25 Sep

rounding third …

The 1-2 punch of Blaine Crim and Justin Foscue, a pair of Magnolia State college products, delivered again for Round Rock on Sunday and powered the Express into the Triple-A Pacific Coast League playoffs. Ex-Mississippi College star Crim went 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs and Mississippi State alum Justin Foscue added a double and two RBIs as Round Rock, a Texas affiliate, beat Tacoma 11-6. The Express, winners of seven of their last nine, will tangle with Oklahoma City (Los Angeles Dodgers) for the PCL title. Crim hit .289 with 22 homers and 85 RBIs in his fourth pro season. Foscue, the Rangers’ sixth-rated prospect in his third season, batted .266 with 18 homers and 84 RBIs. … Biloxi High product Colt Keith went 1-for-5 for Triple-A Toledo to finish his 2023 season with a .306 average, 27 home runs and 101 RBIs. Detroit’s No. 2 prospect, Keith, 22, played at Double-A and Triple-A this season, his third in the minors. … Kudos to Rick Sweet, who was the Jackson Generals’ first manager in 1991-92, for becoming Triple-A Nashville’s all-time winningest skipper with 321 victories over four seasons. Nashville is a Milwaukee farm club; ex-MSU standout Ethan Small went 2-4 with a 3.18 ERA and three saves in 38 games for Sweet’s Sounds this year. … In the big leagues, James McArthur, former Ole Miss star, struck out Yordan Alvarez with the tying run on base to save Kansas City’s 6-5 win at Houston, the last-place Royals’ third straight win vs. the Astros. Combined with Texas’ sweep at Seattle, the Astros are now 2.5 games back of the first-place Rangers in the American League West. McArthur, a rookie, has a win and two saves vs. Houston in his last five appearances. He has not allowed a run in 10 September games. … Ole Miss product Lance Lynn posted a third straight strong start (two runs in six innings) for the playoff-bound Dodgers, who beat San Francisco 3-2 in 10 innings. On the heels of a pair of bad outings, the 36-year-old Lynn has allowed just seven runs in 18 innings (3.50 ERA) in his last three; he is 6-2, 4.50, since the Dodgers acquired him at the trade deadline. Lynn has extensive postseason experience, having made 27 appearances since 2011.

16 Sep

here and there

Mashing three home runs, including Wes Clarke’s 26th of the year, Biloxi pounded Montgomery 9-2 on Friday night at MGM Park to stay alive in the fight for the second-half title in the Southern League South. The Double-A Shuckers, a Milwaukee farm club, must win the last two games against the Biscuits to make the postseason for the first time since 2019. … South Panola High product Emaarion Boyd went 2-for-4 with a run and a stolen base as Clearwater beat Lakeland 2-1 to reach the championship series in the Low-Class A Florida State League. The Threshers, a Philadelphia affiliate, will play Jupiter (Miami) for the league title. Ex-Ole Miss star Kemp Alderman is a starting outfielder for Jupiter. … Former Mississippi College standout Blaine Crim smacked homers No. 19 and 20 and ex-Mississippi State standout Justin Foscue added his 16th as Triple-A Round Rock (Texas) beat Las Vegas 7-3 in a matchup of Pacific Coast League division leaders. Crim and Foscue combined for six RBIs. … MSU alum Zac Houston, 28, now in his seventh minor league season, got a win in relief for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (New York Yankees), striking out four Buffalo batters in two scoreless innings. Houston, who has a 4.62 ERA, is averaging 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings for the RailRiders. The 6-foot-5 right-hander has a 3.17 career ERA while averaging 13.7 punchouts per nine. … The independent American Association’s Wolff Cup Finals begin tonight with the Kansas City Monarchs — featuring MSU alums Jacob Robson and Gavin Collins — taking on Chicago Dogs. … In MLB, former Southern Miss star Matt Wallner went 2-for-2 with an RBI to help Minnesota beat the Chicago White Sox 10-2 and reduce its magic number to 7 for clinching the American League Central crown. … Ex-George County High standout Justin Steele suffered a rare rocky outing (six runs on two homers in six innings) as the Cubs fell at Arizona 6-4. Steele is 16-4 with a 2.73. The Cubs are clinging to the second wild card in the National League, with the Diamondbacks and three other clubs in hot pursuit. … MSU products Jordan Westburg and Adam Frazier were a combined 0-for-5 with three strikeouts as Baltimore lost to visiting Tampa Bay 7-1 and fell into a tie for first place with the Rays in the AL East.

