05 Jul

star-spangled performance

There is something special about having a big day on July 4, when baseball tends to command center stage in the sports world. Brent Rooker, the Mississippi State product now with the Oakland A’s, rose to the occasion on Thursday, going 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI (plus a stolen base!) in Oakland’s 5-0 win over the visiting Los Angeles Angels. Rooker is making a strong case for a second straight trip to the All-Star Game. He is batting .273 with 17 homers and 50 RBIs. He went 6-for-10 with two homers in the A’s three-game sweep of the Angels and is batting .352 over his last 15 games. The full All-Star rosters will be announced Sunday. “Just being candid and being honest, I think the numbers I’ve put up this year are right in line with the rest of the guys that will be there,” Rooker told mlb.com. “If I’m there, awesome.” Rooker is also a trade candidate for a last-place A’s team that is 33-56 and going nowhere in 2024. … Other star-spangled performances from July 4: Ex-State standout Jordan Westburg, another All-Star candidate, hit his 14th home run for Baltimore. Former Southern Miss star Nick Sandlin came off the injured list and got the last three outs in a win by surging Cleveland. Biloxi High product Colt Keith hit his fifth home run in a 2-for-4 day for Detroit. MSU alum Hunter Renfroe went 2-for-4 with an RBI for Kansas City. Former DeSoto Central standout Austin Riley went 1-for-3 with an RBI for Atlanta. P.S. Down in the minors, ex-USM star Justin Storm notched his fourth win with two solid innings of work for Low-Class A Jupiter in the Miami system. The 6-foot-7, 230-pound left-hander, a 2023 draftee, has a 1.40 ERA, an 0.97 WHIP, two saves and 35 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings over 16 games this season. The Madison Central alum isn’t currently listed among the Marlins’ Top 30 prospects (by MLB Pipeline), but he must be knocking on that door. … Bryson Ware, former Germantown High and Pearl River Community College standout, blasted two homers for Low-A Clearwater (Philadelphia system) and now has nine bombs and 40 RBIs on the year.

03 Jul

rise and fall

The hard fall of Tim Anderson created a loud thud on Tuesday when the former batting champion and All-Star shortstop was designated for assignment by one of the worst teams in baseball. East Central Community College alum Anderson, a .278 career hitter, was batting .214 with no homers for Miami. Fittingly, he struck out Sunday in his final at-bat with the Marlins, giving him 68 strikeouts in 234 ABs this season. He was on a one-year, $5M contract after being cut loose by the Chicago White Sox following a poor 2023 season. Speculation is Anderson, 31, will be released; he may well get another shot somewhere. … Grae Kessinger, ex-Ole Miss star, was recalled from Triple-A by Houston and was in uniform for the Astros’ game at Toronto on Tuesday, though he did not play. Kessinger, 0-for-11 in MLB ABs this year, was batting .283 with two homers and 11 RBIs at Sugar Land. … Ex-Mississippi State star Jordan Westburg, now with Baltimore, apparently will fall short of beating out Jose Ramirez for the starting nod at third base for the American League in fan balloting for the All-Star Game. Voting ends today. … MSU product Nathaniel Lowe, who had just two homers as of June 25, has hit four in his last seven games, including two in Texas’ 7-0 victory against San Diego on Tuesday. (It was his bobblehead night.) He averaged 21 homers over the previous three years for the Rangers. … Former Ole Miss standout Anthony Servideo was sent back to Double-A Bowie from Triple-A Norfolk by Baltimore. Servideo, a third-round pick in 2020, was batting .212 in 14 games for the Tides; he was hitting .196 for Bowie when he was promoted to fill a roster need. … Cleveland sent Southern Miss product Nick Sandlin (5-0, one save, 3.49 ERA) on a rehab assignment to Triple-A Columbus. He worked a scoreless inning Tuesday. The reliever has been on the injured list since June 17. … Ole Miss alum Dylan DeLucia was promoted from rookie ball to Low-Class A Lynchburg by Cleveland. He made two appearances in the Arizona Complex League, his first outings since being drafted in 2022. He did not pitch Tuesday. … Former Magnolia Heights star Cooper Pratt, Milwaukee’s No. 4 prospect (see previous post), cracked MLB Pipeline’s new Top 100 minor league prospects list at No. 96. Pratt is in A-ball. USM alum Hurston Waldrep, who already has debuted with Atlanta this season, is No. 70, up from 72 in the previous ranking.

