Kemp Alderman chose a good time to come up with what was probably the best game of his young pro career. The former Ole Miss star, a second-round draft pick by Miami this year, went 3-for-5 with a walk, two doubles, a triple, two runs and an RBI as Jupiter beat Palm Beach 7-6 Thursday to reach the Florida State League Championship Series. The 2023 Ferriss Trophy winner as the state’s best player, Alderman had his struggles with the Low-Class A Hammerheads, batting .205 with one homer and 15 RBIs in 34 games. A big-time power hitter at UM, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Alderman slugged just .316 this season. After going 0-for-4 in the opener of the best-of-3 division series against Palm Beach, Alderman broke out in Game 2 with his first three-hit game. The spotlight will get brighter in the league finals, where Jupiter will play the winner of the Clearwater-Lakeland series, currently even at 1-1. One of Clearwater’s driving forces is Emaarion Boyd, the second-year pro out of South Panola High. The Philadelphia Phillies prospect, typically the Threshers’ leadoff batter, hit .262 with 68 runs and 56 stolen bases in 91 games. P.S. On the subject of Ferriss Trophy winners in the Marlins’ system, Jake Mangum — who won two at Mississippi State — enjoyed a three-hit game for Triple-A Jacksonville in its loss to Gwinnett. Mangum had a double (No. 26 this year), a triple (No. 8), scored twice and picked up an assist from center field. In his fourth pro season — first in Miami’s system after a December trade from the New York Mets — the 27-year-old Mangum is batting .305 with five homers, 47 RBIs and 16 steals. He is still waiting on his first MLB call-up.
A lot of eyes will be on Kemp Alderman today and Wednesday. The Ole Miss alum from Decatur is in Phoenix for the MLB Draft Combine, and the outfielder was identified before workouts even began as a player to watch by MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis. “I think he’s going to put on quite a show at the combine,” Callis said Monday in a TV interview on MLB Network. “I think he’ll establish once again while he’s there that he hits the ball as hard as anybody in this draft.” The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Alderman put up a .376 average, 19 homers, 61 RBIs, a .440 on-base average and a .709 slug this past season at Ole Miss. He won the Ferriss Trophy as the best college player in the state. “He hits as hard and as far anybody I’ve ever seen,” Rebels coach Mike Bianco said at the Ferriss ceremony last month. Alderman hit 25 homers over three seasons at Newton County Academy, where he was team MVP his last three years. He went undrafted out of high school and played sparingly as a freshman at UM in 2021. “To his credit, he went to work,” Bianco said. “He kept getting better and better.” He hit .286 with 11 homers on the 2022 national title team and then erupted for one of the best seasons in school history in 2023. Alderman, the No. 62 draft prospect on MLB Pipeline’s latest rankings, is one of eight Mississippi college products invited to the combine, in just its third year. Also on the list: shortstop Jacob Gonzalez, the highest-rated draft prospect in the state, catcher Calvin Harris and pitcher Jack Dougherty from Ole Miss; Southern Miss pitcher Tanner Hall and outfielder Matthew Etzel; and Mississippi State outfielder Colton Ledbetter and pitcher Cade Smith. Batting practice, infield/outfield drills and bullpen sessions begin today; MLB Network will televise portions of the workouts.
Ferriss Trophy winners were making news on Wednesday. The last two winners of Mississippi’s top college honor were named to the NCBWA All-America teams: Southern Miss’ Tanner Hall, the 2022 Ferriss recipient, was named to the first team — his second such honor (Collegiate Baseball) — and 2023 winner Kemp Alderman of Ole Miss made the second team. Hall was 12-4 with a 2.48 ERA for the Golden Eagles, who fell in the Hattiesburg Super Regional on Monday. Alderman hit .376 with 19 homers and 61 RBIs for the Rebels, the defending national champs who did not make the postseason this year. Meanwhile, ex-Mississippi State star Jake Mangum, the Ferriss winner in 2019 and ’16, enjoyed a big day for Triple-A Jacksonville (Miami system), going 4-for-6 with four RBIs as the Jumbo Shrimp swept a doubleheader from Memphis. The Jackson Prep product is batting .286. Worth noting: Up in the Cape Cod League, 2023 Ferriss finalist Hunter Hines of MSU went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in a win by Yarmouth-Dennis; Hines is batting .350 with a homer and six RBIs in five games in the summer league. And 2022 finalist Tim Elko, an Ole Miss alumnus now in pro ball, hit his league-leading 14th home run for Low-Class A Kannapolis (Chicago White Sox). P.S. Dakota Jordan, after an All-SEC Freshman season at State, is killing it in the New England Collegiate League. The Jackson Academy product is batting .444 (8-for-18, plus six walks) with five RBIs and nine runs in six games for Newport.
Kemp Alderman, following what his coach called one of the best individual seasons in Ole Miss history, won the Ferriss Trophy on Monday during a ceremony in Philadelphia. The junior from Decatur and Newton County Academy joins a list of previous Ferriss winners that includes Hunter Renfroe, Drew Pomeranz, Brent Rooker, Chris Stratton and Nick Sandlin. Alderman was among five deserving finalists for the 2023 award, given annually to the best player in the state by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. As the five were being introduced prior to the announcement, it was tempting to fantasize about the type of club you could build around just this group. They are that good. In the leadoff spot, you’d have Ty Hill from Jackson State. The Saltillo native carried a .400 average most of the season before slipping to .390. He hit six homers, drove in 53 runs, scored 50, stole eight bases and drew 49 walks, posting a .524 on-base percentage. “He’d have more hits, but they won’t pitch to him,” JSU broadcaster Rob Jay said. Slot Slade Wilks in the 2-hole. The Southern Miss junior from Columbia hit .305 with 18 homers, 53 RBIs and a .650 slugging percentage. “What a player he has been,” USM coach Scott Berry said. “I’ve never had anybody who hits it as hard as Slade.” Berry recounted seeing Wilks hit a ball into the pines beyond right field at Taylor Park in Hattiesburg — as a 9th-grader. Alderman would hit third. He put up a .376 average, 19 homers, 61 RBIs, a .440 on-base average and a .709 slug. “He hits it as hard and as far anybody I’ve ever seen,” Rebels coach Mike Bianco said. Alderman didn’t have an immediate impact in Oxford. “To his credit, he went to work,” Bianco said. “He kept getting better and better.” Alderman thanked his coach for giving him the opportunity to play at his “dream school.” Mississippi State’s Hunter Hines fits the cleanup mold. The sophomore from Madison Central hit .297 with 22 homers, 61 RBIs and a .683 slug. “From his first BP (batting practice) until now, he’s been the best hitter in our program,” said State coach Chris Lemonis. “He loves to hit … and hunt.” Every team needs an ace, and USM’s Tanner Hall has certainly been that. The junior right-hander from Louisiana won the 2022 Ferriss Trophy and is having arguably a better 2023 season. He was 11-3 with a 2.45 ERA, a .203 average against and 100 strikeouts with 30 walks in 88 innings. “He’s had amazing back-to-back years,” Berry said. “He started every first game of every Sun Belt series and won nine of the 10.” You could round out the roster of this fantasy club with other players from the more than a dozen Ferriss nominees, some of which were all-conference selections at the smaller schools. The state is brimming with talent.