08 Sep

have a day

Mississippians in the minors made some major noise on Thursday. Start with the clamor out of El Paso, where Mississippi State alum Justin Foscue went 4-for-5 with two homers, two doubles and five RBIs as visiting Round Rock beat the host Chihuahuas 11-10 in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Foscue, the Texas Rangers’ No. 6 prospect, is batting .271 with 15 homers and 68 RBIs. Teammate Blaine Crim, former Mississippi College star, had two hits and two RBIs for the Express and is batting .285 with 74 RBIs. At the Double-A level, ex-Pascagoula High standout Willie Joe Garry Jr. entered the game for Wichita in the top of the ninth inning, stole second base and scored the game-winning run against Corpus Christi on a throwing error by the catcher. Garry, breaking out since his move up to Double-A in the Minnesota system, is batting .273 with seven steals, 13 runs, four homers and 19 RBIs in 25 games for the Wind Surge. In a brilliant Double-A pitchers’ duel at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Southern Miss product Walker Powell put up six scoreless innings (three hits, two walks, six strikeouts) for Tennessee, matching the effort of Atlanta prospect Luis De Avila (one hit, three walks, 11 K’s). The Smokies, a Chicago Cubs’ farm team, got a run in the eighth to beat the Mississippi Braves 1-0. Powell lowered his ERA to 3.57 and trimmed his Southern League-best WHIP to 1.07. At High-Class A Wisconsin, ex-Hattiesburg High star Joe Gray Jr. went 3-for-4 with a double, three runs and an RBI to boost the Timber Rattlers — a Milwaukee affiliate — past Cedar Rapids 11-6. Gray is batting .249 with 17 doubles and 57 RBIs. At High-A Bowling Green, MSU product Kamren James hit a homer — his ninth — and drove in four runs, but the Hot Rods, a Tampa Bay affiliate, lost to visiting Greensboro 19-10. And finally, at Low-A St. Lucie, ex-Brandon High and MSU star Kellum Clark hit his first professional home run, banged out two other hits and drove in four runs to power the Mets to a 14-7 win against Daytona. A 2023 draftee, Clark is batting .250 in 10 games for St. Lucie after hitting .308 in rookie ball.

23 Aug

triple-a mashers

They played a Triple-A baseball game in Louisville on Tuesday that produced a football-type score and saw a couple of Mississippi products deliver big hits. Biloxi High alum Colt Keith hit his seventh homer, drove in three runs and scored three to help Toledo smack down the host Bats 24-10. Ex-Southern Miss star Chuckie Robinson went 2-for-4 with his 11th homer and drove in five runs for Louisville. Keith, one of Detroit’s top prospects, is hitting .258 and appears on the cusp of a big league call-up, though it might not happen in 2023. Robinson, in his seventh pro season, is having a huge year for Cincinnati’s top farm club, batting .315 with 66 RBIs. He is a .261 career hitter in the minors and hit .136 in 25 games with the Reds last summer. (Former Madison Central standout Spencer Turnbull, on a rehab assignment with Toledo, started and yielded three runs in 3 2/3 innings, running his ERA to 7.71 in four starts for the Mud Hens.) … At Triple-A Round Rock, where the scoring also ran high, Mississippi College product Blaine Crim went 4-for-5 with his 16th homer to power the Express to a 9-6 win over Salt Lake. Crim, in his fourth season in Texas’ system, is batting .296 with 62 RBIs. He has yet to receive an MLB look.

