30 Nov

dog tracks

Another Mississippi State signee for 2013 has emerged. Pierson Waring, an infielder at Hinds Community College, inked with the Bulldogs, according to a release from the junior college. Waring, from Vicksburg, hit .363 with a homer, four triples and five doubles as a freshman in 2011. Six other Eagles also signed during the early period: Alex Gunn of Clinton with Memphis, Ryno Martin-nez of Vicksburg with Louisiana Tech, Carey Taylor of Brandon with Louisiana-Monroe and Tyler Akins of Madison, Daniel Gilbert of Ridgeland and Andrew Gunn of Clinton all with NAIA powerhouse Belhaven.
P.S. Former Jackson Generals standout Carlos Guillen reportedly is attracting interest from the Miami Marlins. Guillen hit just .232 in an injury-dampened 2011 season with Detroit. He is 36, but he’s a career .285 hitter who bats from both sides and can play just about anywhere. … Ex-Mississippi Braves manager Phillip Wellman will return as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals’ Double-A Springfield club next season.

28 Nov

young at heart

Dmitri Young is indeed plotting a comeback. The Vicksburg native is 38 and hasn’t played in the major leagues since 2008. But he recently told mlb.com that the reason he is playing in the Venezuelan Winter League is because he wants another shot at The Show. Young, who reportedly has lost 50 pounds after reaching 300-plus in retirement, is hitting .161 with no home runs in 19 games for Caribes. He said he is “getting re-acclimated to playing, getting the rust off.” Young, a powerful switch-hitter in his prime, belted 171 homers in the majors, including 29 for Detroit in 2003. He was an All-Star in 2007 with Washington but managed to play just 50 games because of injuries in ’08, hitting .280 with four homers. He formally retired in the spring of 2010. But now he’s shopping for an offer from a big league organization. “You’ve got to prove yourself to see exactly where you’re at,” Young told mlb.com, “and that’s why I wanted to come play winter ball, for that reason.”
P.S. Fun facts: Young played on the 1994 Arkansas Travelers club with new Mississippi Braves manager Aaron Holbert. That team was managed by Jackson native Chris Maloney, recently hired as a coach by the St. Louis Cardinals.

27 Nov

on the dotted line

Some signing news has trickled through this Thanksgiving week. Former Delta State left-hander Dusty Hughes has signed a minor league deal with Atlanta. Hughes spent most of the past season in Triple-A with Minnesota, posting a 4.29 ERA in 43 games. In 15 major league appearances, he put up a 9.95. Not so hot … but he is a lefty. … The Braves also re-signed catcher J.C. Boscan, one of the heroes of the Mississippi Braves’ 2008 pennant-winning club. Boscan got some limited big league time the last two seasons. … Another former M-Braves standout, Gregor Blanco, has landed with San Francisco. Blanco, an outfielder currently leading the Venezuelan Winter League in runs and stolen bases, spent most of 2011 in Triple-A in the Kansas City and Washington systems. … Onetime Jackson Generals ace Freddy Garcia reportedly has agreed to terms with the New York Yankees, for whom he went 12-8 with a 3.26 ERA in a resurgent 2011 campaign. At 35, he apparently still has some life in his right arm. … The Nationals have added Tyler Moore to their 40-man roster, which means an invitation to big league camp in spring training. Moore, who played at Northwest Rankin High, Meridian Community College and Mississippi State, hit 31 homers in each of the last two seasons. The righty-swinging first baseman played this past year in Double-A.

