13 Jul

three stars — plus one

Adam Frazier: The former Mississippi State standout, in one of several marquee games on the MLB docket Friday, went 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI as Kansas City beat fellow American League wild card contender Boston 6-1 at Fenway Park. Frazier led off the game with a single and scored the first run, then rapped an RBI single in the second inning and later scored to give the Royals a 4-0 lead. Frazier is batting .213 for Kansas City (52-43).
Kemp Alderman: The Ole Miss product from Decatur went 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and five RBIs to pace Low-Class A Jupiter to a win in the Florida State League. The 2023 Ferriss Trophy winner has a six-game hit streak (10-for-24) with three homers and 10 RBIs in that span for the Miami affiliate. He is at .247 on the season.
Tim Elko: The ex-Ole Miss slugger banged out three hits and scored a run in Double-A Birmingham’s 7-4 win against Mississippi at Trustmark Park in Pearl. Elko, who is 5-for-15 in the Southern League series, is batting .298 on the season with eight homers and 36 RBIs for the Chicago White Sox’s farm club.
Kellum Clark: The MSU alum from Brandon went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run for High-A Brooklyn in the South Atlantic League. After a frigid start for the Cyclones — a New York Mets affiliate — Clark has nine hits in his last four games and is batting .417 in July. He’s at .210 for the season with six RBIs and nine runs in 22 games.
P.S. Former Ocean Springs High star Garrett Crochet, in a possible tune-up for an MLB All-Star Game start, threw two perfect innings for the White Sox against Pittsburgh. The big left-hander, throwing 22 of 28 pitches for strikes, struck out four. He has a 150 K’s and a 3.02 ERA. … Atlanta moved Southern Miss alum Landon Harper from Double-A Mississippi back to High-A Rome. Harper has a 1.17 ERA in 10 games with the M-Braves. … In the HBCU Swingman Classic at Globe Life Field, Jackson State alum Robert Tate Jr. tripled and scored a run, JSU’s Lenny Montesano went 1-for-2 and Tigers ace Christian Womble allowed a run in two innings with four K’s for the victorious AL stars. Mississippi Valley State’s Dreylin Holmes was 2-for-2 with a run and JSU alum Rodney Hibler Jr. hit a sac fly for the NL squad.

12 Jul

star trekkin’

Buckle up. Lots of All-Star stuff coming in the next few days. The HBCU Swingman Classic is set for tonight (7 p.m., MLB Network) at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Jackson State had a bunch of offensive standouts this past season, and several are in the game: Joseph Eichelberger (.375 hitter), Robert Tate Jr. (.352, .458 OBP), Lenny Montesano (11 homers, 16 doubles) and Rodney Hibler Jr. (34 steals). Tigers pitchers Christian Womble and Isaiah Williams are also on the rosters, along with Mississippi Valley State’s Dreylin Holmes and Alcorn State’s Garrett Palladino. … On Saturday, there is a high school home run derby competition at Globe Life in which Jacob Parker of Purvis will compete. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound lefty hitter has slugged 24 homers the past three years at Purvis. Later Saturday (3:10 p.m., MLB Network), former Magnolia Heights star Cooper Pratt is slated to play in the All-Star Futures Game. Shortstop Pratt, a second-year pro and the state’s Gatorade player of the year in 2023, is Milwaukee’s No. 4-ranked prospect and is batting .295 with 19 bags at Low-Class A Carolina. … Sunday brings the first day of the MLB draft (4 p.m., ESPN) from Fort Worth, Texas. If Baseball America’s mock draft is accurate, four Mississippi-connected players could be chosen among the first 26 picks. Among them are three of the last four Gatorade state players of the year — Konnor Griffin, Dakota Jordan and Jordan Montgomery — plus Mississippi State switch-pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje. Montgomery and Cijntje reportedly will attend Sunday’s event; Griffin is having a watch party at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Expect several more players from the state to be called on Monday and Tuesday as the 20-round draft continues. … MLB’s Home Run Derby is set for Monday, though, regrettably, there is no Austin Riley, Brent Rooker or Hunter Renfroe in the field. … On Tuesday, it’s the main event, the 94th All-Star Game, with Ocean Springs High product Garrett Crochet (Chicago White Sox) and ex-MSU standout Jordan Westburg (Baltimore) suiting up for the American League squad.

