26 Jun

up-date in arms

Surely there are Oklahoma players and fans wondering this today: How can Ole Miss possibly top the brilliant pitching performance of Jack Dougherty, Mason Nichols and Josh Mallitz on Saturday, which followed the brilliant pitching performance of Dylan DeLucia on Thursday? How deep is that well? Heads up Sooners, ’cause here comes Hunter Elliott, who’ll start Game 2 of the College World Series with the national title in the Rebels’ grasp. Elliott, the freshman left-hander from Tupelo, has, in his last four starts, beaten LSU, Southern Miss and Arkansas and pitched masterfully in a no-decision against Miami. He is 5-3, 2.70 ERA, on the season. And he’ll have Rebel Nation roaring with every strike he throws in Omaha today. … The Houston Astros’ three-man no-hitter against the New York Yankees on Saturday marked the first time the Yanks had been no-hit since June 11, 2003, when Holmes Community College product Roy Oswalt and former Jackson Generals star Billy Wagner started and finished, respectively, a six-man no-no for the Astros at the old Yankee Stadium. … Former Ole Miss standout Lance Lynn’s return to the Chicago White Sox’s rotation has not exactly sparked a team resurgence (see previous post). Lynn, coming off knee surgery, is 1-1 with a 6.19 ERA in his three starts, and the team is 6-6 since his return. He was roughed up Saturday by Baltimore. In 16 innings, Lynn has yielded 20 hits and three walks. … Mississippi State alum Ethan Small, bidding for another shot in The Show, threw seven strong innings for Nashville on Saturday, leading Milwaukee’s Triple-A club to a 2-1 win against Gwinnett. Small (4-3, 3.18) allowed three hits and one run and punched out 10, getting rehabbing big leaguer Eddie Rosario twice. … Jackson Prep alum Will Warren had the “unicorn slider” (see previous post) working Saturday, hurling 5 1/3 shutout innings in a win for Double-A Somerset in the Yankees’ chain. The right-hander allowed four hits and three walks with seven K’s. There is speculation, per MLB Trade Rumors, that the Yankees might use Warren as trade bait for a big league arm.

24 Jun

more to come?

Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco’s first comment from Thursday’s postgame press conference summed it up nicely: “Just wow.” Wow captures the performance by junior right-hander Dylan DeLucia, who threw a four-hit shutout to beat Arkansas 2-0 and propel the Rebels into the College World Series best-of-3 final. Appropriately, DeLucia punched out the last batter, his seventh K of the day. Wow. The Rebels and the throng of UM fans at Charles Schwab Field went wild. “It’s amazing,” DeLucia said in a postgame interview on ESPN. “I don’t even have kind of words for it right now. It’s a blessing.” It was the eighth win of this remarkable season for DeLucia and the eighth win of this remarkable postseason for the Rebels. But pump the brakes for a minute. Eight is not enough. It’ll take two more to win the national title, to match archrival Mississippi State’s accomplishment from a year ago. Next up is Oklahoma, which is on a run essentially as amazing as the Rebels’. Unranked in preseason, pegged to finish fifth in the Big 12, OU went 15-9 in the league and won the conference tournament. The Sooners then took down Florida in Gainesville in the regionals, beat No. 4 national seed Virginia Tech in the Super Regional and stand 3-0 in Omaha with two wins over No. 5 seed Texas A&M. That deserves a wow. Led by Tanner Treadway (.488 in the NCAAs), OU can rake as well as Ole Miss. The Rebels might have an edge in arms: They have allowed just 2.2 runs per game in the NCAAs. Will that pitching hold up this weekend? The Rebels need two more W’s to put a final wow on this season.