22 Nov

rumor mill

The Boston Red Sox reportedly have spoken with Roy Oswalt’s agent. The free agent right-hander from Weir has been linked to the New York Yankees, Washington, Kansas City and his 2011 club, Philadelphia. Oswalt slipped a bit last season — 9-10, 3.69 ERA amid injury issues — but he’ll get a good offer somewhere. If he still wants to pitch in 2012, he will have the opportunity. … Rumor has it that Atlanta and Colorado talked about a deal that would send former Ole Miss star Seth Smith to the Braves for Mississippi Braves alumnus Martin Prado. Seems like a longshot. The Braves want a power-hitting outfielder, and Smith is that, but he’s a lefty and Atlanta’s lineup is already too left-handed. Smith hit .284 last year but just .202 against left-handed pitching. He had 15 homers, 32 doubles and nine triples, numbers boosted somewhat by playing at Coors Field. … Colorado could be the next home for former Mississippi State lefty Paul Maholm. The free agent, who went 6-14, 3.66 with Pittsburgh last season, has also been linked to the New York Mets,, Washington and Miami, among others, but the Rockies are the best bet, according to one blog out there. … The newly named Miami Marlins may open their new stadium next April without ex-Ole Miss standout Chris Coghlan on the roster. There are reports that the 2009 rookie of the year, who had a miserable, injury-wrecked 2011 campaign (.230 in just 65 games), will start 2012 in the minors, where he finished this past season. … This is not a rumor but a fact: Jackson native Donnie Veal has signed a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox. Veal, who has 19 big league games on his resume, spent 2011 in the minors with Pittsburgh. He’s a power lefty with a 3.84 career ERA in the minors, mostly as a starter. M-Braves fans might remember him from his days with the Tennessee Smokies in the Chicago Cubs’ system.

20 Nov

boys of winter

Life goes on in the Venezuelan Winter League, even after the recent kidnapping incident involving Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos. Former Alcorn State standout Corey Wimberly recently joined the Caracas club. The versatile Wimberly, who spent last season in Triple-A in the Pittsburgh system, is playing outfield and is 2-for-9 in his two games. He is still seeking his first big league call-up. … Also in the VWL, ex-Ole Miss star Justin Henry is hitting .293 for Zulia. Henry, a second baseman, has spent the last two seasons bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A in the Detroit organization. … Ernesto Mejia, who set the Mississippi Braves’ home run and RBI records this season, is a teammate of Henry’s on the Zulia club and is batting .298 with four homers and 21 RBIs. … Another ex-M-Braves first baseman, Barbaro Canizares, has blasted 11 homers in 34 games in the Mexican Pacific League. Canizares, no longer under contract with a major league organization, spent the 2011 season in the Triple-A Mexican League. … Former Taylorsville High star Billy Hamilton, a rising prospect with Cincinnati, leads the Puerto Rican Winter League with six stolen bases in 10 games but is batting just .194. … Christian Bethancourt hit a two-run bomb and Joey Terdoslavich went 2-for-4 in a losing cause for Surprise, which fell to Salt River 9-3 in Saturday’s Arizona Fall League championship game. Bethancourt and Terdoslavich likely will be playing for the M-Braves in 2012.

18 Nov

haven’t we met?

Aaron Holbert may be new to the Atlanta Braves’ organization, but the Mississippi Braves’ manager already is quite familiar with a number of players he may be in charge of next April. Holbert, hired by Atlanta last month as the new skipper of the Double-A M-Braves, managed the previous four seasons in the Cleveland system. He faced Atlanta’s Class A Rome club in 2008 and 2009 in the South Atlantic League and the high-A Myrtle Beach and Lynchburg teams in 2010 and this past season in the Carolina League. He also was a coach on a Carolina League All-Star team last summer that included shortstop Andrelton Simmons, first baseman Joey Terdoslavich and outfielder Adam Milligan, all highly regarded Braves prospects who could be in Pearl in 2012. “I’ve seen a lot of the guys who might be there,” Holbert said in a recent phone interview. “I’ve seen some of the ones who were there this season — Mycal Jones, (Zeke) Spruill, (Cory) Harrilchak. … I managed against Simmons and Terdoslavich and (Braeden) Schlehuber last year. I’m familiar with them and I know what they’re capable of doing. They’re familiar with me, too. That should make it easier for me to lead them next season.” Holbert was the Carolina League manager of the year in 2011 and has been pegged as a big league managerial prospect by Baseball America. Holbert, who’ll be 39 next year, was playing in the minors as recently as 2006. The hope is he can inject some youthful energy into an M-Braves club that hasn’t made the Southern League playoffs since winning the pennant in 2008.
P.S. Terdoslavich (.321 with three homers and 14 RBIs), catcher Christian Bethancourt (.306, 5, 13) and outfielder Todd Cunningham (.250, 11 RBIs) — all candidates for the M-Braves’ roster in 2012 — will play for Surprise in Saturday’s Arizona Fall League championship game. Surprise posted a 26-10 regular season record. The Saguaros will play Salt River at 2 p.m. in a game to be televised by MLB Network. … Former Southern Miss star and Minnesota shortstop prospect Brian Dozier hit .296 with three homers and 22 RBIs in his AFL stint. Dozier will bid for a job in the majors in the spring.

