07 Nov

just stuff

Rafael Palmeiro, one of seven players in MLB history with 500 homers and 3,000 hits, made the cut for the Contemporary Era Hall of Fame ballot. The former Mississippi State star is among eight finalists chosen by special committee. Also on the list are Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens; like Palmeiro, their careers were tainted by PED allegations. The BBWAA will vote on these candidates on Dec. 4. Will Clark, Dave Parker and Frank White were among candidates who did not make the eight-man ballot… Former Biloxi High standout Colt Keith, Mississippi’s Gatorade player of the year in 2019, went 1-for-3 with a double and RBI in Saturday’s Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game. Keith is a highly rated Detroit prospect. … MSU alum Jake Mangum made the New York Mets’ Organization All-Star team, as selected by milb.com. Mangum, an outfielder, hit .306 with four homers, 35 RBIs and 14 steals in 2022, spending most of the year in Triple-A. … Meridian Community College product Corey Dickerson, ex-Taylorsville High star Billy Hamilton and MSU product Adam Frazier have elected free agency.

11 Oct

honor roll

Matt Wallner arrived this season, maybe a little ahead of schedule. An injury opened up a spot in the Minnesota outfield in mid-September and the ex-Southern Miss slugger got the call. He responded by hitting a home run in his first big league game and finished with two homers, a .228 average and 10 RBIs in 18 games. Staying in the big leagues can be tougher than getting there, but that’s Wallner’s mission for next season. For 2022, he certainly rates a spot as an outfielder on the Mississippi minor league All-Star squad. Wallner, a left-handed hitter, batted .277 with 27 homers and 95 RBIs at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. MLB Pipeline named him the Twins’ hitting prospect of the year. The picks for the other outfield spots are Mississippi State alum Jake Mangum and Meridian Community College product Davis Bradshaw. Mangum, a Jackson Prep grad, hit .306 with four homers, 35 RBIs, 43 runs and 14 steals in 72 games, finishing the year in Triple-A for the New York Mets. He missed a chunk of time with a back injury. McLaurin native Bradshaw, in the Miami system, batted .304 with 31 RBIs, 39 runs and 13 steals in 97 games between High-Class A and Double-A. At catcher, there’s Chuckie Robinson, a former USM star who also reached the big leagues this year with Cincinnati. A strong defensive backstop, Robinson batted .266 with five homers and 25 RBIs at the Double-A and Triple-A levels before finishing the season with the Reds. First base belongs to ex-Mississippi College standout Blaine Crim, who batted .293 with 24 homers and 96 RBIs, finishing the year in Triple-A for Texas. Another Rangers prospect, former State star Justin Foscue, is the second baseman of choice. He batted .288 with 15 homers and 81 RBIs in Double-A. At shortstop, there’s Jordan Westburg, who was named by Baltimore as its minor league player of the year, quite an honor considering the load of talent in that system. Westburg hit .265 with 27 homers, 106 RBIs and 12 bags between Double-A and Triple-A. Blaze Jordan, the young masher out of DeSoto Central, is the pick at third base after batting .289 with 12 homers and 68 RBIs at two levels of A-ball. Jordan, a 2020 draftee by Boston, is still only 19. At DH, there’s Brent Rooker, the former State star who has a fair amount of big league time on his resume. He hasn’t hit in The Show, but in Triple-A this year he blasted 28 homers and hit .289 with 87 RBIs. Traded twice last season, he is now in the Kansas City system. The best starting pitcher among Mississippians in the minors was Will Warren, a Jackson Prep product in the New York Yankees’ organization. Warren went 9-9 with a 3.91 ERA, finishing the year in Double-A and rising to No. 8 on their prospect chart. The top reliever was Tyler Samaniego, a Northeast Mississippi CC product. The lefty was 4-4 with a 2.45 ERA and 14 saves for Pittsburgh, finishing in Double-A. USM alum Walker Powell, a swingman in the Chicago Cubs’ system, posted an 11-2 record and 2.76 ERA over three levels. Former Ole Miss standout Wyatt Short, who also pitched in dual roles for the Cubs, went 7-2, 3.33, spending most of the season in Triple-A. Ex-Delta State star Dalton Moats put up a 3.60 ERA in 51 games as a middle reliever at Triple-A in the Tampa Bay chain. Also rating a mention is MSU product J.P. France, who went 3-4, 3.90, with four saves while climbing to Triple-A with Houston. … Five Mississippians made their MLB debut in 2022: Wallner, Robinson, USM alum Kirk McCarty (who is on Cleveland’s postseason roster), State product Konnor Pilkington and ex-Bulldogs ace Ethan Small.

