07 Nov

next stop, chi-town

Marcus Thames’ whirlwind tour of MLB’s big markets reportedly will resume. The Louisville native reportedly has been hired as hitting coach for the Chicago White Sox. Thames, who hit 115 homers over a 10-year big league career that ended in 2011, was the hitting coach with the New York Yankees for several years, took a detour to Miami’s staff in 2022 and then spent 2023 with the Los Angeles Angels, who fired manager Phil Nevin after the season. Thames is a well-respected hitting coach, and the Angels’ offensive numbers in many categories improved under his watch. He will not get a chance to work in 2024 with fellow East Central Community College alum Tim Anderson. The White Sox recently declined an option on the veteran shortstop’s contract, making him a free agent. Anderson signed a seven-year deal ($37.5 million) after a promising rookie campaign in 2016, won a batting title and made two All-Star teams before suffering a dreadful 2023 season, batting .245 with one home run, 25 RBIs and a negative WAR. The outspoken Alabama native is also a lightning rod for controversy. P.S. Mississippi State alum Buck Showalter, dismissed by the Mets after his second year as manager, reportedly is a candidate for the Angels job, as is former Jackson Generals star Ray Montgomery. … Lance Lynn, the veteran pitcher out of Ole Miss, became a free agent after the Dodgers declined an option in his contract. Lynn had a tough year (5.73 ERA) that ended when he gave up four home runs in one inning in a playoff game against Arizona. … Kudos to ex-Mississippi State standout Nathaniel Lowe on winning a Gold Glove at first base for world champion Texas. Mauricio Dubon, who passed through Biloxi on his way to The Show, earned a Gold Glove as a utitity player for Houston. … Oakland outrighted Ole Miss product Chad Smith to Triple-A; he had a 6.59 ERA in 10 games for the A’s. … Olive Branch native Kendall Williams, a Dodgers prospect, pitched in the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game on Sunday and yielded a 433-foot home run to Kyle Manzardo.

03 Nov

news and notes

Hunter Renfroe, who still has power in his bat and his arm, is rated the 24th-best free agent available in the new crop, per mlb.com. The Crystal Springs native and ex-Mississippi State standout has been without a team since mid-September, when he was released by Cincinnati. The Reds had gotten the 32-year-old outfielder in a deadline trade with the Los Angeles Angels. Renfroe hit .233 with 20 homers last season and has 177 career bombs since 2016. Originally drafted by San Diego, he has bounced around quite a bit in recent years despite his power numbers. … Also hitting the market Thursday were ex-State star Adam Frazier (.240, 13 homers in one year with Baltimore); fellow Bulldogs alum and World Series champ Chris Stratton (3.94 ERA with St. Louis and Texas); and former Ole Miss standout Drew Pomeranz, who last pitched in the majors in 2021. … McComb native Corey Dickerson is also a free agent after being released by Washington in August; he is a .280 career hitter who got his 1,000th knock last season. … Ryan Rolison, a first-round pick out of Ole Miss in 2018 by Colorado, was recently removed from the Rockies’ 40-man roster and assigned to the minors. Rolison, yet to make the majors, has pitched in just four games since 2021 because of injury issues. … Ex-DeSoto Central High and current Atlanta star Austin Riley, already a Gold Glove finalist at third base, is also a Silver Slugger finalist. Five other former Mississippi Braves are up for Silver Sluggers, as is ex-MSU standout and World Series champ Nathaniel Lowe, also a Gold Glove finalist at first base. … MSU alum Eric Cerantola, now in Kansas City’s system, got his second win in the Arizona Fall League on Thursday, punching out five in two hitless innings for Surprise. Cerantola has a 3.75 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 12 AFL innings.

