13 Jul

cape notes

Southern Miss’ Ben Ethridge, recently anointed a Freshman All-America by Baseball America, sparkled Monday in his first starting assignment in the Cape Cod League. The right-hander from Collinsville pitched four shutout innings in Bourne’s 6-3 win against Hyannis. It was the fourth straight scoreless outing for Ethridge, whose 5.40 ERA over 10 innings is a product of a rocky debut in the summer league. Ethridge, a second-year freshman, went 6-2, 3.25 for USM this season and was 3-0 in 2020. He was an All-State pitcher at West Lauderdale, where he went 26-4 in four years and won a state title in 2017. … Mississippi State’s Kamren James, a second-year freshman from Southaven, made his Cape debut Monday and took an 0-for-3 in Wareham’s 6-0 loss to Cotuit. Fellow Bulldogs standout Kellum Clark, a true freshman from Brandon, is also with Wareham; he is 1-for-11 in four games. … Ole Miss’ Peyton Chatagnier went 0-for-4 for Orleans on Monday, snapping a seven-game on-base streak. He is batting .276 with three homers, eight RBIs and four steals in his eight games.

12 Jul

day 2 draft stuff

Two more Mississippi college products were plucked early on Day 2 of the MLB draft, with Ole Miss left-hander Doug Nikhazy going to Cleveland in Round 2 (58th overall) and Southern Miss outfielder Reed Trimble, eligible as a second-year freshman, to Baltimore in the competitive balance round at No. 65 overall. Nikhazy went 12-2 with a 2.45 ERA and won a number of big games this year for the Rebels. Trimble, a Northwest Rankin alum, is a switch-hitter who batted .345 with 17 homers and 12 stolen bases in 2021. With Mississippi State’s Will Bednar and UM’s Gunnar Hoglund getting picked in Round 1 on Sunday, Mississippi schools produced four of the top 65 picks. Later on Day 2: State’s Tanner Allen – SEC player of the year and Ferriss Trophy winner – went in Round 4 to Miami; the Bulldogs’ Eric Cerantola and Christian MacLeod, the big lefties, both went in Round 5 to Kansas City and Minnesota, respectively; Ole Miss closer Taylor Broadway was pegged in Round 6 by the Chicago White Sox; Ryan Och, a shutdown reliever at USM this year, went in Round 7 to San Diego; right-hander Will Warren, a former Jackson Prep standout who pitched at Southeastern Louisiana, was picked in Round 8 by the New York Yankees.

12 Jul

minor matters

In his first game since the Chicago Cubs decided to return him to a starting role, Justin Steele threw the first 3 2/3 innings Sunday of a seven-inning no-hitter for Triple-A Iowa. Left-hander Steele, a George County High alum, struck out five and walked two in the 1-0 win against St. Paul. Former Delta State star Trent Giambrone drove in the game’s only run with a walk-off sac fly. Former Mississippi State star Brent Rooker went 0-for-3 for St. Paul, a Minnesota farm team. Steele, a starter most of his lengthy minor league career, made his long-awaited MLB debut this season and had a 2.03 ERA in 11 games for the Cubs before landing on the injured list. … MSU product Ethan Small gave up three hits and two runs but got the last two outs in the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday. Small is now at Triple-A Nashville in Milwaukee’s system. … Ole Miss alum Thomas Dillard belted his 10th homer for High-A Wisconsin in the Brewers’ chain. Former Hattiesburg High star Joe Gray, Jr., was recently promoted to Wisconsin after batting .289 with 12 homers in Low-A ball. Gray is at .158 in six games at the new level. … Ex-Bulldogs standout Justin Foscue, recently back from the IL, put up a 3-for-4 that included his third homer for High-A Hickory in Texas’ system. Foscue, a 2020 draftee, is batting .237. … Ole Miss product Parker Caracci notched his sixth save for High-A Vancouver in the Toronto organization. The Jackson Prep alum has a 2-2 record and 1.50 ERA in 22 games in his second pro season. Toronto picked ex-UM star Gunnar Hoglund in the first round (19th overall) of Sunday’s MLB draft; his pro career will be delayed to 2022 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. … MSU’s Will Bednar, taken with the 14th overall pick by San Francisco, likely would start his pro career in the Arizona Complex League or at Low-A San Jose.