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.

07 Oct

pick to click

St. Louis runs out a lineup that includes Albert Pujols, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, but it would be way too obvious, way too boring, to pick one of them to be the hero in today’s Wild Card Series opener against Philadelphia. The Mississippi baseball aficionado might go with Corey Dickerson, the McComb native and Meridian Community College alum who’ll be playing left field and batting seventh at Busch Stadium. It’s hard to know what to expect from the 33-year-old Dickerson. He had an uneven season, batting .267 (career average: .281) with six homers and 36 RBIs in 97 games. He had an incredible August, batting .411 for the month and getting hits in 10 consecutive at-bats. But he endured an 0-for-26 slump in September, then began October with a grand slam on his son Davis’ eighth birthday. (He also homered on Davis’ seventh birthday. As Dickerson remarked in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story, his son “needs to have more birthdays.”) Dickerson does have postseason experience, having gone 4-for-19 for Miami in 2020. He hit much better on the road (.321) than at Busch Stadium (.220) this season, but he is in the lineup as a lefty bat against Phillies righty Zack Wheeler. Unlikely heroes are not uncommon in baseball’s postseason. So, why not Dickerson? P.S. Neither Chris Stratton nor Dakota Hudson, both Mississippi State products and right-handed pitchers, made St. Louis’ initial postseason roster.

12 Sep

to the role players …

The curtain calls in the dramas that played out in Pittsburgh and Seattle on Sunday went to the leading men: Albert Pujols of St. Louis and the Mariners’ Eugenio Suarez. But their supporting cast also rates some applause. In the Cardinals’ 4-3 win against the Pirates, former Mississippi State standout Chris Stratton got the last two outs in eighth inning, stranding two runners, and Meridian Community College product Corey Dickerson then drove in St. Louis’ first run in the ninth and was on board for Pujols’ 697th homer, which put the Cards ahead. In Seattle, MSU alumnus Adam Frazier produced two hits, two RBIs, two runs and a stolen base as the Mariners built a five-run lead through seven innings against Atlanta. The Braves made an incredible comeback — fueled by Michael Harris II and Robbie Grossman — to take the lead in the ninth before homers by Julio Rodriguez and Suarez won it for the M’s 8-7. Stratton, a trade deadline acquisition by the Cardinals (from Pittsburgh), has pitched well for his new team. In 13 appearances covering 17 innings, the veteran middle reliever has a 2.65 ERA and a 3-0 record. Dickerson, after a horrid first half with the Cards, has hit .398 with two homers, 15 RBIs and 11 runs since the All-Star break. St. Louis has virtually locked up the National League Central. Frazier has run hot-and-cold for Seattle, which has a firm grip on a wild card berth in the American League. The lefty-hitting second baseman, always steady with the glove, is batting .242 with three homers, 35 RBIs, 59 runs and nine stolen bases over 137 games.

