The stakes have been raised for three Mississippians who changed MLB teams in recent days. Jarrod Dyson, Cody Reed and Mitch Moreland have moved from losing clubs to contenders as the abbreviated 2020 season enters its final month. Dyson, the former McComb High and Southwest Mississippi Community College standout, went from lowly Pittsburgh to the Chicago White Sox. Dyson, a .245 career hitter with 254 stolen bases, was acquired primarily for his speed on the bases and in the outfield. He entered Sunday’s game as a pinch runner in the 10th inning and scored on Luis Robert’s walk-off homer; the win put the ChiSox in a tie for first in the American League Central. Reed, a Horn Lake High and Northwest Mississippi CC product, went from scuffling Cincinnati to Tampa Bay, which sits atop the AL East. Reed, a left-hander who worked as both a starter and reliever with the Reds, joins a Rays staff that has been hard hit by injuries. He was activated today, just in time for the Rays’ visit to the New York Yankees tonight. Moreland’s move from the struggling Boston Red Sox to surging San Diego was described by Padres manager Jayce Tingler as “impactful.” “Not only the bat, but somebody like Mitch with 80-grade makeup, a very, very tough man … that’ll blend in really well to this clubhouse,” the rookie skipper told mlb.com. Moreland, a former Amory High and Mississippi State star, is a .253 career hitter with 174 homers in 11 seasons; he was leading the Red Sox in homers and RBIs at the time of Sunday’s trade. Moreover, he has played in 48 postseason games and been in three World Series, winning a ring with Boston two years ago. That’s what the Padres appear all-in to do in 2020. … In other news, Lance Lynn did NOT get traded by Texas, a non-contender, though many in the media believed the Ole Miss product could have been a difference-maker for a contender, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Even though he went to Ole Miss, I still like him,” Buck Showalter, the ex-Mississippi State star and former big league manager joked today on MLB Network’s trade deadline show. Lynn is 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA for the 12-21 Rangers.
Mitch Moreland is moving from the last-place Boston Red Sox to playoff-contender San Diego. The ex-Mississippi State standout from Amory was traded by the Red Sox for two prospects and joins a Padres team that stands second in the National League West and has the third-best record in the league at 20-15. Moreland, in his 11th MLB campaign, is batting .328 with eight homers and 21 RBIs this season. The Padres have lefty-hitting Eric Hosmer at first base, so Moreland, also a lefty, might be ticketed for duty as a DH.
Ole Miss alum Lance Lynn, facing a team he might be traded to, allowed a season-high four runs against the Los Angeles Dodgers and lost for the first time this season on Saturday. The Texas Rangers ace is 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA. … Ex-East Central Community College star Tim Anderson went 4-for-5 for the Chicago White Sox on Saturday and now leads the American League in batting at .361. He won the batting crown in 2019. … DeSoto Central High product Austin Riley, playing everyday at third base for Atlanta, has started to heat up, batting .360 over his last seven games and .283 in the last 15. He’s at .220 with five homers and 14 RBIs on the season. … Drew Pomeranz, the veteran lefty out of Ole Miss, was activated from the injured list Saturday by San Diego and made his 11th straight scoreless appearance in the Padres’ loss against Colorado. … Northwest CC alum Cody Reed was traded by Cincinnati to Tampa Bay (for a prospect). Lefty Reed has a 5.44 career ERA but is at 2.72 as a reliever. … Southwest CC product Jarrod Dyson, traded by Pittsburgh to the White Sox on Thursday, made his debut Friday night as a defensive replacement in left field. Dyson has been with five teams in the last five years. … Former Mississippi State star Brandon Woodruff (2-2, 3.19) goes to the mound for Milwaukee today against Pittsburgh. On Monday, he’ll come home to Mississippi, where his pregnant wife, Jonie, is to be induced on Tuesday with the couple’s first child, a girl.
Can’t really ID the proverbial “defining moment” until a season is over, but Atlanta might have experienced that event on Wednesday. The New York Yankees led all of baseball in OPS (on base-plus-slugging) and were among the best with 5.4 runs per game heading into the doubleheader at Truist Park. Ian Anderson and Max Fried, a couple of recent Mississippi Braves standouts, held the Yanks to six hits and two runs over 12 combined innings as the Braves won 5-1 and 2-1. Former M-Braves Ronald Acuna, Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman hit big home runs as the Braves scored the sweep in games started by New York aces Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka. This day belonged to the Braves’ young guns, Anderson and Fried. Anderson, a strapping, 6-foot-3 right-hander making his MLB debut, started with five no-hit innings before Luke Voit took him deep in the sixth. Anderson walked two and fanned six. It was precisely the kind of step-up effort the Braves needed from one of their touted but untested young guns. In Game 2, left-hander Fried, an emerging ace at age 26, yielded four hits – only one extra-base knock – walked one and struck out five. He is 5-0 with a 1.35 ERA. Atlanta reached the midpoint of its season with an 18-12 mark, good for first place in the National League East. More work — more solid pitching — must be done, but there may come a day in October when the Braves will look back at Aug. 26 as their defining moment.