10 Jul

walk it off

He has mashed 167 home runs in his pro career, but Friday night’s bomb was unique for Bobby Bradley. The ex-Harrison Central High star from Gulfport hit his first career walk-off homer, lifting Cleveland to a 2-1 victory against Kansas City. Bradley, 25, in his second big league season, did a modest bat flip as the line drive sailed out to right-center at Progressive Field. He was mobbed at home plate by his teammates, who were celebrating their second straight walk-off win after a nine-game skid. “Everybody was pumped up and beating me up a little bit and throwing water everywhere,” Bradley told mlb.com. “It’s awesome.” The article said it was Bradley’s first walk-off homer at any level, though it’s hard to imagine he didn’t hit one at Harrison Central. The left-handed hitting first baseman has 10 homers in 100 at-bats this season, which is an amazing ratio even for a small sample size. He has 11 in 145 MLB at-bats overall, one per 13.2 ABs. Mark McGwire’s career record is 10.6. Babe Ruth had an 11.7, Barry Bonds a 12.9. Bradley has 156 minor league homers (one every 16 ABs) since 2014, when the Indians drafted him in the third round out of high school. That’s a special kind of power. P.S. Former Mississippi State star Brandon Woodruff is slated to pitch Sunday for Milwaukee, which means he can’t pitch in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. He has been replaced on the National League roster by teammate Freddy Peralta, another Biloxi Shuckers alumnus. … Ex-Ole Miss standout Drew Pomeranz has returned to the injured list (forearm) for San Diego. Pomeranz, who missed most of May and June on the IL, has a 1.59 ERA in 18 relief outings.

08 Jul

maroon alert

Local high school products Tanner Leggett and Preston Johnson, stars on Mississippi State’s national championship team, will throw out ceremonial first pitches at the Mississippi Braves’ game on Friday night at Trustmark Park in Pearl. The first pitches will occur around 6:15 p.m., per the M-Braves release. The Double-A South game is scheduled for 6:35 against the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Gates open at 5:30. Leggett, from Raymond, is a Central Hinds Academy product. Johnson, from Crystal Springs, attended Copiah Academy and Hinds Community College. … Bulldogs fans might also want to heckle Pensacola catcher Nick Fortes. He played at Ole Miss.

07 Jul

hold on there

Shohei Ohtani, the amazing double-duty All-Star, got the win and Raisel Iglesias the save in the Los Angeles Angels’ 5-3 victory against Boston on Tuesday night. Former Ole Miss star Mike Mayers was the “bridge guy,” pitching the eighth inning, between Ohtani and Iglesias. Mayers was credited with a hold, that somewhat obscure statistic that gives middle relievers something to, er, hold on to. A hold is awarded to a reliever who enters in “a save situation and maintains his team’s lead for the next relief pitcher, while recording at least one out.” Mayers’ scoreless inning of work gives the right-hander 11 holds on the year; the MLB lead is 17. He has a 4.17 ERA and two saves in 41 appearances. Drew Pomeranz, another UM product, fills a similar role to Mayers’ for San Diego. The big lefty notched his eighth hold on Tuesday, pitching a scoreless eighth in the Padres’ 7-4 win over Washington. Pomeranz, who recently came off the injured list, has a 1.59 ERA in 18 games. Chris Stratton, the ex-Mississippi State standout from Tupelo and another middle relief specialist, pitched a scoreless seventh inning in Pittsburgh’s 2-1 win against Atlanta. But the score was tied when Stratton worked – so, no hold. He has four on the year, along with a 2.96 ERA and a save in 35 appearances. P.S. If there was a bright spot in the Braves’ second straight lackluster performance against the lowly Pirates, it was the hitting of Orlando Arcia. Arcia, the second Biloxi Shuckers alum (after Jed Bradley) to play for Atlanta, went 2-for-3 and homered for the Braves’ lone run. He is 4-for-11 with two RBIs, two runs and a steal in three games since being called up from Triple-A Gwinnett, where he was batting .303 with 13 homers. He was Milwaukee’s starting shortstop the previous five years. … To the long list of great catches by Billy Hamilton, make room for the one he made Tuesday. The Taylorsville High product, playing center field in the ninth inning for the Chicago White Sox, ran full speed and laid out for the acrobatic snag, then slid across the rain-soaked warning track to complete the play. “I think that’s the top one, to be honest with you,” Hamilton said in an mlb.com story.

