20 May

trophy time

The Ferriss Trophy has been around since 2004, and it’s become kind of a big deal to be named the best college player in a state where baseball is quite a big deal. The list of winners is impressive. Nine of them are still active in the pro game, four of them currently playing in the big leagues, two of them owning World Series rings. The 2024 award — honoring former Delta State coach Boo Ferriss and presented by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum — will be given out today at a ceremony at the Pearl River Resort in Philadelphia. The finalists are Brett Sanchez (Belhaven), Dakota Jordan (Mississippi State), Ethan Lege (Ole Miss), Dalton McIntyre (Southern Miss) and R.J. Stinson (William Carey). The oldest active winner is Drew Pomeranz, the 2010 recipient from Ole Miss. Currently pitching in Triple-A with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the big left-hander was the fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft and has made 289 MLB appearances, winning a World Series with Boston in 2018. Nick Sandlin (Cleveland), Brent Rooker (Oakland), Hunter Renfroe (Kansas City) and Chris Stratton (KC) are in The Show. Stratton won a ring with Texas last year; Rooker was an All-Star in 2023; Renfroe has 180 career home runs; and Sandlin has a career ERA of 2.99 over four seasons. Two-time Ferriss winner Jake Mangum, the former MSU star, probably should have been in the big leagues by now; he is batting .329 in Triple-A for Tampa Bay and has a .290 career average. Last year’s winner, Kemp Alderman of Ole Miss, a second-round draft pick last July, is currently on the injured list in A-ball in Miami’s system. Tanner Hall, the 2022 winner from USM, has spent most of this season on the shelf, having made just three appearances in Minnesota’s system. Tanner Allen, the 2021 winner at MSU, is in Double-A in Miami’s chain and batting .250 as a regular outfielder. Among the 2024 finalists, Jordan is the highest rated MLB draft prospect, checking in at No. 24 on the latest mlb.com list. Each of the five is well-credentialed.

13 May

swift swingers

For what it’s worth, Brent Rooker ranks 48th among major league hitters in average bat speed, a new stat made available Sunday from Statcast that “measures how fast the sweet spot of the bat is moving at the point of contact with the baseball.” Giancarlo Stanton — no big surprise — tops this list at 80.6 mph. Ex-Mississippi State star Rooker’s number is 73.8. For what it’s worth, Rooker’s average bat speed has been producing high-quality results of late: The Oakland A’s DH is hitting .400 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in his last 15 games. He hit his 10th bomb of the year in a Sunday loss and now has 50 homers in his MLB career. His season batting average is up to .292, and he has 27 RBIs for an Oakland team that has exceeded expectations. Of course, a swift swing doesn’t necessarily correlate with good hitting. (Stanton is batting .230 with eight homers and has fanned 50 times in 135 at-bats.) There is something to be said for just making consistent contact. Jordan Westburg, another former State standout, ranks 147th in average bat speed with a 70.8. He has produced a .304 average, six homers and 27 RBIs for the Baltimore Orioles. The top average bat speed among Mississippians in the majors belongs to Austin Riley (75.0), who is off to a lackluster start with Atlanta. Hunter Renfroe, No. 2 at 74.4, is off to a poor start in Kansas City.

11 May

friday snapshots

Ole Miss upended second-ranked Texas A&M 4-3 in Oxford as Jackson Ross delivered a game-tying double in the eighth inning and scored the go-ahead run on an Ethan Groff sac fly. Wes Mendes and Connor Spencer shut the Aggies out on one hit over the last three innings. … Carson Paetow capped a pivotal three-run eighth with a two-run homer and Billy Oldham threw seven strong innings as Southern Miss beat Arkansas State 5-2 on the road. … Brett Sanchez threw a three-hitter and Belhaven batters, led by Owen Abney and Hunter Harrell, pounded out 14 hits in an 11-2 win over LaGrange (Ga.) in the CCS Tournament. The Blazers get top-seeded Maryville (Ky.) today in a winners bracket game. … On the high school front, Jackson Prep whipped visiting MRA 11-1 to advance to the MAIS 6A finals and, down the road on Lakeland Drive, Brandon beat host Northwest Rankin 6-3 in Game 1 of the MHSAA Class 7A South State series. … In the minors, Ian Mejia tossed 5 2/3 shutout innings with nine strikeouts to pace the Double-A Mississippi Braves to an 8-0 win at Rocket City. Mejia is 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA. … In MLB, ex-Mississippi State star Adam Frazier’s first homer of the year, a two-run shot in the ninth inning, lifted Kansas City to a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Angels. … Ocean Springs native Garrett Crochet worked six shutout innings and fanned a career-high 11 with no walks as the Chicago White Sox beat Cleveland 6-3. … MSU product Jordan Westburg drove in the first run of the game with a double and Baltimore went on to beat Arizona 4-2.

