04 Aug

look who’s no. 1

The flurry of recent trades that involved a ton of minor league prospects made for a major reshuffling of the organizational Top 30 charts by MLB Pipeline. Mississippi Braves shortstop Vaughn Grissom jumped up to the No. 1 spot in Atlanta’s list. He is raking at a .362 clip in 17 Double-A games. Nine other current M-Braves, including some on the injured list, are in the Top 30. No. 10 is Darius Vines, a right-handed starter slated to go tonight against Biloxi at Trustmark Park. Former Smithville High star Jared Johnson is No. 23 on the Braves’ list. The right-hander is on the IL (Tommy John surgery) at Low-Class A Augusta. … There are 18 other Mississippi products in the various Top 30s. (The lists will be redone again at some point to filter in the 2022 draft picks.) Former Mississippi State stars Will Bednar (No. 4, San Francisco) and Justin Foscue (No. 4, Texas) are the highest-rated. Others of note: MSU product Jordan Westburg is Baltimore’s fifth-rated prospect; ex-DeSoto Central High standout Blaze Jordan is Boston’s No. 6; Ole Miss alum Ryan Rolison is Colorado’s No. 7; Southern Miss product Matt Wallner is Minnesota’s No. 7; and former MSU star J.T. Ginn is Oakland’s No. 8. Wallner, who homered in last month’s All-Star Futures Game, has reached Triple-A. MSU product Ethan Small, Milwaukee’s No. 10, has made two big league pitching appearances this season. P.S. Lance Lynn, the veteran right-hander from Ole Miss, delivered a shot in the arm for the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. In what broadcaster Steve Stone described as a “wonderful” performance, Lynn threw six innings of one-run ball to beat Kansas City 4-1. It might have been the best of his 10 starts since coming off the injured list. Pitching around a rain delay, he allowed four hits and struck out eight. Lynn is 2-4 with a 5.87 ERA, not the numbers Chicago was hoping for from him. But Wednesday’s outing surely was encouraging. … Ex-UM star Thomas Dillard hit his ninth homer of the season, helping Biloxi complete a twinbill sweep of the M-Braves at the TeePee. … Mississippi College alum Blaine Crim, at Double-A Frisco in the Texas system, went 4-for-5 and hit a pair of homers. He is batting .277 with 15 bombs and 57 RBIs.

05 Jun

random (but relevant) numbers

200 — Wins for Michael Avalon as coach at Pearl River Community College, No. 200 being the national championship-securing 7-2 victory over Madison (Wisc.) College on Saturday in Enid, Okla. The Wildcats got homers from Tate Parker and Alex Perry, two RBIs from World Series MVP D.K. Donaldson and 12 strikeouts from Cole Tolbert and Turner Swistak, who combined on a six-hitter. PRCC follows Jones College (2016) as NJCAA Division II national champs. William Carey University (1969), Delta State (2004) and Mississippi State (2021) have won national titles at the four-year level.
3 — Hits by Peyton Chatagnier, including a key two-run double in the eighth inning that propelled Ole Miss to a 7-4 win against Arizona in the first round of the Coral Cables Regional. The Rebels get 1-seed Miami today; the Hurricanes used a three-homer game by Yohandy Morales to beat Canisius 11-6.
4 — Runs by LSU, three after two were out, in a stunning ninth-inning rally that led to a 7-6, 10-inning win against Southern Miss in the Hattiesburg Regional winners bracket. On a day when crooked numbers were flying all over in the NCAA regionals, these teams combined for 18 hits, five homers, eight walks, three HBPs, 28 strikeouts and 357 pitches in a 3-hour, 44-minute grinder played before 5,211 emotionally drained fans at Taylor Park. USM tries to rebound today against Kennesaw State, hoping (?) for another crack at the Tigers.
6 — Combined hits by Matt Wallner (four) and Blaine Crim in Wichita’s 8-7 win vs. Frisco in a Double-A Texas League clash (see previous post). Wallner, a USM alum, hit his 11th homer and drove in three runs for Wichita. Ex-Mississippi College star Crim boosted his average to .301 with a 2-for-5 effort and scored twice for Frisco.
21 — Hits in his last 15 games by Austin Riley, the DeSoto Central High product who tripled and homered in Atlanta’s 6-2, 11-inning win against Colorado. Riley is batting .339 with six homers and 12 RBIs over his last 15 games. He has 14 bombs all told for the Braves, who have won four straight to reach 27-27 on the season.

