16 Jun

prospecting at petco

The state’s high school player of the year and a handful of Mississippi State players are among the 255 prospects taking part in this week’s MLB Draft Combine at Petco Park in San Diego. Jackson Academy star Dakota Jordan is one of two Mississippi high school players at the combine, joined by Emaarion Boyd from South Panola. MSU alums Logan Tanner, Landon Sims (recovering from spring Tommy John surgery), Kamren James and Jackson Fristoe are also there, along with Southern Miss’ Tyler Stuart and Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Colby Holcombe. Three Ole Miss players — Hayden Dunhurst, Derek Diamond and T.J. McCants — are on the list of invitees, but, of course, they have other business to attend to in Omaha. MLB Network will televise portions of the workouts today and Friday beginning at 11 a.m. The MLB draft starts on July 17. Sims, who missed most of the 2022 season after helping the Bulldogs win the national title in 2021, is pegged to go 35th overall to Kansas City by MLB Pipeline in its latest mock draft; the right-hander is the only state player projected to go on the first day. … Holcombe, a State commit, is one of the most intriguing players at the combine. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound right-hander from Alabama went 7-3 with a 2.60 ERA in 12 starts for Northeast, striking out 115 batters in 65 2/3 innings. P.S. MSU product Nathaniel Lowe was part of a history-making occurrence on Wednesday but not in a desirable way. Lowe, playing for Texas, was the first strikeout victim in both of the immaculate innings recorded by Houston pitchers. It’s a rare feat: nine pitches, all strikes, three strikeouts. The Astros’ Luis Garcia and Phil Maton turned the trick, reportedly the first time an MLB team has done it twice in the same game. To his credit, Lowe is batting .276 with eight homers for the Rangers.

15 Jun

kind of a thing

Home runs were kind of a thing on Tuesday. Atlanta hit five of ’em in its 13th straight win, a 10-4 triumph at Washington, with former Mississippi Braves Dansby Swanson and Michael Harris II and Biloxi Shuckers alum Orlando Arcia getting in on the long-ball act. Swanson’s was his ninth of 2022, Harris’ his second and second in as many nights and Arcia’s his second and first since a walk-off bomb on May 11. Arcia was making his first start as Ozzie Albies’ replacement at second base. … Nathaniel (or is it Nate?) Lowe, who has been on a hot streak for Texas, hit his eighth of the season; the former Mississippi State star is batting .317 with five homers in his last 15 games. … Down in Double-A, Southern Miss product Matt Wallner belted his 12th for Wichita and is now hitting .271 with 42 RBIs for the Minnesota affiliate. … Ex-MSU standout Tanner Allen, the 2021 Ferriss Trophy winner, hit his third homer for High-Class A Beloit in Miami’s system. … DeSoto Central High alum Blaze Jordan smacked his fourth for Low-A Salem in Boston’s chain; he is batting .272 with 31 RBIs in his second pro summer. … Brandon Parker, the former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College star from Saucier, hit No. 3 for Low-A Augusta in the Atlanta system; he is batting .257. … Also of note, as part of a five-hit game for Birmingham at Trustmark Park, former M-Braves standout Tyler Neslony hit his 10th homer — onto the roof of the Farm Bureau Grill past right field — in the Barons’ 9-4 win against the faltering M-Braves. P.S. Richton High product JaCoby Jones has been released from Triple-A by Kansas City. The erstwhile big leaguer, 30, who was with Detroit for six seasons, was batting .214 with four homers at Omaha. His future would appear to be uncertain. … Ex-Petal High star Anthony Alford, also a former big leaguer, went 1-for-3 in his debut Tuesday with the KT Wiz in the Korean Baseball Organization.