10 May


Belhaven University is sitting pretty in the CCS Tournament. The NCAA Division III Blazers won their opener Thursday and have ace Brett Sanchez primed to go today against LaGrange (Ga.) in a winners bracket game at Maryville, Ky. With Colton Sylvester (7-1) tossing a six-hitter and Eli Britt and Hunter Harrell combining for six RBIs, second-seeded Belhaven whipped Huntingdon (Ala.) 8-1 Thursday. … William Carey University is the No. 2 seed behind Mid-America Christian (Okla.) in the four-team NAIA Opening Round tournament the Crusaders are hosting next week at Wheeler Field in Hattiesburg. Blue Mountain Christian is the fifth seed in the five-team Shreveport Bracket hosted by LSU-Shreveport. The top-seeded Pilots feature several Mississippi juco players, including Hinds Community College alum Vantrel Reed, their top hitter at .393 with eight homers and 58 RBIs. … Jackson State’s Myles White was named the SWAC co-hitter of the week after going 9-for-15 with eight RBIs and four runs in the Tigers’ sweep of Mississippi Valley State last weekend. White, who went 0-for-4 in a 5-0 loss at nationally ranked Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday, is batting .346 with 31 RBIs and 36 runs for the 30-17 Tigers. … MUW’s season ended Tuesday with an upset loss to Westminster (Mo.) in in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament at Fulton, Mo. The Owls finished 22-15. … The New York Yankees have claimed ex-Mississippi State pitcher Colby White on waivers from Tampa Bay. White had a 17.61 ERA in nine appearances at Triple-A Durham; the right-hander, whose career ERA is 2.83, missed all of 2022 and a chunk of 2023 after arm surgery. … MSU product J.P. France, recently demoted to Triple-A by Houston, reportedly has a shoulder injury that may sideline him for a lengthy period. An 11-game winner in 2023, he was 0-3 with a 7.46 this season when the Astros sent him down. … Former Southern Miss star Matt Wallner, sent to the minors after a 2-for-25 start with Minnesota, hit his fifth homer for Triple-A St. Paul on Thursday. The lefty slugger is batting .353 with four homers in May. … Ex-Ole Miss standout Jacob Gonzalez, the first player drafted — 15th overall — out of the state in 2023, went 2-for-4 Thursday to boost his average to .306 for High-Class A Winston-Salem in the Chicago White Sox’s chain. Gonzalez, a shortstop, has three homers, 12 RBIs and five steals.

07 May

what a relief

Emmanuel Clase is the headliner in the vaunted Cleveland Guardians bullpen. Nick Sandlin plays an “Also Starring” role — and plays it very well. The former Southern Miss standout got four outs in the sixth and seventh innings on Monday and picked up the win in a 2-1 victory against Detroit. Sandlin is 3-0 with a 2.04 ERA and a save in 19 appearances for the Guardians, who lead the American League Central with a 23-12 record. Clase (0.49 ERA) pitched the ninth for his 11th save. The side-arming Sandlin stranded a runner in the sixth inning on Monday and has allowed just two of 14 inherited runners to score. He has a 0.62 WHIP. A second-round pick by Cleveland in 2018 after a sensational career at USM, Sandlin has a 2.95 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP over 160 career MLB appearances. At USM, he had 20 saves over his first two seasons, moved into the rotation as a junior and went 10-0 with a 1.06, earning All-America honors and the state’s Ferriss Trophy. He went back to the bullpen in pro ball. … Filling in for regular closer James McArthur, ex-Mississippi State star Chris Stratton weathered a shaky ninth inning to notch his second save in Kansas City’s 3-2 win vs. Milwaukee. The surprising Royals are 21-15, tied for second in the AL Central. Stratton, in his first season with KC, is 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 14 games; five of the nine earned runs he has yielded came in one appearance. McArthur, the Ole Miss alum who has seven saves this season, was down Monday, so Stratton — 14 career saves — got the call in the ninth. Aided by a double play, he got through the Brewers’ 3-6 hitters despite walking two. Stratton was also a Ferriss Trophy winner back in 2012, when he was the SEC’s pitcher of the year (as a starter) and later a first-round pick by San Francisco. … It’s “official” in Philadelphia: Former Madison Central High star Spencer Turnbull will move to the bullpen. In his first season with the Phillies, Turnbull is 2-0 with a 1.67 in six starts. But Philadelphia now has five other healthy starters, making a move necessary. Turnbull, who has started all but one game in his 67 career MLB appearances, reportedly would prefer to remain in the rotation. “He can do a lot of different things, because he gives you length, obviously,” Phils manager Rob Thomson told mlb.com. P.S. MSU product Brent Rooker won the AL player of the week award after batting .438 with three homers — two in one inning — and seven RBIs for Oakland in the week ending May 4. Rooker also won a POW award in 2023.