26 Aug

that was then

Not so long ago, Corey Dickerson’s status on the St. Louis roster looked rather shaky. On July 10, the Meridian Community College alum from McComb, just back from a month on the injured list with a calf issue, was batting .183 — roughly 100 points below his average over a 10-year MLB career. My, how things have changed. Dickerson, batting cleanup for the Cardinals at Wrigley Field on Thursday, went 3-for-5 to boost his average to .278 as the first-place Cardinals beat Chicago 8-3. Dickerson banged out hits in his first two at-bats on Thursday, stretching his streak of hits in consecutive ABs to 10, tying a franchise record, just two shy of the all-time mark. “You just have to keep grinding away,” Dickerson said in an mlb.com piece. The Cardinals signed Dickerson for one year and $5 million as a free agent in the off-season, hoping he would supply some left-handed thump. He hasn’t hit much for power — four homers all season — but has begun to produce other numbers for a club that has taken command in the National League Central. He is batting .460 since the All-Star break with 23 hits, six doubles, seven RBIs and six runs in 18 games. St. Louis is 22-9 since the break. Atlanta, on a similar roll, comes to Busch Stadium this weekend for a compelling three-game series. P.S. Former Ole Miss standout Errol Robinson had an interesting line Thursday at Double-A Springfield in the St. Louis system: 1-4-1-3. Recently signed out of an independent league, Robinson walked four times, hit his first homer of the season and stole his fifth base in Springfield’s 14-6 win over Northwest Arkansas in the Texas League. … Taylorsville High product Billy Hamilton, the well-traveled veteran outfielder, has signed a minor league contract with Minnesota. He went 1-for-13 in a brief fling with Miami this season, scoring nine runs and swiping seven bags while used mostly as a pinch runner.

19 Aug

coming out party

Ke’Shun Collier, a 20th-round pick last month, played in his first pro game on Thursday, going 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI as the right fielder for the Arizona Complex League Cubs, Chicago’s rookie team. A Meridian Community College product from Mendenhall, the 5-foot-8 Collier is the latest of the 2022 draftees from the state to debut. Most of them are still in rookie ball, but a few have graduated to a higher level. Logan Tanner, a second-round pick out of Mississippi State, is 2-for-14 at Low-Class A Daytona in Cincinnati’s system. Southern Miss alum Tyler Stuart is at Low-A St. Lucie in the New York Mets’ chain; he yielded a run in 1 1/3 innings of work there on Thursday. Ex-USM standout Landon Harper allowed two runs in one inning in his Wednesday debut for Low-A Augusta in the Atlanta organization. Ole Miss alum Kevin Graham is 1-for-24 (with a home run) at Low-A Visalia in Arizona’s system. Emaarion Boyd, drafted by Philadelphia out of South Panola High, has had one of the best starts: 5-for-16 (.313) with three steals in the Florida Complex League. Ex-MSU star Brad Cumbest, a Colorado draftee, has had a cold start: 1-for-17 (with eight strikeouts) in the ACL. Former Ole Miss slugger Tim Elko has had the most interesting debut. He was hitless in his first three games for the White Sox’s ACL club but has belted three homers in his last three. He is 3-for-21 overall. Of note: MSU product Landon Sims, the first pick (34th overall) out of the state by Arizona, won’t debut until 2023 because of elbow surgery. Itawamba CC alum Kyle Crigger, drafted out of Louisiana Tech by Miami, has not allowed an earned run in five appearances for Low-A Jupiter. USM/Delta State product Hunter Riggins, a free agent signee by Atlanta, has a 3.00 ERA in two games in the FCL.

16 Aug

a homecoming

Davis Bradshaw’s 11th Double-A game may have a little different feel. A homecoming feel. The outfielder, in Pearl with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos to take on the Mississippi Braves, played high school ball just a few miles down the road at McLaurin. Now 24 and in his fourth pro season, Bradshaw isn’t on Miami’s list of Top 30 prospects. But make no mistake, the 6-foot-3, 175-pound lefty hitter can put bat on ball. Bradshaw hit a ridiculous .756 as a senior at McLaurin in 2017. He hit .442 in his one season at Meridian Community College. Drafted in the 11th round by Miami in 2018, he hit .354 in rookie ball that year. He was leading the High-Class A Midwest League in batting at .310 when he was promoted to Pensacola earlier this month. He is off to a modest start with the bat for the Blue Wahoos — .241 (7-for-29) — but has a .405 on-base average and nine runs in his 10 games. What Bradshaw lacks is power: two career homers. He hit eight bombs at MCC in 2018, so maybe that tool is in there somewhere. … The M-Braves and Blue Wahoos both stand 20-19, in a three-way tie for second in the Southern League South, 5 games back of Montgomery. Their six-game series runs tonight through Sunday at Trustmark Park.

