08 Jun

cashing in

Since being recalled from the minors by Miami on May 27, ex-Ole Miss star Nick Fortes has gotten just 15 at-bats. Maybe the Marlins should get him some more. Fortes went 2-for-2 with a homer, four RBIs, three runs and two walks in Miami’s 12-2 win over Washington on Tuesday night. The 25-year-old catcher, who made his MLB debut last year, is 7-for-15 this season and is batting .348 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 19 career games. “Just trying to hit a hard line drive,” he told mlb.com about his approach at the plate. Marlins manager Don Mattingly also praised Fortes’ work with rookie pitcher Edward Cabrera, now 2-0 with Fortes behind the plate this year. A fourth-round pick out of Ole Miss in 2018, Fortes rose steadily through the minors, putting up good if not great numbers. He got an extended look last September when the Marlins were evaluating for 2022. They traded for Jacob Stallings to be their regular catcher this year, and Fortes was sent to the minors in spring training. He’s back now — and bidding to stick around. P.S. Mississippi State product Dakota Hudson recorded his second straight strong start (two hits, one run in seven innings) for St. Louis but got no-decision in a game the Cardinals lost to Tampa Bay. Hudson is 4-2, 2.76 ERA, in 11 starts. … Former Southern Miss standout Kirk McCarty, in his second big league appearance, yielded three homers in four innings and took a loss for Cleveland against Texas. Ex-State star Nate Lowe hit one of the homers, his sixth of 2022. … Former MSU slugger Hunter Renfroe returned to Milwaukee’s lineup from the injured list and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in a loss against Philadelphia. Biloxi Shuckers alum Josh Hader, who had not allowed a run this season, blew a save for the first time in almost a year when Alec Bohm hit a two-run homer in the ninth.

04 Oct

these are the moments

The regular season is a wrap. Before the second season starts, here’s a tip of the cap to the best moments of 2021 by a Mississippian in the majors:
Best hit: Tim Anderson’s walk-off home run in the inaugural Field of Dreams Game on Aug. 12. The former East Central Community College star’s blast into the Iowa cornfield will endure as one of the great moments in this or any season.
Best pitch: Spencer Turnbull’s final fastball to Mitch Hanigar, which produced a swing and a miss and completed the Madison Central High product’s no-hitter on May 18. The no-no was the first ever in MLB by a Mississippian (native or school alum).
Best throw: Hunter Renfroe’s laser from deep center field to nail a runner at third base for the final out in a 2-1 Boston win on Sept. 8. It was the second assist of the game for the former Mississippi State star, who also homered to put the Red Sox ahead.
Best debut: Nick Fortes, who singled in his first career at-bat on Sept. 18, hit a home run in his second AB later in that game. The ex-Ole Miss standout was one of six Mississippians who debuted in 2021. Worth noting: George County High alum Justin Steele struck out the first batter he faced, and Delta State alum Trent Giambrone got a pinch-hit single in his first at-bat.

19 Sep

it’s your big debut

He didn’t join the exclusive club of major leaguers who have homered in their first career at-bat, but Nick Fortes did do something special on Saturday. The former Ole Miss standout hit a home run in his second career AB — he singled in his first — for Miami in a 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh. Fortes, a catcher called up on Friday, took former Mississippi Braves right-hander Bryse Wilson deep in the fifth inning, a 413-foot shot. “I had goosebumps and chills down my spine,” said Fortes, who had a gaggle of family and friends watching at loanDepot park. Fortes began this season, his third in pro ball, at Pensacola in the Double-A South before moving to Triple-A Jacksonville. He had seven homers in 330 at-bats for those two clubs. He became one of eight Marlins to homer in his first game. Ex-Mississippi State star Will Clark and Louisville native Marcus Thames are the only Mississippians to homer in their first career at-bat. P.S. Milwaukee, with Biloxi Shuckers alums Devin Williams and Josh Hader getting the win and the save, clinched a playoff berth on Saturday by beating the Chicago Cubs. For the record, George County High product Justin Steele, the Cubs’ starter, got his first career hit (in nine ABs). Steele allowed two runs in four innings and wasn’t part of the decision. The rookie left-hander is 1-3 with a 5.12 ERA in his seven starts this season.

18 Sep

in the spotlight

In his first game since becoming a father, Brent Rooker doubled and homered to help Minnesota cool off Toronto in a key American League game on Friday night. Former Mississippi State standout Rooker came off the paternity list to hit his eighth homer of the year and drive in two runs as the last-place Twins beat the Blue Jays 7-3 and knocked them back to third in the AL wild card race. Corey Dickerson, the ex-Meridian Community College star, had two hits and scored a run for the Blue Jays. … Elsewhere in the playoff chase: MSU product Hunter Renfroe drove in three runs and scored another as AL wild card leader Boston whipped Baltimore 7-1. East Central CC alumnus Tim Anderson went 1-for-3 and scored twice as AL Central leader Chicago thumped Texas 8-0. Former State star Kendall Graveman blew a save — just his third of the season — in the eighth inning, but AL West leader Houston rallied to beat Arizona 4-3 in 10 innings. Former Biloxi Shuckers outfielder Brett Phillips hit a walk-off homer — and celebrated as you might expect only him to do — to give AL East leader Tampa Bay a 7-4 win vs. Detroit. P.S. Ex-Ole Miss star Nick Fortes was called up by Miami on Friday and likely will make his MLB debut today against Pittsburgh. The 24-year-old catcher, a fourth-round pick in 2018, hit .245 with seven homers and 44 RBIs at the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season. The Marlins reportedly want to give him a closer look as they plan for next season. Fortes will be the fifth Mississippian (native or school alum) to debut in 2021 and the 29th to make a big league appearance this season.