09 Jul

represent

One imagines that Tim Anderson did a virtual bat flip when he got the official word. The demonstrative (and occasionally controversial) Anderson won the fan voting for American League All-Star shortstop. “It’s a blessing,” the East Central Community College product told mlb.com after his Chicago White Sox lost to Detroit on Friday night. “I’m very thankful to be selected to start.” Despite a recent slump, Anderson is batting .316 with five homers, 20 RBIs and 10 steals in 56 games as the White Sox’s leadoff batter. The former AL batting champ was picked for last year’s game as a replacement for an injured player. The last ChiSox shortstop to start an All-Star Game was Luis Aparicio in 1970. … At least one Mississippi college product has made the All-Star Game every year since 2015, starting with Brian Dozier and Jonathan Papelbon that year, followed by Drew Pomeranz (2016), Zack Cozart and Corey Dickerson (2017), Mitch Moreland (2018), Brandon Woodruff (2019) and Anderson, Woodruff, Lance Lynn and Adam Frazier (2021). (There was no game in 2020.) P.S. An actual bat flip was in order for the Mississippi Braves’ Drew Lugbauer, who hit a walk-off three-run homer in a 6-3 win Friday night against Pensacola at Trustmark Park. “Slugbauer” now has 17 homers on the year for the Double-A M-Braves, off to a 7-3 start in the second half of the Southern League season. Other notable bombs from Friday: Former M-Braves Ronald Acuna (an All-Star starter), William Contreras and Michael Harris II for Atlanta; Mississippi State alum Jordan Westburg, No. 7 for Triple-A Norfolk (Baltimore); Ole Miss product Thomas Dillard, No. 7 for Double-A Biloxi (Milwaukee); ex-Mississippi Gulf Coast CC star Brandon Parker, No. 5 as part of a four-hit game for Low-A Augusta (Atlanta); and Brookhaven native James Beard, No. 4 for Low-A Kannapolis (White Sox).

20 Jul

that’s consistency

Tim Anderson was playing like an All-Star before he was named as a late addition to the American League squad. Nothing has changed since. The East Central Community College product went into the break on a 12-game hit streak that started before he was named to the team for the first time. As if he needed to validate his selection, he has hit safely in all four games he has played since the break and has homered in three straight for the first-place Chicago White Sox. “(He) is one of the big reasons why we are where we are,” manager Tony LaRussa told The Associated Press. Anderson has 12 hits in his last seven games, 28 during his 16-game streak and is batting .394 over that stretch. For the year, Anderson, in his sixth season as the White Sox’s regular shortstop, is batting .314 with nine homers, 36 RBIs, 61 runs and 14 stolen bases. Anderson will look to extend his streak when Chicago hosts Minnesota today. The club record for a hitting streak is 28, held by Carlos Lee (2004). P.S. Petal’s Demarcus Evans was recalled by Texas on Sunday, threw two scoreless innings, then was optioned back to Triple-A Monday. Thanks for playing.

13 Jul

star dates

For the first time in 30 years, a Mississippi State alumnus will start in the All-Star Game. (It’s been a good year for State.) Adam Frazier draws the honor at second base, batting ninth, for the National League in tonight’s All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver. The last State alum to start in the Midsummer Classic was Will Clark with San Francisco in 1991. In 2017, Mississippi had two All-Star starters: former Ole Miss star Zack Cozart for the NL and Meridian Community College product Corey Dickerson for the AL. Frazier, batting .330 for Pittsburgh, was voted in as the NL second baseman by fans. It’s his first All-Star appearance. MSU alum Brandon Woodruff of Milwaukee and Ole Miss product Lance Lynn of the Chicago White Sox were chosen as pitchers by fellow players, but Woodruff was scratched from the NL roster because he started Sunday. Former East Central CC star Tim Anderson of the White Sox made his first All-Star Game as a replacement player at shortstop. … Thirty years ago, at Toronto’s SkyDome, former State stars Clark and Rafael Palmeiro were on opposing sides; the “Thunder and Lightning” duo had been teammates on the NL team in 1988. Clark went 1-for-2 with a walk for the NL in ’91, and Palmeiro, with Texas at the time, came off the bench and walked in his only plate appearance for the AL. A Cal Ripken homer sparked the AL to a 4-2 win. … This year marks the 80th anniversary of one of the most dramatic home runs in All-Star Game history, the game-ending, two-out, three-run shot by Ted Williams against Waynesboro native Claude Passeau at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. Said Williams after the game: “Halfway down to first, seeing that ball going out, I stopped running and started leaping and jumping and clapping my hands, and I was so happy I laughed out loud.” … Forty years ago, the All-Star Game at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium marked the first time players got back on the field following the strike and drew a crowd of 72,000-plus. In the sixth inning, Grenada native Dave Parker hit a blast into the right-center field seats that gave the National League the lead en route to a 5-4 win. That’s one of just four All-Star Game homers by Mississippi natives. (George Scott, Frank White and Brian Dozier hit the others.) … Ten years ago, at Chase Field in Arizona, Meridian CC alum Cliff Lee, then with Cleveland, gave up a homer to Adrian Gonzalez in his one inning of work in the NL’s 5-1 win. Lee, a somewhat underrated 143-game winner in the majors, was making the third of four All-Star appearances.

