21 May

setting the table

The Mississippi Braves have scratched out a 6-9 record despite being last in the Double-A South in runs, batting and on-base percentage. As fans of “Bull Durham” might ask, How’d they ever win six? One reason would be the play of Justin Dean, the diminutive leadoff batter. Dean has reached base in each of the 14 games he has played; his OBP of .426 ranks fifth in the league. He is batting .262 and has scored nine runs, driven in four and stolen five bases. Speed is the prime tool for the 24-year-old center fielder, who goes 5 feet 6, 185 pounds. He swiped 47 bases (with nine triples) at Class A Rome in 2019 and earned league All-Star honors and a trip to the Arizona Fall League. A 17th-round pick out of NCAA Division II Lenoir-Rhyne in 2018, he is batting .283 over his three pro seasons. MLB Pipeline ranks Dean 26th among Atlanta’s prospects, noting that “he has the chance to be a table-setter type, perhaps with a career as a fourth outfielder the most likely.” Dean will look to set the table tonight when the M-Braves play Chattanooga in the fourth game of a six-game set at Trustmark Park. P.S. On Chattanooga’s roster is a pair of former Southern Miss stars: Pitcher J.C. Keys, drafted by Cincinnati in 2019, and Chuckie Robinson, a catcher who was plucked by the Reds from Houston in the Rule 5 draft in December. Keys took the loss in relief on Wednesday but has a 1.69 ERA in four games. Robinson is 4-for-16 in five games this season and is a .249 career hitter over five pro seasons. Notably, he has caught two of Nick Lodolo’s starts and Hunter Greene’s last one, a 10-strikeout gem. Those are two top prospects in Cincy’s system. … There are several other Mississippi products scattered around the Double-A South. Ex-Columbia High standout Ti’Quan Forbes and Mississippi State alum Konnor Pilkington are with Birmingham, former State star Ethan Small is at Biloxi, ex-Ole Miss standout Wyatt Short is with Tennessee, UM product Nick Fortes plays for Pensacola and former Delta State star Dalton Moats is at Montgomery.

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