12 Jul

a little teamwork

The Miami Marlins’ system features several Magnolia State products, and down in the Low-Class A Florida State League on Thursday, three of them teamed up to fuel a win by Jupiter. Davis Bradshaw, a minor league vet on a rehab assignment, and 2023 draft picks Kemp Alderman and Justin Storm played starring roles for the Hammerheads in a 7-3 victory over Bradenton. In the pivotal six-run sixth inning, Bradshaw singled in the game-tying run, Alderman doubled in a pair, Bradshaw scored on a sac fly and Alderman came home on a wild pitch as Jupiter went up 7-2. Storm pitched the last two innings, blanking Bradenton on one hit. Meridian Community College alum Bradshaw, who has been in the Miami chain since 2018 and is a career .304 hitter, is batting .400 in six games with the Hammerheads on a rehab assignment from Double-A Pensacola. Ex-Ole Miss star Alderman, injured at the start of this season, has a five-game hit streak and is batting .233 with two homers and nine RBIs over 20 games. Storm, a power left-hander out of Southern Miss, trimmed his ERA to 1.30 over 17 appearances. He is 4-1 with two saves. … The big league Marlins, who recently released ex-East Central CC star Tim Anderson, still have Ole Miss product Nick Fortes at catcher. Former Mississippi State standout Tanner Allen is at Pensacola (on the IL), and Corinth High and Itawamba CC alum Kyle Crigger is at High-A Beloit. P.S. Former State star Jake Mangum — who was in Miami’s system in 2023 — banged out three hits Thursday for Triple-A Durham (Tampa Bay) and jacked his average to .317. The switch-hitter, 28, hit .347 in June and is at .368 in July, though he hasn’t homered since April. Tick, tick … Mangum is still waiting for his first MLB call-up. … Ex-George County High standout Justin Steele (2-3, 2.71) won his second straight start for the Chicago Cubs, throwing seven shutout innings against mighty Baltimore in an 8-0 romp. … MSU product Dakota Hudson cleared waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Albuquerque by Colorado. The veteran right-hander was expected to accept the assignment. Also on the Isotopes’ roster is ex-Ole Miss star Ryan Rolison, the oft-injured lefty who has a 3.52 ERA in five games, and minor league vet Hunter Stovall, an MSU alum and a .282 hitter this season.

22 Jun

welcome back

Dylan DeLucia, College World Series hero for Ole Miss two years ago, finally made his pro debut on Friday, pitching two clean innings with one strikeout for the Cleveland Guardians’ Arizona Complex League rookie team. One of the hitters he retired was Eloy Jimenez, a rehabbing big leaguer on the Chicago White Sox’s ACL team. DeLucia, 23, was a sixth-round draft pick by Cleveland in 2022 but has been on the shelf ever since because of injuries, including Tommy John surgery in the spring of 2023. In the Rebels’ remarkable postseason run in 2022, DeLucia beat Southern Miss in the Hattiesburg Super Regional and Auburn and Arkansas in the CWS, in which he earned MVP honors. He went 8-2 with a 3.68 ERA in his one season in Oxford. He transferred in from Northwest Florida State College, a juco where he posted a 15-2 record over two seasons. P.S. Tim Anderson delivered a walk-off single for Miami in a 3-2 win vs. Seattle and is batting .311 over his last 15 games. All 19 hits in that stretch are singles. The former East Central Community College standout, who was hitting .188 on June 5, has lifted his season average to .232 with no homers, nine RBIs and four steals over 207 at-bats. … Ex-Mississippi State star Hunter Renfroe came off the injured list Friday for Kansas City and went 0-for-3 with a walk in a loss to Texas. He is batting .197 with six homers.

15 Jun

turning point?