13 Jun

look who’s back

Regardless of which school you root for, you have to be impressed by what the collective bunch has done in baseball. Ole Miss is going to the College World Series. Nineteen times in the last 66 years, Mississippi has sent one of its NCAA Division I schools to Omaha, with Mississippi State winning it all in 2021 in its 12th visit. It ain’t easy to get to Omaha. The postseason, starting with conference tournaments, is a grinder. Sixty-four teams get into the NCAAs; eight get to Omaha. Five No. 1 seeds didn’t get out of their regional this year. The overall No. 1 seed (Tennessee) just lost in the Super Regional. Southern Miss, a regional host, survived a five-game dogfight to advance but seemingly had nothing left for Ole Miss in the Hattiesburg Super Regional, failing to score a run in two games. So Ole Miss, which barely made the NCAA field after a mercurial regular season, is Omaha-bound as a regional 3-seed. This will be the Rebels’ sixth trip, second under Mike Bianco, the school’s all-time winningest coach who nevertheless has taken a lot of heat for his teams’ postseason shortcomings. But what’s past is past. Bianco’s current club may have caught lightning in a bottle this postseason. They’ve pitched. They’ve hit. They’ve won five straight, practically in a stroll. It figures to get tougher in Omaha, but would you bet against them? It’ll be interesting to see how UM fans turn out at the CWS. MSU fans took over the ballpark last year, playing a large role in the Bulldogs’ success. That first D-I natty was a big deal for the Magnolia State. Another would be no less special.

12 Jun

go figure

Pitching is not supposed to be Ole Miss’ strong suit. Well, the Rebels have flipped that script. Continuing a strong show of arms in the Coral Cables Regional, Ole Miss’ Dylan DeLucia and Jack Dougherty combined on a four-hitter with 10 strikeouts in a 10-0 win Saturday against Southern Miss in the opener of the Hattiesburg Super Regional. USM, which has one of the best staff ERAs (3.26) in the nation, allowed nine earned runs in Game 1 of this best-of-3. Starter Hurston Waldrep had a wobbly outing, and the bullpen melted down after he departed. … Former Madison Central High standout Braden Montgomery hit one of Stanford’s incredible eight home runs in the Palo Alto Super Regional, but the Cardinal somehow lost to UConn 13-12 in Game 1. … Chris Stratton has been an effective reliever this season for Pittsburgh, but the Tupelo native’s outing against Atlanta on Saturday was a disaster. He faced five batters and all of them scored. He hit a batter, walked a batter and yielded three hits, including Ozzie Albies’ grand slam. He also allowed two inherited runners to score in the Braves’ eight-run seventh inning that led to a 10-4 win, the Braves’ 10th straight. Former Mississippi State ace Stratton saw his ERA jump from 3.75 to 5.63. … Ex-Bulldogs star Brandon Woodruff, out since May 27 with an ankle injury, is eligible to come off the injured list today for Milwaukee but is experiencing numbness in his pitching hand, delaying his return. He is 5-3 with a 4.74 ERA for the Brewers, who are in a freefall with eight straight losses. … LeDarious Clark, the East Mississippi Community College alum from Meridian, is enjoying a big season with Lancaster in the independent Atlantic League. He is batting .299 with eight home runs, 22 RBIs and 15 steals. Clark, 28, hit 18 homers and stole 28 bags for Lancaster last year after spending six lackluster seasons in the Texas system. … The Double-A Mississippi Braves have lost eight of 11 heading into today’s road trip finale at Rocket City. At 26-30, the M-Braves are in a virtual tie with Biloxi (25-29) for last place in the Southern League South. The Shuckers have also lost eight of their last 11.

