoted from the Double-A Mississippi Braves to Triple-A Gwinnett today. Good for him, not so good for the M-Braves’ hopes of making a second-half run. His place will be taken by right-hander Tim Gustafson, a quality arm who has been with the M-Braves before. But Minor, Atlanta’s first-round pick last year, was a special talent, and he was only beginning to blossom. Gustafson was 7-5 with a 5.87 ERA at Gwinnett. He made two appearances with the M-Braves earlier this season after going 2-3, 3.79 in Pearl in 2009. The M-Braves also lost veteran infielder Juan Gonzalez, who was hitting just .206 and was out of place as an everyday shortstop. He was released. Gonzalez’s best value might have been as a leader for the many young Latins on the club. His roster spot will be taken by Luis Bolivar, a true shortstop who began the year here before getting bumped to Gwinnett. Bolivar hit .263 but made 10 errors in 22 games during his first stint.

28 Jun

bucking the trend

Craig Westcott, the 2009 Ferriss Trophy winner from Belhaven, has been promoted to Double-A Richmond in the San Francisco system, which is rapid advancement for a 30th-round pick in his first full season of pro ball. The big right-hander was 6-0 with a 1.83 ERA at Class A San Jose. Obviously, he was ready to be challenged at the next level. His progress bears watching, and here’s why: Winning the Ferriss Trophy, a high honor for Mississippi collegians, hasn’t exactly been a good luck charm. The first recipient, Stephen Head in 2004, was a high draft pick but is now in independent ball. Brian Pettway and Thomas Berkery, the next two, apparently are out of baseball. Ed Easley, the 2007 winner, is a part-time catcher with Double-A Mobile in the Arizona system. Scott Bittle has yet to make his pro debut because of arm issues. The 2010 winner, Drew Pomeranz, the fifth overall pick by Cleveland earlier this month, hasn’t signed yet.
P.S. Saw Desmond Jennings in an MLB Network minor league broadcast today. The former Itawamba star, now at Triple-A Durham (Rays), went 3-for-5 and scored two runs, including the game-winner from first base on a double in the ninth. He’s got game.

26 Jun


The Mississippi Braves got a boost today when Eric Duncan was activated from the disabled list. Arguably the club’s best hitter, Duncan is expected to be in the lineup at second base tonight when the M-Braves take on Mobile at Trustmark Park. He has been out since June 12 with a wrist sprain. … This might be good news for Nettleton’s Bill Hall, but it’s bad for Red Sox Nation. Boston’s Dustin Pedroia has gone on the DL with a broken foot. Hall was in the lineup as his replacement today. Hall can hit a little, though he’s not in Pedroia’s league. But here’s the more glaring difference: In 548 games at second base, Pedroia has a .991 fielding percentage with just 23 errors. Hall, whose best position is batter, has a .959 percentage with 19 errors in 110 games at second. Boston likely can’t play him there for an extended period.

25 Jun

check it out

The June 28 issue of Sports Illustrated features a great story by Chris Ballard about a small Illinois high school team that reached the state championship game in 1971. One of the team’s stars was a sophomore right fielder named Brian Snitker. Yes, the former Mississippi Braves manager who’s now coaching third base for Atlanta. There’s even a picture of the young Snit, who was interviewed for the story. It’s worth the time — and expense? — to read it.
P.S. Former M-Braves standout Brandon Jones was demoted from Triple-A to Double-A today by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jones was hitting .205. One suspects his heart just isn’t in it (see previous posts).

25 Jun

hear something?

Quite a dramatic win for the Mississippi Braves on Thursday night. And quite a celebration after Antoan Richardson scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning. They’ve scored more runs in the ninth — 54 — than in any other, and they’ve won nine times in their last at-bat. Breakdowns in various aspects of the game at various bad times have hurt them. But they’re 1-2 now in the second half of the Southern League season, and manager Phillip Wellman, who isn’t given to hyperbole, believes this bunch is capable of putting it all together for a run at a division title. “I know we were 30-38 (in the first half) and then 30-40, and that’s not good,” he said after Thursday’s game. “But what amazes me still is that these guys do not quit. I’m proud of the way they go about their business every day. … They show up early and they work hard. I just hope in time they start to reap the rewards of the hard work. I keep saying this, ‘There’s something about this team that I like.’ I mean that. And I keep telling them, ‘We’re one click away.’ We’re just waiting for that click.” Maybe that was it on Thursday night at Trustmark Park.

24 Jun

one to remember

It hardly compares to the Isner-Mahut marathon at Wimbledon that finally ended today, but on this date in 1962, the New York Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers 9-7 in a 22-inning game that lasted 7 hours, 22 minutes. The game-winning homer, delivered in the top of the 22nd, was hit by Silver City native and Ole Miss alumnus Jack Reed. Reed played in 222 big league games over three seasons with the Yankees, but that homer was the only one he hit. It made a lot of people happy, no doubt.

23 Jun

starring roles

Props to Mississippi Braves left-hander Mike Minor for being selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game in Anaheim on July 11. Minor’s numbers (2-6, 4.16) are a tad deceiving; he has gotten little run support. The more telling stat is this: 101 strikeouts, best in the Southern League. Also headed to California for the annual showcase of prospects are Braves pitcher Julio Teheran, who’ll likely arrive in Pearl next spring; former M-Braves center fielder Gorkys Hernandez, now in the Pittsburgh system; and ex-Itawamba Community College star Desmond Jennings, who’s with Tampa Bay.
P.S. Interesting signee announcement by ICC on Tuesday. Andy Wilson will come in from Texas as a football player, a quarterback by position. He is the son of former major league outfielder Glenn Wilson — and he also played baseball in high school. Wonder if a compulsion for the summer game will lead Andy to play that sport at ICC also. Coincidentally, Jennings went to ICC as a football player first and foremost, then had a change of direction.

22 Jun


Anthony Lerew makes his second start of 2010 for Kansas City tonight on the heels of a pretty good effort his first time out. Maybe there’s still time for him to become a solid major league contributor. Armed with an upper 90s fastball and a lot of confidence, he looked to be headed for much better than that when he arrived in Mississippi in 2005. Remember the so-called Young Guns of the ’05 M-Braves staff? Lerew, Blaine Boyer, Zach Miner, Macay McBride, Matt Wright and Matt Coenen comprised the rotation, and the consensus then was that at least a couple of these guys would bolster the Atlanta rotation down the line. It didn’t happen, a cautionary tale about putting too much stock in prospect rankings. Boyer, currently with Arizona as a middle-innings reliever, and Lerew are the only ones currently in the big leagues. Miner, who has had some success over the years, is on the disabled list with Detroit. McBride, who also got some big league time, is pitching in indy ball. Wright and Coenen, who had injury issues, never made The Show and have dropped off the radar.

21 Jun

kicking the door open

He was hitting .328 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs at Triple-A Las Vegas. Twice this season he has hit for the cycle. Late Sunday, the Toronto Blue Jays decided to give former Southern Miss standout Jarrett Hoffpauir another crack at the big leagues. Hoffpauir got a cup of coffee with St. Louis last season, then was claimed on waivers by Toronto in the off-season. Having dismissed underperforming Edwin Encarnacion, the Jays have a job open at third base. Hoffpauir can play there, as well as several other positions. Check the Jays’ lineup Tuesday to see if he’s in it.