07 Jul

star gazing

Garrett Crochet, the Ocean Springs High product who leads the American League in strikeouts, was justly rewarded with a spot on the American League All-Star team. Crochet is 6-6 with a 3.08 ERA and 146K’s for the Chicago White Sox. The rosters were announced Sunday on ESPN; there will be changes before the game is played on July 16 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Also making the AL team was former Biloxi Shuckers pitcher Corbin Burnes, now with Baltimore. He is 9-3, 2.32. Former Mississippi Braves star Freddie Freeman, of the Los Angeles Dodgers, made the National League roster as a reserve. Ex-M-Braves catcher William Contreras, now with Milwaukee, previously was voted in as a starter by fans. … The full list of Home Run Derby (July 15) participants has yet to be revealed. It would be a treat to see Nathaniel Lowe of the hometown Texas Rangers, Brent Rooker, Hunter Renfroe or Austin Riley in the derby. Each of those Mississippi products has light-tower power. … Magnolia Heights High product Cooper Pratt is slated to participate in the July 13 All-Star Futures Game for minor league prospects at Globe Life. He is No. 4 on Milwaukee’s chart. … The All-Star festivities get started on July 12 with the HBCU Swingman Classic. The Magnolia State will be well-represented with six Jackson State players and one each from Mississippi Valley State and Alcorn State on the rosters. This is the second annual all-star game for players from NCAA Division I historically black schools. JSU’s Joseph Eichelberger, Robert Tate Jr., Lenny Montesano, Rodney Hibler Jr., Christian Womble and Isaiah Williams are joined on the rosters by Valley’s Dreylin Holmes and Alcorn’s Garrett Palladino. Former big leaguers Ken Griffey Sr. and Lloyd McClendon will manage the two teams. … Of note: The only other time the Texas Rangers hosted the All-Star Game was 1995, when former Mississippi State standout Buck Showalter managed the AL team in a 3-2 loss at The Ballpark in Arlington. He was manager of the New York Yankees, who had the best record in the AL when the 1994 season was halted by a players strike.

08 Jun

white knight

Mired in a franchise-record 14-game losing streak and coming off a woeful performance on Thursday, the lowly Chicago White Sox sent Garrett Crochet out to ride to their rescue on Friday night. The 6-foot-6 left-hander from Ocean Springs delivered the W — with a little help from his posse. In a 7-2 win over Boston at Guaranteed Rate Field, Crochet pitched six innings, allowing three hits and two runs with two walks and 10 strikeouts. “That guy is a (expletive) stud,” Boston’s Jarren Duran told mlb.com. Crochet, converted to starter this spring, now owns six of the White Sox’s 16 wins. He is 6-5 with a 3.33 ERA and ranks second in MLB with 103 K’s. Crochet was also the winning pitcher in the team’s previous victory — back on May 21. One of the runs he allowed Friday was the result of his own bad throw and the other came on a bizarre steal of home by Duran. Rookie Jonathan Cannon pitched the final three innings for his first save. Luis Robert Jr., Gavin Sheets and Andrew Vaughn homered for the ChiSox — a welcome sight for hitting coach Marcus Thames, the ex-East Central Community College star whose charges entered Friday’s game last in MLB in hitting and runs and tied for last in homers. (Crochet notwithstanding, the pitching ain’t so good either: The staff ranks next-to-last in ERA and runs allowed.) P.S. Nacho Alvarez, Atlanta’s top-rated position player prospect, returned to the Double-A Mississippi Braves’ lineup at shortstop and went 1-for-5 with an RBI in a 2-1 loss at Pensacola. Alvarez had been out since May 30 with a minor injury. … Zach Allen has been elevated to head coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Pascagoula native Allen, who played at Jones JC and William Carey, was an assistant to Bob Keller the last three years. The Bulldogs went 26-22 in 2024 and missed the MACCC postseason. … The New Albany-based Cotton States League is scheduled to begin its 16th season today. The wood-bat college summer league has four teams this year, comprised mainly of players from small colleges and jucos around the state. … The Cape Cod League’s season begins next Saturday, and there is a smattering of Mississippi alums in what is regarded as the premier summer loop for collegians. Southern Miss’ Davis Gillespie, Nick Monistere and Kros Sivley are among those on the preliminary rosters, along with Ole Miss’ Andrew Fischer, Luke Hill, Campbell Smithwick and Patrick Galle and Mississippi State’s Luke Dotson, Cam Schuelke and Dylan Cupp. The rosters will change frequently as the season progresses.