Fingers are crossed in Braves Nation. “Getting Austin (Riley) involved is huge for us,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker told The Associated Press after Friday’s 7-3 win over Tampa Bay. “I’ve been obviously working hard to get it right. To see some results is nice,” former DeSoto Central High standout Riley said after his 3-for-4, three-RBI night. Braves fans are knocking on wood. Did anyone need a big game more than Riley? He entered Friday’s contest in a 1-for-19 skid. He was hitting .185 with no homers and two RBIs over his previous 15 games, which followed a two-week stint on the bench with a side injury. Some critics were already calling it a “lost season.” On Friday, he had an RBI double in the first inning and the next inning blasted a 422-foot home run, his fourth of the year but first since May 3. He boosted his average to .230. This is a guy who hit .281 with 37 homers and 97 RBIs, won a Silver Slugger at third base and was an All-Star for the second time in 2023. The wobbling, injury-plagued Braves (37-30) need his production. Plus, he’s the kind of guy you root for. No bat flips, no showboating. No smack talk, no whining. He just shows up and plays hard, like a modern-day Dale Murphy. The loss of Michael Harris II to the injured list Friday with a hamstring injury makes a return to form by Riley even more vital for the Braves in the coming weeks. P.S. Is Tim Anderson finally escaping his season-long funk? The ex-East Central Community College star had a three-hit game for Miami on Friday and now has nine hits over his last four games. He has lifted his average to .221, though he still hasn’t homered and has just seven RBIs in 52 games for the lowly Marlins (23-46). With the Chicago White Sox, Anderson won a batting title in 2019, a Silver Slugger at shortstop in 2020 and was an All-Star in 2021 and ’22. Marlins fans have not seen that player.

10 Jun

that’s the ticket

Typically, there is an adjustment period for a minor league player as he moves up the ladder. Former South Panola High standout Emaarion Boyd might be starting to figure out the High-Class A level in the Philadelphia system. The 20-year-old center fielder went 3-for-6 on Sunday for Jersey Shore, his second three-hit game in his last three. He filled up the box score in the BlueClaws’ 18-5 win against Greensboro with a homer (his first), a double, two runs, four RBIs and a stolen base (his 12th). At the Low-Class A level in 2023, Boyd hit .262 with a .366 on-base percentage and swiped 56 bases. The going has been tougher this season. Boyd is batting just .214 with a .314 OBP in 42 games. But he has hit at a .292 clip in June, and Sunday’s performance arguably was his best of the season. His home run — his second in three pro seasons — was a first-inning grand slam off former Ole Miss star Derek Diamond, a Pittsburgh prospect. The 6-foot, 177-pound Boyd was an 11th-round pick out of South Panola — the football power — in 2022 and received a nice signing bonus. Rated a 70 (on the 20-80 scale) for his speed tool, Boyd is the No. 16 prospect in the Phillies’ system, per MLB Pipeline. He can be a weapon — a la Billy Hamilton — as both a base-stealer and fly-catching center fielder. P.S. Interesting that Tim Anderson, the East Central Community College alum, was placed on the bereavement list by Miami prior to its three-game home series with Cleveland. Anderson and the Guardians’ Jose Ramirez engaged in a much-publicized scrap last summer, and both were suspended. Anderson, batting a miserable .188 with zero homers, six RBIs and three stolen bases, missed the entire series, won 2-1 by the Guardians. … Though he didn’t play for Detroit on Sunday, ex-Biloxi High star Colt Keith apparently dodged major injury to his knee in a collision with Akil Badoo on Saturday. Rookie second baseman Keith is batting .214 with seven errors.

