11 Aug

now that’s a big splash

Ever since Brian McCann made the jump from Mississippi to Atlanta in 2005 and banged out a couple of hits in his first game, we’ve seen some splashy MLB debuts from a number of former M-Braves. We’ve never seen anything like what Vaughn Grissom did on Wednesday night at Fenway Park in Boston. In fact, no one has. Grissom, 21, became the youngest player in the modern era to both hit a home run and steal a base in his debut. He is the only Braves player (Boston, Milwaukee or Atlanta) ever to do it. Not to be overlooked is the fact that Grissom, primarily a shortstop who played only one game at second base in 22 games for the M-Braves, handled eight chances flawlessly at second. He registered four assists and four putouts and turned two double plays. “He was like a kid out on the playground pretty much, just having a ball,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said in an mlb.com article. Having recently been elevated to the top of Atlanta’s prospect chart, Grissom was having a breakout season in the minors, batting .324 with 14 homers and 27 steals between High-Class A Rome and Double-A Mississippi. He was hitting .363 with three homers and seven bags for the M-Braves when he got the call-up. He was promptly inserted as the No. 9 hitter and plugged in at second base, filling a hole created by injuries. In the bottom of the first inning, the ball found him; he dug out a grounder by Rafael Devers, completed the 4-3 and flashed a broad grin. He was hitless in two at-bats when he came up in the seventh against lefty Darwinzon Hernandez. “The competitive nature kicked in,” Grissom told mlb.com. He launched a first-pitch fastball over the Green Monster, 412 feet, punctuated with a playful bat flip. In the ninth, he lashed a single to left and then stole second. He scored on a Dansby Swanson hit, the last run in the Braves’ 8-4 win. Jeff Francoeur homered in his first MLB game, as did Evan Gattis and Austin Riley. Jordan Schafer and Jason Heyward homered in their first at-bat. But the splashy debuts of those former M-Braves stars have to take a back seat to what Grissom did on Wednesday night. P.S. On a somber note, we mourn the passing of Corky Palmer, a legend in Southern Miss circles and beyond. Palmer, an affable character, is a thread through USM baseball history, having played for Pete Taylor, coached under Hill Denson and served as head coach for 12 years, taking the 2009 team (featuring Brian Dozier) to the College World Series. Current USM coach Scott Berry coached with Palmer for most of those years. He was 68.

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