31 Jul

minor matters

Landon Harper, the former Southern Miss closer, closed out a seven-inning no-hitter on Sunday for Low-Class A Augusta in the Atlanta system. Harper retired the last five batters, two via strikeout, for his second save as the GreenJackets beat Charleston 2-0. A 14th-round pick by the Braves in 2022, the right-hander has a 3.86 ERA and a 5-3 record in 22 games at Augusta. Harper pitched at Northeast Lauderdale High and Pearl River Community College before moving to USM in 2022; he had 12 saves for the Golden Eagles that season as they made their run in the NCAAs. … Former Mississippi State standout Jake Mangum extended his hitting streak to eight games with a knock for Triple-A Jacksonville (Miami system). Mangum has 13 hits during the streak and is batting .354 in July and .305 for the year. … Ex-State star Hunter Stovall scored the game-winning run for Triple-A Albuquerque (Colorado) to cap a six-run ninth inning in a 17-16 Pacific Coast League win against Sacramento. Stovall, batting .273 this year, entered the game late as a sub and drew an RBI walk as part of the wild ninth. … Mississippi College product Blaine Crim hit his 14th homer — No. 75 career — for Triple-A Round Rock (Texas). Crim is batting .278 with 52 RBIs. … Ex-MSU star Rowdey Jordan hit his 11th homer and stole his 23rd base for Double-A Binghamton (New York Mets). Jordan, who played on the Bulldogs’ national title team in 2021, is batting .252 with 44 RBIs in his second stint in Double-A. … Tim Elko, who played on Ole Miss’ national title team last year, finished July with a six-game hitting streak (12 hits all told) for High-A Winston-Salem (Chicago White Sox). He is batting .323 with five homers and 23 RBIs in 25 games at that level after belting 17 homers in Low-A. … Olive Branch native Kendall Williams took a tough loss (two runs in five innings) for Great Lakes (Los Angeles Dodgers) but has a 1.99 ERA in seven starts for the Low-A club. The 6-foot-6 right-hander was a second-round pick out of Florida’s IMG Academy in 2019. … Decatur native and Ole Miss alum Kemp Alderman went 0-for-4 for Low-A Jupiter (Miami) and is off to a 1-for-16 start in pro ball. He was a second-round pick this year after a monster season at UM.

28 Jul

just a footnote

Hunter Renfroe had a very good day on Thursday: six hits, including his 16th homer and a couple of doubles, two RBIs and a pair of runs in the Los Angeles Angels’ doubleheader sweep of Detroit at Comerica Park. And yet, the former Mississippi State star from Crystal Springs was upstaged, to say the least, by teammate Shohei Ohtani, who had what mlb.com called “one of the best days baseball has ever witnessed.” A day after his team announced he would not be traded, Ohtani threw a one-hit shutout in Game 1 of the twinbill, then belted two homers — Nos. 37 and 38 — in Game 2. “He’s doing the impossible,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said in an espn.com story. The shutout was Ohtani’s first career complete game and his ninth win of the year. He leads the big leagues in homers. For Renfroe, well, it’ll be a cool story to tell his kids and grandkids someday: “I was there when … .” Buoyed perhaps by the news that the Angels are all in on making a playoff push, Renfroe raised his average to .249 and ran his RBI total to 44. Renfroe is playing for his fifth different team in the last five seasons. He has been in the playoffs twice, with Tampa Bay in 2020 and Boston in 2021. He has a .186 average and no rings. He’d surely relish another shot at the postseason. … Dakota Hudson, another State product, had a very tough day on Thursday. Thrust into the game after St. Louis starting pitcher Miles Mikolas was ejected three batters in, Hudson allowed the first four Chicago Cubs he faced to reach as the Cardinals fell behind 3-0. That was more than enough support for Cubs starter Justin Steele, the All-Star lefty from Lucedale who yielded one run in six innings to record his 11th win. Hudson lasted 4 1/3, allowing nine hits, two walks and five runs in the 10-3 loss. P.S. The last player to throw a one-hit (or no-hit) shutout and homer on the same day, per mlb.com research, was former Jackson Mets pitcher Floyd Youmans, who did it for Montreal in a single game on June 8, 1986. Ohtani is one of five players to throw a shutout and homer twice on the same day; the other four did it in one game. … Ex-MSU standout Justin Foscue and former Mississippi College star Blaine Crim were part of a 5-4-3 triple play and two 5-4-3 double plays for Triple-A Round Rock (Texas system) on Thursday. Alas, the two went 0-for-10 at the plate as the Express fell to El Paso 10-9.