16 Nov

early birds

Ole Miss got a very good start on recruiting for its 2013 team, signing three players who ranked in the top 22 on Baseball America’s list of the top 100 high school prospects for the 2012 pro draft. Catcher Stryker Trahan, from Lafayette, La., ranks No. 5; shortstop Gavin Cecchini, from Lake Charles, La., No. 8; and right-hander Ty Hensley, from Edmond, Okla., No. 22. The early signing period for college baseball began Nov. 9 and ended today. Southern Miss has announced the signing of four pitchers, including 6-foot-6 junior college right-hander Sean Buchholz and Trinity Episcopal star Jake Winston. Mississippi State hasn’t released any signees yet, but Itawamba Community College announced that catcher Zack Randolph, from Amory, has inked with the Bulldogs for 2013.
P.S. Somebody with the NAIA really loves baseball. Basketball season has only just began, but already the NAIA has released its preseason baseball poll. Belhaven, defending Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament champion, will open at No. 15. The Blazers went 45-18 last season, and coach Hill Denson reloaded with a strong recruiting class. BU really is a team to watch in 2012.

14 Nov

kudos for kimbrel

Former Mississippi Braves pitcher Craig Kimbrel was named National League rookie of the year today, becoming the second former JADAP to win the top rookie honor. Darryl Strawberry, a Jackson Mets alumnus, is the other onetime Jackson area Double-A player with an ROY award, winning it in 1983 with the New York Mets. Kimbrel, just 23, posted 46 saves, a rookie record, for Atlanta to go with a 2.10 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 77 innings. His sensational season was tarnished a bit by three blown saves in September, when Atlanta coughed up the NL wild card lead and missed the playoffs. But Kimbrel’s overall brilliance made him a well-deserved winner; he was, in fact, a unanimous pick. He pitched for the M-Braves in 2009, the year he played at four levels in Atlanta’s system. He had six saves, a 0.77 ERA, a 2-1 record and 17 K’s in 11 2/3 innings in his brief time in Pearl.
P.S. On the subject of closers, Philadelphia has formally signed Mississippi State product Jonathan Papelbon to a 4-year, $50 million free agent contract. Papelbon has 219 career saves and has converted 88.3 percent of his opportunities, one of the best ratios in history. And yet, success can be fleeting for closers. Papelbon’s career ERA is 2.33, but the last two seasons it was 3.90 and 2.94. That might be cause for some concern. Like Boston, where Papelbon spent the first six years of his big league career, Philly can be a tough place to play if you start to struggle.

10 Nov

where have you gone …

He originally signed with Atlanta out of New Mexico in 2004 and had spent his entire career in the Braves’ organization, including parts of four seasons with the Mississippi Braves. Now, alas, Matt Young has moved on. The 5-foot-8 outfielder, who deserves a spot on the all-time M-Braves club, signed with Detroit as a minor league free agent. Young got into 20 big league games this past season but spent most of the last two years at Triple-A Gwinnett. He helped the M-Braves win the 2008 Southern League championship and batted .289 with 42 stolen bases for the Double-A club in ’09, his last season in Pearl. He is currently playing for Navojoa in the Mexican Pacific League. Young has major league speed, and he plays as hard as anyone. It’s unlikely he’ll ever be a big league regular, but perhaps he’ll have a better shot at making the Tigers as a utility outfielder than he had in Atlanta.

08 Nov

play on

Hattiesburg native John Lindsey, fast approaching 35, is playing in the Venezuelan Winter League. He is 2-for-8 with two RBIs in two games for Caracas. Lindsey, who got the long-awaited call to the big leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2010, spent all of the 2011 season at Triple-A Albuquerque, batting .309 with 13 home runs. Lindsey’s powers of perseverance are remarkable.
P.S. Joey Gathright, another Hattiesburg native, is a free agent again after spending a brief time with the Boston Red Sox at the tail end of this past season. … Billy Hamilton, the Taylorsville tornado, stole two bases in his Puerto Rican Winter League debut last week and is 3-for-12 in three games for Ponce.