09 Jun

a case for cooperstown

Today is Dave Parker’s 73rd birthday, which makes it a good time to ask, Why is he not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame? There is only one native Mississippian in Cooperstown: Starkville’s Cool Papa Bell, a star in the Negro Leagues. Parker, born in Grenada, should be there, too. He was a seven-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, two-time batting champion, two-time World Series champ and one-time National League MVP. He was drafted out of a Cincinnati high school in 1970 and played in the majors from 1973-91, batting .290 with 2,712 hits, 339 home runs and 1,493 RBIs. He had one of the best right-field arms in the game in his prime. Nicknamed “The Cobra,” he was baseball’s first million-dollar-a-year player. He had a controversial side. He endured weight problems and injuries at various times and was embroiled in the cocaine scandal of the early ’80s. That’s probably what hurt him with the BBWAA voters; he fell off that ballot in 2011, never coming close to election. His fate now rests with the special selection committees. Parker, who is battling Parkinson’s, is in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and the Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Fame. He really ought to be in Cooperstown. P.S. Hurston Waldrep is set to become the 22nd Southern Miss alumnus to play in the big leagues. The right-hander is slated to start for Atlanta today at Washington. Waldrep, the Braves’ top draft pick in 2023 and current No. 2 prospect, pitched at USM in 2021-22 before finishing his college career at Florida. … Former USM standout Justin Storm, a seventh-round pick by Miami last summer, is having a fine season at Low-Class A Jupiter. The Madison Central High alum, a 6-foot-7 lefty, is 3-1 with a 0.55 ERA in 10 games. The lone run he allowed in a three-inning stint on Saturday against Lakeland was a homer by former William Carey standout Patrick Lee, who recently signed with Detroit as a free agent. … Ex-Madison Central star Braden Montgomery suffered a broken ankle Saturday in Texas A&M’s win against Oregon in the NCAA Super Regional. He is done for the season. Montgomery — a likely first-round MLB draft pick next month — hit .322 with 27 homers for the Aggies.

28 May

circle the wagons

The resilience of the East Central Community College Warriors will be tested today in Enid, Okla. In its opener Monday at the NJCAA Division II World Series, ECCC squandered a 10-1 lead and lost to Madison (Wisc.) College 12-10. The third-seeded Warriors (51-8) play an elimination game today against Southeastern Iowa. Powered by home runs from Mo Little, Barret Rodgers and Cyrus Rone, ECCC led 10-1 after five innings with ace Luke Cooley on the bump. Cooley departed in the sixth after throwing 110 pitches (just 61 strikes), and six relievers were unable to close the door on Madison. The WolfPack (39-12) scored six times in the sixth, once in the seventh and four more in the ninth to steal the game. ECCC did not manage a hit over the last four innings. If there is a silver lining for the Warriors, they do have Marbin Lezcano (8-1, 3.17 ERA) available for today’s game. … Meanwhile, in San Diego, one of East Central’s most famous alums also had a rough day. Tim Anderson — who led the Warriors to a state title back in 2013 — committed two errors at shortstop in a pivotal seventh inning that cost Miami in a 2-1 loss to the Padres. Anderson also went 0-for-2 at the plate, dropping his average to .203. “I can’t be worse than that,” Anderson told mlb.com after the game. “So I can only get better, so that’s a positive.” The Marlins signed Anderson — .279 career hitter, 98 homers, 120 steals — to a one-year, $5 million deal in the off-season, hoping he could reverse a troubling trajectory. It hasn’t happened. A batting champion with the Chicago White Sox in 2019 and an All-Star in 2022, he slumped to .245 with just one homer last year. The White Sox declined an option in his contract and cut him loose. In 40 games for Miami, the 30-year-old Alabama native has yet to homer and has just three extra-base hits. Never a great fielder, he has six errors and .959 fielding percentage this season, both poor numbers.