06 Jul

in the summertime …

Ole Miss’ Hayden Dunhurst was 2-for-6 with an RBI in a three-game intrasquad series over the weekend for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. Rebels teammate Jacob Gonzalez went 0-for-1 in the lone game he played in. The Mississippi State contingent on the roster – Logan Tanner, Landon Sims and Jackson Fristoe – did not appear in the box scores. The Stars will face the Stripes in another intrasquad tonight in Greeneville, Tenn. … Up in the Cape Cod League: Former Germantown High and Pearl River Community College star Bryson Ware hit his first homer of the summer on Monday for Falmouth. Ware, currently at Auburn, is just 2-for-24 with 13 strikeouts in the prestigious college summer league. Ole Miss infielder Peyton Chatagnier went 1-for-4 Monday for Orleans. He is enjoying a good summer: .286, two homers, seven RBIs and two steals. Southern Miss’ Ben Ethridge threw a clean inning Monday for Bourne, trimming his ERA to 18.00 in three games. … Jackson State’s Chenar Brown, SWAC freshman of the year, is batting .246 with eight RBIs in 19 games for Danville in the Appalachian League. … Pearl River CC product Von Seibert, a Mississippi State signee, is hitting .274 with five homers and 15 RBIs for Thomasville in the Coastal Plain League. … USM’s Will Tynes is 2-3 with a 3.92 ERA in five starts for Acadiana in the Texas Collegiate League. … In the Cotton States League North Division (based in New Albany): Peeko Townsend, of Northwest CC, is putting up big numbers for the Tippa County Tribe with a .471 average, three homers, 11 RBIs and 11 runs. Itawamba CC’s Roe Ketchum is 3-0, 1.20 in four starts for the Golden Triangle Jets.

04 Jul

old home night

The game was played in Birmingham and the visiting team came from Chattanooga, but there was a lot of Mississippi sprinkled all over Saturday night’s Double-A South game at Regions Park. Chattanooga’s lineup included three Magnolia State college products — Ole Miss’ Errol Robinson and Braxton Lee and Southern Miss’ Chuckie Robinson — while the host Barons’ featured former Columbia High standout Ti’Quan Forbes at third base plus Mississippi State’s Konnor Pilkington on the mound. Chuckie Robinson had the game’s big hit, a three-run homer off Pilkington in a four-run fourth inning that propelled the Lookouts, a Cincinnati affiliate, to a 10-4 victory. Errol Robinson (no relation) contributed two walks and a run, and Lee went 1-for-4 with a couple of RBIs. Pilkington, a third-round pick by the Chicago White Sox in 2018, took the loss and slipped to 2-4 with a 4.08 ERA. Forbes, a second-round pick way back in 2014, went 1-for-2 with two walks. Still only 24, he is batting .299 this season. The Chattanooga contingent are new this season to the Cincinnati system. The Robinsons were Rule 5 draft picks last December, while Lee – who has been on quite an odyssey (see previous post) – was signed out of an independent league last month. Errol Robinson, a shortstop, was a Los Angeles Dodgers draftee in 2016. He had a 10-homer, 18-steal season in Double-A in 2018 and reached Triple-A in the L.A. system. The Reds started him in Triple-A this year, but he hit just .176 at Louisville before being bumped down. Chuckie Robinson, a catcher, was drafted in 2016 by Houston and reached Double-A in 2019. A career .250 hitter with 34 homers, he is batting .258 with four homers in 2021. Lee, 27, a 2014 draftee by Tampa Bay, was a Southern League batting champion in 2017 who made the big leagues with Miami in 2018. A lefty-hitting outfielder with speed, he is batting .227 in 19 games for the Lookouts. P.S. Curious to see what the story is behind the sudden removal of Mitch Moreland from Oakland’s lineup on Saturday. The former State star from Amory was pulled for a “non-baseball related issue” and will not play today, the team announced.

