17 Nov

roster watch

Colby White, whose meteoric rise in the Tampa Bay system was derailed by an arm injury last spring, has made the Rays’ 40-man roster. White, a Hattiesburg native drafted out of Mississippi State in 2019, had Tommy John surgery last April and missed the 2022 season. In 2021, the right-handed reliever rose through four levels of the minors, never missing a beat. He had a 1.86 ERA at Triple-A Durham and earned a non-roster invite to spring training. In 58 pro games, he has a 1.76 ERA and 12 saves. Look for him to debut with Tampa Bay sometime in 2023. … J.P. France, another ex-State standout, was added to Houston’s 40-man list after putting up a 3.90 ERA as a swingman at Triple-A Sugar Land. France, a right-hander, was drafted in the 14th round in 2018. He’ll try to earn a spot in the world champion Astros’ loaded bullpen in the spring. … Former Southern Miss star Kirk McCarty was designated for assignment by Cleveland, meaning he’s off the 40-man and available as a waiver claim by other clubs. The diminutive lefty made his MLB debut for Cleveland last season and went 4-3, 4.54. He was 4-1, 3.38, at Triple-A Columbus, bouncing up and down during the season. The Guardians actually lost him on waivers to Baltimore last summer but reclaimed him shortly thereafter. … Ex-MSU standout Jake Mangum was left unprotected by the New York Mets, who could potentially lose the switch-hitting outfielder in next month’s Rule 5 draft. Mangum hit .306 last season between Double-A and Triple-A and is a .284 career hitter in three pro campaigns. … Among Atlanta’s 40-man additions is shortstop Braden Shewmake, who played for the 2021 Double-A South champion Mississippi Braves. Shewmake, who goes 6 feet 4, 190 pounds, batted just .228 with 12 homers for the M-Braves but had several hot streaks and plays a good shortstop. He hit .259 at Triple-A Gwinnett in 2022 before going down with a knee injury in August. He is the Braves’ No. 5 prospect (MLB Pipeline). P.S. Silver City native and Ole Miss alum Jack Reed, who got World Series rings with the New York Yankees in 1961 and ’62, died on Nov. 10. Reed hit .233 in 129 big league at-bats from 1961-63 and frequently was used as a defensive replacement/pinch runner for Mickey Mantle. Reed’s one homer was a game-winner in a 22-inning contest in 1962.

28 Oct

more to come

Three Magnolia State college products pitched for Cleveland this season in its surprising run to the American League Central crown. And there are more Mississippi-groomed hurlers in the Guardians’ pipeline, one of whom is garnering attention in the high-profile Arizona Fall League. Hunter Stanley, a former Southern Miss standout, threw a dominant four innings for Peoria on Thursday night, notching his first AFL victory and trimming his ERA to 2.63 over four starts. Right-hander Stanley, described in scouting reports as a “command over stuff” pitcher, yielded no runs, one hit and no walks while fanning eight. He has 19 punchouts in 13 2/3 innings against the top prospects who populate the AFL lineups. Stanley was 13-6 with a 2.60 in his three seasons at USM and was All-C-USA and a second-team All-America pick after his junior year in 2021. He posted 127 K’s and 19 walks in 102 innings that year. Drafted in the 11th round by Cleveland, Stanley was not assigned to a team that summer. He debuted this season at High-Class A Lake County, where he was 2-1, 1.84, before being shut down with an injury in early May. He is making up for that lost time in the AFL. … Also in Cleveland’s minor league system is ex-Ole Miss star Doug Nikhazy, a left-hander drafted in the second round in ’21. He also debuted this season, went 4-4, 3.19, at Lake County and reached Double-A Akron, where his numbers were less impressive. He is the Guardians’ No. 26 prospect, according to MLP Pipeline. Cleveland took College World Series hero Dylan DeLucia out of Ole Miss in the sixth round of the ’22 draft; the right-hander has yet to make his pro debut. … Nick Sandlin (USM), Kirk McCarty (USM) and Konnor Pilkington (Mississippi State) pitched for the Guardians this season. P.S. Former Biloxi High standout Colt Keith ranks among the AFL batting leaders with a .359 average in 13 games for Salt River. The lefty-hitting third baseman, a 2020 draftee, is Detroit’s No. 6 prospect.

