15 Aug

warming trend

When you’ve been in the deep freeze, a 6-for-9 spurt over two games qualifies as a hot streak. Former Mississippi State star Brent Rooker homered Saturday for the second straight game for Minnesota and raised his average to .198. He has six homers on the season in 28 MLB games. Rooker entered Friday’s game in a 1-for-24 slump that had dropped his average to .157. The guy can hit. He batted .344 in his State career and was the SEC’s Triple Crown winner in 2017, prompting the Twins to take him 35th overall in the draft. In the minors, he has hit .262 with 73 homers in 320 games. But this season has been a rocky one. He was batting .103 for the Twins in April when he was sent down. He had 19 homers but just a .239 average at Triple-A St. Paul when he was recalled in July. Rooker put up a five-game hit streak at one stage that month before tailing off again. In addition to his two hits on Saturday, Rooker made a sweet diving catch in left field. “It’s something that I’ve continued to work on,” he said of his defense in an mlb.com story. “I think I’ve done a good job at this point … .” He needs to keep it going — in both phases. P.S. Mitch Moreland, another ex-Bulldogs star, also appears to be heating up. The Oakland DH (see previous post) is 5-for-13 in his last three games with three homers, a triple and a double. Moreland has 10 bombs and is up to .236 for the season.

27 Jul

boom or bust

Brent Rooker doesn’t always hit the ball. But when he does, it goes a long way. Mississippi State product Rooker blasted a 460-foot home run on Monday night for the Minnesota Twins. In four games since being recalled from Triple-A St. Paul, Rooker has three hits: two homers and a double. Including his April stint with the Twins, he is 6-for-44, with three homers and two doubles. He has struck out 18 times. From all indications, Rooker – the 35th overall pick in the 2017 draft — is going to play down the stretch, either as the DH or a corner outfielder. His MLB debut in 2020 was cut short by injury; he hit .316 with a homer and five RBIs in seven September games. He struggled at the outset of this season and was shipped out to St. Paul, where he was batting .239 (.546 slugging) with 19 homers. His career minor league numbers: .262 (.512 slugging), 73 homers, 393 K’s in 320 games. As a blogger at twinkietown.com notes: “At this point, he mostly is what he is going to be. It’s time to find out if what he is will be good enough to produce at the game’s highest level.” Basically, he just needs to hit the ball more often. … Rooker’s 460-foot bomb is the second-longest by a Mississippian in the majors this season, topped only by Nate Lowe’s 465-footer, per Baseball Savant. Hunter Renfroe has a 453, Mitch Moreland a 444, Austin Riley a 439, Bobby Bradley and Corey Dickerson each a 432.

14 Jul

power grid

While the big league stars were out in Colorado on Tuesday, former Mississippi State star Brent Rooker generated some luminosity down in Triple-A. Rooker blasted three home runs and drove in a career-high seven runs to power St. Paul to a 19-1 win over Columbus. Rooker, who started this season in Minnesota but didn’t hit enough to stick, now has 17 homers on the season, tied for the most in the Triple-A East. The right-handed hitting outfielder/DH is batting .245 with 41 RBIs for the Saints as he awaits another big league shot. “(Y)ou have to just stay confident in yourself and make the right adjustments,” he told milb.com. “I believe in myself and know I can be successful (in the big leagues).” … In Double-A, Ole Miss alum Grae Kessinger hit his sixth homer for Houston’s Corpus Christi club. The infielder, in his second pro season, has lifted his average to .213 with a recent hot streak. … In High-A, ex-State star Justin Foscue and former Mississippi College standout Blaine Crim, hitting 2-3 in the Hickory lineup, produced long balls. Crim, who has been on a tear, has 13 homers and Foscue, a 2020 draftee, four for the Texas affiliate. (Foscue’s former Bulldogs teammate and 2020 draftee Jordan Westburg went 2-for-5 for Aberdeen (Baltimore) in that same game.) … In Low-A, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College product Brandon Parker went yard for Augusta, an Atlanta farm club. Parker, in his second pro season, has six homers but is batting just .174. … And in the Florida Complex League on Monday, ex-DeSoto Central High star Blaze Jordan got his first pro homer. The storied slugger, 18, a third-round pick by Boston last year, is hitting .194 through eight games. P.S. Bobby Wahl, the former Ole Miss pitcher, has been released by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Wahl, 29, who has big league time, has an 11.12 ERA in 15 games this season for three minor league teams in the Milwaukee and L.A. systems.