With the addition of Petal High product Anthony Alford, the pitiable Pittsburgh Pirates presently have a plethora of players with Mississippi ties populating their roster. Alford was picked up today as a waiver claim from Toronto. The 26-year-old outfielder joins McComb native Jarrod Dyson and Mississippi State products Adam Frazier and Chris Stratton on a Pirates team that has the worst record in baseball. Alford found playing time hard to come by in his long tenure in the Blue Jays’ system. He hit .155 in 71 at-bats over four MLB stints. Designated for assignment by the Jays, he might get more opportunity with Pittsburgh, which has made a flurry of moves this week and may be planning more. Dyson and Frazier have not been hitting, and Stratton has a 4.20 ERA.
Home runs dominate the highlight shows. There are a lot of homers in the major leagues these days and Quick Pitch, MLB Tonight, SportsCenter and the like are all over ’em. The unwitting supporting actors in the long-ball clips are the pitchers who surrender the homers. You see them grimace, hang their head, kick the dirt — stuff like that — while a hitter trots around the bases and a broadcaster shouts at the top of his lungs. Only three regular starters – those with 25 or more innings – have avoided this indignity in 2020: Max Fried, Zack Greinke and Spencer Turnbull, the former Madison Central High star who pitches for Detroit. Turnbull threw 5 2/3 shutout innings on Tuesday night as the Tigers beat the Chicago Cubs 7-1 at Comerica Park. In so doing, Turnbull not only improved his record to 3-2 – he was 3-17 in 2019 – and trimmed his ERA to 2.97, the tall right-hander stretched his streak of innings without allowing a home run to over 50. To find the last one, you have to go back to Sept. 12, 2019, when the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge took Turnbull deep. A FanGraphs analysis says Turnbull’s four-seam fastball can be one of the best in the game: “Some combination of spin, speed, and deception make it one of the hardest fastballs to make contact with, let alone square up.” Coming off a poor outing, Turnbull kept the Cubs in check by relaxing. “I focused a lot more on just slowing everything down mechanically, not trying to throw so hard,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “Less is more,” he added, is “gonna be my mantra for the rest of my life.” Keeping hitters in the yard and off the highlight clips fits right in with that.
Cincinnati had high hopes for Cody Reed when the club acquired him from Kansas City in a July 2015 trade that involved Johnny Cueto. It now appears that if Reed blossoms as a big league pitcher, the former Northwest Mississippi Community College standout will do it with another club. Reed was designated for assignment on Monday. “We know how talented Cody is. It’s not an easy decision,” Reds manager David Bell told mlb.com. The 27-year-old left-hander from Horn Lake had a 5.79 ERA in nine appearances out of the bullpen in 2020. His career ERA over parts of five seasons: 5.44. A second-round pick by the Royals out of Northwest in 2013, Reed had outstanding minor league numbers as a starter but went 0-7, 7.36 in his 2016 MLB debut. He bounced from the Reds to the minors — and from starter to reliever — thereafter. As a lefty with versatility, he’ll likely get another shot somewhere. P.S. When a player is DFA’d, he is immediately removed from the 40-man roster and within seven days of the transaction can either be traded or placed on irrevocable outright waivers. If he clears waivers (unclaimed by another team), he could be released or assigned to a minor league roster. … Brian Dozier, the ex-Southern Miss star who was DFA’d by the New York Mets on Aug. 16, was formally released on Sunday. … Anthony Alford, the Petal High product who was DFA’d by Toronto last Thursday, remains in seven-day limbo.
A day after taking a scary-looking tumble and leaving the game, Corey Dickerson was back in Miami’s lineup for tonight’s contest at Washington. Dickerson, the Meridian Community College and Brookhaven Academy product, hurt his left shoulder on Sunday when he went over the wall chasing a foul ball down the left-field line at Nationals Park. It was the fifth inning of a game the Marlins trailed 9-1. Dickerson said the lopsided score never entered his mind; he was trying to make a play for his team. “That’s how I approach the game,” the McComb native said in an mlb.com story. “I just approach the game to go full force until the last out. That’s how I was raised and kind of got myself here.” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he wasn’t surprised at all by Dickerson’s daring effort: “He’s never giving anything less than that.” Dickerson, who signed with Miami as a free agent in the off-season, earned a Gold Glove as Pittsburgh’s left fielder in 2018 and has twice won the Heart and Hustle Award for his team during his eight-year MLB career. Dickerson went 2-for-2 Sunday with his third homer as the Marlins (11-11) lost 9-3. After a slow start, Dickerson has hit .346 over his last seven games and boosted his average to .257. He is a career .285 hitter. P.S. Former Ole Miss star Drew Pomeranz will be out until at least Saturday after going on San Diego’s 10-day injured list last week. The veteran lefty’s injury, a shoulder strain, is a blow to the surprising Padres; Pomeranz has four saves and a 0.00 ERA over 10 appearances.