18 Oct

gold rush

Austin Riley, the former DeSoto Central High star now manning third base for Atlanta, and ex-Mississippi State standout Nathaniel Lowe, Texas’ first baseman, are among the finalists for Rawlings Gold Glove Awards. Both have previously been recognized for their hitting prowess, Riley winning a Silver Slugger in 2021 and Lowe taking one in 2022. Also making the top three at each position (in each league) were former Mississippi Braves Michael Harris II (center field), Dansby Swanson (shortstop) and Freddie Freeman (first base) and Biloxi Shuckers alum Mauricio Dubon (both second base and utility). Ke’Bryan Hayes, son of Hattiesburg native and ex-big leaguer Charlie Hayes, is among Riley’s competition at third base in the National League. Riley’s defensive metrics don’t compare well to Hayes’ or Ryan McMahon’s, but the ex-M-Braves star committed just 11 errors in 393 chances in 2023 and routinely made outstanding plays (see Game 2 of the NL Division Series). Gold Glove winners will be announced on Nov. 5. Of note: Bryson Stott, Philadelphia’s second baseman, is a finalist in his first year after moving from shortstop to second. Stott has credited Laurel native Bobby Dickerson with helping him make the transition. Dickerson, a former minor league player and longtime MLB coach, is in his second year as Phillies infield coach. He also has worked extensively with third baseman Alec Bohm and Bryce Harper, who learned to play first base at midseason. Bohm made several outstanding plays in the Phillies’ 10-0 win Tuesday in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series. “As much as we have a lot of really great hitters, games are won on defense,” Bohm told mlb.com.

22 Jun

gimme some glovin’

In one of the many great scenes in the movie “Moneyball,” the Scott Hatteberg character tells Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s GM, he’s never played first base. “It’s not that hard, Scott,” says Beane. “Tell him, Wash.” To which Ron Washington, the A’s infield coach, replies: “It’s incredibly hard.” Mississippi can proudly boast of two college players who mastered that underrated position this past season, both of whom anchored the infield for championship clubs: William Carey University’s Jake Lycette and East Central Community College’s Ramie Harrison. They are among the six state college products who received ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove honors on Wednesday. Southern Miss pitcher Tanner Hall, who was error-free in 2023 while also winning 12 games, was named to the NCAA Division I Gold Glove team. He is the first Golden Eagles player to earn this award. Lycette, a former Northwest Rankin High star, made the NAIA team; he handled 412 chances without a boot for the SSAC regular season champions who reached the NAIA World Series. Harrison, a Neshoba Central product, made one error in 308 chances, a .997 fielding percentage, for state champion and NJCAA Division II World Series participant ECCC. Pearl River CC pitcher Luke Lyon, an Oak Grove alum, and second baseman Blaise Breerwood, out of Poplarville High, also made the juco D-II team, as did Southwest CC outfielder Jerod Williams, a Gulfport High product who did not commit an error in 2023. P.S. Tonight is Southern Miss Night at Pearl’s Trustmark Park, where the Mississippi Braves will host Birmingham at 6:35. Scheduled to appear in pregame ceremonies are retired coach Scott Berry and players Dustin Dickerson and Nick Monistere, who prepped at Northwest Rankin. Basketball coach Jay Ladner is also on the guest list. Fans in USM gear can get a $5 ticket. … The M-Braves, winding down the first half of the Southern League season, are 32-32 after a 7-2 win Wednesday in which Scott Blewett threw six shutout innings and Justin Dean celebrated his return from Triple-A with an inside-the-park home run.

29 Oct

silver and gold

Though he came up short of a World Series ring, Hunter Renfroe has a chance to pick up a couple of other nice prizes this season. The ex-Mississippi State standout is a finalist for both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award following his outstanding first season with Boston. Renfroe, who tallied 16 outfield assists and hit 31 homers with 96 RBIs, is joined by Kyle Tucker and Joey Gallo among the American League Gold Glove candidates in right field. Renfroe had more assists but also more errors than either of the other two. Crystal Springs native Renfroe is among eight finalists for three AL outfield Silver Slugger awards. (Houston’s Tucker is also on that list.) Also making the cut for Silver Slugger honors were DeSoto Central High alum Austin Riley, Atlanta’s third baseman, and ex-East Central Community College star Tim Anderson, shortstop for the Chicago White Sox. Gold Glove winners will be announced Nov. 7, the Silver Sluggers on Nov. 11.