21 May

touching the bases

The decision by the Chicago White Sox to move Garrett Crochet from the bullpen to the rotation this season is beginning to look like a stroke of brilliance. The 6-foot-6 left-hander from Ocean Springs, who’ll face Toronto today, has allowed one earned in 17 innings with 23 strikeouts in three May starts. For the year, he is 4-4 with a 4.18 ERA, 70 punchouts, a 1.01 WHIP and a .207 batting average against. And he is pitching for a team that is 14-34. Crochet was the 11th overall pick out of Tennessee in 2020 and made the big leagues that season, throwing 100 mph gas. Arm surgery shelved him in 2022 and limited him to 13 games last season. Moved to the rotation this spring, he seems to have found his calling. Writes the Chicago Sun-Times: “Great fastball, four-pitch mix, plenty of moxie and the intangibles all baked into a prototypical staff ace.” … The jury is out on Philadelphia’s decision to move former Madison Central High standout Spencer Turnbull from the rotation to the bullpen. Turnbull, in his first season with the Phillies, was 2-0, 1.67, in six starts this season. As a reliever — a new role for the veteran right-hander — he has a 6.43 in four appearances. … Colt Keith, Biloxi High alum, is heating up for Detroit in his rookie campaign. The 22-year-old Keith is 9-for-22 over his last seven games and 14-for-44 the last 15, boosting his average to .214. He has yet to homer. … Austin Riley, the ex-DeSoto Central star, hasn’t played for Atlanta since May 12 (side inflammation) but remains on the active roster. It’s unclear when he might return to the lineup. Her is batting a sub-par .245 with three homers. … Former big leaguer Anthony Alford, the Petal High product, is playing in the Mexican League for Campeche after being released by Cincinnati. He was hitting .222 at Double-A Chattanooga. … The New York Yankees DFA’d Colby White, the former Mississippi State pitcher they claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay earlier this month. The injury-plagued White, yet to appear in the majors, presumably will stay in the Yankees’ system. … Ex-Ole Miss star Jacob Gonzalez has been promoted to Double-A Birmingham, where he’ll join former Rebels teammate Tim Elko on the Barons’ roster. Gonzalez, a first-round pick last summer by the White Sox, was hitting .273 with three homers, 15 RBIs and seven steals at the High-Class A level. Birmingham starts a series at Biloxi today. … Dalton Moats, former Delta State left-hander, recently signed with the Chicago Cubs and threw three innings for Double-A Tennessee on Sunday. The minor league vet pitched in independent ball in 2023.

19 Mar

circle the date

The news was stunning even for the guy who was the subject of the announcement. Garrett Crochet, the former Ocean Springs High star, has been named the opening day starter for the Chicago White Sox; it’ll be the first career big league start for the fifth-year pro. “Very shocked to say the least,” Crochet said in an Associated Press story. The former first-round pick (2020) out of Tennessee has made 72 relief appearances over three seasons with the ChiSox, posting a 2.71 ERA. He entered spring training hoping to earn a spot in the rotation and has been very impressive, routinely hitting 100 mph while striking out 12 batters in nine scoreless innings. “I’ve worked my tail off this spring,” the 6-foot-6, 245-pound left-hander said. He has been rewarded. Chicago opens on March 28 against Detroit. … In Chicago’s Cactus League game on Monday, ex-Southern Miss standout Chuckie Robinson went 1-for-2 with a couple of RBIs. The 29-year-old catcher, in camp as a non-roster invitee, has played quite a bit this spring and hit .292 with a homer and four RBIs in 24 at-bats. Robinson has some big league experience. The White Sox aren’t exactly stacked at catcher, with 37-year-old Martin Maldonado listed as the starter, backed by 33-year-old Max Stassi and Korey Lee. P.S. While Texas has announced that Mississippi State alum Nathaniel Lowe will miss the start of the season with an oblique injury, the Rangers have not named a replacement at first base. Justin Foscue, another former Bulldogs slugger, is in the running to start along with several others, including ex-Mississippi College star Blaine Crim, a non-roster player in camp. Foscue went 0-for-3 Monday and is batting .243 with one homer over 37 ABs this spring.