18 May

out of the blue

Former Ole Miss catcher Nick Fortes hangs his hat on his work behind home plate. A game like he had at the plate on Friday night for the Miami Marlins was an unexpected but welcome bonus. Fortes went 3-for-3 with a walk, a home run and three RBIs as the Marlins routed the New York Mets 8-0 at loanDepot Park. The fourth-year big leaguer, who shares catching duties with Christian Bethancourt, entered the game with just 10 hits and one homer all season. Miami, the worst team in the National League at 14-32, has won three in a row, all by shutout, all with Fortes behind the plate. “Definitely most proud of the shutouts,” he told mlb.com. “(It’s) the No. 1 priority of my job.” Fortes was a .319 hitter — and a Johnny Bench Award semifinalist — at Ole Miss in 2018, when Miami drafted him in the fourth round. He reached the big leagues in 2021, singled in his first at-bat and homered in his second. He has hit just .212 since, but his defense has kept him in The Show. … Colt Keith’s first trip as a big leaguer to his old stomping grounds seemed to do something to perk up his bat. The former Biloxi High star, who lived in Arizona for several years as a kid, went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and three runs as Detroit whipped Arizona 13-0 at Chase Field. A large group of family and friends reportedly were there to see it. Keith, who signed a huge contract in the off-season before playing a single MLB game, entered Friday’s contest batting .171 with just 20 hits but playing regularly at second base. The Mississippi Gatorade player of the year in 2019, Keith was drafted in the fifth round by the Tigers in 2020. He hit .306 with 27 homers as one of their top prospects in 2023. … Ian Mejia is not among the highly rated pitching prospects on the Mississippi Braves’ staff, but the right-hander is certainly gaining his share of attention. He threw the fifth no-hitter in Trustmark Park history on Friday night, beating Biloxi 2-0 in a seven-inning nightcap to a doubleheader. Mejia, 24, was drafted out of New Mexico State in 2022 and is in his first Double-A campaign. After Friday’s gem, which included 11 strikeouts, he is 4-0 with 1.69 ERA and 54 punchouts, leading the Southern League in the latter two categories. His no-no was the first solo job for the M-Braves since Tommy Hanson’s in 2008.

07 Apr

on the road again

J.T. Ginn’s road to the big leagues has been filled with emergency stops. The former Mississippi State standout from Brandon, who has spent much time parked on the injured list in Oakland’s minor league system, got off to a clean start on Saturday night for Double-A Midland. In his 2024 debut, Ginn allowed one run on four hits and two walks in five innings to register the win for the RockHounds against Corpus Christi. Having made some tweaks in his mechanics, the right-hander, 24, reportedly had a good spring. Though he has dropped off the prospect charts, the A’s brass seems encouraged as Ginn enters his fourth pro season. “It’s just a matter of health and maturity,” Ed Sprague, Oakland’s farm director, told Baseball America in March. Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round out of Brandon High in 2018, two-way star Ginn opted for MSU, where he was the SEC’s freshman of the year as a pitcher in 2019. He suffered an elbow injury and had Tommy John surgery early in 2020, but the New York Mets picked him in the second round that summer as a draft-eligible sophomore. He had a nice debut season in the Mets’ system, then was traded to the A’s in March of 2022 for big leaguer Chris Bassitt. Various ailments limited Ginn to 20 appearances the past two seasons. He was 1-3 with a 7.43 ERA in 2023. P.S. Former Southern Miss star Tanner Hall is slated to make his pro debut today for Minnesota’s Low-A Fort Myers club. A fourth-round pick last year, Hall was a two-time All-America, a two-time conference pitcher of the year and the 2022 Ferriss Trophy winner while at USM. He posted a 22-8 record and 2.92 ERA in three seasons. … MSU alum Tanner Allen, another former Ferriss winner, is 6-for-8 with five RBIs and two runs in two games, both wins, for Double-A Pensacola (Miami system) against the Mississippi Braves. … USM product Nick Sandlin, yet another former Ferriss winner now in MLB, worked a clean inning for Cleveland in a Saturday win over Minnesota and has yet to allow a hit or run in five appearances for the 7-2 Guardians.

