Throwing 44 pitches over three scoreless innings on Thursday, J.T. Ginn has taken the first official step of his pro career. The ex-Mississippi State standout from Brandon made his long-awaited debut for the Low-A St. Lucie Mets. He yielded two hits, two walks and an HBP while registering one strikeout against Fort Myers. It was Ginn’s first appearance in an actual game since February of 2020 with MSU. He had Tommy John surgery shortly thereafter. The New York Mets picked him in the second round of last summer’s draft; they figure to be very cautious this year with their No. 6-ranked prospect. At MSU, right-hander Ginn posted a 3.22 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 89 1/3 innings, most of those in 2019 when he was the SEC and national freshman of the year. He features power stuff: an upper 90s fastball, a nasty sinker and a hard slider. Elsewhere on minor league mounds: Former Southern Miss standout Kirk McCarty improved to 4-0 with a strong seven-inning outing for Triple-A Columbus in the Cleveland system. The 5-foot-8 lefty, who has a 4.04 ERA in six starts, allowed five hits and two runs with seven K’s to beat Indianapolis. He is in his fourth pro season. … Ole Miss product Chris Ellis saw his ERA jump to 9.26 in four starts for Triple-A Durham in Tampa Bay’s chain. The well-traveled Ellis, 28, was touched for two hits, two walks and two runs in just one inning; he escaped with a no-decision. Durham’s game against Norfolk was called in the eighth inning after Bulls pitcher Tyler Zombro was hit in the head by a line drive. He was hospitalized and in stable condition at last report.
It seems somehow appropriate that Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies got their 500th career major league hits Thursday in the same game. The pair first played together as a keystone combo with the Mississippi Braves in 2016 and have followed a similar career arc. Swanson made his MLB debut in 2016, Albies the next year. They’ve now played 386 games together as the Atlanta shortstop and second baseman, respectively. They’ve been cogs – along with a bevy of other former M-Braves — in Atlanta’s run of three straight division titles. Swanson’s 500th hit was a big homer, figuratively and literally (440 feet), in the sixth inning of the 5-1 win over Washington at Truist Park. Albies’ 500th was his third hit of the game, an RBI double in the seventh. Sometimes you forget that Swanson was the No. 1 overall pick out of Vanderbilt in 2015 by Arizona, which sent him to Atlanta in the infamous Shelby Miller trade later that year. Swanson hasn’t always played up to that label. A recent hot streak has boosted his average to .239 with 10 homers and 25 RBIs. He’s a career .248 hitter prone to strikeout-filled slumps, but he flashes enough star power to keep Braves Nation excited. Albies was signed as a kid out of Curacao and has been a rock-solid contributor since arriving in the ATL. A switch-hitter, he’s currently batting .251 with nine homers and 32 RBIs. He is a .276 career hitter who has won a Silver Slugger and made the All-Star Game. Both young infielders are pretty slick with the glove. It’s too soon to start throwing out comparisons to Trammell and Whitaker, Russell and Lopes, Concepcion and Morgan, etc., but there does seem to be that potential. (At least Braves fans hope so.) P.S. An interesting footnote: The last teammates to get their 500th hit in the same game were former Ole Miss star David Dellucci and Gary Matthews Jr. with Texas in 2005. Dellucci, now starring on the SEC Network, finished with 736 hits.