23 Jun

down on farm

It was a quiet day for the few but proud Mississippians active in the majors. In Triple-A, however, it was a different story on Wednesday: Former Southern Miss standout Chuckie Robinson went 3-for-4 with his first Triple-A home run in Louisville’s loss to Iowa. Robinson, a good defensive catcher, started this season with Cincinnati’s International League club, was sent down to Double-A Chattanooga, then bumped back up a few days ago after hitting .276 in 31 games with the Lookouts. Delta State product Trent Giambrone, who had a cup of coffee in the big leagues in 2021, went 0-for-5 for Iowa, the Chicago Cubs affiliate. … Gulfport’s Bobby Bradley, who started this season in Cleveland, hit a pair of homers — doubling his season total — for the Indians’ Columbus club, which lost an IL game to Omaha. Bradley is batting .202. Ex-Mississippi State star Konnor Pilkington, who also has some time in The Show this year, gave up five runs in four innings as the Clippers’ starter but did not take the loss. USM product Nick Sandlin has joined the Clippers’ bullpen, sent down Monday by the Indians despite a 2.98 ERA, but didn’t work Wednesday. … Former MSU standout and erstwhile big leaguer Brent Rooker went 2-for-4, boosting his average to .281, for El Paso, San Diego’s Pacific Coast League team. … Former Ole Miss standout Mike Mayers, recently demoted by the Los Angeles Angels, made a rare start, yielding one run in four innings for Salt Lake in a PCL loss to Reno. Mayers has a 10.57 ERA in three Triple-A games. … MSU alum Jacob Robson, who made his MLB debut last year, went 0-for-2 but swiped his 12th base and scored a run for Toledo, Detroit’s IL affiliate, in a win against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Robson is batting .206. … Ex-Bulldogs star Jordan Westburg was 1-for-5 with an RBI for Norfolk and is batting .365 since his recent promotion to Triple-A by Baltimore. Ole Miss product Aaron Barrett notched a hold for Philadelphia’s Lehigh Valley club, which lost that game to the Tides in the ninth inning. … Rehabbing big leaguer Corey Dickerson, the former Meridian Community College standout, went 0-for-2 in his third game with St. Louis’ Memphis affiliate. Dickerson, 3-for-7 with the Redbirds, appears close to a return to the Cardinals’ roster.

21 Jun

magic in the air

There was magic in Omaha, where Ole Miss dispatched Arkansas 13-5 Monday night and is, to borrow a phrase from Hall of Famer Red Barber, sitting in the catbird seat at 2-0 in its bracket of the College World Series. Another strong start from Hunter Elliott, another home run from Tim Elko and a four-hit, four-run game from Justin Bench carried the Rebels to their seventh straight postseason victory. They are riding a wave that began on Selection Monday, when the NCAA handed them a regional bid that was far from certain. As coach Mike Bianco recently said, “When our name was called — I’ve been there for 21 of these and 18 times our name was called — I don’t remember any of those 18 times ever seeing that type of emotion from our team.”
Former Rebels star Lance Lynn, perhaps drawing on the Omaha vibe, went five innings (three runs) to launch the Chicago White Sox to an 8-7 win over Toronto. It was Lynn’s second start of 2022 after a long stint on the injured list. Former Mississippi State standout Kendall Graveman, who knows a little bit about Omaha (see 2013), also got in on the act for the White Sox, throwing a scoreless eighth inning for his 13th hold.
There was some magic, too, in Atlanta, where Orlando Arcia, one of the original Biloxi Shuckers, delivered a game-winning hit for the surging Braves, scoring pinch-runner Phil Gosselin, a Mississippi Braves star from 10 years ago, with the clincher in a 2-1 win against San Francisco. Arcia, the fill-in for Ozzie Albies at second base, is batting .338 this season with 13 RBIs and two walk-offs. Gosselin, called up when Albies was injured, was originally drafted by the Braves and bounced through six other organizations before returning this year.

18 Jun

whatever happened to …

Jacob Lindgren, the former Mississippi State star, is pitching for the Kansas City Monarchs in the independent American Association. The 29-year-old left-hander has a 2.25 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 16 innings out of the bullpen. Lindgren zipped up to the big leagues in 2015, one year after being drafted by the New York Yankees, but was knocked off course by numerous injuries. His seven MLB appearances seven years ago are all he has made.
Cody Reed, the Northwest Mississippi Community College product, has been on the injured list (a common theme here) all season at Triple-A Durham in Tampa Bay’s system. The lefty, 29, made seven appearances for the Rays in 2021 and has a 5.22 career ERA in 65 MLB games.
Aaron Barrett, the veteran pro from Ole Miss, is pitching (15.00-plus ERA) for Triple-A Lehigh Valley in the Philadelphia chain. Barrett, 34, has a 4.01 career ERA in the big leagues and won a ring with the 2019 Washington Nationals.
Jonathan Holder, ex-MSU standout, has been on the injured list all year at Triple-A Iowa in the Chicago Cubs’ system. The 29-year-old right-hander pitched in just two minor league games in 2021. He has a 4.01 career ERA in MLB, last appearing in 2020 with the Yankees.
Jacob Waguespack, Ole Miss alum, is in Japan, where the 28-year-old righty is 1-3, 4.54 ERA, in seven games for Orix of the Japan Pacific League. He has 27 games (5.08 ERA) on his MLB resume, all with Toronto in 2019-20.
Cody Carroll, the former Southern Miss star, has worked in 12 games (9.00 ERA) for Triple-A Sacramento in San Francisco’s system. Carroll, 29, made 18 big league appearances with Baltimore from 2018-20.
James McArthur, an Ole Miss product who made the Phillies’ 40-man roster in the off-season, is 2-6, 5.00, for Double-A Reading in his second tour at that level.
J.T. Ginn, the former second-round pick out of State, is on the injured list at Double-A Midland, having made only five appearances (6.48 ERA) for the Oakland affiliate. Ginn was traded from the New York Mets to the A’s for Chris Bassitt during spring training.
Cole Gordon, ex-MSU standout, is on the injured list with the Mets’ Triple-A Syracuse club; he has pitched just two innings in 2022. The right-hander has a 3.51 ERA over three minor league seasons.
Jared Johnson, an Atlanta draftee out of Smithville High in 2019, has been on the injured list all season at Low-A Augusta. He posted a 2-6 record, 5.16 ERA, in 15 games in the low minors last year.