22 Jun

waiting game

Brent Rooker did not get recalled when Minnesota needed an outfielder to replace the injured Byron Buxton. The Twins went with Gilberto Celestino, their No. 6 prospect, to fill Buxton’s spot in center field. Former Mississippi State standout Rooker, a corner outfielder (and the No. 10 prospect), remains at Triple-A St. Paul. Celestino, who hit .121 in 11 games with the Twins this month, was just sent down to Triple-A on Friday when Buxton was activated from a previous stint on the IL. Rooker opened the season in the big leagues and batted .103 in eight games. He has been in Triple-A since May 3, batting .225 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs in 35 games and apparently seeing some encouraging signs. “When I’m going good I can use all parts (of the field) and drive the ball to all fields pretty well,” Rooker said in a twincities.com story after hitting his 10th homer, to the opposite field, last Saturday. “One of my strengths is being able to hit the ball out of any part of the ballpark.” He has 64 minor league home runs over parts of four seasons and two big league homers.

09 Sep

that’s one

Brent Rooker, the latest in a string of sluggers Mississippi State has propelled to the big leagues, hit his first home run on Tuesday in Minnesota’s loss to St. Louis in Game 2 of a twinbill. He’ll likely hit a few more. Rooker has been rated one of the top power-hitting prospects in the Twins’ system since he was drafted out of Starkville in 2017. He has 54 minor league bombs in 259 games, and he blasted a tape-measure shot in Tokyo in a Team USA game last fall. Rooker hit 23 homers at State in his All-America junior season and 36 over his three-year career. So, yes, he’s got pop. The all-time leader in homers by a State alum is, of course, Rafael Palmeiro, who ranks 13th on MLB’s career chart with 569. Coincidentally, Palmeiro hit his first career homer on this date in 1986. He played 20 years. Second on the all-Bulldogs list is Will Clark with 284, followed by the active leader, Mitch Moreland, who has 174, including eight in 2020. Hunter Renfroe, who has six homers this year, stands at 95 career. Tyler Moore topped out at 30 after a promising start to his career. P.S. Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton made his Chicago Cubs debut on Tuesday as a defensive replacement in center field, a role that figures to be his primary. The speedy Hamilton was a waiver claim from the New York Mets this week and reportedly would be eligible for the postseason.

15 Nov

have a blast

Of the many home runs he has hit in many different ballparks, the blast Brent Rooker struck in Japan’s Tokyo Dome on Friday is one that will likely stick with him. The Mississippi State product hit what was described as a “mammoth” homer that lifted Team USA to a 3-2 win over Chinese Taipei in the World Baseball Softball Confederation Premier 12 tournament. The victory in the must-win game kept Team USA in the hunt for a bronze medal in the event and a berth in the 2020 Olympic Games. Rooker’s third homer of the tournament was a two-run bomb in the seventh inning that gave his team its 3-2 lead. He reportedly punctuated the homer with an emphatic bat flip. “I had been holding my breath for about three innings,” Team USA manager Scott Brosius told The Japan Times. “So, he allowed me to breathe a little bit.” Rooker, a top prospect in the Minnesota Twins organization, has batted .353 in six games in the Premier 12 event. In his third pro season, the former SEC Triple Crown winner hit .281 with 14 homers in 65 Triple-A games, missing a chunk of time with injuries. He’ll likely make his big league debut in 2020.