12 Oct

range of emotions

The New York Yankees — and their fans — may be laughing about it now, having won Game 1 of the American League Division Series against Cleveland. But what happened in the bottom of the fifth inning Tuesday night with the score tied was cringe-worthy. First base coaches generally work in anonymity, but Travis Chapman, the ex-Mississippi State standout who handles that job for the Yankees, became a co-star in a moment that could have ranked as an all-time gaffe. Josh Donaldson thought he hit a home run and broke into a trot out of the box. Chapman also thought the ball was gone into the right-field bleachers at Yankee Stadium. He slapped hands with Donaldson as he approached the bag. But the ball hit the top of the wall and bounced back into play. Donaldson was cut down diving back into first. He saved face only because the Yankees won the game 4-1. … There had to be some disappointment for Southern Miss product Kirk McCarty, who was on the Guardians’ active roster for the Wild Card Series but was taken off before Tuesday’s game, joining the injured Nick Sandlin, another former Golden Eagles pitcher, on the sidelines. … There were a lot of frowns in Atlanta after the Braves’ 7-6 loss to Philadelphia, most notably on the faces of former Mississippi Braves Austin Riley (0-for-4, three strikeouts), Max Fried (six runs and a costly error in 3 1/3 innings), Dansby Swanson (1-for-5, four K’s) and Michael Harris II (0-for-4). Game 2 of the National League Division Series is today, with M-Braves alum and 21-game winner Kyle Wright starting for the Braves. … Ecstatic might best describe how former M-Braves pitcher Evan Phillips felt after escaping a two-on, no-out jam in the sixth inning, preserving Los Angeles’ two-run lead vs. San Diego. Phillips, an extremely effective reliever (7-2, 1.14 ERA, two saves) for the Dodgers this season, got a punchout and a double-play ball to register the hold. The Dodgers held on to win 5-3. … Crushed might best describe how ex-State star Adam Frazier felt in the ninth inning as he watched Yordan Alvarez’s three-run moon shot sail into the right-field seats at Minute Maid Park, delivering Houston an 8-7 win against Seattle. Frazier, the Mariners second baseman, went 1-for-4 with a run as his club built a 7-3 lead through seven innings. P.S. Mississippi native Lance Barksdale is part of the umpiring crew for the Dodgers-Padres series. He was in left field Tuesday.

09 Oct

all in a day

When the postseason starts, you can turn the page on the regular season. Adam Frazier did precisely that in Seattle’s Wild Card Series sweep against Toronto. Flushing a disappointing regular season, the former Mississippi State star capped a jaw-dropping comeback by the Mariners on Saturday with a go-ahead RBI double in the ninth inning. “Those are the kind of moments you picture yourself in in the backyard when you’re a kid,” Frazier told The Associated Press. The M’s 10-9 victory sends them into the American League Division Series against Houston. Frazier hit just .238 in his first year in Seattle. But one thing he has always done well is put the ball in play, something of a lost art. He struck out just 73 times in 541 at-bats in 2022, one of the best contact rates in MLB. In the Toronto series, he went 4-for-9, never fanning once. He was 3-for-5 with two runs in the clincher, helping Seattle overcome an 8-1 deficit. … Southern Miss alum Nick Sandlin was the fifth of eight pitchers Cleveland used in its 1-0, 15-inning, series-clinching win against Tampa Bay. The sidearming right-hander got two outs in 10th inning, then left with “upper arm tightness.” His status for the next round is unclear. Fellow former Golden Eagles star Kirk McCarty, a rookie, was the only non-starter left in the Guardians’ bullpen when the game ended. … Corey Dickerson’s season is over, but Bobby Dickerson (no relation) is making plans for the next round. Meridian Community College alum Corey Dickerson went 2-for-6 for St. Louis as the Cardinals were bounced from the National League playoffs by Philadelphia. Laurel native Bobby Dickerson is the Phillies’ highly regarded infield coach; he got a shout-out Saturday from the ESPN broadcasters for his work with third baseman Alec Bohm. Philadelphia moves on to face Atlanta in the NLDS. … Trent Grisham, who played for the Biloxi Shuckers in 2018-19, homered for the second straight game and scored all of San Diego’s runs in a 7-3 loss to the New York Mets that evened their series. Game 3 is tonight at CitiField. Grisham, a .184 hitter this season with 17 bombs, took Max Scherzer deep in Friday’s win and got Jacob deGrom on Saturday. … Mets manager Buck Showalter, the MSU alum who has managed five different teams, won more than 1,600 games, claimed three manager of the year awards and appeared in six postseasons, has a 10-15 playoff record. He has yet to reach the World Series.