01 Jun

eye on …

Mississippi baseball aficionados might want to devote some attention to the happenings this week at Riverfront Stadium in Wichita, where the Wind Surge is hosting Frisco in a matchup of division leaders in the Texas League. Three up-and-coming players out of Magnolia State schools are on the rosters. Wichita, Minnesota’s Double-A affiliate, features Southern Miss alum Matt Wallner, who is batting .257 with nine homers and 36 RBIs. Minnesota’s No. 10 prospect, the lefty-hitting right fielder batted .315 in May. Playing for the visiting RoughRiders, a Texas farm club, is ex-Mississippi State star Justin Foscue and Mississippi College product Blaine Crim. Foscue, the Rangers’ No. 5 prospect, plays second base and is hitting .288 with three homers. Crim, Frisco’s first baseman, is at .314 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs. Somehow, Crim is not among the Rangers’ Top 30 prospects (per MLB Pipeline) despite a career .314 average in the minors and a 2021-22 Puerto Rican (Roberto Clemente) Winter League batting title. … The opener of the six-game series was suspended in the second inning by weather Tuesday night, so the clubs will play two games tonight. Jack Leiter, the No. 2 overall pick out of Vanderbilt last summer, is expected to start one of the two for the RoughRiders.

19 Mar


Scanning big league box scores for names of local interest, we land on Tyreque Reed. The Houlka native and ex-Itawamba Community College star had another hit and RBI for Boston on Friday and is now 3-for-4 with four RBIs in two Grapefruit League games. Reed isn’t on the Red Sox’s 40-man roster and is down the depth chart at first base, but the 24-year-old slugger keeps making noise. Acquired by Boston from Texas in the 2020 Rule 5 draft, Reed had a productive first year with the Red Sox, batting .271 with 17 home runs and reaching Double-A. He carries a .278 career average with 58 homers in three-plus years. It’s always worth noting that he hit .500 as a sophomore at ICC. Other names of note from Thursday and Friday spring games: Ethan Small threw two hitless innings for Milwaukee against the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers. Nate Lowe homered for Texas; he was replaced at first base in that Friday contest by Blaine Crim, the Mississippi College alum who has been wearing out the minors (see previous posts). Grae Kessinger had a hit in two trips for Houston; J.P. France got knocked around (four runs in 1 2/3 innings) in that same game. Delvin Zinn had an RBI single for the Chicago Cubs, and Trent Giambrone — who made his big league debut last season — went 1-for-2 in that Thursday game. Jordan Westburg had a hit in two trips for Baltimore. Bobby Bradley, sporting the new Cleveland Guardians uniform, was 0-for-2. Adam Frazier went 0-for-1 with a walk in his first game in a Seattle uniform, and Hunter Renfroe was 0-for-2 with a walk in his Milwaukee debut. P.S. Kudos to Pearl River Community College for knocking off No. 1-ranked LSU-Eunice in Baton Rouge on Friday. PRCC, currently ranked No. 3 in NJCAA Division II, is 15-5. West Harrison High product Tate Parker went 4-for-5 with four RBIs in the 10-5 win vs. LSU-E. … MSU alum Justin Foscue, now in Texas’ system, is the lone state product to make MLB Pipeline’s new list of the top 100 prospects in the minors. Foscue, who hit .275 with 17 homers and reached Double-A in his pro debut last summer, checked in at No. 89.

06 Mar

down goes no. 1

Off to a tough start this season, Mississippi College got something to hang its hat on Saturday: a win over the No. 1-ranked team in NCAA Division II. Behind the strong pitching of Jackson Bridges and Brooks Warren, the Choctaws beat the University of Tampa 4-3 at Tampa, Fla., for just their sixth win in 18 games. Tampa, a longtime D-II powerhouse with eight national titles, is 15-2. Bridges, from Tupelo by way of Meridian Community College, went eight-plus, improving to 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts in 2022. He carried a 4-2 lead into the ninth but yielded a leadoff home run and was replaced by Warren, a onetime Southern Miss pitcher from French Camp. Warren walked the first batter he faced, then struck out the side. The left-hander has a 1.69 ERA on the year. Matthew Priest had a couple of hits and two RBIs for MC, and Brandon’s Tristan Tigrett and Jackson Breedlove also drove in runs. MC led 3-0 in the third inning. The Choctaws lost to fourth-ranked Southern Arkansas 8-1 at home on Tuesday, then dropped a pair of close games at Tampa on Friday. The gauntlet continues on Tuesday when they get No. 19 Arkansas Tech at Frierson Field in Clinton.

