05 Aug

eye on …

Justin Foscue looks ready to take the next step on the minor league ladder. The ex-Mississippi State standout rapped two doubles and a homer and drove in three runs for Double-A Frisco on Thursday night. With 10 hits, including three home runs, in his last 12 games, the 23-year-old infielder is batting .281 with seven homers and 48 RBIs in his first full Double-A campaign. He is rated Texas’ No. 4 prospect in the new MLB Pipeline rankings. He has played mostly second base this season but also has seen some time at third. Foscue was drafted 14th overall in the 2020 draft that followed the pandemic-shortened college season; only two Bulldogs position players have been picked higher: Will Clark (No. 2 in 1985) and Hunter Renfroe (No. 13, 2013). Foscue is batting .279 overall with 24 bombs in his two pro seasons. It’ll be interesting to see who gets to the big leagues first, Foscue or his former State keystone mate Jordan Westburg, Baltimore’s No. 5 prospect now in Triple-A. P.S. Brent Rooker, traded from San Diego to Kansas City, hit his first home run for Triple-A Omaha on Thursday. The former State star has 20 homers on the season. … MSU product and veteran big leaguer Jonathan Holder has been assigned to Triple-A Iowa in the Chicago Cubs’ system after a brief rehab assignment in rookie ball. He has been on the injured list all season.

15 Jul

going places

Promoted to Triple-A St. Paul by Minnesota, Matt Wallner went 0-for-4 in his debut with the Saints on Thursday. On Saturday, the former Southern Miss slugger will be in Los Angeles, where he is slated to play in the All-Star Futures Game at Dodger Stadium with other top prospects. In his last game at Double-A Wichita on Wednesday, Wallner, the Twins’ No. 8-rated prospect, put up a 4-for-4 with four RBIs and three runs. For the year at Wichita, he hit .299 with 21 homers, 64 RBIs and eight steals. The 6-foot-5, lefty-hitting outfielder leads all Twins players in homers in 2022 while also improving his plate discipline. In 278 at-bats in his first Double-A season, he had 107 strikeouts, 62 walks and a .436 on-base percentage. “Just trying to take my walks when I can and just try to be more selective on pitches to drive the ball more and hit for more power,” Wallner told mlb.com. “I think it’s helped the average, as well.” Wallner joins an impressive list of Mississippi products who have participated in the Futures Game, including Billy Hamilton, Hunter Renfroe, Nathaniel Lowe, Dakota Hudson and Ethan Small. P.S. USM product Kirk McCarty has been reclaimed by Cleveland off waivers from Baltimore, which claimed the rookie left-hander off waivers from the Guardians last week. McCarty is 0-2, 9.00 ERA, in three MLB games with Cleveland, which assigned him to Triple-A Columbus, where he has spent most of this season. … In keeping with the USM theme, former Golden Eagles star Reed Trimble, on the injured list (shoulder surgery) all season, was assigned to Baltimore’s Florida Complex League club, going 0-for-3 in his Thursday debut. Trimble was a second-round supplemental draft pick (65th overall) in 2021 and batted .200 with eight RBIs and 14 runs in 22 games in the low minors.

14 Jul

twin streaks

Seattle stretched its win streak to 10 games on Wednesday with some major contributions from Mississippi State product Adam Frazier. Meanwhile, former George County High star Justin Steele, the Chicago Cubs’ starter on Wednesday, failed in his effort to halt Baltimore’s win streak, which also went to 10 games. In the opener of a doubleheader at Washington, Frazier went 2-for-4 with a home run and threw out a runner at the plate from right field in the Mariners’ 6-4 victory. In Game 2, Frazier went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base and had a hand in two double plays at second base in a 2-1 win. An All-Star in 2021, Frazier has not had a good first season with Seattle (.229, three homers, 23 RBIs) but is showing signs of heating up (.346 in his last seven games). At Wrigley Field, Steele, just off the paternity list, gave up three runs on four hits in the first inning and wound up allowing four runs all told in six innings against the Orioles. It was a bad omen when the first batter of the game, Cedric Mullins, lined a single off Steele’s left hip. The loss in the 7-1 game dropped Steele to 3-6, 4.15 ERA, on the year. He was 2-0 with a sub-3.00 ERA over his previous six starts before running into the suddenly red-hot O’s. P.S. Interesting stat: Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton does not have a hit or a walk in nine games for Miami but has scored six times and swiped three bags. He scored twice in the Marlins’ 5-4 comeback win against Pittsburgh. … Ex-MSU star Brent Rooker returned to Triple-A El Paso on Wednesday and promptly hit homers No. 15 and 16. He was 0-for-7 in his brief stay with San Diego. … Atlanta prospect Vaughn Grissom hit his first Double-A homer on Wednesday at Pearl’s Trustmark Park and is 6-for-10 in two games with the Mississippi Braves.