05 Oct

into the wild

Nine hits, two walks, seven runs in 2 2/3 innings — not what ex-Mississippi State standout Dakota Hudson was looking for in his last regular season outing for St. Louis. It remains to be seen what role Hudson might have in the Cardinals’ postseason, which begins Friday in the Wild Card Series against Philadelphia at Busch Stadium. But Tuesday’s outing against lowly Pittsburgh didn’t help his cause. Hudson had pitched quite well in his previous two outings after a stint in the minors. He now sits at 8-7 with a 4.45 ERA in 27 appearances. The Cardinals, National League Central champs, did rally to win Tuesday’s game, 8-7 in 10 innings. Chris Stratton, another former State star, pitched the final two innings and got the win. He has been outstanding as a middle reliever for the Cardinals, going 5-0 with a 2.78 since joining the club at the trade deadline. St. Louis also has Meridian Community College product Corey Dickerson, a lefty-hitting outfielder, on its roster heading into the postseason. In fact, there is a Mississippi connection in each of the four best-of-3 Wild Card Series, which were officially set after Tuesday’s games. In the other NL series, New York Mets manager Buck Showalter, a former State standout, leads his club against visiting San Diego. In the American League, Cleveland, which hosts Tampa Bay, has former Southern Miss pitchers Nick Sandlin and Kirk McCarty on its current roster and MSU alum Konnor Pilkington in reserve. And Seattle, which travels to Toronto, suits up ex-Bulldogs standout Adam Frazier, a second baseman. P.S. Atlanta — and DeSoto Central High product Austin Riley — won its fifth straight NL East title on Tuesday and awaits the winner of Philadelphia-St. Louis. … USM alum Chuckie Robinson hit the second home run of his career for Cincinnati. Robinson, a catcher, is batting .136 in 25 games.

26 Sep

party time

There was another celebration in MLB on Sunday — the fifth in a seven-day stretch — when Cleveland clinched the American League Central with a 10-4 win at Texas. Former Southern Miss standout Kirk McCarty, one of the record 16 rookies to suit up for Guardians in their title run, threw two scoreless innings in relief, trimming his ERA to 4.28 over 11 appearances. Fellow rookie Konnor Pilkington, the Mississippi State product, wasn’t on the active roster Sunday but also contributed this season, as did ex-USM standout Nick Sandlin, a second-year player who was in uniform and in the clubhouse for the after-party. … MSU alum Kendall Graveman took the loss against Detroit for the Chicago White Sox, whose sixth straight defeat officially eliminated them from the AL Central race. The ChiSox, the preseason favorite in the division, are still in the wild card chase but barely. … Seattle, an AL wild card contender, blew a nine-run lead and lost to Kansas City 13-12. Ex-State star Adam Frazier went 1-for-2 with an RBI for the Mariners but was on the bench when the Royals scored 11 runs in the sixth inning. … Milwaukee, bidding for a National League playoff berth, saw its five-game win streak snapped in a 2-1 loss to Cincinnati. Former MSU standout Hunter Renfroe’s 28th homer accounted for the Brewers’ lone run. He homered and drove in five runs all told in a 10-2 win on Saturday. … Don Mattingly is out as Miami manager after this season, which means former East Central Community College star Marcus Thames, the Marlins’ first-year hitting coach, probably will be out, as well. Miami has scuffled with the bats this season. P.S. Last week was filled with memorable events in addition to the postseason clinchings, and Mississippians were front-and-center for several. When the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge hit his 60th homer on Tuesday, Hattiesburg native Charlie Hayes — an ex-Yankee — was in the house after a first-pitch ceremony with his son Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh’s third baseman. Ex-MSU star Buck Showalter, the Mets manager, sarcastically called for the ball when his club suffered its MLB-record 106th hit batsman on Wednesday. When Albert Pujols hit home runs No. 699 and 700 for St. Louis on Friday, Mississippi college products Dakota Hudson, Chris Stratton and Corey Dickerson, fellow Cardinals, had front-row seats at Dodger Stadium.