10 Jun

on the rise

Baltimore has put Jordan Westburg, the former Mississippi State standout, on a fast track in the minors, and he is keeping up the pace. The No. 30 overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft, Westburg is 5-for-9 in two games at Triple-A Norfolk. He hit his first homer at the new level on Thursday night. Westburg, who has played shortstop and third base this season, batted .247 with nine homers and 32 RBIs at Double-A Bowie before the Orioles moved him up. He hit .285 with 15 homers and 79 RBIs at three levels in 2021, his first pro season. MLB Pipeline ranks Westburg as the Orioles’ No. 6 prospect. … Ex-State star Justin Foscue, who was drafted 14th overall in 2020 by Texas, hit a tape-measure homer for Double-A Amarillo on Thursday, the ball leaving the stadium and landing in a parking lot beyond left field (per video on milb.com). Foscue, a second baseman, is batting .300 with four homers and 22 RBIs in 30 games for Amarillo; he has had two stints on the injured list. He is rated the Rangers’ No. 5 prospect. P.S. Ole Miss product Mike Mayers, designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels late last month, has made one appearance at Triple-A Salt Lake. It didn’t go well for the veteran big leaguer: four runs in 1 2/3 innings. … Billy Hamilton, the former Taylorsville High star, is a free agent (again), having opted out of a minor league deal with Seattle on June 1. Hamilton was hitting .186 (with four stolen bases) at Triple-A Tacoma.

08 Jun

cashing in

Since being recalled from the minors by Miami on May 27, ex-Ole Miss star Nick Fortes has gotten just 15 at-bats. Maybe the Marlins should get him some more. Fortes went 2-for-2 with a homer, four RBIs, three runs and two walks in Miami’s 12-2 win over Washington on Tuesday night. The 25-year-old catcher, who made his MLB debut last year, is 7-for-15 this season and is batting .348 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 19 career games. “Just trying to hit a hard line drive,” he told mlb.com about his approach at the plate. Marlins manager Don Mattingly also praised Fortes’ work with rookie pitcher Edward Cabrera, now 2-0 with Fortes behind the plate this year. A fourth-round pick out of Ole Miss in 2018, Fortes rose steadily through the minors, putting up good if not great numbers. He got an extended look last September when the Marlins were evaluating for 2022. They traded for Jacob Stallings to be their regular catcher this year, and Fortes was sent to the minors in spring training. He’s back now — and bidding to stick around. P.S. Mississippi State product Dakota Hudson recorded his second straight strong start (two hits, one run in seven innings) for St. Louis but got no-decision in a game the Cardinals lost to Tampa Bay. Hudson is 4-2, 2.76 ERA, in 11 starts. … Former Southern Miss standout Kirk McCarty, in his second big league appearance, yielded three homers in four innings and took a loss for Cleveland against Texas. Ex-State star Nate Lowe hit one of the homers, his sixth of 2022. … Former MSU slugger Hunter Renfroe returned to Milwaukee’s lineup from the injured list and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in a loss against Philadelphia. Biloxi Shuckers alum Josh Hader, who had not allowed a run this season, blew a save for the first time in almost a year when Alec Bohm hit a two-run homer in the ninth.

07 Jun

way back when

On this date in 1946 — in the gap between Babe Ruth and Shohei Ohtani — Claude Passeau enjoyed a double-duty performance of note. The Waynesboro native, pitching for the Chicago Cubs, shut out Brooklyn for nine innings and, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth at Wrigley Field, hit a two-run homer to win the game. Passeau, who went to high school in Moss Point and college at Millsaps, was 37 and in his next-to-last season in ’46, and he made the All-Star Game that year for the fifth time. Over his 13 seasons in the majors, Passeau went 162-150 with a 3.32 ERA and won a World Series game in 1945. His career win total is third-most by a Mississippi-born major leaguer. He also batted .192 with 15 career homers. P.S. Transaction watch: Mississippi State product Hunter Renfroe is expected to come off the injured list and play for Milwaukee tonight against Philadelphia. … Ex-Southern Miss standout Kirk McCarty was recalled from the minors for Cleveland’s doubleheader today and is penciled in as the Game 2 starter against Texas. … Meridian Community College alum Corey Dickerson has landed on the IL for St. Louis with a calf injury. … Former Ole Miss star Tyler Keenan, a 2020 draftee, was traded from Seattle to Toronto for big leaguer Ryan Borucki and is now playing at High-Class A Vancouver. … Former MSU star Jordan Westburg, also a 2020 draftee, has been promoted from Double-A to Triple-A in the Baltimore chain. … Ex-MSU standout Brent Rooker, recalled from Triple-A last week, was optioned back to the minors without getting an at-bat for San Diego.

