07 Aug

one door closes …

It was a hard fall for Bobby Bradley. Cleveland’s opening day first baseman, the Gulfport native was anchored to the bench by late April, outrighted to the minors in May and then released from Triple-A Columbus on Saturday. He was hitting .174 with seven homers and 30 RBIs — plus 74 strikeouts in 167 at-bats — for the Clippers. Guardians officials decided “maybe a change of scenery would be good for the kid,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona told cleveland.com. Bradley, just 26, figures to catch on somewhere. A lefty hitter with big power — 163 minor league homers since 2014 — he has some value. Drafted in the third round out of Harrison Central High, he rose fairly steadily in the Cleveland system. He debuted in the big leagues in 2019 and was Cleveland’s regular first baseman the latter half of 2021. But he hit just .208 with 16 homers last year and struck out way too much. P.S. Mike Mayers, veteran reliever out of Ole Miss, was brought back from the minors by the Los Angeles Angels and threw 3 1/3 shutout innings Saturday in the team’s loss to Seattle in Game 1 of a doubleheader. It was his first MLB appearance since May 25. He had a 5.40 ERA when he was designated for assignment. … Hayden Dunhurst, catcher for national champion Ole Miss this year, is 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and three walks in his first two pro games. The sixth-round pick is playing for Kansas City’s Arizona Complex League team. … Former Madison Central (and current Stanford) star Braden Montgomery has been a key player for Yarmouth-Dennis in the Cape Cod League. Montgomery hit .250 with four homers and 19 RBIs and posted a 2.25 ERA in three pitching appearances in the regular season. He got the win in relief for the Y-D Red Sox in their CCBL playoff opener.

01 Aug

seize the day

Austin Riley wasn’t the only Mississippi product capping the month of July with a big day. In addition to DeSoto Central High alum Riley’s record-setting, walk-off double for Atlanta (see previous post), Corey Dickerson, Kirk McCarty, Hunter Renfroe, Kendall Graveman and Adam Frazier also earned some high-fives on Sunday. Dickerson, the ex-Meridian Community College star, produced the kind of game St. Louis was anticipating in his first season with the Cardinals: three hits, a homer (his fourth), two runs and three RBIs in a 5-0 win over Washington. Dickerson, who got off to a woeful start in 2022, is batting .226. McCarty, the rookie lefty out of Southern Miss, got his second MLB win, throwing 3 1/3 innings (one run) in middle relief for Cleveland in 5-3 victory against Tampa Bay. His first win came Tuesday at Boston. Mississippi State alum Renfroe, back in Boston with his new club Milwaukee, went 4-for-4 with his 19th homer in a 7-2 loss. He has six bombs in his last nine games and has raised his average to .254. Graveman, another ex-MSU standout, notched his 16th hold with a scoreless inning (the eighth) for the Chicago White Sox in a 4-1 defeat of Oakland. And MSU product Frazier, who had scuffled for many weeks with Seattle, went 2-for-4 with a run as the leadoff batter in a 3-2 loss to Houston. He is batting .353 in his last 19 games (.244 overall) for the resurgent Mariners. P.S. Former East Central Community College standout Tim Anderson continues to play for the White Sox while his three-game suspension from a Friday incident is under appeal. He is 3-for-8 in two wins. … The Los Angeles Dodgers have released ex-Ole Miss star Bobby Wahl, who had appeared in six games in Triple-A this year. He pitched in 17 big league games from 2017-20.