They labor in a sort of netherworld, an alternate universe, so to speak. Every major league club has an alternate camp, where 30 or so players are working out and scrimmaging, mostly out of the view of media. News from these camps is sparse, but the transactions page on mlb.com is always humming. Players come and go from the active big league roster to the alternate camp on a fairly regular basis. “Our job is to just be ready to go whenever we’re called upon,” Mississippi State alum Brent Rooker, who is in Minnesota’s alternate camp in St. Paul, Minn., told the Columbus Commercial-Dispatch last month. “With this being a shortened season we kind of know anything can happen and we’re all just trying to stay ready to go.” Rooker, a first baseman/outfielder, hasn’t yet gotten the call for what would be his MLB debut. Former George County High star Justin Steele, also anticipating his first big league game, was summoned by the Chicago Cubs earlier this month, but the left-hander was sent back to their South Bend, Ind., camp a couple of days later. Southern Miss product Cody Carroll (Baltimore) and ex-Ole Miss standout Bobby Wahl (Milwaukee) were playing real games to start the season but are now in the alternate universe, where a bundle of other Mississippians work and wait. UM alum Jacob Waguespack was sent to Toronto’s alternate camp on Friday. Former State star Nate Lowe had an impact with Tampa Bay as a rookie in 2019, batting .263 with seven homers in 50 games, but the lefty-hitting first baseman hasn’t gotten a call from the Rays this summer. Ditto for Bobby Bradley, the Harrison Central High product who made his MLB debut last year with Cleveland and is no doubt itching for another crack. That would also be true for Jacob Lindgren, the injury-plagued former State ace who is in the Chicago White Sox’s alternate camp. His last MLB appearance was in 2015. Ex-Petal High standout Demarcus Evans, a hard-throwing reliever, appears to be on the cusp of his first call-up with Texas but for now is honing his command at Globe Life Park, the Rangers’ former home and current alternate camp. MSU product Ethan Small, Milwaukee’s first-round pick in 2019, is among a handful of inexperienced prospects who have been in alternate camp primarily to get specialized work. That group would include Southern Miss alum Nick Sandlin (Cleveland) and two 2020 draftees, former Ocean Springs High star Garrett Crochet (White Sox) and ex-Ole Miss star Tyler Keenan (Seattle). Justin Foscue, the 14th overall pick out of MSU by Texas in June, was just added to the Rangers’ 60-man pool and assigned to the alternate camp on Thursday. Crochet, who pitched at Tennessee, recently told the Chicago Tribune he would welcome a big league shot this year but is focused on other things in Schaumburg, Ill. “I feel as each side (session) has passed, I’m getting more and more comfortable in the environment and with the coaching staff,” he said. “I’m trusting the little tidbits of information they are feeding me. … I definitely would say each bullpen has progressed, but I’ve got a ways to go.” Still, in 2020, anything can happen. He might have to go fast.
The anticipation of Cristian Pache’s big league debut may not rise to the level of some others in recent Atlanta Braves history, but it is certainly worthy of some hype. As Mississippi Braves fans know, Pache has game. He arrived in Pearl late in 2018 and hit .260 in 29 games. He was back to start 2019 and batted .278 with 11 homers and 53 RBIs in 104 games before moving to Triple-A. Of course, his bat takes a back seat to his glove. MLB Pipeline rated Pache, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound center fielder, the top defensive prospect in the minors the last two years: “Not only does his speed allow him to chase down balls, he has incredible instincts, reads and routes.” He is a consensus top 20 prospect overall. “I just like to think of myself as a fun ballplayer who works really hard and gives maximum effort out there,” Pache told mlb.com through an interpreter. His originally scheduled debut Wednesday was rained out. The Braves were off Thursday and host Philadelphia tonight. It was with great fanfare, here and in the ATL, that Brian McCann made his big league debut 15 years ago, becoming the first M-Braves alumnus to make it. “B-Mac” went 2-for-3 with an RBI against Oakland on June 10, 2005. Since then, M-Braves fans have excitedly watched the debuts of Jeff Francoeur (1-for-4 with a homer in 2005); Jarrod Saltalamacchia (0-for-2 in 2007); Jordan Schafer (2-for-3 with a homer in his first AB in 2009); Tommy Hanson (6 innings, 6 runs allowed in 2009); Jason Heyward (2-for-5 with a homer in his first AB in 2010); Freddie Freeman (0-for-3 in 2010); Julio Teheran (4 2/3 innings, 3 runs in 2011); Evan Gattis (1-for-4 with a homer in 2013); Dansby Swanson (2-for-4 in 2016); Ozzie Albies (0-for-2 in 2017); Ronald Acuna (1-for-5 in 2018); and Austin Riley (1-for-3 with a homer in 2019). And now, Pache’s big day is here.