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 Jul

around the horn

Kudos to Alcorn State pitcher Kewan Braziel. The left-hander from North Carolina threw a scoreless inning in Friday’s inaugural HBCU Swingman Classic in Seattle, but more significantly, he received the T-Mobile Impact Award, recognizing his leadership skills on and off the field in his community. The award was presented in-game by Ken Griffey Jr. Jackson State’s Ty Hill had an RBI walk and an infield single in the game at T-Mobile Park, and teammates Erik Gonzalez, Jesse Caver and Jatavis Melton along with Mississippi Valley State’s Narvin Booker and Victor Figueroa also participated. … Jackson Prep’s Konnor Griffin went 1-for-3 in the high school All-Star game that preceded the HBCU contest at T-Mobile. Griffin and Lewisburg High star Samuel Richardson are slated to participate in a home run derby prior to today’s All-Star Futures Game (6 p.m., Peacock). Biloxi High alum Colt Keith, a Detroit prospect, is Mississippi’s lone rep in the prestigious Futures Game. … In a matchup of two of MLB’s most disappointing teams, the Chicago White Sox beat St. Louis 8-7 in a wonky game at Guaranteed Rate Field. Former Mississippi State ace Chris Stratton came on for the Cardinals with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and walked in the go-ahead run on four pitches. Ex-MSU star Kendall Graveman got the save for Chicago — his seventh — but not before yielding a hit and a walk in the ninth inning. … Around the minors: David Parkinson, former Ole Miss standout who has had a turbulent pro career, allowed one run in five innings (despite four hits and five walks) to get the win for Double-A Reading. The left-hander is 3-4 with a 5.32 ERA. He was Philadelphia’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2018, went 1-11, 7.64, in 2021, elected to not play in 2022 and has been on and off the development list this season. … For Triple-A Round Rock, former State standout Justin Foscue hit a pair of homers and now has 10 on the season. The Texas Rangers prospect is batting .281 with 39 RBIs. … For Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox affiliate), erstwhile big leaguer Billy Hamilton of Taylorsville homered — his first in 75 at-bats this season. … In the High-Class A Midwest League, Beloit beat Wisconsin 6-3 as a bunch of Mississippi products played roles. Davis Bradshaw (McLaurin High/Meridian Community College) had two hits and two RBIs, Tanner Allen (MSU) had a hit and a stolen base and Kyle Crigger (Corinth High/Itawamba CC) got a four-out save for Beloit (Miami system). Joe Gray Jr. (Hattiesburg High) had a hit, a run and an RBI for Wisconsin (Milwaukee). … At Low-A Clearwater, former South Panola star Emaarion Boyd led off the ninth with a walk, went to second on a wild pitch, took third on a fly ball and scored the game-winning run on a grounder to third. The fleet-footed Boyd is batting .285 with 50 runs (and 41 steals) in 57 games for the Phillies’ farm club.

