12 Aug

wings of eagles

The Mississippi Braves ran into some stout pitching at Tennessee on Thursday night, the most effective of the three arms that shut them down belonging to former Southern Miss right-hander Walker Powell. In a 1-0 Smokies victory, Powell worked five innings in middle relief, yielding three hits and a walk while striking out seven. He got the win, improving to 3-2, 2.40 ERA, in seven games for the Chicago Cubs’ Double-A affiliate. On the year, at three different levels, the 6-foot-8 Powell is 10-2, 3.02. Signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent out of the MLB Draft League last summer, Powell is one of 14 former USM pitchers currently in pro ball. Pitching has become a hallmark of the Golden Eagles program, and it showed in this year’s draft, with five USM pitchers getting picked. Another was signed as a non-drafted free agent. Ole Miss and Mississippi State have had higher profile draftees in recent years, but USM is producing its fair share. Nick Sandlin, a second-round pick by Cleveland in 2018, is the lone USM alum currently in the majors; he has a 2.51 ERA as a reliever for the first-place Guardians. Cody Carroll, drafted back in 2015, and Kirk McCarty, a 2017 draftee, also have pitched in the big leagues, though both are currently in Triple-A. McCarty has been up-and-down with Cleveland this season and has posted two wins. J.C. Keys is in Double-A in the Cincinnati system, and Ryan Och, Hunter Stanley and Jarod Wright are in A-ball. The 2022 crop of draftees includes Dalton Rogers (a third-round pick by Boston), Ben Ethridge, Garrett Ramsey, Landon Harper and Tyler Stuart. Hunter Riggins signed after the draft. Stuart is the only one of that group to debut, throwing one inning in rookie ball. P.S. Kudos to Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco, who got a well-deserved four-year contract extension. The school’s all-time winningest coach — and No. 3 all-time among SEC coaches — won the national championship this season along with his second batch of national coach of the year awards in three seasons. He may also finally have won over Ole Miss fans.

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