23 Oct

connections

Eight years after making a trip to the College World Series with Mississippi State, Kendall Graveman is going to THE World Series with the Houston Astros. Graveman worked four scoreless innings over three appearances for the Astros, who finished off Boston 5-0 Friday in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. It was a 2-0 game when Graveman wriggled out of a jam in the seventh inning with the help of a great throw by catcher Martin Maldonado. Graveman was disappointed when Seattle traded him to Houston back in July, but he no doubt feels better about the move today. … For the Red Sox, who scored just three total runs in Games 4, 5 and 6, ex-MSU star Hunter Renfroe had a forgettable series. He was 1-for-16 with eight strikeouts and was lifted for a pinch hitter in what would have been his final at-bat. … This will be Houston’s fourth trip to the Fall Classic; the first came in 2005, when Mississippi native Roy Oswalt and former Jackson Generals Lance Berkman and Raul Chavez helped the club win the National League pennant. Houston’s Double-A team played in Jackson at Smith-Wills Stadium from 1991-99. … The Astros’ hitting coach is Troy Snitker, son of Atlanta manager Brian Snitker, who was the first Mississippi Braves manager in 2005. The younger Snitker played briefly in Atlanta’s minor league system but did not make it to Pearl. … The elder Snitker and the Braves will lean on ex-M-Braves pitcher Ian Anderson in tonight’s Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. Only 23 years old, Anderson has made six postseason starts over two years and is 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA. In 2018-19 in Mississippi, he was 9-6, 2.62. In 2019, he started a combo no-hitter at Trustmark Park while wearing a Jackson Generals uniform on a special tribute night. … Anderson is one of several M-Braves alumni on the Atlanta roster. In addition, reserve infielder Orlando Arcia played for Biloxi on his route to the big leagues in Milwaukee’s system. … The Los Angeles Dodgers also have an M-Braves alum on their club: Reliever Evan Phillips pitched in Pearl in 2016 and ’17 on his circuitous journey to the NLCS. The Dodgers claimed Phillips off waivers from Tampa Bay in mid-August; he was previously released by Baltimore. He has thrown three scoreless innings against the Braves. … Brookhaven native and veteran MLB umpire Lance Barksdale is scheduled to work behind home plate tonight at Truist Park. P.S. Kudos to Hattiesburg native Robert Carson and Biloxi native Jacob Lindgren, who were part of championship teams in the top two independent leagues. Carson pitched for Atlantic League champ Lexington and Lindgren for American Association winner Kansas City. Both Carson and Lindgren, an MSU alum, previously pitched in the big leagues.

23 Jun

dog day

Was there something in the air on Tuesday night? Cue Phil Collins. Mississippi State got thunder (Tanner Allen) and lightning (Landon Sims) in a supercharged comeback win in the College World Series in Omaha, and that vibe seemed to spread to Bulldogs alums scattered around the pro landscape. At Tampa Bay, Hunter Renfroe homered and drove in three runs in a Boston win. At Pittsburgh, Adam Frazier homered and scored twice in the Pirates’ victory against the Chicago White Sox. (The win went to David Bednar, brother of Will, State’s star from Sunday.) In Seattle, Kendall Graveman pitched a perfect ninth for the save as the Mariners beat Colorado. Mitch Moreland and Nate Lowe were on opposing sides in the Oakland-Texas game, but whether they felt the vibe, we can’t be sure. Neither played. Down in Triple-A, Brent Rooker hit another bomb in a win by St. Paul, and Jacob Robson went yard in Toledo’s win. In Double-A, Jake Mangum took an 0-for-4 for Binghamton but did enjoy the view from center field in his team’s no-hitter. And, hey, the Arizona Diamondbacks should be on notice today: Brandon Woodruff gets the start looking for his sixth win for Milwaukee. Don’t bet against him. P.S. Incidentally, Renfroe, Frazier, Graveman, Robson and Woodruff were teammates on the 2013 State team that made the CWS finals. Jonathan Holder (currently on the MLB injured list) and Jacob Lindgren (now with the independent Kansas City Monarchs; he pitched a scoreless inning in a win on Tuesday) were also on that club.

02 Jun

starlight

More than a few atta boys are in order, starting with the stars from the MHSAA championships at Pearl’s Trustmark Park (props to SBLive for those details):
Tupelo Christian’s Daniel Reddout pitched six innings, allowing one earned run, in a 5-2 win against Resurrection Christian in Class 1A.
Magee’s Adam May went seven innings to beat Booneville 6-3 in 3A.
Pascagoula’s Brayden Scott allowed one run in six innings in a 12-1 blowout of Saltillo in 5A.
In the minors, Houlka native Tyreque Reed belted his eighth home run for High-A Greenville in the Boston system.
Harrison Central High alum Bobby Bradley hit his eighth dinger for Triple-A Columbus (Cleveland).
Ex-Mississippi State star Ethan Small struck out 11 over five shutout innings for Double-A Biloxi (Milwaukee).
Ole Miss product Will Ethridge allowed one hit over six shutout innings with eight K’s for Low-A Fresno (Colorado).
MSU product Jordan Westburg had a hit and three RBIs in his High-A debut for Aberdeen (Baltimore).
In independent ball, ex-UM standout Braxton Lee went 2-for-5 and is batting .438 in four games for Southern Maryland in the Atlantic League.
In the big leagues, DeSoto Central alum Austin Riley was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and is hitting .310 with 24 RBIs for Atlanta.
Former State star Adam Frazier put up a 2-for-4 for Pittsburgh, raising his average to .335, third-best in the National League.
Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton went 1-for-3 (a face-planting “hustle homer”) with an RBI for the Chicago White Sox, boosting his average to .316 with five runs and five RBIs in his last seven games.
Ocean Springs’ Garrett Crochet threw two scoreless innings for the White Sox, cutting his ERA to 0.57 in 15 games.
Ex-State standout Hunter Renfroe extended his hitting streak to five games, during which he has 10 hits, eight runs and three RBIs for Boston.

