26 May

the hot list

If Dalton Rogers was overshadowed a bit on Southern Miss’ outstanding pitching staff in 2022, that is not the case now that he is in the Boston Red Sox’s system. A third-round pick by Boston last year, Rogers was named one of the 30 “Hottest Pitching Prospects” this month by MLB Pipeline. The left-hander, a Northwest Rankin High alum, had a 2.49 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 13 walks in 21 1/3 innings over six starts at Low-Class A Salem when he was promoted on Wednesday. He went 4 1/3 for High-A Greenville in his debut that night, allowing three hits and one run (a homer) while fanning seven and walking four against Rome, Atlanta’s affiliate. (Greenville won the game 7-1 as ex-DeSoto Central High star Blaze Jordan homered and drove in four runs. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College product Brandon Parker struck out twice for the R-Braves against Rogers.) Rated the Red Sox’s No. 24 prospect on mlb.com, the 5-foot-11 Rogers has a “drop-and-drive delivery” that gives him “exceptional carry on his (low-90s) heater,” according to the scouting report. Rogers transferred to USM in 2022 from Jones College, where he was an All-MACCC pick in 2021. He had a 1.95 ERA and six saves in 23 games for a Golden Eagles team that featured Tanner Hall and Hurston Waldrep and was oh-so-close to a College World Series trip. … Also on the “Hottest Prospects” list is former Jackson Prep standout Will Warren, now in Triple-A with the New York Yankees. A third-year pro, Warren was 3-0 with a 2.45 in Double-A but has had a couple of bumpy outings since moving to the new level.

17 May

something completely different

The line in the box score, 6-3-6-7, is an eye-opener. The details are flat-out amazing. Colt Keith, the former Biloxi High star and current Detroit prospect, not only banged out six knocks but hit for the cycle with two home runs for Double-A Erie on Tuesday night. Recently ranked as the No. 87 prospect in the minors by MLB Pipeline, Keith, 21, is in his third pro season after being drafted in the fifth round by the Tigers in 2020. A lefty-hitting third baseman, the 6-foot-2, 211-pound Keith is batting .300 with seven homers and 28 RBIs this season, .294 with 18 and 91 over 144 games for his career. Not surprisingly, he told milb.com that Tuesday’s performance was the No. 1 highlight of his career to date. As an milb.com story duly notes, no major league player has homered twice while cycling on a six-hit, seven-RBI night. He completed the cycle with a single in his fifth at-bat and also singled in his final AB. “I felt pretty invincible going up there …,” he said. Keith moved to Biloxi from Arizona in 2019 and was the state’s Gatorade player of the year that season. He was an Arizona State commit before the Tigers picked him in the curtailed 2020 draft and offered him a $500,000 bonus.

16 May

staying the course

With four hits, including a home run on Monday night, plus two walks in his last three games, it looks like Austin Riley might be coming out of his lengthy slump. The former DeSoto Central High star’s seventh homer of the season, a deep blast to right-center at Globe Life Field, was one of five bombs Atlanta hit in a 12-0 win over Texas that snapped a four-game losing skid. It was Riley’s first homer since May 3, though he has had some hard-hit balls in the interim. He has 20 RBIs, ranking just fifth on the team. His average, which had dipped to .239 on on May 9, is now at .245. He is a .270 career hitter and batted .300 in 2021. Watching Riley play, you’d never guess he has been slumping. He never shows any sign of frustration or anger. His defense at third base is unaffected. He punches in every day, always with the same calm demeanor. Slumps, Riley said in a recent interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, are “part of the game. I think how you deal with it is what brings you out of the back end of it.” Maybe that’s what’s happening now. P.S. Former Meridian Community College standout Corey Dickerson was activated from injured list by Washington on Monday, though he did not play. Dickerson is eight hits shy of 1,000 for his big league career, which began in 2013. … Milwaukee transferred ex-Mississippi State star Brandon Woodruff (shoulder inflammation) to the 60-day IL, retroactive to April 8. That likely means it’ll be late June at the earliest before the Brewers get their horse back. Before landing on the IL, he was 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA in two starts. … The Brewers sent Hattiesburg High product Joe Gray Jr. back to High-Class A Wisconsin from Double-A Biloxi. Gray was 2-for-37 in his first taste of Double-A pitching … Mississippi State alum Jordan Westburg is ranked No. 52 in MLB Pipeline’s recently updated list of the Top 100 minor league prospects. Westburg, who was 74th in the February rankings, is batting .321 with 11 homers in Triple-A in Baltimore’s system. Biloxi High product Colt Keith cracked the Top 100 at No. 87. Keith is hitting .266 with five homers in Double-A in Detroit’s chain.