25 Feb

putting up numbers

Millsaps College is off to a hot start that reached its greatest intensity last Sunday, when the Majors routed the University of Dallas 22-1 at Twenty Field. The Majors are 7-3 heading into another three-game tournament at home this weekend that will conclude with an interesting game against MUW on Sunday. Mark Petkovsek Jr. and freshman Bradley Pelle are batting .372 each, and Ryan Erwin is 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four appearances.
Other numbers of note at the state’s small schools:
8.36: Delta State’s staff ERA through eight games. The Statesmen (3-5) surrendered 36 runs while getting swept in a three-game Gulf South series at Shorter last weekend. On the positive side, freshman transfer Hayden Cooper has three homers in 17 at-bats. DSU hosts GSC foe Montevallo at Ferriss Field this weekend.
16: Ken Scott’s RBI total through 11 games for Mississippi College. The senior outfielder from Meridian, by way of East Central Community College, is batting .341 with three homers and six stolen bases for the Choctaws (3-8, 1-2 GSC). They host league opponent Christian Brothers this weekend.
.301: William Carey’s team batting average. Led by R.J. Stinson at .467, the Crusaders are off to a 9-3 start (all home games) and play Bryant & Stratton-Albany at Wheeler Field this weekend. Note, too, that Carey pitchers have 111 strikeouts in 90 innings.
16: Runs by Blue Mountain in a 16-6 win against a good Freed-Hardeman team on Wednesday. Dylan Hale, a DeSoto Central product, went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs for the Toppers (5-5), who host Culver-Stockton this weekend.
.140: Belhaven’s team batting average. Caleb Whittle, a senior from Fulton via Itawamba CC, is hitting .389; no other player is above .200. The Blazers (2-4 overall and in the American Southwest Conference) are at Concordia-Texas for a league series this weekend.
P.S. Reggie Williams, the ex-big leaguer, is slated to make his Alcorn State coaching debut this weekend at McNeese State. … Mississippi Valley State, which didn’t win a game in 2021, blasted Rust College twice on Sunday in Stanley Stubbs’ debut as coach but faces a sterner test this weekend at Nicholls State.

22 Feb

making camp

While major league players remain locked out of spring training camps, minor leaguers are or soon will be working out and playing games in Florida and Arizona. This group includes a bundle of Mississippians at various stages of their pro careers, all trying to make an impression on the big league managers and coaches who are in camp. Here’s a sampling: In Detroit’s camp, former Mississippi State pitcher Zac Houston, 27, drafted back in 2016, is bouncing back from a shoulder injury that limited him to seven games in the low minors in 2021. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound right-hander reached Triple-A in 2018 and seemed on the cusp of a big league call. He has a career 2.35 ERA and strikeout stuff when he’s healthy. … Richton’s JaCoby Jones, cut loose by Detroit last year, is in Kansas City’s camp on a minor league deal, trying to resurrect his career. The outfielder, 29, batted .212 over six injury-marred seasons with the Tigers. … Former DeSoto Central High star Blaze Jordan might be the top power prospect in Boston’s system, but former Itawamba Community College standout Tyreque Reed has some pop that also has caught the eye of Red Sox brass. A right-handed hitting first baseman, the 24-year-old Reed has averaged 18 homers over the past three seasons and reached the Double-A level in 2021, his fourth pro year. … Will Bednar is in his first spring camp with San Francisco. The 14th overall pick last summer out of MSU, where the right-hander was a College World Series hero, he was impressive in four appearances in the low minors last season. … In the Texas Rangers’ camp, there’s Blaine Crim, a Mississippi College product who isn’t rated among the team’s top prospects but has done nothing but rake over his two pro seasons. A righty-hitting first baseman, he has a .314 career average with 37 homers and reached Double-A in 2021. He batted .402 in Puerto Rico this winter. … Colby White figures to get a lot of attention in Tampa Bay’s camp. The right-hander, 23, a 2019 draftee out of MSU, rose through four levels last summer, topping out at Triple-A, and finished with a 1.44 ERA. … Ex-Bulldogs ace Ethan Small, a Milwaukee farmhand, is also very close to making The Show, whenever that show might open. A first-round pick in 2018, he made it to Triple-A in 2021 and put up a 2.06 ERA in nine games there. … In Minnesota’s camp, ex-Southern Miss standout Matt Wallner, coming off an injury-interrupted 2021 season, hopes to build on a strong finish that carried into the Arizona Fall League. The lefty slugger, the 39th overall pick in 2019, hit 15 homers in High-A ball last summer and six more in the AFL. … In Baltimore’s camp, there are three Mississippi college products, each a rated prospect: MSU alum Jordan Westburg, USM’s Reed Trimble and Ole Miss’ Anthony Servideo.