28 Feb

stolen thunder

The anticipation for Shohei Ohtani’s first spring training at-bat with the Los Angeles Dodgers bordered on crazy. It’s fair to say that Garrett Crochet, the pride of Ocean Springs, stole a bit of the Japanese superstar’s thunder on Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz. Crochet, the Chicago White Sox’s 24-year-old left-hander making his first start since his college days four years ago, struck out Ohtani on four pitches, freezing him on a 100-mph fastball to end the AB. “I just made some good pitches,” Crochet told nbcsportschicago.com, noting that he had faced Ohtani a couple times in regular season games. (Yes, Ohtani later — in his third AB against a different White Sox pitcher — gave the crowd what it clamored for, hitting a two-run homer.) Crochet is coming off two injury-dampened seasons and is aiming to transition from the bullpen to the rotation in 2024. Tuesday’s outing was a nice first step. In addition to fanning Ohtani, he retired Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman on grounders in the first inning. He yielded a couple of one-out hits in the second but ended his day with another punchout. “The results were good,” he said. “Just got to keep grinding.” The 11th overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Tennessee, Crochet exploded on the MLB scene in September of that year, striking out the first two batters he faced while throwing six of 13 pitches in a clean inning at 100 mph or better. In 2021, he posted a 2.82 ERA in 54 games as a key reliever for the division-winning ChiSox. Tommy John surgery kept him out in 2022 and a shoulder problem limited him to 13 appearances last season. It’s fair to say that Tuesday’s outing was encouraging and there is a raised level of anticipation for his next one.

07 Sep

whatever happened to …

Garrett Crochet, the former Ocean Springs High star now in the Chicago White Sox’s system, made his first appearance in a game in two months on Wednesday, when he threw a scoreless inning for Double-A Birmingham. The 11th overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Tennessee, Crochet made a fairly dazzling MLB debut a couple months later. The 6-foot-6 left-hander struck out the first two batters he faced in a 1-2-3 inning and threw six of his 13 pitches at 100 mph or better. He didn’t allow a run in six innings that season and posted a 2.82 ERA with 14 holds and 65 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings in 2021. He has struggled to stay healthy ever since. He missed all of the 2022 season after spring Tommy John surgery and began 2023 in the minors on a rehab, making his White Sox debut on May 16. No longer throwing 100, Crochet put up a 3.60 ERA in 10 games before going on the injured list with a shoulder problem, which apparently has persisted. Crochet, 24, struck out two of the three batters he faced for Birmingham on Wednesday — a positive sign. Reports are he wants to return to the White Sox before their season, which has gone off the rails, comes to an end. P.S. As the Texas Rangers have gone into freefall in the American League West, their bullpen has been heavily criticized. Don’t point at Mississippi State alum Chris Stratton. Since coming over from St. Louis at the trade deadline, Stratton has a 2.08 ERA, a win and three holds in 14 games for the Rangers. He allowed a run Wednesday — after starter Max Scherzer had been KO’d — but 11 of his 13 other appearances have been scoreless. … Rangers first baseman and ex-MSU star Nathaniel Lowe was ranked as the best defensive first sacker in the AL in a poll of managers, scouts and execs conducted by Baseball America.

30 Apr

whatever happened to …

Garrett Crochet, the former Ocean Springs High star who went straight from the Tennessee campus to the big leagues in 2020, is expected to make an injury rehab appearance today for Double-A Birmingham. Crochet missed all of the 2022 season for the Chicago White Sox after Tommy John surgery in the spring. The left-hander was the 11th overall pick in the abbreviated 2020 draft and made his MLB debut that September, throwing 100-mph gas over five scoreless appearances. Crochet was a key piece of the White Sox’s bullpen in 2021, when the team won the American League Central. He posted a 2.82 ERA with 65 strikeouts (27 walks) in 54 1/3 innings that year and made three scoreless postseason appearances. The current White Sox could use some help, having lost 10 in a row to fall to 7-21, tied for last in the AL Central. Ole Miss product Lance Lynn threw six hitless innings against Tampa Bay on Saturday, then gave up four runs in a 10-run seventh as the ChiSox lost 12-3. Lynn is 0-4, 7.16. At Triple-A Charlotte, ex-East Central Community College standout Tim Anderson went 1-for-3 in his second rehab game, but the Knights lost to Norfolk 20-1. (Mississippi State alum Jordan Westburg, a Baltimore prospect, went 3-for-6 with three RBIs in that game to boost his average to .329.)