08 Jul

access denied

Tim Anderson has won a batting title and a Silver Slugger award. The former East Central Community College star, now in his seventh big league season, led his team, the Chicago White Sox, to a playoff berth in 2020 and to the top of the American League Central standings as of today. And yet: He hasn’t earned an All-Star Game invite. Granted, for a shortstop in the AL, that’s no easy feat. Xander Bogaerts was voted in by the fans. Carlos Correa and Bo Bichette, also deserving of consideration, were picked as reserve shortstops. Anderson — currently batting .307 with six homers, 29 RBIs, 50 runs and 14 steals — was snubbed, and Frank Thomas, the former White Sox star and Hall of Famer, was outraged (really). “Tim Anderson has proven to be a superstar in this league,” he said during a rant on a ChiSox pregame TV show. The normally outspoken Anderson has let his bat talk. He is 8-for-12 since the reserves were announced on July 4. He put up a 4-for-4 game on Wednesday as Chicago – and Ole Miss product Lance Lynn, an All-Star pick – beat Minnesota 6-1. P.S. Former Mississippi Braves Ronald Acuna, Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson combined for 11 hits, four RBIs and seven runs in Atlanta’s 14-3 win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Some other ex-M-Braves also showed out: Jason Heyward put a 4-1-1-1 in the box score and made a great catch in right field as the Cubs snapped their 11-game skid; Craig Kimbrel got the last three outs. Jose Peraza hit a late game-tying homer that propelled the New York Mets to a win over Milwaukee. Phil Gosselin went 1-for-4 with an RBI for the Los Angeles Angels in a 5-4 win against Boston. And Alex Wood worked seven innings for his eighth win as San Francisco topped St. Louis 5-2.

24 Jun

star gazing

The first phase of fan voting for the All-Star Game ended today with Adam Frazier looking like the lone Mississippi product on track to make Phase 2. Per the last update on the results, former Mississippi State standout Frazier was second in the voting for National League second baseman (behind Ozzie Albies); the top three advance in the voting process. The finalists for Phase 2 will be announced on Sunday. Frazier is among the league leaders with a .324 average for Pittsburgh. Ex-East Central Community College star Tim Anderson, having an All-Star type year for the Chicago White Sox, stood fourth at American League shortstop. Xander Bogaerts, Bo Bichette and Carlos Correa led that pack. Anderson, batting .297 with six homers, 41 runs and 13 steals, might still get picked as a reserve. A recent slump may have cost Austin Riley a shot at making the NL team at third base; he was fourth in the latest release. The DeSoto Central High product, who had a great month of May, is hitting .276 with 12 homers. Former State standout Brandon Woodruff (6-3, 1.89 ERA) and Ole Miss alum Lance Lynn (7-3, 2.14) would appear to be solid candidates as pitchers, which are chosen by player ballot and the Commissioner’s Office.