24 Jun

show a little glove

Defense doesn’t often get the attention it deserves, but the annual announcement of the ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove Awards shines a little light. Ole Miss catcher Hayden Dunhurst and Pearl River Community College third baseman Dalton Cummins earned that recognition on Wednesday. Dunhurst, a sophomore from Carriere and a second-team All-SEC pick, threw out 16 would-be basestealers and picked off five runners this season. He joins Stuart Turner, a former major leaguer, as Ole Miss catchers to win a Gold Glove. Dunhurst was a semifinalist for the Buster Posey Award given to the top college catcher; Turner won that award in 2013 when it was called the Johnny Bench Award. Cummins, a sophomore from Seminary and a Delta State signee, registered a .944 fielding average (while also playing some second base and shortstop) for the state champion PRCC Wildcats. The Gold Gloves were not awarded in 2020. The last Mississippi Division I player to win one was Mississippi State’s Jake Mangum in 2018. Former Southern Miss pitcher Hunter Stanley won one as a second baseman at Meridian CC that same year. Other campus notes: Dunhurst has been chosen for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, according to a UM release. Shortstop Jacob Gonzalez and pitcher Derek Diamond also made that squad. USA Baseball has not yet announced the full roster. … Southern Miss outfielder Reed Trimble, a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America pick, is one of four Golden Eagles playing for Gainesville (Ga.) in the Sunbelt Baseball League. USM pitcher Ben Ethridge is with the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod League. Former USM star Walker Powell, the C-USA pitcher of the year in 2021, is in the MLB Draft League, a new showcase for draft-eligible players. … Jackson State’s Chenar Brown, also a CB Freshman All-America, is toiling for Danville in the Appalachian League. … Former Madison Central High star – and Stanford signee — Braden Montgomery is listed as an attendee in the MLB Draft Combine, currently under way in Cary, N.C. Montgomery, a pitcher/outfielder, is the only Mississippi high school player rated in MLB Pipeline’s top 250 draft prospects. The draft is in July.

25 Oct

gold market

Adam Frazier and Hunter Renfroe, former Mississippi State teammates who just completed their fourth major league season, have been named Gold Glove finalists in the National League. Neither has previously won the Rawlings-sponsored defensive award. The 18 winners, one at each position in both leagues, will be announced on Nov. 3. Frazier, who has played six different positions for Pittsburgh, took over as team’s regular second baseman in 2019. In 142 games, he made six errors and posted a .989 fielding percentage. Analytics credited him with six Defensive Runs Saved. Renfroe is a finalist in left field, though he actually spent more time in right for San Diego down the stretch. The former Copiah Academy standout played 127 games in the outfield and registered 13 assists with just two errors. He was credited with seven Defensive Runs Saved. For the record, Frazier batted .278 with 10 homers and 50 RBIs, Renfroe .216 with 33 bombs and 64 RBIs. … A Mississippian has won a Gold Glove in each of the last three seasons: Mitch Moreland in 2016, Brian Dozier in 2017 and Corey Dickerson last year.

25 Oct

gold rush

This could be the year. Billy Hamilton, for all the jaw-dropping plays he has made in center field these last five years, has not won a Gold Glove. The Taylorsville native and Cincinnati center fielder is among the finalists this year, as are Meridian Community College alum Corey Dickerson and former Mississippi State star Mitch Moreland. The nine winners from each of the two leagues will be announced on Nov. 4. The dash-fast Hamilton made 348 putouts this season – suffice it to say that’s a lot – registered 12 assists and committed just two errors. Dickerson, who played left field for Pittsburgh, also had an excellent year with the glove, making just one error with seven assists. Moreland, Boston’s first baseman, won a Gold Glove with Texas in 2016; he made two errors this year while handling 809 chances. Southern Miss product Brian Dozier took gold at second base with Minnesota in 2017 but did not make the list of finalists this year. Greenville natives Frank White and George Scott own the most Gold Gloves among Mississippians with eight apiece. White racked up his at second base with Kansas City back in the 1970s and ’80s. Scott earned his as a first baseman with Boston and Milwaukee in the ’60s and ’70s.