04 Jun

bunch of stuff

There is a lot to digest from a not-so-sleepy-or-dusty third of June: In the Hattiesburg Regional, the anticipated Southern Miss-LSU winners bracket game will take place tonight (6 p.m.) after the Golden Eagles blanked Army 2-0 and the Tigers rallied past Kennesaw State 14-11 on Friday. The Pete (Taylor Park) will be packed. … At Coral Cables, Fla., Ole Miss’ regional opener against Arizona was pushed back to today because of rain. … In Enid, Okla., Pearl River Community College pummeled Madison (Wisc.) College 19-1 to set up a decisive Game 3 in the NJCAA Division II World Series. No. 1-ranked PRCC rode the bats of Alex Perry (home run, three RBIs) and D.K. Donaldson (three RBIs) and the pitching of Dakota Lee (six innings, one run). … At Pearl’s Trustmark Park, the Mississippi Braves’ Jalen Miller reportedly hit a home run over the batter’s eye in center field — no mean feat — en route to an extra-inning win against Montgomery in the Double-A Southern League. … In Appleton, Wisc., ex-Hattiesburg High standout Joe Gray Jr. had a 4-for-5 game, including his seventh homer and ninth stolen base, for High-A Wisconsin. Gray, a highly rated Milwaukee prospect, is batting .202 in his second stint at that level. … At Chicago’s Wrigley Field, Corey Dickerson, the former Meridian CC star from McComb, hit his first two homers of the season for St. Louis in a blowout win against the Cubs. Dickerson, who chose to wear Mark McGwire’s No. 25 in his first year with the Cardinals, has 130 career homers and has hit as many as 27 in a season. He is batting .194 in sporadic playing time. … Ex-Mississippi State standout Brent Rooker has been called up by San Diego. The former Minnesota Twins outfielder, traded this spring, was hitting .242 with nine homers at Triple-A El Paso. … Ole Miss product Lance Lynn, on the injured list all year for the Chicago White Sox, made his second rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte and yielded three runs in four innings. … Colorado announced that left-hander Ryan Rolison, another former UM star, will undergo shoulder surgery and miss the remainder of the season. A highly rated prospect, Rolison has been on the IL all year. … And last but certainly not least, Jackson Academy outfielder Dakota Jordan received the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year award. The MSU signee, who aims to play football and baseball, hit .524 with 16 homers this season. He is ranked as the No. 176 MLB draft prospect by MLB Pipeline.

01 Jun

dog day afternoon

In St. Louis, the day belonged to Dakota Hudson. In Cleveland, it was Konnor Pilkington’s time to shine. The former Mississippi State pitchers were brilliant on the bump Wednesday, Hudson beating San Diego with one of his best starts of the year and Pilkington shutting down Kansas City for his first big league win. Hudson (4-2) went seven innings for the Cardinals, allowing one run on four hits in a 5-2 win. At one point, the right-hander retired 18 in a row. “Exactly what we needed,” Cards manager Oliver Marmol told The Associated Press. Pilkington, a rookie making just his sixth appearance, went five innings, allowed no runs on five hits and fanned eight, including the first four batters of the game. The lefty has claimed a spot, at least temporarily, in the Guardians’ rotation. “My stuff plays,” he told the AP after the 4-0 game — and after receiving a beer shower from his teammates. P.S. Former Ole Miss pitcher and big league manager Mickey Callaway, suspended by MLB in May 2021 after allegations of sexual harassment against female media members, has been fired as manager of Acereros de Monclova in the Mexican League. The team was 16-17. Callaway managed the New York Mets in 2018-19 and was fired after posting a 163-161 record. He was working as the Los Angeles Angels’ pitching coach last year when he was handed a suspension that extended through 2022.

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.