16 Sep

rock ’em, sock ’em

A show of power carried the Chicago White Sox past Cleveland on Thursday. Not just the five home runs, mind you, but also the stuff coming out of Lance Lynn’s right hand. The big, burly, bearded veteran out of Ole Miss threw 106 pitches, almost exclusively fastballs, at the Guardians over 6 1/3 innings and yielded just two runs in the White Sox’s much-needed 8-2 victory at Progressive Field. The win in the makeup game moved Chicago to within 3 games of first-place Cleveland in the American League Central. Lynn, who allowed six hits and one walk while striking out six on Thursday, is 5-0 with a 1.43 ERA in his last seven starts. He has 51 punchouts and just five walks in that span, flashing the form that made him a Cy Young Award contender in 2021. Chicago needs more of that down the stretch. Lynn’s 2022 season was delayed by a spring training knee injury and surgery, and the 35-year-old had some wobbly efforts early on. He is just 7-5, 3.99 ERA, in 18 starts overall for a team that has underachieved after winning the division last year. This will be an interesting weekend in the AL Central race. While the Guardians are hosting third-place Minnesota for five games through Monday, the ChiSox are at lowly Detroit for three.

14 Sep

clearing the bases

Time for Atlanta to make room for Ozzie Albies? The former Mississippi Braves star, on an injury rehab assignment at Triple-A Gwinnett, went 5-for-5 with a walk-off home run on Tuesday. The Braves’ erstwhile second baseman is batting .348 in 23 ABs at Gwinnett. He has been on the injured list since mid-June with a broken bone in his foot. … Former M-Braves Ronald Acuna, Dansby Swanson and Michael Harris II contributed six hits, four RBIs and three runs in Atlanta’s 5-1 win at San Francisco that moved the Braves within a half-game of the New York Mets in the National League East. Former M-Braves right-hander Kyle Wright became the Braves’ first 18-game winner since 2003. … East Central Community College product Tim Anderson, out for over a month with a hand injury, reportedly will ramp up baseball activities for the Chicago White Sox and could return to the lineup next week. The All-Star shortstop and team leadoff batter is hitting .301. … The White Sox, keeping pace in the American League Central with Cleveland, won for the 10th time in 14 games since manager Tony LaRussa stepped aside for health reasons. Ex-Mississippi State star Kendall Graveman worked a scoreless inning for his 24th hold as the ChiSox beat Colorado 4-2. … The Guardians remained 3 games up on Chicago by beating the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 as Southern Miss alum Kirk McCarty picked up his third MLB win with 3 1/3 scoreless relief innings. The rookie lefty now has a 4.88 ERA. … Former State standout Hunter Renfroe had two hits, an RBI and a run in Milwaukee’s 8-4 win against rival St. Louis and Jordan Montgomery. The Brewers, 7 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central and fourth in the wild card standings, have won three in a row. … Ex-Mississippi College star Blaine Crim went 1-for-3 with two RBIs in his Triple-A debut for Round Rock in the Texas chain. He hit .295 with 24 homers and 91 RBIs at Double-A Frisco. … USM product Matt Wallner put up a 3-for-4 with two RBIs for Triple-A St. Paul (Minnesota) to lift his average to .257; he has six homers and 31 RBIs in 48 games there. He hit .299 with 21 homers in Double-A to start the season. P.S. On this date in 1912, Crystal Springs native Phil Redding made his big league debut — and it was one to forget. Right-hander Redding, starting for St. Louis against the Boston Braves, allowed 16 hits, five walks and nine earned runs in eight innings. (Was he being punished?) He won his next two starts, pitched in one more game in 2013 and then never again in the majors.