25 May

Whatever happened to …

LeDarious Clark, the former Southeast Lauderdale High and East Mississippi Community College star, is on the roster of the independent Lancaster Barnstormers of the Atlantic League. Clark was released by Texas last spring after five years in the Rangers’ system. A 12th-round pick out of West Florida in 2015, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound outfielder reached Double-A in 2019 but batted just .200 in 38 games for Frisco. Clark, 27, hit .238 with 48 homers and 99 steals in his minor league career. “We have gotten good reports on Clark,” Lancaster manager Russ Peeples said in a release announcing Clark’s signing. “Those reports say that he has a lot of tools but that he has not put it together consistently as of yet. We are hoping he can come here and do just that.” The Barnstormers open their season on Thursday. P.S. Braxton Lee, a onetime big leaguer from Picayune, signed with Southern Maryland of the Atlantic League. The Blue Crabs are managed by Jackson native and ex-big leaguer Stan Cliburn. Lee, drafted by Tampa Bay out of Ole Miss in 2014, appeared in eight games (.176) with Miami in 2018. He was in the New York Mets’ system in 2019. … Former Hattiesburg High star – and onetime big leaguer – Robert Carson is back in the Atlantic League with the Lexington Legends. The 32-year-old left-hander has pitched in the league every season since 2015 and was 15-8 for York in 2018 and ’19. … Elijah MacNamee, the Mississippi State product, is on the roster of the independent Evansville Otters of the Frontier League. MacNamee, an outfielder who played at State from 2017-19, signed with Evansville in 2019 and hit .309 for the club that season. The league did not operate in 2020. MSU product Denver McQuary, from Maben, and Southern Miss/MSU alum Tyler Spring, from Wiggins, are also on the Otters’ roster. The ’21 season starts Thursday. … Former Starkville High and Meridian CC standout Milton Smith, previously in the Miami Marlins’ system, is with the Frontier League’s New York Boulders, who also signed ex-Mississippi Valley State star Zach Penprase, now 36. (Little-known fact: Penprase led the nation in stolen bases with 60 at Valley in 2006.) … Belhaven University product Tanner Cable will pitch for Gateway in the Frontier League.

05 Jan

ode to bluesmen

Professional baseball will return to Mississippi in 2021. Presumably. The Double-A Mississippi Braves and Biloxi Shuckers are selling season tickets, though the Southern League doesn’t have a schedule up yet. The cancelled 2020 minor league season left central Mississippi without a pro team for the first time since 2001 and just the second time since 1975, when the old Jackson Mets moved into Smith-Wills Stadium. The Texas League franchise departed in 1999 and the independent DiamondKats played just one season (2000) before folding. The indy Senators began their four-year run at Smith-Wills in 2002. But there was a pro team playing in the state 20 years ago. This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the swan song of the Greenville Bluesmen. The independent team played at Legion Field from 1996-2001 in first the Big South League and then the Texas-Louisiana League (along with the DiamondKats). The Bluesmen are remembered in some circles as the team that made a 1998 trade for a pitcher involving 10 pounds of catfish. (You can look it up.) They also won back-to-back Big South titles in 1996 and ’97. Alas, their Texas-Louisiana League years weren’t so good. They finished last every season, going 34-62 overall in 2001. Patrick O’Sullivan was the best player on that team; the former New York Mets draft pick, who played many years of pro ball, hit .323 with 18 homers. Tunica native Keith Dunn won 11 games. Southern Miss alum Danny Stout and Jackson native Sim Shanks also played on that club. There’s rich baseball history in Greenville. It’s the birthplace of former MLB stars George Scott and Frank White, and the city hosted minor league clubs in various leagues going back to 1902.

08 Jul

whatever happened to …

T.J. House, the former Picayune High star and MLB veteran, is pitching for the Eastern Reyes del Tigre, one of the four clubs in the newly formed Constellation Energy League in Texas. The league was created by the Sugar Land Skeeters, a member of the independent Atlantic League, which is shut down for 2020. House, 30, pitched in 29 big league games from 2014-17. The left-hander held a spot in Cleveland’s rotation for part of 2014, going 5-3 with a 3.35 ERA. He spent last season in the independent American Association. The Constellation Energy League will be based at Sugar Land’s Constellation Energy Field and starts its 28-game season on Friday. … There are several former big leaguers on the CEL rosters, including Cameron Rupp, David Huff, Tommy Joseph and former Mississippi Braves star Dustin Peterson. P.S. With Baltimore having agreed to a $950,000 signing bonus for third-round draft selection Anthony Servideo of Ole Miss, all seven players picked from in-state schools in last month’s draft have now signed or agreed to terms. (Former DeSoto Central star Blaze Jordan’s reported deal with Boston has not yet been made official.) … Henri Lartigue, an Ole Miss product from Southaven, was added to Philadelphia’s 60-man roster at catcher over the July 4 weekend. That makes seven non 40-man roster members with Mississippi ties in MLB summer camps, the others being Billy Hamilton, Tyler Keenan, Jack Kruger, Brent Rooker, Nick Sandlin and Ryan Rolison. Hamilton, the only one of this group with big league time, is expected to be added to San Francisco’s 40-man roster before the season begins. … Tanner Propst, an MRA alum who pitched at Delta State in 2020, signed as a non-drafted free agent with Colorado.