Scanning the stat charts from the Dominican Winter League, a few familiar names pop up, including two Mississippi college products. Ex-Mississippi State star Nate Lowe, who played 21 games for Tampa Bay this past season, is getting some bonus work with Escogido, while former Ole Miss standout Chris Ellis, who became a free agent last spring, is pitching for Cibao. Lowe, a 25-year-old first baseman, spent most of 2020 in the Rays’ alternate camp. He hit seven homers as a rookie in 2019 and four more this season; he played in one wild card game but was not on the postseason roster thereafter. “We believe that (Lowe’s power) can be an attraction in the league,” Escogido’s GM, Jose Gomez Frias, told en24.news. Ellis made one MLB appearance with Kansas City as a Rule 5 pick in 2019, then was returned to St. Louis’ system. He had a shaky ’19 season in Triple-A and ultimately was released last May when big league clubs were purging their minor league rosters. Once a highly rated prospect, Ellis, 28, has 164 minor league appearances under his belt. He went 8-2 for the 2016 Mississippi Braves, two years after winning 10 games for Ole Miss. … The DWL season began Sunday. The Mexican Pacific League season also is under way; no Mississippians appear on the current rosters.
Following up on a fairly dominant 2019 season in Texas’ system, Demarcus Evans has posted seven scoreless outings in nine appearances in the Dominican Winter League. The big right-hander out of Petal High has a 2.60 ERA with nine strikeouts and seven walks in 10 innings for Escogido. In his fifth pro season, the 23-year-old Evans started 2019 in high Class A and finished it with Double-A Frisco, where he had an 0.96 ERA, six saves and 60 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings. He was, according to Baseball America, the only minor league pitcher to record triple-digit strikeouts in 60 or fewer innings. BA named Evans as the relief pitcher on its all-classification Minor League All-Star team, and he also made MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Year. Oddly enough, Evans, who became a fulltime reliever in 2017, is not currently among the Rangers’ Top 30 in MLB Pipeline’s prospect rankings. He has a career 2.53 ERA and has averaged 13.7 punchouts per nine innings. … Ole Miss alum Chris Ellis has been extremely effective out of the bullpen for Monterrey in the Mexican Pacific League. He has a 0.50 ERA in 18 one-inning appearances. Ellis, 27, made one MLB appearance (for Kansas City) last season and spent the rest of the year with Triple-A Memphis in St. Louis’ system.
After a rough season in Triple-A, Chris Ellis is trying to iron some things out in the Mexican Pacific League. The former Ole Miss (and Mississippi Braves) right-hander has made two appearances for Monterrey, yielding a run on two hits in two innings. Ellis made his big league debut in March with Kansas City as a Rule 5 pick but was promptly returned to the St. Louis organization and spent the season at Triple-A Memphis. He was 5-5 with a 7.18 ERA. … Also playing winter ball are Mississippi State product Jacob Robson and Southwest Mississippi Community College alum Kade Scivicque, both Detroit farmhands. Robson, who batted .267 with nine homers and 25 steals at Triple-A Toledo, is off to a 3-for-9 start with a homer for Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League. Scivicque, a onetime M-Braves catcher, is 2-for-7 in two games for Gigantes del Cibao of the DWL. He hit .295 with nine homers this year between Triple-A and Double-A. P.S. Neither of the Mississippi college products on the National League Championship Series teams has had an impact heading into Game 3 tonight in Washington. Former Southern Miss standout Brian Dozier played two innings at second base for the Nationals as part of a double-switch in Game 2. He didn’t bat. Ex-MSU star Dakota Hudson is slated to start Game 4 for St. Louis on Tuesday; he did not work in the first two games.
Cody Reed’s strong finish this past season has attracted attention. The left-hander out of Horn Lake and Northwest Mississippi Community College is ranked the No. 2 prospect in Cincinnati’s organization by Baseball America. Reed, a second-round pick by Kansas City in 2013, reached Double-A in the Royals’ system last summer before being traded to the Reds as part of the Johnny Cueto deal. He went to Double-A Pensacola of the Southern League and put up a 6-2 record with a 2.17 ERA in eight starts for a Blue Wahoos team that made the postseason. The 6-foot-5 Reed had 60 strikeouts and just 16 walks in 49 2/3 innings. Rated the No. 9 prospect by mlb.com, Reed’s big league arrival date is projected as 2018. He may get there well before that. … Wondering if Chris Stratton, the ex-Mississippi State All-American from Tupelo, might work his way into San Francisco’s rotation next spring. The 6-foot-3 right-hander, rated the No. 14 prospect in the Giants’ system by mlb.com but not yet on the 40-man roster, finished 2015 at Triple-A Sacramento, going 4-5 with a 3.86 ERA. Stratton was a first-round pick in 2012 whose pro career got off to a rocky start when he was hit in the head by a batted ball during a practice. But he may have proved himself ready for a chance at The Show last summer, and the Giants need some arms. … Jackson native Donnie Veal, in his 11th year of pro ball, is pitching in the Dominican Winter League, where he has not allowed a run in seven appearances (2 2/3 innings) for Cibaenas. Veal spent some time with Atlanta last season (14.54 ERA) and Triple-A Gwinnett (no earned runs in 16 innings) before landing in the independent Atlantic League. The left-hander had a 1.45 ERA in 20 games for Long Island. … Also in the DWL is Hattiesburg native Robert Carson, another erstwhile big leaguer who pitched in the Atlantic League (with Bridgeport) this season. Carson, a lefty, has a 4.76 ERA in eight games for Cibao.