05 May

blast from past

Joining a list that includes Mark McGwire can be pretty impressive, at least when it comes to hitting dingers. Mississippi State alum Brent Rooker blasted two home runs in one inning on Saturday, becoming the first Oakland player to do so since McGwire in 1996. Rooker, born in 1994, told mlb.com he grew up a St. Louis Cardinals fan in Germantown, Tenn., and followed McGwire during the slugger’s time with the Redbirds. “Being able to do anything the same as him is a huge accomplishment, and something that’s really cool for me,” Rooker said. Rooker’s bombs came in a 10-run third inning that propelled the surprising A’s to a 20-4 win over visiting Miami. Oakland is 17-17 with six straight victories. Rooker, a 2023 All-Star who also homered on Friday, is batting .240 with eight homers and 20 RBIs in 22 games, having spent 10 days on the injured list last month. As a BTW: Ex-Ole Miss standout Nick Fortes hit his first homer of the year for the lowly Marlins, 9-26. Also overshadowed by Rooker’s exploits was a four-hit game by another former Bulldogs masher, Nathaniel Lowe, who led Texas to a 15-4 rout of Kansas City. Lowe started the season on the IL and is batting .333 with a homer and four RBIs in 13 games since his return. He picked up two of those RBIs on Saturday. “I’m three weeks late to the party,” he told mlb.com, “so I have to get going.” The Rangers, 18-16 and second in the American League West to Seattle, visit division rival Oakland for a four-game series beginning Monday. P.S. William Carey University beat Blue Mountain Christian for the SSAC Tournament championship, the third tourney title in the last four years for coach Bobby Halford, who has a shelf full of trophies over his 39-year career. The Crusaders (34-14 with eight straight wins) will host an NAIA Opening Round tourney next week. BMC also gets an NAIA bid. … Delta State won an elimination game in the GSC Tournament and will play again today against Lee in Oxford, Ala. … Hinds Community College swept host Northwest Mississippi CC in their MACCC playoff series and advances to next week’s NJCAA Division II Region 23 Tournament in Poplarville. No. 1-ranked East Central, No. 13 Jones and Meridian all won their best-of-3 series openers on Saturday and will play again today.

29 Apr

big knocks

Hunter Hines’ two-run homer in the ninth inning on Sunday lifted Mississippi State to an 8-7 victory and a huge series win at Vanderbilt. The ex-Madison Central High star, who had three big knocks — including two homers — in Saturday’s win, is batting .284 with 12 bombs and 42 RBIs. With five wins in their last six SEC games, the Bulldogs have climbed to 12-9 in the league, 29-15 overall.
Gavin Caston’s two-run double in the third inning Sunday gave Alcorn State a lead and propelled the Braves to 6-1 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff at McGowan Stadium in Lorman. On Saturday, Dillon Brown smacked a go-ahead two-run knock in the fifth inning as the Braves rallied to win 5-4. Alcorn had not won a home game before Saturday and had won only two games all season. The Braves are now 4-34, 3-18 in the SWAC.
Austin Riley, the DeSoto Central product, delivered the winning run for Atlanta on Sunday with a 10th-inning single that beat Cleveland 4-3 at Truist Park. The Braves rallied from a late 3-1 deficit to improve to 19-7, best record in MLB. Riley needed a big hit: He was in a 2-for-22 slide entering Sunday and had just three RBIs in his previous 14 games. He’s at .234 with two homers and 14 RBIs for the year.

28 Apr


Millsaps College’s season ended Saturday in soul-crushing fashion: a 4-3 loss on a walk-off home run that capped a four-run ninth inning for Centre (Ky.), the top seed in the SAA postseason. With the defeat in Game 2 of the best-of-3 playoff series, the the NCAA Division III Majors end the season at 14-27. … Rust’s run in the GCAC Tournament at Smith-Wills Stadium ended with a 21-11 loss to regular season champion Wiley (Texas). The NAIA Bearcats, who went 2-2 in the tournament, finished 16-33. Tougaloo’s season ended in the Jackson tourney on Friday, also with a loss to Wiley; the Bulldogs went 13-35. … Mississippi College’s season ended in a rough manner: The Choctaws were swept in a three-game series at rival Delta State, finishing the year at 20-25, 10-20 in the Division II Gulf South Conference. DSU, which is on to the GSC Tournament next weekend, found enough pitching to win 8-6, 5-3 and 9-2. … Ole Miss did not find enough pitching to win Saturday’s rubber game against nationally ranked Alabama, falling 10-3 in Oxford. The ailing Rebels (23-20, 7-14 SEC) surrendered 30 runs in the three games. Ole Miss plays Mississippi State in the so-called Governor’s Cup game at Trustmark Park in Pearl next Wednesday. … Pearl River Community College beat Northwest CC 7-1 in Poplarville to clinch the MACCC regular season title. The Wildcats, ranked No. 4 in NJCAA Division II, are 46-8, 25-3 in conference, and will host the Region 23 Tournament May 13-17. They’ll be joined by LSU-Eunice and the winners of the MACCC’s four play-in series. … Ex-Southern Miss star Nick Sandlin, a Georgia native, pitched a 1-2-3 11th inning to notch his first career save (in 155 appearances) as Cleveland took down Atlanta 4-2 at Truist Park. Sandlin has a 2.84 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP in 14 games for the first-place Guardians.