27 Jul

central casting

There is a three-team battle going on in the American League Central, and a bunch of Magnolia State products were on the frontlines Tuesday in three different skirmishes. Start in Boston, where former Southern Miss pitcher Kirk McCarty, making just his fourth big league appearance, delivered four shutout innings and got his first MLB win in Cleveland’s 8-3 victory at Fenway Park. “It’s special,” said McCarty, who in the last couple weeks was claimed on waivers by Baltimore and then reclaimed by the Guardians. The left-hander allowed just one hit and one walk while fanning four. He followed fellow former Golden Eagles star Nick Sandlin in what was a bullpen game for Cleveland. Sandlin, who has a 2.81 ERA, got the last two outs of the third inning. The Guardians (49-47) moved to within 2 1/2 games of first-place Minnesota (52-45) in the AL Central after the Twins lost at Milwaukee. The Brewers gave former Mississippi State star Ethan Small his second big league start, and it was a little rough, much like his first one back in May. Small yielded a leadoff home run to Byron Buxton, three more hits, four walks and two more runs in 3 2/3 innings. He has a 7.11 ERA in his two MLB games. However, the Brewers, the first-place team in the National League Central, rallied to win 7-6, aided by ex-State slugger Hunter Renfroe’s 17th home run. Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox (49-48, 3 games back in the AL Central) kept pace with their third straight win, beating Colorado at Coors Field 2-1. Ex-State standout Kendall Graveman worked a scoreless eighth inning for Chicago, notching his 15th hold. East Central Community College alum Tim Anderson, the ChiSox’s All-Star shortstop, had a hand in all four of the double plays the team turned in that game. P.S. Props to former Mississippi Braves manager Brian Snitker for notching his 500th win with Atlanta on Tuesday. His club, the reigning World Series champion, has won four straight NL East titles. … South Panola High product Emaarion Boyd, one of the two prep players drafted (11th round) out of the state last week, reportedly has signed with Philadelphia. He is the seventh player of 23 drafted to sign, according to mlb.com (see previous posts).

24 Jul

a few atta boys

Austin Riley: The former DeSoto Central High star went 3-for-4 with his 28th home run, extending his hitting streak to 15 games, as Atlanta beat the Los Angeles Angels 7-2 on Saturday to pull within a half-game of the New York Mets in the National League East. “Hey, we’re coming for ’em,” Riley said with a grin in a postgame interview.
Brandon Woodruff: The Wheeler High and Mississippi State alum allowed one run on four hits with eight punchouts in six innings as NL Central leader Milwaukee beat Colorado 9-4. Woodruff is 8-3 with a 3.73 ERA.
Hunter Renfroe: The ex-State star from Crystal Springs homered for the second straight game, drove in three runs and scored twice in the Brewers’ win at toasty, enclosed American Family Field. “Good gosh it was hot, but we pulled it out. It was fun,” said Renfroe, who has 15 bombs on the season.
Lance Lynn: The Ole Miss product threw six shutout innings for the Chicago White Sox, yielding three hits and fanning six in a 5-4 win against Cleveland in an American League Central clash. Alas, Lynn got no decision because the bullpen blew a lead the ChiSox held when he departed.
Konnor Pilkington: The rookie from Pascagoula by way of MSU, facing off against Lynn in Game 2 of a twinbill, went five innings and allowed two runs, trimming his ERA to 4.17 in 12 games for the Guardians this season. He also got no decision.

23 Jul

a little rivalry

There’s a rivalry within the rivalry set for Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field tonight, a garnish to the main dish. When Cleveland takes on the White Sox in Game 2 of doubleheader between the American League Central foes, Mississippi State alum Konnor Pilkington will oppose Ole Miss product Lance Lynn as the starting pitchers. Talk about your studies in contrast. Pilkington is a rookie, 24, a left-hander making his 12th major league appearance with the Guardians. The White Sox’s Lynn is 33, a right-hander who has been in pro ball since 2008 and has pitched in 295 big league games, making two All-Star Game appearances and winning a World Series ring. Pilkington, who has been up-and-down from Triple-A all season with Cleveland, has a 4.02 career minor league ERA and has pitched relatively well for the Guardians: 1-2, 4.24. He went five innings against Chicago his last time out, on July 12, and allowed three earned runs in a loss. Lynn had knee surgery in the spring and has struggled at times since coming back. He is 1-3, 7.50, in seven starts. He has allowed 19 runs in his last three starts, eight in four innings in a loss against Cleveland on July 11. Normally a beast on the bump, Lynn is averaging just a shade over five innings per start. P.S. Ex-Ole Miss star Gunnar Hoglund, the 19th overall pick in the 2021 draft by Toronto, made his pro debut today with Oakland’s Arizona Complex League club. Hoglund, who had Tommy John surgery last year, worked two innings, allowing a hit and an unearned run with five strikeouts. The A’s acquired Hoglund from the Blue Jays in the Matt Chapman trade this spring.