13 Sep

cheers

It wasn’t all cupcakes and balloons for Konnor Pilkington on his 25th birthday, though the night did have a happy ending. The Mississippi State product from Pascagoula got the start for Cleveland against the Los Angels on Monday — in a game featured on MLB Network’s Clubhouse Edition — and he no-hit the Angels for 3 1/3 innings. But the big lefty, working with a lead, yielded two-run home runs to Matt Duffy and Mike Trout in consecutive innings that tied the score. Pilkington departed after the fifth and watched from the dugout as the Guardians rallied to win 5-4 in a tense game in which both managers were ejected. Cleveland increased its lead in the American League Central to 3 games. Pilkington, a rookie, has been called up eight different times from Triple-A Columbus yet has managed a fairly steady performance in his big league opportunities. Over 14 games, 10 starts, he has a 4.30 ERA and a 1-2 record. At Columbus, he is 2-4, 5.66. A third-round pick out of State by the Chicago White Sox in 2018, Pilkington was traded to Cleveland last summer. He and former Southern Miss pitchers Nick Sandlin and Kirk McCarty, also a rookie, have been contributors for what appears to be a playoff-bound club. P.S. The Dodgers became the first team to clinch a postseason berth by beating Arizona 6-0 on Monday. Former Mississippi Braves standout Freddie Freeman, in his first year in L.A., has been a driving force in the star-studded lineup. Not to be overlooked is the performance of another M-Braves alum, right-hander Evan Phillips. Phillips, who passed through Pearl in 2016-17, notched his 18th hold on Monday and trimmed his ERA to 1.33 in 55 appearances. He has six wins and two saves for the National League West behemoth.

31 Aug

international news

There was a bit of an “old home week” vibe Tuesday night at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio, where the host Clippers and the Iowa Cubs hooked up in a Triple-A International League game. Pitchers from each of Mississippi’s Big 3 Division I schools went to the mound: Former Ole Miss standout Wyatt Short started and posted a win for the I-Cubs; Mississippi State product Konnor Pilkington started and took the loss for Columbus; and ex-Southern Miss standout Kirk McCarty also worked for the Clippers, a Cleveland affiliate. (For the record, Delta State alum Trent Giambrone, an infielder, watched from the Iowa bench.) Short, a closer at UM and a reliever for most of his minor league career, made his third start and pitched a strong five innings in the I-Cubs’ 4-0 victory. The 5-foot-8 left-hander from Southaven is now 4-1 with a 3.67 ERA at Iowa in his sixth pro season. Wyatt has yet to get a big league call, unlike Pilkington and McCarty, both of whom have been up this year. Pilkington, a lefty from Pascagoula, yielded four hits, four walks and three runs with nine strikeouts in four innings, falling to 2-4, 5.66, with Columbus. He is 1-2, 4.17, in 12 MLB games this season. Hattiesburg native McCarty, a left-hander who has two big league wins for the Guardians, allowed one run in four innings Tuesday, trimming his ERA at Columbus to 3.58. … In an International League game at St. Paul, Minn., ex-USM star Matt Wallner and Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton combined for four runs, four walks, two hits and a stolen base as Minnesota’s Triple-A club beat Omaha 10-6. The stolen base was the first for the veteran Hamilton in his second game with the Saints — and No. 402 in his minor league career. P.S. Several other former Ole Miss pitchers are in the news. Doug Nikhazy was promoted to Double-A Akron in the Cleveland system; he is slated to start Saturday. Taylor Broadway was traded to Boston from the Chicago White Sox to complete an earlier deal; the 2021 Rebels closer was pitching at Double-A Birmingham. Veteran big leaguer Mike Mayers, starting Tuesday for the Los Angeles Angels against the visiting New York Yankees, gave up three homers, including Aaron Judge’s No. 51, and took an L. Lance Lynn, 3-5, 5.00, for the White Sox but coming off one of his best starts, gets the ball tonight against Kansas City as the fading ChiSox try to stay in the playoff hunt.