07 Jul

northwestern exposure

Jackson State hasn’t had a player picked in the MLB draft since 2017. For Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State, it’s been eight years since they had a player drafted. Seven players from those schools will get a little more exposure in the inaugural HBCU Swingman Classic, scheduled for tonight at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, where scouts and team execs will be gathered for the major league All-Star Game next week. Jackson State’s Ty Hill — a Ferriss Trophy finalist this year — and teammates Jatavis Melton, Jesse Caver and Erik Gonzalez, Valley’s Narvin Booker and Victor Figueroa and Alcorn’s Kewan Braziel are among the 50 players from historically black NCAA Division I schools invited to Seattle. In addition to workouts, two squads will play a game tonight (9:30 on MLB Network). No player from Mississippi’s three HBCUs is ranked among the top 200 draft prospects by mlb.com or Baseball America. More exposure might be just what one of them needs. “Not everyone goes to a Power 5 conference,” Ken Griffey Jr., who created this event, recently told MLB Network. Hill is a particularly interesting case. He hit .399 with a .507 on-base average for his three years at JSU. He walked 96 times, fanned 74. This past season, Hill — noticeably smaller than his listed 6 feet 1, 210 pounds — batted .387 with six homers, 16 doubles, four triples and 53 RBIs. He can handle third base, second or the outfield. Obviously, the Saltillo High product can play the game. Whether his abilities transfer to pro ball, who really knows? He might just need a chance. … Prior to the HBCU game is the MLB/USA Baseball High School All-American Game for 2024 draft prospects. Jackson Prep star Konnor Griffin, rated the No. 1 prospect by some services, is expected to play. He is an LSU commit. Also on the rosters are Noah Sheffield, son of Gary, and Adrian Beltre Jr. A replay of the game will air at 10 a.m. Saturday on MLBN. … The All-Star Futures Game is set for Saturday in Seattle at 6 p.m. (live on Peacock). Former Biloxi High star and 2019 Gatorade player of the year Colt Keith, a top Detroit prospect, is on the American League roster. The lefty-swinging third baseman is batting .335 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs between Double-A and Triple-A in 2023. Also watch for Biloxi Shuckers outfielder Jackson Chourio, a highly regarded Milwaukee prospect. Atlanta’s representative is right-hander Spencer Schwellenbach, who is at Low-A Augusta. The Futures Game will re-air on MLBN Sunday at 8 a.m.

02 Jul

here it comes …

Baseball fans need to strap in. A rollicking good time is ahead, particularly for devoted followers of all things Mississippi. Aside from the usual array of major and minor league games all week — Biloxi is hosting Mississippi on Monday and the M-Braves are at home the rest of the week — Team USA (the college version) is playing a series in the Carolinas against Chinese Taipei that runs through July 4 and then hooks up against Japan from July 7-12. Braden Montgomery, the former Madison Central High and current Stanford star, is on the Team USA roster. July 7 brings the HBCU Swingman Classic to kick off MLB’s All-Star festivities in Seattle. Several Mississippi college alums are on the rosters, including Jackson State’s Ty Hill, a Ferriss Trophy finalist this year. July 8 is the All-Star Futures Game, with ex-Biloxi High star Colt Keith, a rising Detroit Tigers prospect, scheduled to play at T-Mobile Park. July 9 is the start of the MLB draft, and there are several Mississippians who could go in the first two rounds (see Jacob Gonzalez and Kemp Alderman of Ole Miss, Cooper Pratt of Magnolia Heights Academy, Colton Ledbetter of Mississippi State). The draft continues on July 10 and 11. July 10 is the Home Run Derby at T-Mobile; the eight-man lineup has yet to be finalized, but there might be a Mississippian in the field. July 11 brings the Midsummer Classic itself with three Magnolia State products on the rosters plus a plethora of former M-Braves and Biloxi Shuckers. DeSoto Central High alum Austin Riley made the National League team as a reserve, joined by George County High product Justin Steele, selected to the NL pitching staff. Ex-Mississippi State star Brent Rooker made the American League squad as a reserve pick.