15 Jul

going places

Promoted to Triple-A St. Paul by Minnesota, Matt Wallner went 0-for-4 in his debut with the Saints on Thursday. On Saturday, the former Southern Miss slugger will be in Los Angeles, where he is slated to play in the All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium with other top prospects. In his last game at Double-A Wichita on Wednesday, Wallner, the Twins’ No. 8-rated prospect, put up a 4-for-4 with four RBIs and three runs. For the year at Wichita, he hit .299 with 21 homers, 64 RBIs and eight steals. The 6-foot-5, lefty-hitting outfielder leads all Twins players in homers in 2022 while also improving his plate discipline. In 278 at-bats in his first Double-A season, he had 107 strikeouts, 62 walks and a .436 on-base percentage. “Just trying to take my walks when I can and just try to be more selective on pitches to drive the ball more and hit for more power,” Wallner told mlb.com. “I think it’s helped the average, as well.” Wallner joins an impressive list of Mississippi products who have participated in the Futures Game, including Billy Hamilton, Hunter Renfroe, Nathaniel Lowe, Dakota Hudson and Ethan Small. P.S. USM product Kirk McCarty has been reclaimed by Cleveland off waivers from Baltimore, which claimed the rookie left-hander off waivers from the Guardians last week. McCarty is 0-2, 9.00 ERA, in three MLB games with Cleveland, which assigned him to Triple-A Columbus, where he has spent most of this season. … In keeping with the USM theme, former Golden Eagles star Reed Trimble, on the injured list (shoulder surgery) all season, was assigned to Baltimore’s Florida Complex League club, going 0-for-3 in his Thursday debut. Trimble was a second-round supplemental draft pick (65th overall) in 2021 and batted .200 with eight RBIs and 14 runs in 22 games in the low minors.

12 Jul

in other news

Yes, there were significant MLB games in places other than Atlanta on Monday night, and a couple of Mississippi products played significant roles in two of them. Corey Dickerson, the former Meridian Community College standout, gave St. Louis fans something to cheer about in a big win over Philadelphia. Ole Miss product Lance Lynn gave Chicago White Sox fans something to fret about in a tough loss at Cleveland. Dickerson, 0-for-6 in his first two games since coming off the injured list, went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs in the Cardinals’ 6-1 victory. St. Louis is 2 games back of first-place Milwaukee in the National League Central. Third-place Philly fell 8 back of the New York Mets, who beat Atlanta 4-1, in the NL East. Dickerson, a career .280 hitter, hasn’t produced as expected in his first year with the Cardinals. He is now batting .196 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 41 games. Lynn, the 35-year-old vet coming off knee surgery, yielded eight runs in four-plus innings in the White Sox’s 8-4 loss to the Guardians, who moved 1 1/2 games ahead of Chicago in second place in the AL Central. A Cy Young Award finalist in 2021, Lynn fell to 1-2 with a 6.97 ERA in his seven starts. Though he reportedly wasn’t hit hard, he gave up five runs in the first inning and was charged with three more in the fifth. He faced 25 batters and 13 of them reached. The ChiSox, the defending division champs, are a disappointing 41-44. The Guardians are 42-42, 4 back of Minnesota. The White Sox and Guardians play a doubleheader today, with ex-Mississippi State standout Konnor Pilkington (1-1, 4.08) slated to start Game 2 for Cleveland. Southern Miss alum Nick Sandlin (3.32 ERA) figures to see duty out of the Guardians’ bullpen. P.S. Kudos to DeSoto Central High alum Austin Riley, whose 24th homer was the lone run the Braves produced against Max Scherzer and the Mets, and to USM’s Tanner Hall, who threw four shutout innings with seven strikeouts in Team USA’s 2-0 win over Cuba in a tournament in The Netherlands.

