12 Jul

seeing is believing

Numbers can be deceiving. Some of the newfangled defensive metrics paint Austin Riley as a sub-par third baseman. Regular followers of the Atlanta Braves know this ain’t so. Anyone who watched Tuesday night’s All-Star Game in Seattle also got an eyeful of the type of plays Riley makes routinely for the Braves. In the fifth inning, having just entered the game, the ex-DeSoto Central High star charged in, fielded a grounder with one hand and threw out the batter. In the bottom of the eighth, after the National League had taken the lead, Riley speared a 106.2 mph line drive off the bat of Brent Rooker and, from one knee, threw across to first to double off a runner. Both were key plays in the NL’s 3-2 win, which snapped a nine-game losing streak in the Midsummer Classic. Riley also went 1-for-2 at the plate and is 2-for-4 in his two All-Star appearances. Justin Steele, the lefty from Lucedale, pitched a scoreless inning for the NL in his All-Star debut; he was on the bump when Riley made the first of his two glittering plays. Former Mississippi State star Rooker, also an All-Star rookie, went 1-for-2 for the American League; his sixth-inning double was a big hit in the inning in which the AL took a 2-1 lead. P.S. On the final day of the MLB draft, three more players from state schools were selected: The Braves took Itawamba Community College third baseman Will Verdung — the MACCC’s player of the year — in the 13th round; Detroit took Tupelo High right-hander Johnathan Rogers in the 20th round; and the New York Mets plucked MSU’s Kellum Clark in Round 20. In all, 14 players were drafted out of Mississippi, four each from Ole Miss and Southern Miss. Worth noting: Landon Tomkins, a former Hinds CC and Northwest Rankin pitcher, was drafted in Round 10 out of Louisiana Tech by Pittsburgh. … Today marks the 50th anniversary of Dave Parker’s MLB debut with the Pirates. The Grenada native went 0-for-4 that day but went on to bat .290 with 339 homers in a 19-year career that included an MVP award, two World Series rings, two batting titles, seven All-Star nods, three Gold Gloves and a Home Run Derby crown.

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