28 Jun

whither pomeranz?

Considering the problems Colorado is having with its pitching, one has to wonder: What’s up with Drew Pomeranz? The former first-round pick out of Ole Miss, acquired in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade with Cleveland last summer, is 4-4 with a 2.51 ERA in nine starts at Class AAA Colorado Springs. He has won his last two starts, including a six-inning, no-hit stint on June 19. In 46 2/3 innings, he has 46 strikeouts and 20 walks. The 6-foot-5 left-hander was sent down after five starts (0-2, 4.70) with the Rockies to polish his mechanics and refine his secondary pitches. He might be close to getting another call-up.

27 Jun

making his case

Tyler Moore is proving to be a valuable weapon for Washington. The rookie out of Mississippi State belted a tape-measure three-run homer on Tuesday night, helping the first-place Nationals pound Colorado 12-5 at Coors Field. Moore, a right-handed hitter who can play first base or the outfield, now has three big-league homers in 47 at-bats. He is also hitting .319 with eight RBIs and seven runs in 22 games as a part-time player. Moore’s power is no fluke: He has hit 71 homers in his last three minor league seasons, including nine in Triple-A this year. P.S. Former Jackson Mets pitching coach Bob Apodaca, who has handled the Colorado Rockies’ staff since 2003, asked to be reassigned in the organization on Tuesday — before Washington unleashed its 21-hit barrage. The Rockies’ pitching has been dreadful all season.

26 Jun

just win, baby

It may not be part of the job description for the head coach at Meridian Community College, but winning championships has come to be expected there. Dillon Sudduth, a five-year assistant at MCC, is the Eagles’ new head coach, taking over a program that has made seven trips to the Junior College World Series, won 10 region titles, 12 Miss-Lou Conference titles and three MACJC state crowns. It’s a program that is expected to feature top talent. There are two MCC alumni playing in the majors — Cliff Lee and Tyler Moore. Two Eagles were drafted this year, and the first Mississippian picked in the draft, D.J. Davis of Stone County, was a Meridian signee. The school has also been a launching pad for coaches, such as Corky Palmer, Scott Berry and Russ McNickle. Mike Federico and Chad Caillett are on Berry’s staff at Southern Miss. Sudduth is replacing Chris Curry, who has taken an assistant job with Lane Burroughs (an MCC alum) at Northwestern State. It’s a small school in a modest Mississippi town, but the expectations at MCC are large.

26 Jun

jay-hey now

Maybe it’s time to move Jason Heyward up in the Atlanta batting order. The former Mississippi Braves standout hit .522 with three home runs last week to win the National League hitter of the week award and is batting .391 in June. He has 11 home runs all told. This is more like the Heyward we saw in 2010, when he batted .277 with 18 bombs as a 20-year-old rookie. Last year, he fell off to .227 and 14, and through May of this year, he was languishing at .233. But adjustments he’s made at the plate seem to be paying off. Heyward certainly has the speed to hit higher in the order — he hit No. 2 a lot in 2010 — and yet he has been stuck in the lower half most of the year while some of the hitters above him have struggled. P.S. Billy Hamilton stole three bases Sunday and another on Monday to run his season total to 91. The Taylorsville Tornado, playing for Cincinnati’s high-A team in the California League, is on pace to break Vince Coleman’s 1983 pro record of 145 steals, set in A-ball. If Hamilton gets promoted to Double-A, however, his pace might fall off. Pitchers and catchers pay much more attention to baserunners at that level. … There was a time when Hattiesburg native Joey Gathright was considered the fastest man in baseball. He once swiped 69 in a season (2003), split between A-ball and Double-A, and has over 300 for his pro career. Now 31, he may have slowed down a bit. Playing for the Reds’ Triple-A Louisville club, Gathright is batting .300 but has just two stolen bases in four attempts.