21 Jul

on this date

Hal Lee was 0-for-16 in his big league career when he came to the plate on July 21, 1930, as a pinch hitter for the Brooklyn Robins. The Ludlow native hit a three-run bomb, a big hit for him but not enough to help the Robins beat St. Louis, which won 17-10 at Ebbets Field. Lee hit just .162 in 37 at-bats in his rookie season but would go on to hit .275 with 33 homers and 323 RBIs in a career that ended in 1936. A Mississippi College alum and Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer, Lee hit .303 with 18 homers — eighth in the National League — and 85 RBIs for Philadelphia in 1932, easily his best season. He had a three-homer game in 1934, one of just seven Mississippi natives to accomplish that feat. Some history buffs might contend that Lee is most famous as the player who replaced Babe Ruth in the outfield for the Boston Braves on May 30, 1935, when the Sultan of Swat left the field for the final time. P.S. Mississippi State product Kellum Clark apparently has signed with the New York Mets, who drafted him in the 20th round. That signing has not been reported by mlb.com.

17 Jun

all about runs

Austin Riley had a quiet night at the plate on Friday for Atlanta. Or did he? The former DeSoto Central High standout got one hit, a bloop single to right, in four plate appearances. But he also drew two walks and scored two runs, both on Travis d’Arnaud home runs in the Braves’ 8-1 win against Colorado. Riley is second among Mississippians in the majors in runs with 41. Runs isn’t one of the Triple Crown categories, though it is arguably as important — if not more so — than average, homers and RBIs. So much of the buzz around Ronald Acuna is over his long-distance homers and stolen bases. Hardly mentioned is the fact that the former Mississippi Braves star leads all of baseball in runs with 61. Isn’t scoring runs what it’s all about? Nathaniel Lowe, the Mississippi State product having a big year for Texas, is the leading scorer among Mississippians (natives and school alums) in MLB with 46 runs. The first-place Rangers lead MLB in scoring with 419. MSU alums Adam Frazier (Baltimore) and Hunter Renfroe (Los Angeles Angels) have scored 33 apiece, and ex-Bulldogs slugger Brent Rooker (Oakland) has crossed the plate 29 times. In the minors, State alum Jordan Westburg has scored 54 times for Baltimore’s Triple-A Norfolk club; the hot prospect is batting .292 with 17 homers and 52 RBIs. Behind Westburg is MSU product Justin Foscue with 44 runs at Triple-A Round Rock (Texas system), followed by Biloxi High alum Colt Keith (41, Double-A Erie, Detroit system) and ex-Mississippi College standout Blaine Crim (40, Round Rock). Former Ole Miss star Tim Elko has scored 37 times at Low-Class A Kannapolis (Chicago White Sox), same number UM product Grae Kessinger put up at Triple-A Sugar Land before Houston summoned him to the big leagues. He has one hit so far but is still looking for his first big league run. P.S. Ex-George County High standout Justin Steele is slated to come off the injured list and start for the Chicago Cubs today against Baltimore at Wrigley Field. Steele, who hasn’t pitched this month, is 6-2 with a 2.65 ERA. … Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton accepted an assignment to Triple-A Charlotte by the White Sox. The veteran big leaguer, just off the IL and off the ChiSox’s 40-man roster, did not play Friday night.