03 Aug

around the horn

The San Diego Padres, as you might have heard, made some big moves the past couple days. They also made some smaller ones of local interest: Former Mississippi State star Brent Rooker, playing in Triple-A, was traded to Kansas City for catcher Cam Gallagher. Outfielder Rooker, acquired from Minnesota just before the season, got only seven at-bats with the Padres. He was hitting .272 with 19 homers at El Paso; he has been assigned to Triple-A Omaha by the Royals. The Padres also sent ex-Ole Miss standout Drew Pomeranz on a rehab assignment to the Arizona Complex League. The veteran lefty, 33, has been on the injured list since Aug. 11, 2021, with an arm injury that required surgery. He posted a 1.75 ERA in 27 games last season. … MSU product Adam Frazier continued to provide spark to Seattle’s offense, going 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs and an RBI on Tuesday in the Mariners’ 8-6 win vs. the New York Yankees. Frazier is batting .345 in his last 15 games for an M’s club battling for a playoff spot. … MSU alum Chris Stratton, looking sharp in a St. Louis uniform, worked a scoreless ninth inning in his Cardinals debut, a 6-0 win against the Chicago Cubs. Stratton was acquired from Pittsburgh on Monday. … Davis Bradshaw, the ex-Meridian Community College and McLaurin High standout, has been promoted to Double-A Pensacola in the Miami system. He was batting .310 in A-ball this season and is a .301 career hitter in four pro seasons. … Former Mississippi Braves star Joey Meneses (2016-17), called up by Washington to replace Josh Bell at first base, homered in his MLB debut on Tuesday as the Nationals beat the New York Mets 5-1 in Jacob deGrom’s return to The Show. Meneses, a Mexico native, is a .281 hitter in a long minor league career. … A footnote, duly recognized in MLB Network’s touching tribute, on the brilliant career of Vin Scully: Mississippi native Red Barber, a legendary radio broadcaster in his own right, gave Scully his start with the Dodgers in Brooklyn in 1950 and mentored him in the early days of his career. Scully became the Dodgers’ primary voice when Barber left the team after the 1953 season, and he kept the job through 2016. So sad that he is gone.

01 Aug

seize the day

Austin Riley wasn’t the only Mississippi product capping the month of July with a big day. In addition to DeSoto Central High alum Riley’s record-setting, walk-off double for Atlanta (see previous post), Corey Dickerson, Kirk McCarty, Hunter Renfroe, Kendall Graveman and Adam Frazier also earned some high-fives on Sunday. Dickerson, the ex-Meridian Community College star, produced the kind of game St. Louis was anticipating in his first season with the Cardinals: three hits, a homer (his fourth), two runs and three RBIs in a 5-0 win over Washington. Dickerson, who got off to a woeful start in 2022, is batting .226. McCarty, the rookie lefty out of Southern Miss, got his second MLB win, throwing 3 1/3 innings (one run) in middle relief for Cleveland in 5-3 victory against Tampa Bay. His first win came Tuesday at Boston. Mississippi State alum Renfroe, back in Boston with his new club Milwaukee, went 4-for-4 with his 19th homer in a 7-2 loss. He has six bombs in his last nine games and has raised his average to .254. Graveman, another ex-MSU standout, notched his 16th hold with a scoreless inning (the eighth) for the Chicago White Sox in a 4-1 defeat of Oakland. And MSU product Frazier, who had scuffled for many weeks with Seattle, went 2-for-4 with a run as the leadoff batter in a 3-2 loss to Houston. He is batting .353 in his last 19 games (.244 overall) for the resurgent Mariners. P.S. Former East Central Community College standout Tim Anderson continues to play for the White Sox while his three-game suspension from a Friday incident is under appeal. He is 3-for-8 in two wins. … The Los Angeles Dodgers have released ex-Ole Miss star Bobby Wahl, who had appeared in six games in Triple-A this year. He pitched in 17 big league games from 2017-20.