12 Aug

glove is all around

Another day, another amazing catch by Cincinnati center fielder Billy Hamilton. The former Taylorsville High star made a long run and a leaping catch just in front of the wall to rob an Arizona batter of an extra-base hit on Saturday. Not close to his best — but amazing just the same. It’s equally amazing that Hamilton has never won a Gold Glove. Perhaps this, his fifth full season in the majors, will be the year. Gold Glove selections can be a little confusing. (Rafael Palmeiro won one in a year when he rarely played in the field.) Jackson native Chet Lemon was one of the best center fielders of his era. In four different seasons he made more than 400 putouts, including an American League record 512 in 1977. And yet, he couldn’t snag a Gold Glove. Fulton’s Brian Dozier does have a Gold Glove, just one, which he won last year with Minnesota. Dozier, a second baseman known for his power, is an underrated defensive player, a point that was underscored by a play he made on Saturday for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He dove to his right to spear a hard-hit grounder and, while flat on the dirt, flipped the ball with his glove hand to second base to start a double play. Amazing. Dozier was primarily a second baseman at Southern Miss, but Minnesota drafted him as a shortstop and played him there all through the minors. He got a brief trial at that position in his rookie MLB season of 2012 but was converted back to second base that off-season. Smart move. Dozier may have more Gold Gloves in his future, though he has a ways to go to match Frank White, the Greenville native who won eight during his star-studded career as the Kansas City Royals’ second baseman. Monstrous home runs and 100-mph pitches get so much attention these days, but defense still matters. A first baseman who makes all the plays, like Amory’s Mitch Moreland (Gold Glove, 2016), is vital to winning games. Moreland’s defense is one of the main reasons he wrested the first-base job from Hanley Ramirez in Boston this season. Great plays, like the ones Hamilton and Dozier made on Saturday, can energize a team. Can you imagine an outfield of ex-Magnolia State prep stars Hamilton, JaCoby Jones and Jarrod Dyson? Would any fly ball ever hit the ground? Hunter Renfroe can’t cover ground like those three, but the Crystal Springs native has one of the best outfield arms in the game. He has made throws from right field that bring to mind Dave Parker, the Grenada native with the legendary cannon who won three Gold Gloves in his prime. His throw in the 1979 All-Star Game — look it up — is still talked about. So cheer if you must for bombs and punchouts but don’t forget to give some love to glove.

09 Nov

just stuff

Kudos to Mitch Moreland for winning the first Gold Glove of his career. The ex-Mississippi State star, now a free agent, led American League first basemen in fielding percentage (.998) playing for Texas in 2016. He committed just two errors in 1,103 chances. (And it didn’t hurt that he hit 22 home runs.) … Former Harrison Central High standout Bobby Bradley is rated the No. 5 prospect (again) and best power hitter in Cleveland’s system in Baseball America’s new rankings. Bradley, a lefty-hitting first baseman, was the Class A Carolina League MVP this past season, when he belted 29 homers and drove in 102 runs. He hit just .235 but had a .344 on-base percentage. … Picayune High product T.J. House, Itawamba Community College alum Tim Dillard and former Southern Miss star Scott Copeland are on the list of minor league free agents published by Baseball America. A host of former Mississippi Braves are also on the market, including Matt Lipka, Daniel Castro, Brandon Cunniff, Willians Astudillo, Madison Younginer, Joey Terdoslavich, Brandon Hicks, Jordan Schafer and David Hale. … Richton’s JaCoby Jones had another big hit on Tuesday for Salt River, boosting his Arizona Fall League average to .333 and RBI total to 11 in 16 games. Ex-Madison Central star Spencer Turnbull, another Detroit prospect with Salt River, worked strong four innings in that game, allowing one unearned run and fanning five. His ERA in five AFL starts is now 4.50.