22 Feb

making camp

While major league players remain locked out of spring training camps, minor leaguers are or soon will be working out and playing games in Florida and Arizona. This group includes a bundle of Mississippians at various stages of their pro careers, all trying to make an impression on the big league managers and coaches who are in camp. Here’s a sampling: In Detroit’s camp, former Mississippi State pitcher Zac Houston, 27, drafted back in 2016, is bouncing back from a shoulder injury that limited him to seven games in the low minors in 2021. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound right-hander reached Triple-A in 2018 and seemed on the cusp of a big league call. He has a career 2.35 ERA and strikeout stuff when he’s healthy. … Richton’s JaCoby Jones, cut loose by Detroit last year, is in Kansas City’s camp on a minor league deal, trying to resurrect his career. The outfielder, 29, batted .212 over six injury-marred seasons with the Tigers. … Former DeSoto Central High star Blaze Jordan might be the top power prospect in Boston’s system, but former Itawamba Community College standout Tyreque Reed has some pop that also has caught the eye of Red Sox brass. A right-handed hitting first baseman, the 24-year-old Reed has averaged 18 homers over the past three seasons and reached the Double-A level in 2021, his fourth pro year. … Will Bednar is in his first spring camp with San Francisco. The 14th overall pick last summer out of MSU, where the right-hander was a College World Series hero, he was impressive in four appearances in the low minors last season. … In the Texas Rangers’ camp, there’s Blaine Crim, a Mississippi College product who isn’t rated among the team’s top prospects but has done nothing but rake over his two pro seasons. A righty-hitting first baseman, he has a .314 career average with 37 homers and reached Double-A in 2021. He batted .402 in Puerto Rico this winter. … Colby White figures to get a lot of attention in Tampa Bay’s camp. The right-hander, 23, a 2019 draftee out of MSU, rose through four levels last summer, topping out at Triple-A, and finished with a 1.44 ERA. … Ex-Bulldogs ace Ethan Small, a Milwaukee farmhand, is also very close to making The Show, whenever that show might open. A first-round pick in 2018, he made it to Triple-A in 2021 and put up a 2.06 ERA in nine games there. … In Minnesota’s camp, ex-Southern Miss standout Matt Wallner, coming off an injury-interrupted 2021 season, hopes to build on a strong finish that carried into the Arizona Fall League. The lefty slugger, the 39th overall pick in 2019, hit 15 homers in High-A ball last summer and six more in the AFL. … In Baltimore’s camp, there are three Mississippi college products, each a rated prospect: MSU alum Jordan Westburg, USM’s Reed Trimble and Ole Miss’ Anthony Servideo.

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