04 Jul

trade winds

Garrett Crochet and Matt Wallner picked up some nice awards on Wednesday. Rumor has it that both might soon have to pick up and move to new organizations. Crochet, the former Ocean Springs High (and Tennessee) standout, won the American League pitcher of the month award for June; the left-hander posted a 1.91 ERA and struck out 56 batters in 37 2/3 innings for the Chicago White Sox. Wallner, Southern Miss’ all-time home run leader, was named the Triple-A International League hitter of the month; the lefty slugger batted .324 with 12 homers, 28 RBIs and 27 runs for St. Paul in the Minnesota system. Crochet, 25, making just $800,000 this year and three years from free agency, is considered by some the most attractive pitching target for buyers. The Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly already have made an offer for Crochet, and San Diego and Baltimore have been mentioned as possible suitors. In his first season as a starter, Crochet is 6-6 with a 3.02 ERA for a weak White Sox club. He is a likely All-Star. Wallner, sent to the minors in mid-April because he wasn’t hitting, has perked up at St. Paul (.255, 19 homers, 53 RBIs), and the Twins are said to be “getting calls” on the 26-year-old outfielder. Wallner’s power is intriguing; he has 17 MLB homers in 107 games. Plus, he has a big throwing arm. He is making just $746K in 2024 and is six years from free agency. … The Dodgers, among other clubs, are also said to be interested in Oakland outfielder Brent Rooker, the ex-Mississippi State standout who hit his 17th homer on Wednesday. The MLB trade deadline is July 30. P.S. Austin Riley did not win a player of the month award — and definitely isn’t on the trade market — but the former DeSoto Central star had a June worthy of mention. The Atlanta third baseman, sluggish out of the gate this season, hit .289 (.373 OBP) with six homers, 13 RBIs and 17 runs for the month. With 144 career homers, including one in July, he has caught Charlie Hayes for 11th place on the all-time home run list for Mississippians.

17 Aug

to the rescue

On a night when ace Justin Verlander got a little wobbly, Kendall Graveman led a four-man relay team of relievers who carried home Houston’s 12-5 win against Miami. Former Mississippi State standout Graveman, rescued from the sinking Chicago White Sox at the trade deadline, has been just what the Astros wanted, posting a 2.35 ERA in seven appearances. After Verlander allowed a five-run lead to shrink to one on Wednesday night, Graveman replaced him in the sixth inning and put the Marlins down 1-2-3 on eight pitches. (None of the four Astros relievers allowed a hit.) It was Graveman’s fourth straight scoreless outing for a team that is trying to chase down Texas in the American League West. (The Rangers lost Wednesday and lead by just 2.5 games.) Graveman, a converted starter now in his ninth MLB season, is in his second stint with the Astros, who acquired him from Seattle in a deadline trade in 2021. After helping Houston reach the ’21 World Series, he went to the White Sox as a free agent. He pitched well there, racking up 14 saves and 35 holds in 110 games before the Astros, the reigning world champs, got him back. “It’s an organization that’s run very well and … (I’m) thankful that they would want me back,” he told the Houston Chronicle at the time of the trade. P.S. Charlie Morton was masterful for Atlanta in a 2-0 win against the New York Yankees, notching his 12th win of 2023 and 128th career. That total leads all former Mississippi Braves by a wide margin on the career wins list. For the record, the leader among former Jackson Generals is Freddy Garcia with 156. Kevin Tapani, with 143, is tops among ex-Jackson Mets. … Tough break for ex-Ole Miss star Justin Bench, who was hitting .354 at Low-Class A San Jose (San Francisco system) when he went on the injured list on Wednesday. A utility player who made the All-College World Series team for the ’22 champs, Bench hit .370 in rookie ball before moving up to San Jose in mid-July.

02 Aug

whole new ballgame

Welcome to the playoff race, Chris Stratton. Former Mississippi State ace Stratton was traded Monday — along with Jose Quintana — from last-place Pittsburgh to second-place St. Louis, which is feverishly chasing Milwaukee in the National League Central. Stratton, a 31-year-old right-handed reliever, has had a sluggish season with the lowly Pirates — posting a 5.09 ERA in 40 games — but might draw some energy from moving to a contending club. He had a strong 2021, putting up a 3.63 ERA with seven wins and eight saves for another bad Bucs team. He said in a recent story on triblive.com that his issues this season are with the “sequencing” of his pitches, something he believes can be fixed by “just trying to be more thoughtful and a little more unpredictable.” Stratton, from Tupelo, was the SEC pitcher of the year at State in 2012 and was drafted 20th overall by San Francisco that summer. He has a 4.61 career ERA in 218 games, 42 of those starts. He moved to the bullpen in 2019 with the Los Angeles Angels, who traded him to the Pirates early that season. Stratton joins a Cardinals club that includes ex-MSU star Dakota Hudson in its rotation. Division rival Milwaukee also features a pair of former Bulldogs: starter Brandon Woodruff and outfielder Hunter Renfroe. This ought to be fun. … The MLB trade deadline is today.

31 Aug

game on

The stakes have been raised for three Mississippians who changed MLB teams in recent days. Jarrod Dyson, Cody Reed and Mitch Moreland have moved from losing clubs to contenders as the abbreviated 2020 season enters its final month. Dyson, the former McComb High and Southwest Mississippi Community College standout, went from lowly Pittsburgh to the Chicago White Sox. Dyson, a .245 career hitter with 254 stolen bases, was acquired primarily for his speed on the bases and in the outfield. He entered Sunday’s game as a pinch runner in the 10th inning and scored on Luis Robert’s walk-off homer; the win put the ChiSox in a tie for first in the American League Central. Reed, a Horn Lake High and Northwest Mississippi CC product, went from scuffling Cincinnati to Tampa Bay, which sits atop the AL East. Reed, a left-hander who worked as both a starter and reliever with the Reds, joins a Rays staff that has been hard hit by injuries. He was activated today, just in time for the Rays’ visit to the New York Yankees tonight. Moreland’s move from the struggling Boston Red Sox to surging San Diego was described by Padres manager Jayce Tingler as “impactful.” “Not only the bat, but somebody like Mitch with 80-grade makeup, a very, very tough man … that’ll blend in really well to this clubhouse,” the rookie skipper told mlb.com. Moreland, a former Amory High and Mississippi State star, is a .253 career hitter with 174 homers in 11 seasons; he was leading the Red Sox in homers and RBIs at the time of Sunday’s trade. Moreover, he has played in 48 postseason games and been in three World Series, winning a ring with Boston two years ago. That’s what the Padres appear all-in to do in 2020. … In other news, Lance Lynn did NOT get traded by Texas, a non-contender, though many in the media believed the Ole Miss product could have been a difference-maker for a contender, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Even though he went to Ole Miss, I still like him,” Buck Showalter, the ex-Mississippi State star and former big league manager joked today on MLB Network’s trade deadline show. Lynn is 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA for the 12-21 Rangers.