24 May

comin’ on strong

In the Baltimore Orioles’ loaded minor league system, it ain’t easy to stand out, especially for a player not ranked among their top prospects. But there at High-Class A Aberdeen goes Matthew Etzel, putting up eye-catching numbers. The Southern Miss product, a 10th-round pick by the Orioles in 2023, is hitting .293 with four homers, 23 RBIs, 20 steals, six doubles, two triples, 26 runs and a .392 on-base percentage. The lefty-hitting outfielder — 6 feet 2, 211 pounds — ranks in the top 11 in five offensive categories in the South Atlantic League. You won’t find Etzel’s name on MLB Pipeline’s chart of the Top 30 Baltimore prospects, four of whom rank in the top 22 on the overall minor league prospect chart. But his star is rising. He typically bats cleanup and plays center field for the IronBirds. “He is super exciting, definitely under the radar,” Aberdeen hitting coach Zach Cole recently told Orioles Beat. “He’s a guy that could climb the system pretty quick.” Etzel batted .317 with seven homers, 51 RBIs and 23 steals for USM’s Sun Belt Conference championship team in 2023, his only year in Hattiesburg after transferring from a Texas juco. P.S. Etzel’s alma mater rallied to win, 6-5 over Troy, in the SBC Tournament on Thursday and gets today off in Montgomery, Ala. … Jackson State won big again — 11-6 over Bethune-Cookman — in the SWAC Tournament in Atlanta and plays again today against the BCU-Texas Southern winner. … Mississippi State, afer losing to Vanderbilt in the SEC tourney, tackles top-seeded Tennessee in an elimination game today at Hoover, Ala. … Congrats to MHSAA state champions Brandon (Class 7A) and East Webster (3A), both of which completed sweeps on Thursday at Trustmark Park in Pearl.

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