29 Jan

that’s some stuff

Garrett Crochet, the only Mississippian ranked in MLB Pipeline’s new list of the Top 100 minor league prospects, provided a sneak preview of his potential last September. Not to get carried away, but it was a fairly jaw-dropping debut from the Chicago White Sox’s 2020 first-round pick. The 6-foot-6 left-hander from Ocean Springs by way of Tennessee pitched six scoreless innings over five appearances. He allowed three hits, struck out eight, walked none. He struck out the first batter he faced as a pro: a called third strike at 100 mph. But there’s so much more. To say Crochet throws hard sells him way short. According to a recent mlb.com article, there were 311 100 mph-plus pitches all told in 2020. Crochet threw 45 of those. And he only threw 85 pitches. “He’s already the hardest-throwing White Sox pitcher ever,” the mlb.com story said. He also throws a quality slider and a changeup. Crochet left his one postseason appearance with an arm injury that proved to be minor. There is great anticipation to see what he does this year for a strong White Sox team. Crochet likely will pitch out of the bullpen initially in 2021, but at some point he’ll move to the rotation, which was his role at UT. … Crochet is No. 56 on the top prospects list. (Obviously, it’s a tough crowd.) Former Mississippi Braves stars Cristian Pache (12), Ian Anderson (18) and Drew Waters (35) also made the list, as did Ke’Bryan Hayes (9), son of Hattiesburg native and ex-big leaguer Charlie. Pache, Anderson and Hayes had nice MLB debuts in 2020.

27 Sep

dialed in

He had one job to do. He nailed it. The Milwaukee Brewers needed a win on Saturday to keep their postseason hopes alive. Brandon Woodruff, the former Mississippi State star from Wheeler, went to the bump and delivered his best start of the season. “The story of this game was Woody,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell told mlb.com. Woodruff handcuffed the St. Louis Cardinals on two hits and a walk over eight shutout innings in a 3-0 victory. He struck out 10. He retired 19 in a row from the second inning into the eighth. Former Biloxi Shuckers star Josh Hader pitched the ninth for his 13th save. So now, the Brewers’ task for today’s season finale at Busch Stadium is simple: Win and they’re in the National League playoffs. Woodruff has had an uneven season. He’s 3-5 despite a 3.05 ERA. He had not won since Aug. 25 before Saturday’s pressure-packed gem. “I love throwing in these types of games,” he said. As a reward for Saturday’s win, he might get to throw in some more in October. … Meanwhile, at Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field on Saturday, another Mississippi native came up large in a big game. Former Ocean Springs High star Garrett Crochet, appearing in just his fifth MLB game, notched his first hold with two scoreless innings for the White Sox against the Cubs. Crochet worked the fifth and sixth innings after the Sox had rallied for a 7-5 lead in a game they’d win 9-5 to keep alive their hopes for an American League Central title. Crochet, a first-round draft pick out of Tennessee in June, has lit up the radar guns since his arrival in the big leagues, throwing 45 pitches of 100 mph or more. He has struck out eight batters in six innings and allowed just three hits and no runs. The 6-foot-6, 218-pound lefty said he never threw all that hard as a kid, so this new-found heat “is pretty cool.”

19 Sep

double dip

Demarcus Evans and Garrett Crochet made their major league debuts on Friday night, but the two former Mississippi prep standouts took very different paths to The Show. Their results were a little different, too. Evans, a 25th-round draft pick out of Petal High by Texas in 2015, spent five years honing his craft in the minors; he posted a 0.90 ERA in 2019. First batter he faced on Friday: Albert Pujols. The Los Angeles Angels’ future Hall of Famer sent Evans’ second pitch — a 93-mph fastball — over the wall in Anaheim for his 662nd career home run. Evans plunked the next batter, Justin Upton, but the the 6-foot-5, 265-pound right-hander got out of his only inning with no further damage. Crochet, an Ocean Springs High alum who pitched at Tennessee the last three years, was drafted 11th overall in June by the Chicago White Sox. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound lefty became the first player since Brandon Finnegan with Kansas City in 2014 to make his MLB debut in the same year he was drafted. For Crochet, who has been working out in the White Sox’s alternate camp, this was his first professional game. First batter he faced: Brian Goodwin of Cincinnati. Crochet struck him out, then struck out the next batter and retired the third on a grounder to first base. He threw six of his 13 pitches at 100 mph or more, including two clocked at 101-plus, in his lone inning. “I felt like I was on top of the world and just truly living the dream,” he told mlb.com. It was surely a dream come true for Evans, as well, and he’ll have better days. Crochet has set his bar pretty high. It’s gonna be fun to see what they do next.