06 Jul

names in the news

Former Southern Miss star Kirk McCarty has been claimed off waivers by Baltimore, added to the 40-man roster and optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. Left-hander McCarty was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in three appearances as a rookie with Cleveland this season. … USM product Nick Sandlin was recalled from Triple-A by Cleveland on Tuesday and gave up a couple of runs in a loss to Detroit. He was sent down in late June despite a 2.98 ERA through his first 19 games. … Meridian Community College alum Corey Dickerson has begun rehab assignment 2.0 at Triple-A Memphis in the St. Louis system. Dickerson’s first rehab was shut down after two games. He went on the injured list June 5 with a calf injury, batting .194 for the Cardinals at the time. … Former Mississippi State teammates Justin Foscue and Jordan Westburg, both 2020 draftees, are ranked in MLB Pipeline’s new Top 100 minor league prospects list. Foscue, now in Texas’ system, is No. 63, Westburg (Baltimore) No. 96. Foscue is in Double-A; Westburg already has reached Triple-A. … Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez, Rebels pitcher Hunter Elliott and Southern Miss pitchers Tanner Hall and Hurston Waldrep made the cut for the Collegiate National Team. Team USA, managed by UM coach Mike Bianco, is playing in the Honkbalweek Haarlem tournament in The Netherlands, opening against Japan on Saturday. (Waldrep has put his name in the transfer portal at USM.)

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.

10 Jun

on the rise

Baltimore has put Jordan Westburg, the former Mississippi State standout, on a fast track in the minors, and he is keeping up the pace. The No. 30 overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft, Westburg is 5-for-9 in two games at Triple-A Norfolk. He hit his first homer at the new level on Thursday night. Westburg, who has played shortstop and third base this season, batted .247 with nine homers and 32 RBIs at Double-A Bowie before the Orioles moved him up. He hit .285 with 15 homers and 79 RBIs at three levels in 2021, his first pro season. MLB Pipeline ranks Westburg as the Orioles’ No. 6 prospect. … Ex-State star Justin Foscue, who was drafted 14th overall in 2020 by Texas, hit a tape-measure homer for Double-A Frisco on Thursday, the ball leaving the stadium and landing in a parking lot beyond left field (per video on milb.com). Foscue, a second baseman, is batting .300 with four homers and 22 RBIs in 30 games for Frisco; he has had two stints on the injured list. He is rated the Rangers’ No. 5 prospect. P.S. Ole Miss product Mike Mayers, designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels late last month, has made one appearance at Triple-A Salt Lake. It didn’t go well for the veteran big leaguer: four runs in 1 2/3 innings. … Billy Hamilton, the former Taylorsville High star, is a free agent (again), having opted out of a minor league deal with Seattle on June 1. Hamilton was hitting .186 (with four stolen bases) at Triple-A Tacoma.

05 May

eye on …

Colt Keith, the former Biloxi High star, hasn’t switched on the power yet in High-A ball, but his disciplined, “old-school” approach is producing nice results. Keith, who looks like a masher at 6 feet 3, 235 pounds, is batting .298 for West Michigan in the Detroit system. He has a .359 on-base percentage and has struck out just 19 times in 84 at-bats. One of the younger players in the Midwest League at 20, Keith has one home run, seven doubles, two triples and 14 RBIs. Drafted in the fifth round in 2020, Keith hit .286 with two homers at three levels last season in his pro debut. It figures that the power will come. For his part, Keith told motowntigers.com back in the spring that his approach is based on his disdain for striking out. “It’s a great mindset to have, staying with a short swing and putting the ball in play,” he said. Keith is primarily a third baseman but has also seen some time at second. MLB Pipeline rates him the No. 13 prospect in Detroit’s system, highlighting his athleticism and “quick, efficient left-handed swing.” Keith moved to Biloxi from Arizona in 2019 and was the state’s Gatorade player of the year that season. He was an Arizona State commit before the Tigers picked him in the curtailed 2020 draft and offered him a $500,000 bonus. P.S. Former Ole Miss and Mississippi Braves pitcher Chris Ellis, who made two appearances with Baltimore this season, will have shoulder surgery and miss the remainder of the campaign.