29 Apr

that other draft

While Ole Miss has tumbled from the national rankings this season, Jacob Gonzalez’s MLB draft stock has remained steady. The Rebels shortstop, regarded as a top 10 pick entering this season, is rated No. 8 in MLB Pipeline’s new list of the Top 150 prospects for this summer’s draft. Gonzalez is batting .322 with seven homers and 37 RBIs for the 22-20 Rebels, last year’s national champs. The left-handed hitter, who goes 6 feet 2, 200 pounds, has a .317 career average with 37 homers in three seasons at UM. Five other players from the state are in the Top 150: No. 43 Cooper Pratt, shortstop at Magnolia Heights; No. 47 Colton Ledbetter, Mississippi State outfielder; No. 64 Kemp Alderman, Ole Miss outfielder; No. 101 Tanner Hall, Southern Miss pitcher; and No. 145 Calvin Harris, UM catcher. Ranked 11th is Hurston Waldrep, who pitched at USM in 2022 but is now at Florida. Ledbetter, a Samford transfer, has been a standout during a tough year for State, hitting .322 with 10 homers, 46 RBIs and 15 steals. Hall, last year’s Ferriss Trophy winner, is 7-3 with a 2.95 ERA for the Golden Eagles, who are battling for the Sun Belt Conference title. P.S. Lexington beat the York Revolution 5-4 Friday night in Barry Lyons’ debut (see previous post) as manager of the Counter Clocks of the independent Atlantic League. Former Delta State star Trent Giambrone went 2-for-4 for York in his ALPB debut. Harrison Central High alum and ex-big leaguer Bobby Bradley homered for Charleston in his indy ball debut. … The Chicago White Sox lost their ninth straight game Friday after MSU product Kendall Graveman gave up a ninth-inning homer in a 3-2 defeat against visiting Tampa Bay. Graveman (1-2) has a 5.06 ERA in 11 relief appearances for the 7-20 White Sox. … Tim Anderson, on a rehab assignment for the ChiSox, went 0-for-4 for Triple-A Charlotte in Game 1 of a twinbill. Also in the Knights’ lineup was Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton, the demoted big league vet who went 2-for-3 to improve his average to .186. He has three stolen bases.

24 Mar

whatever happened to …

Bryson Ware, the ex-Germantown High and Pearl River Community College slugger, is now mashing for Auburn. Batting third and playing third base on Thursday night, Ware went 2-for-6 with a home run, a double, two runs and three RBIs as the Tigers beat visiting Georgia 7-6 in 11 innings for their first SEC win. Ware’s two-run double in the ninth made it a 6-5 game, and the 6-foot-2, 211-pound senior then scored the tying run. Ware, who set a single-season homer record at Germantown, is batting .415 with 10 homers and 26 RBIs this season. His 10 homers are tied for fourth-best in the league — Mississippi State’s Hunter Hines also has 10 — and his .902 slugging percentage ranks third. P.S. Jared Shuster, a Southern League All-Star with the Mississippi Braves in 2022 and Atlanta’s No. 1 prospect, threw six impressive innings against the New York Mets on Thursday and may now be the front-runner for the fifth starter job. The left-hander has a 1.45 ERA in five spring games. With former M-Braves star Michael Soroka having been optioned to Triple-A, Shuster’s main competition for the starting job is fellow 2022 M-Braves alum Dylan Dodd, the Braves’ No. 10 prospect. … Atlanta’s minor league system is ranked No. 30 — last — in MLB Pipeline’s latest evaluation of prospect talent. The Braves have no players in the Top 100, though it’s hard to figure how Shuster didn’t make that list. He went 7-8 with a 2.78 ERA in Double-A last year and made the All-Star Futures Game. … Milwaukee’s system ranks 15th, led by a quartet of former Biloxi Shuckers outfielders: Jackson Chourio, Sal Frelick, Joey Wiemer and Garrett Mitchell, who is the likely opening day center fielder for the Brewers. … Nine M-Braves alums played for Atlanta in Thursday’s 2-2 tie vs. the Mets. One Shuckers product played: big league vet Orlando Arcia, who beat out Vaughn Grissom and Braden Shewmake for the starting shortstop job. Wonder how long that will last? … The M-Braves and New South Radio announced that all 138 M-Braves broadcasts will air on WIIN 780 AM and 102.1 FM The Box this season. Chris Harris and Jack Sadighian are back as the broadcasters.