06 Jul

names in the news

Former Southern Miss star Kirk McCarty has been claimed off waivers by Baltimore, added to the 40-man roster and optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Left-hander McCarty was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in three appearances as a rookie with Cleveland this season. … USM product Nick Sandlin was recalled from Triple-A by Cleveland on Tuesday and gave up a couple of runs in a loss to Detroit. He was sent down in late June despite a 2.98 ERA through his first 19 games. … Meridian Community College alum Corey Dickerson has begun rehab assignment 2.0 at Triple-A Memphis in the St. Louis system. Dickerson’s first rehab was shut down after two games. He went on the injured list June 5 with a calf injury, batting .194 for the Cardinals at the time. … Former Mississippi State teammates Justin Foscue and Jordan Westburg, both 2020 draftees, are ranked in MLB Pipeline’s new Top 100 minor league prospects list. Foscue, now in Texas’ system, is No. 63, Westburg (Baltimore) No. 96. Foscue is in Double-A; Westburg already has reached Triple-A. … Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez, Rebels pitcher Hunter Elliott and Southern Miss pitchers Tanner Hall and Hurston Waldrep made the cut for the Collegiate National Team. Team USA, managed by UM coach Mike Bianco, is playing in the Honkbalweek Haarlem tournament in The Netherlands, opening against Japan on Saturday. (Waldrep has put his name in the transfer portal at USM.)

29 Jun

three dog night

Collectively, they worked 14 1/3 innings, yielding eight runs on 16 hits and four walks with 17 strikeouts. A 5.03 ERA might not bring joy to the world, but two wins with one loss is a good feeling. Three former Mississippi State Bulldogs started in big league games on Tuesday night. Konnor Pilkington came back from Triple-A to make a spot start for Cleveland in Game 2 of a twinbill against Minnesota, and it didn’t go so well for the rookie left-hander. Dakota Hudson came back from a rough start last Thursday to post a better one, earning a win thanks to a St. Louis rally against Miami. Brandon Woodruff came back from the injured list for his first start since May 27, and the veteran right-hander was very good in Milwaukee’s win at Tampa Bay. “There’s a reason why hitters talk about his fastball. We saw it tonight,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell told mlb.com. Woodruff threw 76 pitches over five innings, allowing two hits and one run with no walks and 10 punchouts. He reportedly hit 99 on the radar gun several times. Woodruff is now 6-3 with a 4.44 ERA for Milwaukee, which won 5-3 to maintain a 1/2-game lead over St. Louis in the National League Central. The Cardinals beat the Marlins 5-3, scoring four times in the bottom of the fifth. Hudson (6-4, 3.83) worked five, allowing six hits and all three Miami runs. (Ex-Ole Miss standout Nick Fortes knocked in one of those runs.) Pilkington (1-1, 4.31, in nine appearances) gave up four runs on eight hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings in Cleveland’s 6-0 loss to the Twins. The teams split the doubleheader, leaving the Guardians 3 games back of the first-place Twins in the American League Central.

01 Jun

dog day afternoon

In St. Louis, the day belonged to Dakota Hudson. In Cleveland, it was Konnor Pilkington’s time to shine. The former Mississippi State pitchers were brilliant on the bump Wednesday, Hudson beating San Diego with one of his best starts of the year and Pilkington shutting down Kansas City for his first big league win. Hudson (4-2) went seven innings for the Cardinals, allowing one run on four hits in a 5-2 win. At one point, the right-hander retired 18 in a row. “Exactly what we needed,” Cards manager Oliver Marmol told The Associated Press. Pilkington, a rookie making just his sixth appearance, went five innings, allowed no runs on five hits and fanned eight, including the first four batters of the game. The lefty has claimed a spot, at least temporarily, in the Guardians’ rotation. “My stuff plays,” he told the AP after the 4-0 game — and after receiving a beer shower from his teammates. P.S. Former Ole Miss pitcher and big league manager Mickey Callaway, suspended by MLB in May 2021 after allegations of sexual harassment against female media members, has been fired as manager of Acereros de Monclova in the Mexican League. The team was 16-17. Callaway managed the New York Mets in 2018-19 and was fired after posting a 163-161 record. He was working as the Los Angeles Angels’ pitching coach last year when he was handed a suspension that extended through 2022.