11 May

whatever happened to …

Brent Rooker, after a lengthy layoff because of a shoulder injury, homered Tuesday night in his first game back with Triple-A El Paso in the San Diego organization. The former Mississippi State star had not played since April 17. Rooker, the 35th overall pick in the 2017 draft by Minnesota, was found wanting by the Twins (.212 in 208 MLB at-bats) and was traded in early April to the Padres in the Chris Paddack deal. In eight games for El Paso, he is batting .222 with three homers and 14 strikeouts in 27 ABs. Rooker won the SEC Triple Crown — and the Ferriss Trophy — in his last season at State but hasn’t hit consistently in pro ball (.262, 77 homers, 407 K’s in 329 games in the minors). The 6-foot-4, 225-pound outfielder/first baseman is on the Padres’ 40-man roster, can hit the long ball and may well get a call-up if a need arises. P.S. On this date in 2003, another ex-Bulldogs slugger and SEC Triple Crown winner, Rafael Palmeiro, hit his 500th career homer, becoming the 19th big leaguer to reach that milestone. Palmeiro finished with 569 bombs, far and away the most by a Mississippi college alum or state native.

28 Nov

greener grass?

Perhaps the move to Seattle will work out better for Adam Frazier than the move to San Diego last summer. Former Mississippi State standout Frazier was acquired by the Mariners from the Padres on Saturday for two minor leaguers. A 2021 All-Star second baseman with Pittsburgh, Frazier hit .305 with five homers, 43 RBIs and 10 steals on the season, the final two months of which were spent with San Diego. The Padres, vying for a playoff spot at the time they dealt for Frazier, faded dramatically down the stretch. Frazier did not play as well with them as he did with the Pirates, batting .267 and falling out of the lineup for a time. Seattle also made a playoff push last season and is aiming to do so again. The Mariners reportedly tried to acquire Frazier last summer. He’ll likely be their regular second baseman. “I’m excited to be joining and they’re excited to have me. I’m ready to go to work,” he told mlb.com. A lefty hitter who can play multiple positions, Frazier has a .281 career average over six MLB seasons. He’ll be a free agent after the 2022 season.

17 Sep

time to shine

At just the right time it would appear, Adam Frazier is heating up. The former Mississippi State star went 7-for-10 with three runs and two RBIs in San Diego’s last two games, big wins over San Francisco, the best team in the National League. The Padres, a half-game back of St. Louis in the battle for the second wild card, begin a three-game series with the Cardinals tonight at Busch Stadium. Frazier, who hit .324 as an All-Star with Pittsburgh to begin this season, started slowly with the Padres and even faded from regular playing time. In 42 games with the Padres, the lefty-hitting second baseman is batting .264 — but over his last 15, he’s at .349. Typically a leadoff batter in Pittsburgh, Frazier hit cleanup for the Padres on Thursday against Giants ace Kevin Gausman. He singled his first time up in the second inning and scored the game’s first run. He finished 3-for-5 with two runs as San Diego beat Gausman (14-6) and the Giants 7-4. The Padres are showing signs of life after a prolonged funk; they’ll meet a Cardinals team that has won five straight. … MSU product Dakota Hudson, coming back from Tommy John surgery, has an 0.66 ERA in four rehab appearances in the minors. He might be ready to help out in St. Louis’ bullpen. P.S. Cody Reed, the Northwest Mississippi Community College alum from Horn Lake, threw a scoreless inning Thursday in a rehab appearance for Tampa Bay’s Florida Complex League team. Reed, a lefty reliever, has been on the injured list since May and recently had shoulder surgery. There is speculation the Rays, top team in the American League, might activate Reed soon. He had a 3.72 ERA in 12 games before he went on the IL.

09 Sep

in select company

In his first season with Boston, Hunter Renfroe is rubbing elbows (virtually, of course) with Red Sox legends. In a jaw-dropping performance on Wednesday night at Fenway Park, in the heat of the battle for playoff spots, former Mississippi State star Renfroe hit a game-turning home run and made a game-ending throw. The Red Sox beat division rival Tampa Bay 2-1 and moved into first place – ahead of New York – in the American League wild card race. Renfroe, cut loose by the Rays after the 2020 season, launched a two-run homer in the eighth inning to put the Sox ahead. “There’s your magic, baby,” screamed one of the Boston broadcasters. There was more to come. In the ninth, Renfroe scrambled into deep center field to run down a ball hit by Joey Wendle and fired a cannon shot to nail Wendle at third base to end the game. It was the second assist of the night for Renfroe, who has 16 on the season, the most by a Boston right fielder since at least 1961, per mlb.com. Move over Dwight Evans. Renfroe’s homer was his 27th. He is just the sixth player in Boston’s long history with 25-plus homers and 15-plus assists in a season, again per mlb.com. Others on the list: Jason Bay, Manny Ramirez, Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski and Ted Williams. Renfroe is batting .267 and slugging .515 with 85 RBIs. He has 12 bombs since Aug. 1. “What he’s done for us this season, it’s been amazing,” manager Joey Cora said in an mlb.com piece. P.S. In other impactful games, MSU product Adam Frazier, in need of some big hits, went 2-for-4 with three RBIs in San Diego’s 8-5 win against the Los Angeles Angels. In a funk since joining the Padres at the trade deadline, Frazier doubled his RBI total and raised his average to .235 in 35 games with his new club, which is clinging to second in the National League wild card chase. … At Yankee Stadium, in red-hot Toronto’s 6-3 win over the skidding Yankees, Jarrod Dyson did what Jarrod Dyson do: The McComb native entered the game late as a pinch runner, scored on a sac fly and then ended the game with a diving catch in center field. The Blue Jays trail the Yankees by 1.5 games for the second AL wild card.