21 Jun

coming attraction

Someday, perhaps very soon, Bobby Bradley and Brent Rooker will be slugging it out as American League Central rivals. On Thursday, they gave us a preview. Gulfport’s Bradley and Mississippi State product Rooker, batting fourth as the DH for Columbus and Rochester, respectively, in the Triple-A International League, combined for three home runs in Thursday’s game. Rooker, a Minnesota Twins prospect, hit his 10th of the year, and Bradley, a Cleveland Indians prospect, hit Nos. 23 and 24, which leads the IL. Both have been on hot streaks. Rooker has homered in three straight games and is batting .289 in 43 contests; he missed some time with a wrist injury. Bradley has gone deep twice in three of his last six games and has lifted his average to .295. Both strike out a lot, but in today’s game that seems to matter less and less. The Twins and Indians may be battling for the AL Central title down the stretch – with Rooker and Bradley in the middle of the fray.

30 Jul

have a week

Last week was a good week in Brent Rooker’s world. The ex-Mississippi State standout, now playing at Double-A Chattanooga, went 13-for-26 with seven walks, three home runs and seven RBIs. Today, he was named Southern League Player of the Week and made MLB Pipeline’s minor league Team of the Week at first base. Rated the No. 7 prospect in Minnesota’s system – up from 8th – by MLB Pipeline last week, the second-year pro is batting .277 with 20 homers, an SL-best 67 RBIs and 56 runs in 100 games. Though he has fanned 121 times, he is slugging .522. MSU fans might want to circle the date Aug. 14 – and keep their fingers crossed. That’s when Chattanooga arrives at Trustmark Park to play the Mississippi Braves in a five-game series.

08 Jun

in the groove

You kinda figured it was just a matter of time, and the time has come. Brent Rooker, the former Mississippi State standout now in his first season in Double-A, is hitting. A ton. Rooker went 4-for-5 for Chattanooga on Thursday night and is 14-for-29 since the calendar flipped to June. The right-handed hitting first baseman has raised his average 31 points to .271 since the end of May. “That adjustment period might have been a little longer than I liked, ideally,” he told milb.com. “But I knew it was going to happen if I trusted myself, and the results would show up.” The SEC Triple Crown (and Ferriss Trophy) winner last year has eight homers and 36 RBIs in 56 games and is slugging .475 for the Lookouts. He was picked in the competitive balance segment of the first round – 35th overall – by Minnesota last June and batted .281 with 18 homers at two levels in his debut campaign. MLB Pipeline rates Rooker eighth among Twins prospects. … The Lookouts played a Southern League series in Biloxi in mid-May but won’t be in Pearl to face the Mississippi Braves until mid-August. Rooker could be gone by then.

16 May

tough sledding

He left the campus of Mississippi State last spring as the SEC Triple Crown winner, hit .282 with seven homers in a brief fling in rookie ball, then advanced to the high Class A level and cruised with a .280 average and 11 homers in 40 games there. Not surprisingly, the sledding has gotten a little tougher for Brent Rooker in his second pro season. The 23-year-old first baseman/left fielder, a supplemental first-round pick by Minnesota last June, is batting .235 at Double-A Chattanooga. He has three homers, 18 RBIs, 41 strikeouts and six walks in 136 at-bats. Baseball America ranked Rooker as the Twins’ No. 7 prospect entering this season, and MLB Pipeline has him at No. 8. He’s projected to make the majors in 2020. The Double-A level has humbled many hitters, even some as skilled as Rooker. In time, he’ll adjust. He went 3-for-4 with four RBIs in a Southern League game against Tennessee on Tuesday, extending his hitting streak to seven games. … Rooker, the 2017 Ferriss Trophy winner, is one of five former honorees currently playing pro ball. The others are Drew Pomeranz, Chris Stratton, Hunter Renfroe and Auston Bousfield. The 2018 winner will be announced on Monday.