04 May

farm livin’

After four-plus seasons of grinding in the low minors, former Hattiesburg High star Joe Gray Jr. received a promotion to Double-A Biloxi on Tuesday. Gray, a second-round draft pick by Milwaukee five years ago, was batting .247 with a homer, 12 RBIs and five steals at High-Class A Wisconsin when the Brewers moved him. Two games into the big jump, he is still looking for his first hit, having started 0-for-9 with four strikeouts in a series at Montgomery. The 23-year-old outfielder, considered a 5-tool player in high school, has fallen off the Brewers’ prospect charts; he is a .212 career hitter though he has flashed some power and speed. It’s time to put it all together. … The Colorado Rockies, currently 11-20, look like a team that could use some help. Maybe they’ve got an eye on what Hunter Stovall is doing at Triple-A Albuquerque. The Mississippi State product is batting .381 in 17 games. He was on base six times in the Isotopes’ 22-4 win over Sugar Land on Wednesday, hitting his first home run of the season, scoring three runs and knocking in two. The middle infielder, 26, is in his fifth year of pro ball. … Jordan Westburg is clamoring for a call-up from Baltimore. The ex-State star went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs for Triple-A Norfolk and is at .337 for the year with six bombs. He has played five different positions this season, though second base might be where he fits best. … Southern Miss alum Chuckie Robinson is batting .414 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 20 games at Triple-A Louisville. If or when Cincinnati needs a catcher, he looks ready for a second MLB stint. … Pitching exclusively out of the bullpen this season, former MSU ace Ethan Small has done solid work for Milwaukee’s Triple-A Nashville club. The lefty, the Brewers’ No. 13 prospect, tossed three scoreless innings Wednesday, trimming his ERA to 2.70 in nine appearances. His brief big league looks as a starter in 2022 didn’t go well, but he’ll get another shot in this new role. … Hoping to become the first Mississippi College alum to play in the majors since Harry Craft in 1942, Blaine Crim just keeps banging in the Texas system. Crim, a first baseman, went 2-for-5 for Triple-A Round Rock in a Wednesday doubleheader to boost his average to .300 with two homers and seven RBIs. He is a .304 career hitter over four minor league campaigns. P.S. Taylorsville native Billy Hamilton, the speedy MLB veteran, is back in The Show with the Chicago White Sox and in two appearances as a pinch runner, he has a run and a stolen base. The White Sox won both games.

02 Mar


Having played just 11 games in pro ball, Emaarion Boyd is already a hit with the folks who do the prospect ratings. The former South Panola High standout, an 11th-round pick by Philadelphia in the 2022 draft, is pegged as the Phillies’ No. 12 prospect in MLB Pipeline’s new Top 30 rankings for 2023. Boyd projects as a center fielder and “speedy table-setter.” A right-handed hitter and thrower, Boyd batted .361 with eight stolen bases and seven runs in his debut season, playing at the two lowest levels of the Philly system. At age 19, he lists at 6 feet 1, 177 pounds. He’s one of three 2022 draftees out of the state to appear in the prospect rankings to date. (Only the National League East and Central and American League East had been released as of Wednesday.) Ex-Mississippi State catcher Logan Tanner, a second-round pick, jumps into Cincinnati’s rankings at No. 19, and former Southern Miss left-hander Dalton Rogers is Boston’s 25th-best prospect. Jordan Westburg (MSU) is Baltimore’s No. 5; Blaze Jordan (DeSoto Central) Boston’s No. 11; Will Warren (Jackson Prep) the New York Yankees’ No. 9; Colby White (MSU) Tampa Bay’s No. 27; and Ethan Small (MSU) Milwaukee’s No. 14. White is on the Rays’ 40-man roster, and Small made his MLB debut last season. P.S. Mississippi College product Blaine Crim hit his first spring training home run for Texas against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. Crim, who reached Triple-A in 2022 and has 61 career homers in three seasons, is in Texas’ camp as a non-roster invitee.