09 Jun

noteworthy

Just throwing this out there: It’s entirely possible that five Mississippi products could make the MLB All-Star Game rosters. East Central Community College alum Tim Anderson, ex-Mississippi State star Adam Frazier, ex-Ole Miss standout Lance Lynn, DeSoto Central High product Austin Riley and former MSU standout Brandon Woodruff all have credentials worthy of a trip to Colorado next month. Heck, even State alum Hunter Renfroe, if he continues on his recent tear, could garner support in Phase 1 of the fan voting for position players currently under way. Phase 2, the final round of fan voting, begins on June 28. (Pitchers are chosen by player ballot and the Commissioner’s Office.) … There is some good news on the injury front regarding Mississippians in the majors. Former State standout Kendall Graveman began a rehab assignment Tuesday night, throwing an inning for Triple-A Tacoma in Seattle’s system. Graveman went on the IL on May 23, reportedly for COVID-19 related issues. He was in the midst of an excellent season with the Mariners, having not allowed a run in 14 relief appearances. The list of injured Mississippi products remains lengthy: Billy Hamilton went on the IL (oblique) on Sunday, joining Spencer Turnbull (forearm), Cody Reed (thumb), Justin Steele (hamstring), Drew Pomeranz (shoulder) and Jonathan Holder (shoulder) as current ILers. Holder has been on the Chicago Cubs’ IL all season, as has Dakota Hudson (2020 Tommy John surgery) with St. Louis. Mitch Moreland, Lance Lynn, Mike Mayers, Tim Anderson and Garrett Crochet all have spent time on the list. It has been that kind of year. … Ex-Richton High star JaCoby Jones lost his spot on Detroit’s 40-man roster when he was designated for assignment on Sunday. He was hitting .205 at Triple-A Toledo, which is where he’ll likely return if he clears waivers. … The search is ongoing for new coaches at Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State, both of which recently fired their coaches. Bretton Richardson went 67-166 in six years at Alcorn, including a 7-20 run this season. Aaron Stevens coached at Valley for seven years; the Delta Devils finished 0-20 in 2021. Obviously, winning consistently is a challenge at both schools, but it has been done. … Team Jennings, coached by former Itawamba Community College star Desmond Jennings, won the inaugural HBCU All-Star Game, played Tuesday night at the Hoover Met in Alabama. Former major leaguer Jennings had four state-connected players on his roster: Chenar Brown from Jackson State, Jose Fernandez and Tristan Garcia from Alcorn and Sieas Elliot from Rust College. Team Weeks, coached by former Southern University and MLB star Rickie Weeks, included JSU’s Nik Galatas, Chandler Dillard and Jeremiah Hill along with Tougaloo’s D’Anthony Morrow. The game was organized and hosted by Minority Baseball Prospects.

17 May

in the stars

The MLB All-Star Game is some two months away, but it’s not too early to start projecting that Adam Frazier will make the National League team. The former Mississippi State and current Pittsburgh Pirates standout leads the league in hits (51) and tops NL second basemen in batting average (.323) and OPS. Frazier, a lefty bat, had something of a down year in 2020 – like many others – but is a .277 career hitter with both pop and speed. In 2021, he has one homer, three triples, 13 doubles, three steals, 13 RBIs and 20 runs over 39 games. Oddly enough, the sixth-year big leaguer wasn’t assured a starting job entering spring training and was the subject of trade rumors. But after raking at a .488 clip in the Grapefruit League, he has been entrenched at second base since Day 1. His defense? He occasionally shifts to left field late in games because the Pirates are short-handed out there, not because he’s lacking at second base. He is a two-time Gold Glove finalist. “(H)e’s doing an unbelievable job at second. We’d prefer to keep him there and plan on keeping him there,” Bucs manager Derek Shelton told triblive.com. Don’t be surprised to see Frazier in Colorado with the other All-Stars in July.

09 Jul

star treks

For the fifth straight year, at least one Mississippi college product will be at the MLB All-Star Game. The honor tonight in Cleveland belongs to Brandon Woodruff, the former Mississippi State standout from Wheeler who was named as a replacement to the National League pitching staff. He follows Mitch Moreland (2018), Zack Cozart and Corey Dickerson (2017), Drew Pomeranz (2016) and Brian Dozier and Jonathan Papelbon (2015) as recent All-Stars out of Magnolia State schools. Woodruff has emerged as Milwaukee’s ace this season, posting a 10-3 record with a 3.67 ERA. The Brewers, second in the NL Central, are 14-4 in his starts. Woodruff found out at a team meeting on Saturday that he would be taking teammate Josh Hader’s spot in the 90th Midsummer Classic. Woodruff called it “pretty cool.” “Sitting here now and becoming an All-Star was something I didn’t think of. The first couple of years, you have a lot of times where you feel like, ‘Man, this game is tough,’” he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Woodruff came out of State as a raw prospect in 2014, drafted in the 11th round by the Brewers after putting up a 5.95 ERA, 44 strikeouts and 34 walks in 56 innings over two years in Starkville. He developed quickly. By 2016 he was the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year, and he debuted in The Show in 2017. Woodruff helped the Brewers reach the NL Championship Series last fall, getting the win and homering (off Clayton Kershaw) in Game 1. P.S. For the record, DeSoto Central High’s Blaze Jordan won the High School Home Run Derby in Cleveland on Monday night. … This is the sixth All-Star Game in Cleveland, which memorably hosted the 1981 game that ended the player strike. On Aug. 9 at old Municipal Stadium, Grenada native Dave Parker hit the only home run in his six All-Star Game appearances. Two years earlier, in the ’79 All-Star Game at Seattle, Parker won MVP honors when he cut down runners at third and home with laser throws from right field and drove in a run for the victorious NL.