03 Jul

an odd couple

A couple of pitching performances, from very different pitchers, jumped out from Friday’s array of games. Both, by sheer coincidence, involved the Detroit Tigers, who were on the losing side in each game. In the big leagues, former Ole Miss star Lance Lynn delivered one of his typical workhorse performances in the Chicago White Sox’s 8-2 win against the Tigers. In Triple-A, ex-Southern Miss star Kirk McCarty, a Cleveland farmhand, delivered one of his typical crafty performances in Columbus’ 7-1 win over Toledo, Detroit’s top farm club. The veteran Lynn threw 117 pitches to get through six innings. He allowed four hits, walked five, struck out nine and yielded just one run in improving to 8-3 for the first-place White Sox. His 2.02 ERA ranks second in the American League. The self-proclaimed “big bastard” just might get an All-Star Game invite. McCarty, a 5-foot-8 lefty in his fourth pro season, worked seven innings for Columbus, allowing four hits, two walks and the one run with six strikeouts. The only Toledo hitter who really gave him any trouble was Mississippi State alum Jacob Robson, who went 3-for-3. McCarty, an Oak Grove High product, is 6-1 with a 4.11 ERA in his first Triple-A campaign. The six wins rank second in the Triple-A East. He isn’t rated among the Indians’ top prospects, but he is surely on their radar.

02 Jul

that’s pretty cool

Mississippi will be represented by at least one state college product in the MLB All-Star Game for the sixth straight time. Adam Frazier, the Mississippi State alumnus now with Pittsburgh, was the winner in fan balloting to start at second base for the National League. It’ll be his first trip to the Midsummer Classic, and he is very deserving of the honor. The lefty-hitting Frazier, in his sixth MLB season, is batting .326 with 101 hits, four homers, 28 RBIs and 50 runs. “I don’t really love the spotlight itself. I just try to go about my business and take care of what I need to take care of,” Frazier said in an mlb.com article. “It’s pretty cool to have the support, and I’m happy for that.” This is also pretty cool: The last Pirates second baseman to start an All-Star Game was Bill Mazeroski in 1967. More Mississippians could be headed for Colorado for the July 13 game when pitchers and reserves are announced Sunday. In 2019, the last time there was an All-Star Game, Brandon Woodruff, the ex-State standout from Wheeler, went as a replacement to the National League pitching staff. He followed Mitch Moreland (2018), Zack Cozart and Corey Dickerson (2017), Drew Pomeranz (2016) and Brian Dozier and Jonathan Papelbon (2015) as recent All-Stars out of Magnolia State schools. … Former Mississippi Braves Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna also were voted in, as announced by MLB on Thursday. P.S. The all-Mississippi home run chase in MLB is proving to be quite interesting. DeSoto Central product Austin Riley belted his 14th on Thursday (off Jacob deGrom, no less), moving two ahead of ex-MSU star Hunter Renfroe and Bulldogs alum Nate Lowe, who hit two on Thursday to get to 12. Gulfport’s Bobby Bradley, who has only been up since June 5, has eight. Still waiting for former State standout Moreland to get it going; he’s at six. … Down in the minors, Houlka’s Tyreque Reed hit two bombs for High-A Greenville (Boston) and has 12 on the season.