01 Apr

just stuff

South Carolina is the SEC leader in home runs, but Mississippi State beat the highly ranked Gamecocks at their own game on Friday night in Starkville. The Bulldogs won their first SEC game of the season, 13-3, behind an 18-hit barrage that included four homers, two by Slate Alford and one each by Hunter Hines and Dakota Jordan. MSU is 16-12, 1-7. South Carolina, which homered once Friday, is 25-3, 7-1. … Meanwhile, Ole Miss fell at Texas A&M and is still seeking its first conference W, and Southern Miss won at Troy to move to 4-3 in the Sun Belt. … Former USM ace Nick Sandlin, working 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief on Friday, notched a win in his first appearance of 2023 with Cleveland, which beat Seattle. .. After getting the win in relief on Thursday, ex-MSU standout Kendall Graveman got knocked out and took the L in the Chicago White Sox’s loss to Houston. Ole Miss alum Lance Lynn pitched into the sixth and stood to get the win until the ChiSox’s bullpen melted down. … Billy Hamilton, the ex-Taylorsville High star, is in Triple-A for the White Sox and went 0-for-3 in his season debut. Other Mississippi-connected ex-big leaguers sent to Triple-A include Mike Mayers, Demarcus Evans and Jonathan Holder. … Former Mississippi Braves Vaughn Grissom and Braden Shewmake played shortstop and second base, respectively, for Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday. Shewmake hit a walk-off, three-run homer in the ninth. Grissom had a hit, scored three times and made a fielding error. … Jones College (26-6, 11-1) continues to rule in the MACCC after bashing Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College 17-4 and 12-0 last Wednesday behind Beau Bryans’ eight RBIs. But hot on the Bobcats’ heels is East Central, which has won seven in a row and stands 9-1 in the conference. ECCC won two one-run games at Copiah-Lincoln on Wednesday. Leighton Jenkins drove in three runs in a 4-3 win, Manny Huffman went 4-for-4 with four RBIs in an 8-7 victory and David Burton saved both games.

31 Mar

opening acts

One of the most disappointing MLB teams in 2022, the Chicago White Sox needed to get off to a good start this season. With the aid of Mississippi products Tim Anderson and Kendall Graveman, they did exactly that on Thursday, beating the world champion Houston Astros 3-2. Anderson, former East Central Community College star, went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run — both in a ninth-inning rally — and Mississippi State product Kendall Graveman earned the win after throwing a scoreless eighth inning. Ole Miss alum Lance Lynn, like Anderson and Graveman a star in the WBC, gets the start for the ChiSox today at Minute Maid Park. Elsewhere on Opening Day, MSU alum Adam Frazier, in his Baltimore debut, went 2-for-4 with three runs and a stolen base as the Orioles beat Boston 10-9. Ex-Bulldogs standout Nathaniel Lowe had a hit, an RBI and a run, all in a nine-run fourth inning that propelled Texas past Philadelphia 11-7. Austin Riley, the former DeSoto Central High star, went 0-for-2 with three walks and an RBI in Atlanta’s 7-2 victory against Washington. Meridian CC product Corey Dickerson was 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter in his Nationals debut. Hunter Renfroe was 0-for-4 (with a nice catch in right field) for the Los Angeles Angels and fellow former State standout Brent Rooker 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter for Oakland in the A’s 2-1 surprising win. P.S. The exhibition game between the Double-A Mississippi Braves and Jackson State scheduled for April 5 has been cancelled, reportedly due to concerns about field conditions at Trustmark Park in Pearl. (Tuesday night’s Southern Miss-Ole Miss game was cancelled in the fourth inning because recently installed infield sod was not holding up, and Belhaven University’s weekend series against Covenant College has been moved to Holmes Community College’s field in Goodman.) The M-Braves-JSU game — billed as the Hank Aaron Tribute Game by the Hank Aaron Sports Academy — was originally slated for Smith-Wills Stadium, home of the Double-A Jackson Mets and Generals from 1975-99. It would have been the first such contest between JSU and a Jackson-area pro team since 1991, when the Generals — a Houston affiliate — beat Jackson State 6-3 in an April exhibition at Smith-Wills. The M-Braves, Atlanta’s Double-A club now in its 19th year at Trustmark Park, open their Southern League season April 7 at home against Biloxi. The Shuckers, Milwaukee’s Double-A club, have slated an exhibition vs. Pearl River Community College on April 5 at MGM Park.