17 Jun

there and here

For what it’s worth — probably not much — 247sports.com predicts that Ole Miss will last just three games in the College World Series, beating Auburn, then losing to Arkansas and Stanford. Saturday’s opener against Auburn does loom large. The teams’ mid-March meeting doesn’t provide much of a gauge. The Rebels won 13-6 and 15-2 (in the rubber game) and lost 19-5. Neither of UM’s emergent aces — Dylan DeLucia and Hunter Elliott — started in that series, though both pitched well in relief in the wins. The Rebels’ pitching depth beyond those two and closer Brandon Johnson, which held up nicely in the regional and Super Regional, will be tested in Omaha. … Up in the Cape Cod League, Kellum Clark is off to a hot start for Wareham. The Mississippi State sophomore from Brandon went 3-for-5 with three doubles and three RBIs in a win on Thursday and is 4-for-10 in three games in the elite summer league. … The slumping Mississippi Braves could use some spark, and there’s a player at High-Class A Rome bidding for a promotion to the Double-A club. Shortstop Vaughn Grissom, a top 10 prospect in Atlanta’s system, is batting .288 with eight homers, 39 RBIs and 12 steals for the R-Braves. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Grissom hit two grand slams in a 4-for-7 effort on Thursday. … MSU alum Jordan Westburg is batting .414 with three homers and nine RBIs in his first seven games for Triple-A Norfolk in Baltimore’s system. Wonder if the awful Orioles might give him a look later this summer? … Meridian Community College product Corey Dickerson went 1-for-3 with a homer for Triple-A Memphis on Thursday in his first rehab assignment for St. Louis. Dickerson was batting .194 for the Cardinals when he injured a hamstring on June 4. … East Central CC product Tim Anderson is 4-for-11 in three games for Triple-A Charlotte on his rehab assignment. Anderson, who went down with a groin injury on May 30, was batting .356 in 40 games for the Chicago White Sox. … Hunter Renfroe is known for his power bat and cannon arm — not his wheels. The ex-State standout, playing for Milwaukee, tried to score from first base on a hit into the right-field corner against the New York Mets on Thursday. Didn’t work out. He was cut down for the second out in the ninth inning of the Brewers’ 5-4 loss at CitiField.

16 Jun

prospecting at petco

The state’s high school player of the year and a handful of Mississippi State players are among the 255 prospects taking part in this week’s MLB Draft Combine at Petco Park in San Diego. Jackson Academy star Dakota Jordan is one of two Mississippi high school players at the combine, joined by Emaarion Boyd from South Panola. MSU alums Logan Tanner, Landon Sims (recovering from spring Tommy John surgery), Kamren James and Jackson Fristoe are also there, along with Southern Miss’ Tyler Stuart and Northeast Mississippi Community College’s Colby Holcombe. Three Ole Miss players — Hayden Dunhurst, Derek Diamond and T.J. McCants — are on the list of invitees, but, of course, they have other business to attend to in Omaha. MLB Network will televise portions of the workouts today and Friday beginning at 11 a.m. The MLB draft starts on July 17. Sims, who missed most of the 2022 season after helping the Bulldogs win the national title in 2021, is pegged to go 35th overall to Kansas City by MLB Pipeline in its latest mock draft; the right-hander is the only state player projected to go on the first day. … Holcombe, a State commit, is one of the most intriguing players at the combine. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound right-hander from Alabama went 7-3 with a 2.60 ERA in 12 starts for Northeast, striking out 115 batters in 65 2/3 innings. P.S. MSU product Nathaniel Lowe was part of a history-making occurrence on Wednesday but not in a desirable way. Lowe, playing for Texas, was the first strikeout victim in both of the immaculate innings recorded by Houston pitchers. It’s a rare feat: nine pitches, all strikes, three strikeouts. The Astros’ Luis Garcia and Phil Maton turned the trick, reportedly the first time an MLB team has done it twice in the same game. To his credit, Lowe is batting .276 with eight homers for the Rangers.