19 Jun

college stuff

After winning 320 games and guiding four teams into the NCAA Tournament at Southeastern Louisiana, Matt Riser will tackle a new challenge at Memphis. The Picayune native and former Pearl River Community College standout was announced as the Tigers’ new coach on Sunday. Riser spent 15 years at SLU, the Hammond-based school that plays in the Southland Conference. Memphis plays in the American Athletic Conference. Riser was an All-State player at PRCC in 2003 and ’04, batting .376 as a sophomore on the Wildcats’ state title team. He finished his playing career at Tulane and began his coaching career as an assistant at SLU. Memphis finished 29-28 in 2023 under first-year coach Kerrick Jackson, who moved on to Missouri. Memphis had not had a winning full season since 2017. The current roster includes a handful of Mississippi connections, notably Dalton Kendrick (Hernando), who had 12 saves in 2023. … In the College World Series, Hurston Waldrep — former Southern Miss pitcher — got the win for Florida against Oral Roberts in a winners bracket game on Sunday. Waldrep worked six innings and allowed a lone run with 12 strikeouts in the Gators’ 5-4 victory. Today in Omaha, Madison Central alum Braden Montgomery and the Stanford Cardinal meet Tennessee in an elimination game. Montgomery, a DH/pitcher, was 0-for-2 with a walk in a loss to Wake Forest on Saturday. Ex-DeSoto Central star Kyle Booker is a reserve outfielder on Tennessee’s roster; he hit .236 in 28 games this season. … There are seven Mississippi college alumni on the rosters for the inaugural HBCU Swingman Classic. Jackson State’s Ty Hill — a Ferriss Trophy finalist this year — is joined by teammates Jatavis Melton, Jesse Caver and Erik Gonzalez. Narvin Booker and Victor Figueroa from Mississippi Valley State and Kewan Braziel from Alcorn State are also among the invitees for the event, which was initiated by Ken Griffey, Jr. Two squads will play a game on July 7 at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park, site of MLB’s All-Star Game on July 11. P.S. Justin Parker, previously at South Carolina, will be hired as Mississippi State’s new pitching coach, according to various reports.

08 Dec

change of address

Add Jake Mangum’s name to the list of former Mississippi State outfielders changing teams this off-season. Miami has acquired Mangum from the New York Mets to complete an earlier trade. The 26-year-old Jackson Prep alum is a .284 career hitter over three minor league seasons with 13 homers (in 807 at-bats) and 45 steals. A switch hitter with center-field skills, he hit .333 in Triple-A in 2022, missing some time with a back injury. “He’s got a lot of tools,” Marlins general manager Kim Ng told mlb.com. “(P)retty happy about it.” Mangum was eligible to be taken in Wednesday’s Rule 5 draft since he was not on the Mets’ 40-man roster but wasn’t selected. He isn’t on Miami’s 40-man either but likely will get a shot at making the big league team in spring training. P.S. In other news: Justyn-Henry Malloy and Jake Higginbotham, both of whom played for the Double-A Mississippi Braves in 2022, were dealt to Detroit on Wednesday for big league reliever Joe Jimenez. … Former Jackson Generals manager Rick Sweet was named the winner of Minor League Baseball’s Mike Coolbaugh Award, given “to an individual who has shown outstanding baseball work ethic, knowledge of the game and skill in mentoring young players on the field.” Sweet, the Gens’ skipper in 1991-92, managed Milwaukee’s Triple-A club in 2022. … Chuckie Robinson, the former Southern Miss star who made his MLB debut with Cincinnati in 2022, re-signed as a minor league free agent with the Reds. … MSU product Jonathan Holder, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2020, signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels. The injury-plagued right-hander pitched limited innings in the Chicago Cubs’ system the past two seasons. … Former Northeast Mississippi Community College standout Tyler Samaniego was named as the relief pitcher on Pittsburgh’s 2022 Organization All-Star team by milb.com. Other Organization All-Stars from Mississippi named thus far include Mangum (Mets), Blaze Jordan (Boston), Matt Wallner (Minnesota), Colt Keith (Detroit) and Jordan Westburg (Baltimore). … MLB, in association with the players association and Ken Griffey Jr., will hold the first HBCU Swingman Classic next summer as part of the All-Star Game festivities in Seattle. Fifty players from NCAA Division I HBCUs will be invited for what is described as an “All-Star experience.”