31 Aug

opportunity knocks

Mississippi college products Jordan Westburg, Reed Trimble and Anthony Servideo are part of what MLB Pipeline rates as the strongest farm system among major league clubs. Baltimore also has the worst record in the majors, which for the state trio could mean there is great opportunity for quick advancement. Westburg, a shortstop out of Mississippi State, was the 30th overall draft pick in 2020 and is rated the Orioles’ No. 6 prospect. He’s in Double-A. Servideo, a shortstop from Ole Miss, was picked in Round 3 in 2020 and is rated No. 27, while Southern Miss alum Trimble, a supplemental pick following Round 2 this year, checks in at No. 21. All three would appear to be at least two years away from the majors. Atlanta’s system is rated 23rd, though there are four overall top 100 prospects in the organization. Much of the Braves’ young talent already is in the big leagues. Former Smithville High right-hander Jared Johnson is No. 30 in the Braves’ chain. Milwaukee is No. 25. MSU alum Ethan Small (5), Hattiesburg’s Joe Gray, Jr. (9) and ex-UM standout Thomas Dillard (25) are ranked in the Brewers’ Top 30. P.S. MSU product J.P. France, who threw seven shutout innings (one hit, nine strikeouts) for Sugar Land last Friday, was named the Triple-A West’s pitcher of the week. France, a 2018 draftee, is 4-0 with a 2.93 ERA for Houston’s top affiliate. … Ex-Ole Miss standout Brady Feigl made his Triple-A debut Monday for Oakland’s Las Vegas club, yielding two runs with five punchouts in 4 2/3 innings. Feigl, a 2018 draftee and the A’s No. 23 prospect, was 7-7, 3.96 in Double-A. Ex-State standout Ben Bracewell, an eighth-year pro, got the save in Las Vegas’ win over Oklahoma City; he has two saves, four wins, eight holds and a 4.18 ERA for the Aviators.

26 Aug

pitching in

Talk about your daunting tasks. Ole Miss product Chris Ellis got the ball Wednesday for his first start for his new team, the Baltimore Orioles, who happened to have lost 19 straight games. The opposing pitcher was none other than the modern-day Babe Ruth, Shohei Ohtani, who was also batting leadoff for the visiting Los Angeles Angels. So, of course, the Orioles won 10-6 in a Camden Yards slugfest. Ellis, in just his third MLB appearance, held his own. In three-plus innings, he allowed three runs. He struck out Ohtani both times he faced him. Ohtani was lifted after five innings, having allowed a career-high three homers and four runs. The O’s rallied against the L.A. bullpen. The atmosphere in the winner’s clubhouse was described as “electric.” … The honor of best pitching performance of the night by a Mississippian has to go to Brandon Woodruff. The ex-Mississippi State standout threw six shutout innings, fanning 10 and walking none, in Milwaukee’s 4-1 win vs. Cincinnati. Woodruff, now 8-7, had not won since June 29, despite pitching relatively well for the first-place Brewers. “I would say that Woodruff right there, that’s about as good of stuff as you’re going to have,” Reds manager David Bell told mlb.com. … Worthy of a shout-out also is State alum Kendall Graveman, who worked a clean inning and notched a win for Houston in its 6-5, 10-inning defeat of Kansas City. In 40 games between Seattle and Houston, Graveman is 5-0 with four holds, 10 saves (in 12 opps) and a 1.02 ERA. P.S. Jonathan Holder, out all season with a shoulder issue, may be close to making his Chicago Cubs debut. The 28-year-old reliever out of MSU made a rehab appearance at Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday.

20 Aug

sagging in san diego

The lovely weather in San Diego notwithstanding, the Padres are in a gloomy place and the club’s Mississippi connections have faltered. Heading into a big series at Petco Park with fellow playoff contender Philadelphia, the Pads have lost seven of eight and are clinging to the second wild card in the National League. They are 12 games back in the NL West, 9.5 back of the first wild card with four teams hot on their heels. Ex-Ole Miss star Drew Pomeranz, who had been an effective reliever when healthy, is out for the season after arm surgery. Mississippi State product Adam Frazier, a 2021 All-Star added at the trade deadline, hasn’t produced as hoped. Frazier, hitting .324 for Pittsburgh, is at .241 in 20 games for San Diego. He is batting just .143 in his last seven games. He has two RBIs and 11 runs in a Padres uniform. After using Frazier in the 2-hole for a spate of games, manager Jayce Tingler put the lefty hitter back in his more familiar leadoff spot Tuesday and Wednesday. His old-school approach seems ideal for that role. “Don’t swing too hard, try to get a mistake pitch to hit and hit it,” he told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “It’s the way I’ve hit my whole life.” It didn’t help initially, but maybe the move up will get Frazier – and the team – out of the doldrums. P.S. Baltimore apparently was impressed with Chris Ellis, the ex-Ole Miss standout who threw four scoreless innings against the Orioles on Tuesday. The O’s have claimed Ellis off waivers from Tampa Bay. Ellis has two MLB appearances on his ledger.