14 Jun

give it time

Figuring things out at the Double-A level can take time. Michael Harris II, who jumped to the big leagues after 43 games with the Mississippi Braves, is an exception to the rule. Much more common is the experience of a player like C.J. Alexander, the M-Braves’ current third baseman. You could call 2022 Alexander’s junior year in Double-A, and he seems to be figuring things out after a couple of uneven seasons. Alexander, 25, is batting .267 with 11 homers, 27 RBIs and eight steals for the M-Braves, who begin a six-game homestand tonight at Trustmark Park against Birmingham. Alexander is an Indiana native who played at State College of Florida and was drafted in the 20th round by Atlanta in 2018. He reached Mississippi in 2019 but batted just .103 in 24 games. After the year without a season in 2020, he returned to Pearl last year and helped the M-Braves win a pennant, hitting 10 homers but batting just .197. He still needs some polish on defense (10 errors in 41 games at third), but the bat has definitely perked up this summer. He has hit all of his 11 homers in May and June. Once a Top 30 prospect in the Braves’ system, Alexander may be working his way back into that club. P.S. Ex-Ole Miss star Taylor Broadway, a 2021 draftee by the Chicago White Sox, is on Birmingham’s roster. The right-hander, who had a nice debut pro season, is struggling at the Double-A level in 2022, with a 6.95 ERA in 19 appearances.

13 Jun

to the rescue?

Lance Lynn won’t come riding in on a white horse tonight for the Chicago White Sox, but he might as well be. The former Ole Miss star, the White Sox’s most effective starter in 2021, has been out all season with a knee injury. The 35-year-old right-hander gets the ball tonight at Detroit for a scuffling team that needs a rescue. Here’s how a headline in the Chicago Tribune summed up the situation: “It’s up to Lance Lynn to save the Chicago White Sox’s season — and it begins tonight in Detroit.” The White Sox, favorites in the American League Central, are 27-31. They’ve been hit hard by injuries, not the least of which was Lynn’s. He made three rehab starts at Triple-A Charlotte and allowed 10 runs in 10 innings. But the ChiSox need him. Tonight and beyond. Lynn, the 39th overall pick in the MLB draft out of Oxford back in 2008, is 115-77 with a 3.48 career ERA. He won 11 games with a 2.68 last year, when he was a Cy Young Award finalist. He’s a gamer. He’ll give it all he’s got, for sure. But can he save the White Sox’s season? P.S. Chicago’s other team, the rebuilding Cubs, is also struggling at 23-36. They’ll give the ball tonight to young lefty Justin Steele, the former George County High standout who is 1-5, 4.79. He’s had some good moments but not enough of them. And he always seems to draw a tough matchup. Tonight at Wrigley Field, he faces the 37-win San Diego Padres and Yu Darvish.

13 Jun

look who’s back

Regardless of which school you root for, you have to be impressed by what the collective bunch has done in baseball. Ole Miss is going to the College World Series. Nineteen times in the last 66 years, Mississippi has sent one of its NCAA Division I schools to Omaha, with Mississippi State winning it all in 2021 in its 12th visit. It ain’t easy to get to Omaha. The postseason, starting with conference tournaments, is a grinder. Sixty-four teams get into the NCAAs; eight get to Omaha. Five No. 1 seeds didn’t get out of their regional this year. The overall No. 1 seed (Tennessee) just lost in the Super Regional. Southern Miss, a regional host, survived a five-game dogfight to advance but seemingly had nothing left for Ole Miss in the Hattiesburg Super Regional, failing to score a run in two games. So Ole Miss, which barely made the NCAA field after a mercurial regular season, is Omaha-bound as a regional 3-seed. This will be the Rebels’ sixth trip, second under Mike Bianco, the school’s all-time winningest coach who nevertheless has taken a lot of heat for his teams’ postseason shortcomings. But what’s past is past. Bianco’s current club may have caught lightning in a bottle this postseason. They’ve pitched. They’ve hit. They’ve won five straight, practically in a stroll. It figures to get tougher in Omaha, but would you bet against them? It’ll be interesting to see how UM fans turn out at the CWS. MSU fans took over the ballpark last year, playing a large role in the Bulldogs’ success. That first D-I natty was a big deal for the Magnolia State. Another would be no less special.