14 Feb

small world

Catching up on the small colleges while bemoaning the state of affairs in the big leagues: Delta State went 2-1 on its swing through Florida, completing the trip on Sunday with a 7-5 win against Palm Beach Atlantic. The Statesmen (3-2 overall) got key home runs from Hayden Cooper and Blayke Dendy in Sunday’s win; they scored 32 runs in the three games. … William Carey went 4-0 in the Carey Classic over the weekend and is 6-1 on the season. R.J. Stinson is batting .519 for the Crusaders, and Pascagoula native Patrick Lee is at .520. Both have driven in nine runs and scored nine. … Millsaps went 2-1 in its big weekend event, notching a 5-4 win over Huntingdon on Sunday behind the pitching of Ryan Erwin (2-0) and the bat of Bradley Pelle, who is hitting .545 for the Majors (4-2). MUW opened its season in the Millsaps tournament and went 0-3. … Mississippi College dropped the rubber game of a series at Young Harris (Ga.) 6-5 on Sunday and slipped to 2-5 on the year. Caleb Reese is batting .370 for MC. … Blue Mountain split four games at Texas A&M-Texarkana over the weekend and is now 4-2. Anthony Lipsey leads the Toppers with a .412 average. … Belhaven went 0-3 in its season-opening series at East Texas Baptist, scoring just five runs all told. … Rust is off to a 2-3-1 start and Tougaloo stands 2-7, including two losses last week to Blue Mountain. … Pearl River Community College, the highest ranked state juco at No. 4 in the NJCAA Division II poll, is 4-0 and averaging over 10 runs a game.

18 Jan

off-season stuff

Bobby Abreu is among the most accomplished former Jackson Generals players. He hit .291 for his big league career with a .395 on-base average, 288 homers and 400 steals, one of just six players all-time in the 250/400 club. He was a two-time All-Star, won a Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove and a Home Run Derby. Abreu, a star right fielder for the 1994 Generals (Houston’s Double-A club), is on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot for the third time, and there is an interesting piece on mlb.com in which a panel of experts debate Abreu’s credentials. The consensus would seem to be that he won’t make the writers’ cut and likely would need to get in down the road via one of the veterans committees. Pitcher Billy Wagner, also still on the writers’ ballot, stands a much better chance of being the first ex-Gens star to be elected. … Jackson native and longtime big leaguer Chet Lemon is featured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s weekly e-newsletter. The Card Corner item, which includes a nice story, is Lemon’s 1988 Fleer card. Lemon batted .273 over 16 years in MLB before an illness ended his career in 1991. He was a three-time All-Star, won a ring with the 1984 Detroit Tigers and still holds the American League record of 512 putouts, set in 1977 with Chicago. Lemon’s son Marcus played for the Mississippi Braves in 2011. … Former Mississippi College standout Blaine Crim is playing for Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican (Roberto Clemente) League Championship Series, which is being televised on FS2. Game 4 is Wednesday night at 5 p.m. Crim, a Texas Rangers farmhand, batted .406 for Mayaguez this season after mashing 29 homers in the minors in 2021. … Mississippi State product Justin Foscue was named a Rangers Organization All-Star by milb.com after batting .275 with 17 homers at three levels in 2021. He also played well in the Arizona Fall League. But the second baseman’s big league path is currently blocked by Marcus Semien, who signed a huge free agent contract with Texas.

17 Dec

hits keep comin’

Blaine Crim keeps hammering home this fact: He can hit. The former Mississippi College star is leading the Puerto Rican (Roberto Clemente) Winter League in batting with a .400 average. Through 22 games, the 24-year-old Texas Rangers minor leaguer has two homers, eight doubles, 21 RBIs and 13 runs for Mayaguez. Crim, an Alabama native, hit .350 over four years at NCAA Division II MC, where he was the Gulf South Conference player of the year in 2019. Drafted in the 19th round by the Rangers, the right-handed hitting first baseman has a .314 average in two pro seasons. He was the rookie Northwest League MVP in 2019, when he hit .335 with eight homers in 53 games. Playing at the High-A and Double-A levels in 2021, Crim hit a combined .296 with 29 homers and 80 RBIs. He ought to get a look in the big league spring camp, whenever that might open.