12 Jul

a central theme

Central Division teams in MLB will play only other Central Division teams in this year’s 60-game season, and that means a bunch of Mississippians will go head-to-head a bunch in the battle for playoff berths. It makes for an interesting subplot in what will be a very unusual season. In the National League, defending division champion St. Louis features ex-Mississippi State star Dakota Hudson at the top of its rotation. Milwaukee, a wild card team in 2019, features State alum Brandon Woodruff as its presumptive ace and could have former Ole Miss standout Bobby Wahl in its bullpen. In addition, the Brewers recently added ex-State star Ethan Small, their top pitching prospect, and Ole Miss product Thomas Dillard, a catching prospect, to their 60-man pool. Cincinnati, considered a team on the rise, lists former Northwest Mississippi Community College star Cody Reed as one of its bullpen options. Pittsburgh, likely to play a spoiler role, has ex-State star Adam Frazier (second base) and Southwest Mississippi CC alum Jarrod Dyson (center field) penciled in for the everyday lineup and former Bulldogs ace Chris Stratton as a possible swingman on the pitching staff. The Chicago Cubs don’t currently have a Mississippian on their 60-man list but do have former State pitcher Chris Young as their new bullpen coach. In the American League, defending division champ Minnesota has ex-State standout Brent Rooker in its 60-man pool, and he has been getting work in the main summer camp. Though not yet on the 40-man roster, Rooker has the kind of power that would fit right in with the Twins’ lineup of mashers. Many view the Chicago White Sox as a contender this year, and one of the central reasons is Tim Anderson, the East Central CC product who won the league batting title in 2019. Cleveland also has playoff potential, and former Harrison Central High slugger Bobby Bradley, who made his MLB debut in 2019, could play a key role this season as a backup first baseman/DH. Ex-Southern Miss pitcher Nick Sandlin is also on the Indians’ 60-man list. Detroit, which features Madison Central alum Spencer Turnbull in its rotation and Richton High product Jacoby Jones in center field, likely won’t contend. But Ron Gardenhire’s club certainly could be a thorn in the side of others who expect to. P.S. Former Southen Miss star Brian Dozier was released on Saturday by San Diego. The veteran second baseman went to spring training with the Padres on a minor league contract but was not in summer camp, having been left off the 60-man roster. Dozier, who spent the bulk of his career in the AL Central with Minnesota before playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington during the past two years, presumably is now looking for a new team with the start of the season less than two weeks away.

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