29 Mar

mlb role-playing

Austin Riley is the 3-hole hitter and third baseman for Atlanta, picked by some experts as the 2023 World Series favorite. That’s a key role, perhaps the most important role held by any Mississippi product heading into the new MLB season that launches Thursday. Here are some others of note: Kendall Graveman, the ex-Mississippi State star, is penciled in as the closer for the Chicago White Sox, who are looking to rebound from a disappointing 2022 season. Graveman, replacing Liam Hendriks (cancer treatment) as the bullpen stopper, has a 4.04 career ERA with 16 saves in 28 opps since converting from starter to reliever in 2020. … Nathaniel Lowe, a former State standout, is the first baseman and a middle-of-the-order hitter for Texas, which has spent a lot of money of late and expects to contend for the postseason. Lowe had a breakout year in 2022 (.302, 27 homers, .850 OPS). … Louisville native and former East Central Community College slugger Marcus Thames is the new hitting coach for the Los Angeles Angels. With a lineup featuring Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout and MSU alum Hunter Renfroe, the Angels are fairly desperate to make the playoffs in Ohtani’s potential walk year. Thames worked with the New York Yankees previously, so he knows pressure. … Buck Showalter, the State star of yesteryear, is entering his second season as manager of the New York Mets, another big spender with World Series aspirations. Showalter won manager of the year honors in 2022 — his fourth such honor — but saw his club fall short — again — in the playoffs. … That brings us back to Riley, the ex-DeSoto Central High standout and Mississippi Braves alumnus. He batted .273 with 38 homers and 93 RBIs last season — finishing sixth in MVP voting and winning All Mississippi Baseball’s Cool Papa Bell Award — and will be counted on for similar numbers this year. P.S. Roster news: Former MSU standout Brent Rooker has made Oakland’s opening day roster. The outfielder/DH, who has 10 MLB homers on his ledger, got very limited at-bats with San Diego and Kansas City last year. Cut from the A’s active roster was Ole Miss alum Chad Smith, who debuted with Colorado last season. Right-hander Smith, a 2016 draftee by Miami, posted a 7.50 ERA in 15 games for the Rockies in 2022. Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton did not make the Chicago White Sox’s roster. The veteran outfielder was in spring camp as a minor league invitee. … Pitchers Taylor and Tyler Rogers of the San Francisco Giants are the 10th set of twins to play in the majors and may soon become the fourth set to play for the same team in the same game. They opposed each other in a game last April but are now teammates with the Giants. Among the 10 sets of twins to reach the majors are Jackson natives Stan and Stewart Cliburn. Stan, a catcher, played for the California Angels in 1980 and Stewart, a pitcher, was with the team in 1984-85 and ’88. Both were with the Angels’ Triple-A club in 1986-87, though Stewart was injured during that time. Their dream of becoming the first twins to serve as batterymates in the majors never materialized.

10 Mar

box score browsing

Tim Elko, the former Ole Miss masher, got in a major league spring training game for the first time on Thursday and banged out a double in his lone at-bat against Colombia’s WBC team. Elko was drafted in the 10th round by the Chicago White Sox in 2022 after helping Ole Miss win the College World Series. The big first baseman/third baseman hit a school-record 24 homers last year and then hit five in his pro debut, playing at the rookie and Low-Class A levels in the White Sox’s system. He’ll likely play at Low-A Kannapolis this season. … Jordan Westburg, a Mississippi State product, went 2-for-2 for Baltimore, boosting his Grapefruit League average to .300 (6-for-20). Westburg, one of the Orioles’ top prospects, is in camp as a non-roster player after reaching Triple-A in 2022. … Colt Keith, the ex-Biloxi High star and a highly rated Detroit prospect, was 0-for-1 with a walk and a run and is batting .333 (3-for-9) this spring as a non-roster invitee. … Demarcus Evans, the Petal High product and one-time big leaguer, threw an inning and gave up a home run for the New York Yankees against Boston. Evans is trying to win a spot in the bullpen as a non-roster invitee. … Dakota Hudson, the ex-State standout, threw four shutout innings as the starter for St. Louis against Nicaragua’s WBC club, and fellow former Bulldogs hurler and MLB veteran Chris Stratton yielded a run in his one inning. … Konnor Pilkington, another ex-State pitcher, gave up four runs in 2 1/3 innings for Cleveland against San Diego and took the loss in the Cactus League contest. … And Ethan Small, yet another former Bulldogs ace, allowed two runs and took an L in an inning of work for Milwaukee vs. San Francisco. Small, once a top-rated prospect who had a cup of coffee in The Show last year, has a 7.20 ERA in four appearances this spring.