06 Mar

making a list

A pair of former high MLB draft picks from Mississippi colleges who’ve battled arm injuries have cracked the top 20 on the Oakland A’s list of Top 30 prospects, revealed today by MLB Pipeline. Ole Miss product Gunnar Hogland, the 19th overall pick in 2021, is Oakland’s No. 15, and Mississippi State alum J.T. Ginn, a second-round pick (by the New York Mets) in 2020, checks in at No. 17. Hogland has pitched just eight innings in pro ball so far. Ginn has made 30 appearances over two years, but just 12 last season before an Arizona Fall League stint. He is in big league camp as a non-roster player. It’ll be interesting to see how those two fare in 2023. Former Biloxi High star Colt Keith is ranked No. 4 in Detroit’s system; Southern Miss alum Matt Wallner, who debuted in MLB last summer, is Minnesota’s No. 7; ex-State standout Justin Foscue is Texas’ No. 7; former Bulldogs closer Landon Sims is Arizona’s No. 9; Will Bednar, the CWS star for State in 2021, is San Francisco’s No. 16; ex-Ole Miss standout Ryan Rolison is Colorado’s No. 28; and fellow Rebels alum Doug Nikhazy is Cleveland’s No. 30. (See previous post for the top prospects from the National League East and Central and American League East. All told, 17 state products made the various Top 30s.) … Six Mississippians made USA Today’s top 200 fantasy players for MLB ’23, topped by Austin Riley at No. 27 and Brandon Woodruff at 33. Eleven former Mississippi Braves are on that list, including Riley, the DeSoto Central High alum who also played for the Double-A M-Braves en route to Atlanta. … A handful of Magnolia State products have signed with independent clubs for 2023, including Jacob Robson, who is also slated to play for Team Canada in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Ex-MSU standout Robson signed with the American Association’s Kansas City Monarchs, for whom he played in 2022. Dalton Moats (Delta State) inked with KC, Delvin Zinn (Itawamba Community College) with Milwaukee and Conor Fisk (USM) with Lake Country. Milton Smith Jr. (Meridian CC) signed with Rocky Mountain of the Pioneer League.

03 Mar

power source

Rosters for the minor league teams are far from set, but there’s a good chance the top-rated power prospect in Atlanta’s system will suit up for Double-A Mississippi this season. Jesse Franklin V, who played 15 games for the 2022 M-Braves before an arm injury (and Tommy John surgery) ended his year, was named by MLB Pipeline as the best power threat in the Braves’ thinned-out farm system. The lefty-swinging Franklin, a former Michigan slugger and Atlanta’s No. 14 overall prospect, hit two homers for the M-Braves last year and 24 in A-ball in 2021. He also has 21 career steals. While Franklin seems a logical candidate, it’s really anybody’s guess at this stage which other top prospects might play for new M-Braves manager Kanekoa Texeira this year. Cal Conley, Atlanta’s No. 13 prospect, is a switch-hitting shortstop who plays “full throttle,” per reports, and batted .251 with 16 homers and 36 bags at two levels of A-ball in 2022. The former Texas Tech standout also played in the Arizona Fall League and is in Atlanta’s camp as a non-roster invitee. No. 4 prospect A.J. Smith-Shawver, a right-hander, might land in Pearl at some point. Once a highly regarded high school quarterback, he pitched at Low-Class A Augusta in 2022, posted a 5.11 ERA but fanned 103 batters in 68 2/3 innings. Outfielder Brandol Mezquita, ranked No. 17, hit .268 with 14 steals at two levels of A-ball in 2022, and lefty-hitting catcher Tyler Tolve, No. 29, batted .261 with 12 homers at High-A Rome. A couple of familiar names, neither of whom is a Top 30 prospect, might also reach Double-A in 2023. Former Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College star Brandon Parker, a 23-year-old outfielder, hit .282 with 10 homers at Low-A Augusta and finished 2022 at High-A Rome. And then there’s right-hander J.J. Niekro, son of Joe and nephew of Phil, the famous knuckleballers. Niekro was 7-1 with a 2.09 ERA at Augusta and 3-2, 4.88, at Rome last season. (He has tinkered with a knuckler but not used it in a game as yet.)

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.

05 Sep

putting up numbers

Blaine Crim, the ex-Mississippi College standout, batted .323 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in August, capping his strong month with a three-hit, two-homer, five-RBI game for Double-A Frisco last Wednesday. August ended. Crim’s mashing did not. On Sunday, he homered for the fifth straight game in a win at Amarillo. That’s 22 homers on the season. He is batting .556 with 10 RBIs in four September games. He set a Frisco record with five hits in a game on Friday (see previous post). For the season, he is at .291 with 80 RBIs. No flash in the pan, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound first baseman has put up impressive numbers over three pro campaigns: .305 career average (.369 on-base percentage) with 59 homers. The Rangers have a strong farm system, but it is still hard to fathom how Crim does not appear on their Top 30 prospect list as compiled by MLB Pipeline. He has quite the resume. He batted .350 over four seasons at NCAA Division II MC and was the Gulf South Conference’s player of the year in 2019. Drafted in the 19th round by Texas, the Alabama native was the Northwest League MVP in 2019, a High-A East All-Star in 2021 and a Puerto Rican Winter League batting champion earlier this year. He went 4-for-12 in MLB spring training games in March. After the way Crim has handled the challenge of Double-A pitching over the past two seasons, it’ll be interesting to see what his future holds.

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.