24 Jun

the ups and downs

Saturday was a roller coaster day for the two former Mississippi State pitchers in the big leagues. Jonathan Papelbon suffered his first blown save of the year (in 18 opportunities) and then had to write a check for $5,000 to a teammate, though he was actually happy to do that. Paul Maholm hit his second career home run but was knocked out of his start in the fourth inning and lost his fourth straight decision. Philadelphia’s Papelbon, whose ERA has risen 82 points in June and is up to 2.83, blew a 6-4 lead in the ninth against Tampa Bay. He told mlb.com he offered to pay $5,000 to anyone who could hit a walk-off home run — and Jim Thome obliged with his record 13th, giving the Phillies and Papelbon a 7-6 win. Papelbon said he wrote the check. Maholm, after all those years of frustration in Pittsburgh, is finding more of the same with the Chicago Cubs, who have the worst record in MLB. (Ironically, the Pirates are now a second-place club in the National League Central.) Maholm allowed nine hits, three walks and six runs in 3 1/3 innings of Saturday’s 10-5 loss to Arizona. The veteran lefty’s record dipped to 4-6 and his ERA surged to 5.38. His last win came on May 9. P.S. Former Mississippi Braves shortstop Brandon Hicks, once upon a time considered a possible heir apparent to Chipper Jones at third base, went 1-for-5 with two RBIs in his Oakland A’s debut on Saturday. Hicks, in sporadic playing time, didn’t hit enough while in Atlanta.

23 Jun

how ’bout that

Well, now, the Texas Rangers couldn’t have hoped for much better from Roy Oswalt. In his 2012 debut on Friday night, the Weir High and Holmes Community College product went 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one run, in a 4-1 victory over Colorado. A sellout crowd at the Ballpark in Arlington watched. Oswalt wasn’t unhittable — he yielded nine — but he walked just one and fanned six, dialing up an effective array of pitches. “The command of all my pitches was there,” he told mlb.com. “If I can keep this kind of command all year, I’ll be happy.” The win was No. 160 in Oswalt’s major league career. He is third on the list of all-time wins by a Mississippi native, trailing Aberdeen’s Guy Bush (176) and Waynesboro’s Claude Passeau (162).

22 Jun

all the moves

Former Mississippi State star Mitch Moreland has officially gone on the disabled list for Texas; he could be out 4-6 weeks with a hamstring injury. That move opens a roster spot for Weir’s Roy Oswalt, who’ll make his Rangers debut tonight against Colorado. … Former Delta State standout Edwin Maysonet has been designated for assignment by the Milwaukee Brewers. … Nettleton’s Bill Hall, currently in the minors with Baltimore, broke the news on Twitter that the Brewers were going to sign Livan Hernandez. Seems Hall bumped into Hernandez in an airport. … Mississippi Braves alumnus J.J. Hoover was sent down by Cincinnati. … Ex-M-Braves ace Todd Redmond was sent down by Atlanta without making an appearance in his first big league call-up. … Louis Coleman, the former Pillow Academy star from Schlater, is back in Triple-A, having been optioned out by Kansas City.

22 Jun

it’s a process

His ninth error in 40 games in the big leagues cost the Minnesota Twins three runs in a 9-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday. Brian Dozier, the rookie shortstop from Tupelo by way of Southern Miss, has had some hiccups in the field but generally has gotten good reviews for his defense. In fact, Thursday’s error was his first since June 6. In 93 games at short in the minors last season, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Dozier made just nine errors. Things happen faster in the big leagues; even the seemingly routine plays can be tougher to make. Dozier’s bat has been lagging a bit, as well. He is hitting just .237. But he has driven in 16 runs and scored 14 in his 40 games. The Twins aren’t about to give up on him. P.S. Props to Oak Grove High for earning a No. 2 national ranking in USA Today’s final prep poll. The 6A state champion Warriors went 34-3. The recognition is good for all of high school baseball in Mississippi, which often gets sold short on the national scale.

21 Jun

better things ahead

Desmond Jennings is scuffling, as baseball people like to say. (Means he’s not playing well.) The former Itawamba Community College star, who recently spent time on the disabled list with a knee problem, is batting .167 over his last 10 games for Tampa Bay. For the year, he’s down to .243. Not quite what the Rays were looking for this season when they made Jennings their opening day left fielder. One preseason magazine projected Jennings to hit .269 with 15 homers, 50 RBIs, 96 runs and 45 steals. He has those skills. But he’s off that pace at present with three homers, 18 RBIs, 25 runs and nine steals in 45 games. Look for him to take off in the second half. P.S. Former Taylorsville High star Billy Hamilton, now in the Cincinnati Reds system, and Mississippi Braves standout Christian Bethancourt are on the rosters for the All-Star Futures Game, which will be played July 8 in Kansas City.

20 Jun

bad news for moreland?

There are reports that Mitch Moreland, the former Amory High and Mississippi State standout, may have to go on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. Moreland, hitting .272 with 10 homers for the first-place Texas Rangers, suffered the injury Tuesday night and was to have an MRI today. The lefty-hitting first baseman had wrist surgery in the off-season after a tough 2011 campaign, started slowly this spring but had been swinging it well of late.