05 Apr

batter up

The Mississippi Braves’ opening day lineup at Pensacola on Friday featured a blend of old and new and speed and power, with three Top 30 prospects — Nacho Alvarez, Drake Baldwin and Geraldo Quintaro — in the top six in the order.
The M-Braves, beginning their farewell season, faced Blue Wahoos right-hander Evan Fitterer, a Miami Marlins prospect in his fifth pro season.
Ian Mejia, second-year pro out of New Mexico State, got the starting nod from M-Braves manager Angel Flores. He went 4-11 with a 4.69 ERA at High-Class A Rome last year.
Ex-Southern Miss star Hurston Waldrep, Atlanta’s No. 2 prospect (MLB Pipeline), is expected to start Sunday’s series finale.
The leadoff batter Friday was M-Braves returnee Cody Milligan, who was injured for a chunk of time but hit .280 and stole 23 bases in 69 games.
In the 2-hole was Alvarez, the No. 6 prospect, a 20-year-old shortstop whom Baseball America rates as the best overall hitter in the Atlanta system. At Rome last season, he hit .284 with seven homers, 66 RBIs and 16 steals.
Hitting third was Baldwin, rated No. 11 in the system, a power-hitting prospect who mashed 16 homers at three levels in 2023. A lefty-batting catcher, he played 14 games (.321, one homer) for the M-Braves late last season before finishing in Triple-A.
Keshawn Ogans, up from Rome, was in the cleanup spot and playing third base. The Cal-Berkley product, 5 feet 8, 180 pounds, hit .266 with nine homers at Rome and .299 in the Arizona Fall League, where he made the Fall Stars Game.
Hitting fifth was first baseman Bryson Horne, who has 28 homers over his three pro seasons and finished his ’23 campaign with the M-Braves, batting .299 in 23 games.
Quintaro, batting sixth and playing left field, is cut from the Ozzie Albies mold (5 feet 5, 155 pounds). The Braves’ No. 28 prospect, he stole 29 bases while batting .251 for Rome last year and has 96 career steals in three minor league years.
Returnee Tyler Tolve, a catcher, was the DH in the 7-spot. He hit .238 with seven homers for Mississippi in 2023. Rounding out the nine were second baseman Cal Conley (.219, 32 steals for the ’23 M-Braves) and right fielder Justin Dean, who has spent parts of the last three seasons with the M-Braves and has 151 career steals.
P.S. Batting ninth for the Blue Wahoos was former Mississippi State star Tanner Allen, the 2021 Ferriss Trophy winner and SEC player of the year who was drafted by the Marlins in the fourth round that summer. He hit .274 in 17 games for Pensacola, the third level he played at in 2023.

15 Mar

hit the reset

Hunter Renfroe, Tim Anderson and Dakota Hudson have several things in common. They attended Mississippi colleges, were picked in the first round of the MLB draft, enjoyed success in The Show — and now find themselves in spring training camps trying to re-establish their place in the game. Mississippi State product and Crystal Springs native Renfroe has 177 home runs in the big leagues but has bounced from team to team the last several years. In 2023, he was waived by the Los Angeles Angels, claimed and later released by Cincinnati in mid-September. He is in Kansas City’s camp on a one-year, $6.5 million contract, likely to be the lowly Royals’ right fielder. Anderson, a first-round pick by the Chicago White Sox out of East Central Community College in 2013 (same year Renfroe was drafted), was found wanting by the ChiSox after seven years as their regular shortstop and was cut loose after the season. Anderson had a poor year in 2023, with the bat and the glove, and has a flair for generating controversy. Miami recently signed Anderson, and he is expected to be the Marlins’ shortstop. He said in a recent MLB Network interview that he is “super-motivated, super-inspired and super-coachable” as well as “super-thankful and super-blessed” to have the opportunity. Hudson, another ex-MSU star, had a 38-20 career record and 3.84 ERA since 2018 with St. Louis. But he has had some recent injury issues, went 6-3, 4.98, in a bumpy 2023 and was non-tendered after the season. He signed with Colorado, where he’ll likely make the starting rotation for a club that sorely needs pitching. Spring training stats aren’t necessarily telling, but for what it’s worth, none of these three transplanted veterans has had a good camp. Renfroe is batting .118 with no homers in 17 at-bats. Anderson is hitting .182 in 22 ABs. Hudson is 1-1, 6.75, over 5 1/3 innings in three outings. P.S. Former Ole Miss pitcher Jacob Waguespack has made Tampa Bay’s team as a non-roster invitee and apparently will pitch in the rotation. He spent the last two years in Japan after posting a 5-5, 5.08, ledger in 2019-20 with Toronto.