It’ll be interesting to see how ex-Mississippi Braves standout Todd Cunningham fits into Atlanta’s plans in 2015. Cunningham, a switch-hitting outfielder, is batting .282 with five runs and two steals through 11 games with Licey in the Dominican Winter League. This after batting .287 with eight homers, 58 RBIs and 19 bags at Triple-A Gwinnett this past season. Cunningham, a second-round pick out of Jacksonville State in Alabama in 2010, has hit at every level, including a 2-for-8 showing in the big leagues in 2013. With the M-Braves in 2012, he impressed with a .309 average, three homers, 51 RBIs and 24 steals. He is currently leading off for Licey and playing center field. He can play anywhere in the outfield, which might make him a valuable piece for the remodeled Braves. P.S. John Lindsey, the veteran slugger from Hattiesburg, has nine homers through 21 games in the Mexican Pacific League. He is batting .282 with 20 RBIs for Navojoa.
Four months from today, the Mississippi Braves will open the 2015 season — their 11th at Trustmark Park in Pearl — against the Tennessee Smokies. Sure, it’s a little early to start a countdown … but what the heck. Here’s a shot in the dark at how the team might line up come April 9. At catcher, Tyler Tewell, who batted .251 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs at Class A Lynchburg. Braeden Schlehuber (.230, 41 RBIs for the M-Braves) could return at that spot. At first base, Seth Loman, the minor league veteran who was re-signed after hitting .261 with 11 homers and 59 RBIs in an injury-interrupted campaign. At second base, Emerson Landoni, who batted .271 for the M-Braves before getting sent down to open the job for rising prospect Jose Peraza. At shortstop, Daniel Castro, another midseason call-up from Lynchburg who batted .277 with four homers and 20 RBIs in 51 games. At third base, Kevin Ahrens, a former Toronto first-rounder who hit .266 with seven homers, 65 RBIs and 41 doubles at Lynchburg. In the outfield, David Rohm (.255 in Mississippi), Will Skinner (.253, 11 homers, 52 RBIs at Lynchburg) and Cuban Dian Tascano, 25, who reportedly agreed to terms with Atlanta on Monday and needs some minor league seasoning. Also in the outfield picture are Matt Lipka and Robby Hefflinger, each coming off a poor, injury-marred season. The rotation may well be headed by Lucas Sims, Atlanta’s top pick in 2012 who went 8-11 with a 4.19 ERA at Lynchburg, or Tyrell Jenkins, acquired from St. Louis in the Jason Heyward deal. Greg Ross (7-3, 2.08) impressed with the M-Braves in 2014, and Jarrett Miller (8-9, 4.04) was a steady arm in Lynchburg. J.R. Graham, who had a rough 2014 coming back from injury, might well be back in the bullpen. Alex Wilson (16 saves, 2.02 ERA) was an outstanding closer at Lynchburg. As for who’ll be managing the 2015 M-Braves, Atlanta has not yet announced its minor league staff assignments, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Aaron Holbert back at the helm for a fourth year. He has done a commendable job. P.S. Former Petal High star Anthony Alford is plugging away with decent results in the Australian Baseball League. Alford, a Toronto prospect, is hitting just .239 but has a .346 on-base percentage and 21 runs in 18 games as Canberra’s leadoff batter. He hit his second homer on Sunday. … Former Hattiesburg High standout Robert Carson, hoping to get back to the big leagues, is pitching in the Dominican Winter League and has not allowed a run in three appearances for the Gigantes del Cibao. The big left-hander, who has a 6.82 career ERA in 31 MLB games (all with the New York Mets), is now in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ system, his third organization.
The calendar still says 2014, but in a real sense the 2015 season already has started for Tyler Moore. And it has started well. The former Northwest Rankin High, Meridian Community College and Mississippi State star hit his fourth home run on Sunday in the Dominican Winter League. Moore has 10 hits all told in 28 at-bats (.357) with 10 RBIs for Toros del Este. Moore, who spent most of 2014 with Triple-A Syracuse, will go to spring training in February vying for an MLB roster spot with Washington – or perhaps with some other big league club. The right-handed slugger, who has spent parts of three seasons in the majors with the Nationals, has 18 career MLB homers and 106 minor league bombs. P.S. Former Petal High standout Anthony Alford, returning to baseball in Toronto’s system, will play the outfield for Canberra in the Australian Baseball League. The Cavalry’s season starts Nov. 6. Alford, the former Ole Miss and Southern Miss football player, is joined on the Canberra roster by Marcus Lemon, a onetime Mississippi Braves player who is the son of Jackson native and former MLB star Chet Lemon.
After a tough year in limited time in The Show, Mississippi State product Tyler Moore is getting some extra work in the Dominican Winter League. Moore, a Brandon native who also played at Meridian Community College, went 1-for-2 with a run and two walks for Toros del Este in the DWL season opener on Thursday. Moore broke into the big leagues with a bang in 2012, belting 10 home runs and hitting .263 in 156 at-bats for Washington. His didn’t fare as well in 2013 (.222, four homers in 167 ABs) and scuffled again this season (.231, four homers in 91 ABs). Moore, 27, who can play first base or left field, has right-handed power that MLB clubs value. He twice hit 31 homers in a season in the minors and got 10 bombs (with a .265 average) at Triple-A Syracuse this year. Complicating Moore’s status in the Nationals’ organization is the emergence this season of Steven Souza Jr., another strong, right-handed hitting outfielder.