09 Mar

steal this bag

To no one’s surprise, stolen bases are up significantly in spring training games this year. With a pitch clock, new pickoff rules and bigger bases, this was bound to happen. And this is great news for players whose main tool is speed. A shining example: former Taylorsville High star Billy Hamilton. Hamilton, 32 and several years removed from being a big league regular, is in the Chicago White Sox’s camp as a non-roster invitee. Thanks to the MLB changes for 2023, he stands a good chance of making the club out of spring training as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. If Hamilton isn’t the fastest player in baseball, he’s in the top five. He famously swiped 155 bases in a minor league season and is the all-time MLB steals leader among Mississippi natives with 324. He has an 82 percent career success rate. He stole 10 bases in 11 attempts last season, when he got just one hit in 20 at-bats while with Miami and Minnesota. He is 1-for-10 as a hitter this spring but is 2-for-2 in steals and has scored four runs in eight games. When he gets on, he can get over and get in — and have a major impact this season in a limited role. … Tim Anderson, the White Sox shortstop and former East Central Community College star, also figures to see a jump in his stolen base numbers this season. Anderson went 13-for-13 last year, when he played in just 79 games because of injuries, and has 104 steals in his seven big league seasons. His season-high is 26, which he could certainly threaten in 2023.

08 Mar

happy trails

Mitch Moreland, one of the Magnolia State’s most prolific home run hitters, has retired from major league baseball, the Amory native and ex-Mississippi State star told a Boston radio station on Tuesday. Moreland hit 186 homers over his 12 years in the big leagues, ranking sixth on the state’s all-time list. The lefty-hitting first baseman won a World Series with Boston in 2018, also earned an All-Star Game selection that season and won a Gold Glove with Texas in 2016. He batted .251 with 618 RBIs and compiled a 10.9 WAR for his career, which spanned 2010-21. He did not play in 2022. He is currently in Red Sox spring camp working as an invited instructor. P.S. Here’s the top 10 home run hitters among Mississippi natives: Ellis Burks 352, Dave Parker 339, George Scott 271, Chet Lemon 215, Brian Dozier 192, Mitch Moreland 186, Dmitri Young 171, Bill Melton 160, Frank White 160, Hunter Renfroe 157. Renfroe, from Crystal Springs, is the only one still active.

27 Feb

spring fling

He is the top pitching prospect in the New York Yankees’ system, and on Sunday, in his big league spring debut, Will Warren gave Yankees brass and fans a sneak preview of what he might soon bring to The Show. The former Jackson Prep standout from Brandon threw two scoreless innings against Atlanta in a 7-0 victory at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. The Braves didn’t trot out their A-team on Sunday, but that really shouldn’t diminish Warren’s performance. The 23-year-old right-hander — the Yankees’ No. 8 prospect overall — yielded the only hit the Braves got but faced the minimum six batters, throwing 20 of 34 pitches for strikes. Drafted out of Southeastern Louisiana in 2021, Warren made his pro debut last summer and reached Double-A, winning seven games for Eastern League champ Somerset. Overall, he was 9-9 with a 3.91 ERA in 26 starts. Unveiling what has been called a “unicorn slider,” he posted 125 strikeouts and 42 walks in 129 innings. “My goals for next year are to keep having success,” Warren told nj.com last month. He isn’t on the 40-man roster, will work mainly in minor league games this spring and likely will begin 2023 back at Somerset. Sunday’s outing was a great kick-start to his year. … A bundle of Mississippians played in the opening weekend of spring training games. Notable performances from Sunday: Hunter Renfroe homered for the Los Angeles Angels; Dakota Hudson threw two scoreless innings for St. Louis; Corey Dickerson went 2-for-2 for Washington; Jordan Westburg had a hit and RBI for Baltimore; and Brent Rooker was 1-for-3 for Oakland.

25 Feb

a few atta boys

Jesse Caver: Jackson State’s senior right-hander threw eight shutout innings, yielding four hits, to lead the Tigers to a 3-0 win over New Orleans in the MLB Andre Dawson Classic on Friday. Caver, a 2022 transfer from Lipscomb, is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in three games for the 3-2 Tigers. Of note: Junior Jonah Posey, an East Mississippi Community College product, pitched the ninth for the save and has a 0.00 ERA in three appearances, and Ty Hill homered for JSU.
Justin Foscue: The Mississippi State alum homered in his first at-bat for Texas on opening day in spring training. Foscue, who has 32 minor league bombs in two seasons, is in Rangers camp in Arizona as a non-roster invitee.
Taylor Broadway: The ex-Ole Miss closer threw a scoreless inning for Boston in a spring exhibition game against Northeastern in Florida. Broadway, in camp as an NRI, has a 4.20 ERA in two minor league campaigns.
Sean Smith: The Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College sophomore is second in NJCAA Division II with 24 RBIs and tied for second in homers with seven for the 4-6 Bulldogs. Smith, a Pascagoula native, is batting .500.
P.S. All 30 MLB teams are scheduled to play today in Florida and Arizona. Former Ole Miss star Lance Lynn will start for the Chicago White Sox, and ex-Rebels standout Mike Mayers is slated to start for Kansas City, his new club. Some other faces in new places who could make appearances today: Hunter Renfroe with the Los Angeles Angels, Corey Dickerson with Washington, Adam Frazier with Baltimore and Brent Rooker with Oakland.

