16 Jul

star power

The No. 1 player in the Hitter Power Rankings announced Thursday by mlb.com is not in Monday’s Home Run Derby. Nor is ex-DeSoto Central High star Austin Riley in the MLB All-Star Game, though he keeps building his case to be named as a replacement should one be needed on the National League squad. Riley, the aircraft carrier for Atlanta’s potent offense, leads the majors in total bases with 201. He hit his 26th homer — second in the NL — in Friday’s win at Washington. He is batting .424 with eight homers and 17 RBIs in his past 16 games and is currently riding an 11-game hit streak. Star stuff, for sure. Riley has said he’d love to participate in a Home Run Derby if (when?) he makes an All-Star Game. One imagines the 6-foot-3, 240-pound third baseman could put on quite a show. If we could put together a home run derby contest solely of Mississippians in pro ball, it would be compelling theater. You’d have Riley, who has blasted a 441-footer this season; Crystal Springs native Hunter Renfroe, who has 13 bombs for Milwaukee, including a 444-foot shot; Mississippi State alum Nathaniel Lowe (12 homers, including a 439-footer, for Texas); Southern Miss product Matt Wallner (21 in Double-A for Minnesota); ex-State star Brent Rooker (16 in Triple-A for San Diego); MSU alum Jordan Westburg (16 at Double-A and Triple-A for Baltimore); former Mississippi College star Blaine Crim (13 at Double-A for Texas); and the DeSoto Central slugging legend Blaze Jordan (eight in A-ball for Boston). P.S. Wallner is in today’s All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. There is an unofficial batting practice home run derby during that event, and he’d be one to watch. … Brookhaven native Lance Barksdale, a veteran MLB umpire, has been named as one of the umps for Tuesday’s All-Star Game; he’ll work first base. … Oxford High catcher Campbell Smithwick participated in Friday’s MLB-USA Baseball High School All-American Game at Dodger Stadium. … St. Louis has placed MSU product Dakota Hudson on the injured list with a neck strain. Hudson is 6-6 with a 4.10 ERA on the year — 2-4, 6.16 in his last seven starts. … Atlanta prospect Vaughn Grissom is batting .556 in four games for the Double-A Mississippi Braves, who won Friday on a walk-off homer by Justyn-Henry Malloy to improve to 12-4 in the second half.

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