On this date in 2010, on opening day in Atlanta, in his major league debut, on his first swing, Jason Heyward hit a three-run home run off the Chicago Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano. The “welcome to The Show” moment for the highly touted Heyward sent the Turner Field crowd into a frenzy and also provided a thrill for Mississippi Braves fans, who had witnessed Heyward’s prowess in 2009 at Trustmark Park. Former M-Braves stars have created quite a few of these moments in their big league debuts. Brian McCann, the first to get the call from the Double-A club in 2005, got a hit in his first big league at-bat. Later that summer, Jeff Francoeur homered in his first game, again rocking the Turner Field crowd. In 2009, Jordan Schafer went deep in his first at-bat, on his first swing. In 2012, Evan Gattis hit a bomb in his first game – while his father was being interviewed on Fox Sports South. In 2019, Austin Riley, the pride of DeSoto Central High, homered in his first big league game, this one at SunTrust Park. Who’ll be the next M-Braves alum to deliver on his big day? Keep an eye out for Drew Waters, the Southern League MVP and batting champ from 2019. His debut should come sometime this season.
Spring training numbers often are misleading. Nate Lowe’s Cactus League stats were nothing to get excited about: .205, one home run, 15 strikeouts and eight walks in 44 at-bats for Texas. Was the Mississippi State product out of sync? Well, three games into the real season, Lowe is batting .357 with a homer and nine RBIs — most in the American League and a franchise record for the first three games of a season. Lowe’s 465-foot, three-run blast on Sunday propelled the Rangers’ to their first win of 2021, 7-3 at Kansas City. There were reports in the spring that Lowe was taking too many good pitches. As it turned out, that was part of a plan to work on strike zone discipline. “We have to consistently stay in the strike zone,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said in an mlb.com story. “Nate Lowe does as good a job of that as anybody.” Acquired from Tampa Bay in an off-season trade, the lefty slugger hit .251 with 11 homers in 71 games for the Rays in 2019-20. He batted .348 with five homers and 49 RBIs in his one season (2016) in Starkville. P.S. Ex-State star Brent Rooker, recalled from Minnesota’s alternate camp when Josh Donaldson went on the injured list, went 0-for-2 in his 2021 debut on Sunday. … Ex-East Central Community College standout Tim Anderson is considered day-to-day for the Chicago White Sox with a hamstring strain suffered Sunday. … Ocean Springs High product Garrett Crochet made his ’21 debut Saturday for the ChiSox and retired all seven batters he faced, touching 99 mph and fanning three. … Former State star Hunter Renfroe is 0-for-7 in his first two games for Boston, which is 0-3. Former Bulldogs standout Mitch Moreland is 1-for-9 for Oakland, which is 0-4.