19 Feb

going camping

Leather is popping. Wood is cracking. It’s that time again. Here’s the list of Mississippians (natives, prep and college alums) on 40-man rosters as spring training camps open in Florida and Arizona:
Tim Anderson (East Central CC), Chicago White Sox; Corey Dickerson (Meridian CC), Washington; Nick Fortes (Ole Miss), Miami; Adam Frazier (Mississippi State), Baltimore; Nathaniel Lowe (MSU), Texas; Hunter Renfroe (MSU), Los Angeles Angels; Austin Riley (DeSoto Central HS), Atlanta; Brent Rooker (MSU), Oakland; Matt Wallner (Southern Miss), Minnesota.
Garrett Crochet (Ocean Springs), Chicago White Sox; J.P. France (MSU), Houston; Kendall Graveman (MSU), Chicago White Sox; Dakota Hudson (MSU), St. Louis; Lance Lynn (Ole Miss), Chicago White Sox; James McArthur (Ole Miss), Philadelphia; Konnor Pilkington (MSU), Cleveland; Drew Pomeranz (Ole Miss), San Diego; Ryan Rolison (Ole Miss), Colorado; Michael Rucker (Columbus), Chicago Cubs; Nick Sandlin (Southern Miss), Cleveland; Ethan Small (MSU), Milwaukee; Justin Steele (Lucedale), Chicago Cubs; Chris Stratton (MSU), St. Louis; Spencer Turnbull (Madison Central HS), Detroit; Colby White (MSU), Tampa Bay; Brandon Woodruff (MSU), Milwaukee.
Non-roster invitees:
Gavin Collins (MSU), Tampa Bay; Blaine Crim (Mississippi College), Texas; Justin Foscue (MSU), Texas; Billy Hamilton (Taylorsville), Chicago White Sox; Colt Keith (Biloxi High), Detroit; Grae Kessinger (UM), Houston; Jake Mangum (MSU), Miami; Chuckie Robinson (USM), Cincinnati; Jordan Westburg (MSU), Baltimore.
Taylor Broadway (UM), Boston; DeMarcus Evans (Petal), New York Yankees; J.T. Ginn (MSU), Oakland; Jonathan Holder (MSU), Los Angeles Angels; Zac Houston (MSU), New York Yankees; Mike Mayers (UM), Kansas City.

01 Feb


Former Mississippi State standout Jordan Westburg is ranked the No. 74 prospect in the minors by MLB Pipeline and is the only Mississippian on the list. The infielder, who reached Triple-A last summer and belted 27 homers at two levels, is one of eight Baltimore prospects in the Top 100. Atlanta is the only organization without a single player in the Top 100. … The Braves’ list of non-roster invitees to big league spring training includes a host of 2022 Mississippi Braves, among them outfielders Justin Dean and Cody Milligan, infielder Luke Waddell and pitchers Jared Shuster, Dylan Dodd and Victor Vodnik. … Ex-Biloxi High star Colt Keith, regarded as one of the top third base prospects in the minors, received a non-roster invite to Detroit’s major league camp, as did outfielder Justyn-Henry Malloy, who played for the M-Braves last season before being traded. … MSU alum Justin Foscue and Mississippi College product Blaine Crim have received non-roster invitations to Texas’ big league camp. … Taylor Broadway, a former Ole Miss closer, is on Boston’s NRI list. Traded from the Chicago White Sox to the Red Sox last summer, the 2021 draftee reached Double-A. … Tampa Bay signed minor league free agent Gavin Collins, a former State standout, and invited him to big league camp. Catcher/third baseman Collins, 27, a 2016 draftee by Cleveland, played in the Guardians’ system in 2022. … Former Jackson Senators pitcher/coach Jeff Ware has been promoted to Toronto’s big league staff as assistant pitching coach. … Lindy’s 2023 preseason magazine rates Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez as the No. 3 draft prospect for this summer. Ex-Southern Miss pitcher Hurston Waldrep, now at Florida, is No. 17 on that 50-player chart, and Magnolia Heights shortstop Cooper Pratt is No. 46. P.S. NAIA member William Carey University, originally slated to open Mississippi’s college season on Feb. 2, will instead debut on Saturday with a doubleheader against Campbellsville in Hattiesburg. … On Friday, weather permitting, NCAA Division II Mississippi College hosts Arkansas-Monticello, NAIA Blue Mountain hosts Bethel and NAIA Rust visits Tuskegee.