27 Apr

right place, right time

Adam Frazier doesn’t always play right field, but when he does … well, on Friday, the former Mississippi State star made one of the best plays of the year in MLB. Starting in right for the first time this season for Kansas City, Frazier took a home run away from Detroit’s Parker Meadows with a leaping snag at the wall, stuck the landing and fired a throw to first base to double off a runner. It was a big momentum play in the third inning of the Royals’ 8-0 win at Comerica Park — and even drew raves (on X) from Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. “He wows me sometimes,” Frazier told mlb.com, “so to wow him, that’s pretty cool.” Frazier, batting just .207 this year, went 1-for-3 Friday with an RBI and two runs for the 17-10 Royals. Typically a second baseman, the 5-foot-10 Frazier was making just the 33rd start of his nine-year career in right field. P.S. The struggling Houston Astros (7-19) sent struggling MSU product J.P. France (0-3, 7.46) to the minors. France won 11 games for Houston in 2023. … Ex-Ole Miss standout Chris Ellis, who last pitched in the majors two years ago, has signed a minor league deal with Arizona. He had previously inked with the independent Long Island Ducks. … Ex-Mississippi College star Blaine Crim, playing at Triple-A Round Rock in the Texas system, smacked a double and two home runs, driving in seven runs for the Express on Friday night. Crim is batting .231 with five homers. … Blaze Jordan, the DeSoto Central High product, hit his second homer and extended his hitting streak to seven games for Double-A Portland (Boston). Jordan is batting .237. … Southern Miss alum Hurston Waldrep allowed just one run in six innings in his second straight quality start for the Double-A Mississippi Braves. After a rocky start this season, Waldrep has allowed just two runs in 12 innings with 10 strikeouts in his last two outings. The 2023 first-round pick by Atlanta is 0-3 with a 5.68 ERA. … In the college ranks: Rust will play an elimination game today (3:30 p.m.) in the GCAC Tournament at Smith-Wills Stadium. The Bearcats will meet the winner of an earlier elimination game between Wiley and Dillard. Unbeaten Talladega awaits in the championship round. Tougaloo was eliminated on Friday. … Millsaps College fell to top-seeded Centre (Ky.) 4-3 in the opener of their SAA best-of-3 playoff series. Majors ace Wil Wood let a 3-0 lead get away in the sixth and seventh innings; Will Norris took the loss.

25 Apr

closing it out

Making his entrance to the strains of “White Horse” by Chris Stapleton, ex-Ole Miss standout James McArthur rode to the rescue Wednesday night for the Kansas City Royals, pitching a scoreless ninth to save a 3-2 win against Toronto. “It brought a lot of energy for me,” McArthur told mlb.com, speaking of the choreographed entrance at Kauffman Stadium, which hasn’t seen a lot of excitement in recent years. It was the sixth save of the season for the 27-year-old right-hander, called “The General” by Royals broadcasters. The surprising Royals are 15-10, second in the American League Central. McArthur, acquired last year from Philadelphia, made his big league debut last June (after five years in the minors) and took over the closer role in September, going 4-for-4 in saves. In 11 appearances this year, the 6-foot-7 McArthur is 6-for-7 in saves with a 2.84 ERA. Mississippi State alum Chris Stratton, one of several off-season signees by KC, pitched a scoreless eighth on Wednesday and trimmed his ERA to 3.00. … Elsewhere on the bump: Spencer Turnbull, the former Madison Central High star, yielded a lone run and struck out eight batters in five innings for Philadelphia but was pulled with a 2-1 lead, which the Phillies’ bullpen squandered in a 7-4 loss to Cincinnati. Turnbull is 2-0 with a 1.33 ERA in five starts for Philly. … Garrett Crochet, the Ocean Springs High product, gave up five runs in four innings and fell to 1-4 with a 6.37 ERA for the woeful Chicago White Sox (3-21), who lost 6-3 to Minnesota. A converted reliever, Crochet had pitched well in his first couple of starts, not so much lately.