banging on door
Sent back to the minors despite going 6-for-6 in his last two games for Minnesota, Matt Wallner has responded by banging out six hits, including two home runs, in his first two games for Triple-A St. Paul. He had a double, triple and homer on Tuesday, a homer and two singles on Wednesday. The former Southern Miss standout has crushed the ball with such ferocity that a St. Paul broadcaster called him “Judge-like.” A 6-foot-4, 220-pound lefty-hitting outfielder, Wallner is batting .298 with six homers and 21 RBIs for the Saints. He was at .368 in 19 at-bats for the Twins when they optioned him out to make room for Max Kepler, who came off the injured list. The Twins, clinging to first place in the American League Central, surely can’t keep Wallner down on the farm for long. … There are several other Mississippi products in Triple-A seemingly banging on the big league door. At Norfolk (Baltimore system), Mississippi State alum Jordan Westburg is batting .311 with 14 homers and 47 RBIs. The Orioles’ No. 3 prospect, who has played shortstop, third base, second and the outfield this season, hit nine homers in May. At Sugar Land (Houston), Oxford native and Ole Miss alum Grae Kessinger is batting .286 after a 3-for-7 effort in a pair of games on Wednesday. He hit his sixth homer and has 31 RBIs. At Louisville (Cincinnati), ex-USM star Chuckie Robinson went 2-for-4 with two RBIs on Wednesday and is batting .331 with six homers and 29 runs driven in. Robinson got a brief look with the Reds last season. At Jacksonville (Miami), Flowood native and ex-MSU standout Jake Mangum is hitting .307 after an 0-for-3 Wednesday. The speedy outfielder has two homers, 22 RBIs and seven steals. At Round Rock (Texas), Mississippi College product Blaine Crim is batting .255 with four homers and 18 RBIs and former State star Justin Foscue is at .272 with seven and 23 plus seven steals. At Albuquerque (Arizona), MSU alum Hunter Stovall is batting .296 with 27 runs in 32 games. P.S. Kudos to ex-Ole Miss standout Nick Fortes, who got his second career walk-off hit for Miami, an RBI single in the ninth against San Diego closer Josh Hader. … Tough day for Lance Lynn and Justin Steele, starting pitchers for Chicago on Wednesday (see previous post). Ole Miss alum Lynn gave up eight runs in four innings in a loss for the White Sox and George County High product Steele was pulled with left forearm tightness after throwing three perfect innings for the Cubs, who would go on to lose. … William Carey University’s great season ended with a 15-6 loss to Lewis-Clark State in a semifinal game at the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho. The Crusaders won the SSAC regular season title, climbed to No. 8 in the national poll and finished 49-11; their last win in Idaho was coach Bobby Halford’s 1,300th at WCU. … Congrats to East Central, Purvis and East Union for winning series openers in the MHSAA state championships at Pearl. East Union’s Landon Harmon tossed a perfect game.