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.

18 Aug

whatever happened to …

Jack Kruger, who caught half an inning in May in his first and so far only big league appearance, is playing for Triple-A Round Rock in the Texas organization. The ex-Mississippi State star was called up on May 6 by the Los Angeles Angels, got in the game that night, then was designated for assignment the next day. Kruger, who was in his sixth year in the Angels’ system, was claimed by the Rangers, who promptly DFA’d him and sent him to Round Rock. He is batting .198 with two homers in 25 games. A career .261 hitter in the minors, Kruger batted .305 at Double-A Mobile in the Southern League in 2018 and was a mid-season All-Star there in 2019. P.S. In other news: Chris Ellis’ long-awaited return to the big leagues was short-lived. After posting his first career win on Tuesday, Ellis was designated for assignment today, which means the Ole Miss product could be claimed by another team or returned to Triple-A Durham. … Drew Pomeranz was to have season-ending surgery today to repair a flexor tendon tear in his left arm. Done for 2021, the Ole Miss alum is signed through ’23 with San Diego. Pomeranz was a key piece in the Padres’ bullpen with a 1.75 ERA. … Billy Hamilton, the former Taylorsville High standout, could be close to returning to the Chicago White Sox’s active roster, per comments from manager Tony LaRussa. Outfielder Hamilton (oblique) has been on the 10-day injured list since July 31. … If anyone was wondering, Mitch Moreland’s career ERA is 0.00 in three mop-up appearances spread over eight years. The Mississippi State alum, Oakland’s DH/first baseman, worked an inning of the A’s loss to the White Sox on Tuesday. Moreland pitched at Amory High and a limited amount at MSU.

28 Jul

star quality

Charlie Morton, the veteran Atlanta pitcher, gives an endearing assessment of Austin Riley, the DeSoto Central High alum and current Braves third baseman. “He’s easy to root for,” Morton said in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story. “He’s great in the clubhouse. Just an all-around really good dude.” Riley also has become an all-around really good player, a blossoming star, in fact. The 24-year-old, third-year big leaguer smacked two home runs, one a grand slam, and drove in six runs to power the Braves to a 12-5 win against the first-place New York Mets on Tuesday night at CitiField. The two homers went deep into the left-field seats and covered a combined 850 feet-plus. “The power’s unbelievable,” Braves manager Brian Snitker told The Associated Press. “He’s still figuring things out. … Still a lot of upside in this guy.” Riley is batting .288 with 19 homers and 56 RBIs. Over the last 15 days, mostly spent in the cleanup spot, Riley is batting .372 (second among all MLB third basemen) with 16 hits (first), a .791 slugging percentage (first), five homers (tied for the most) and 14 RBIs (first). And, he hasn’t made an error since June 20. P.S. Adam Frazier fit seamlessly into San Diego’s lineup on Tuesday, going 2-for-5 and scoring twice as the leadoff batter (and left fielder) in a 7-4 win over Oakland. The 2021 All-Star out of Mississippi State was traded on Monday from Pittsburgh. Frazier is hitting .325. … Former MSU standout Kendall Graveman, traded from Seattle to Houston in the midst of a series between the two American League West rivals, was in an Astros uniform but did not pitch in Tuesday’s game, an 8-6 Houston win. Graveman, a bit surprised by the trade, got visibly emotional in a TV interview discussing the move. The right-handed reliever is 4-0 with an 0.82 ERA and 10 saves. … Ex-State star Nate Lowe stuffed the stat sheet in helping Texas stop a 12-game losing streak with a 5-4 win against Arizona. Lowe, batting .251 with the Rangers, had two hits, a walk, two RBIs, a run and a stolen base. … And down in Double-A, the Mississippi Braves, powered by a club-record seven homers, stopped an eight-game skid with a resounding 9-3 win at Pensacola. Shea Langeliers, who could be Atlanta’s catcher next season, hit two bombs, raising his season total to 17.

26 Jul

very interesting …

Mississippi State product Justin Foscue, a first-round pick by Texas in the 2020 draft, homered in his eighth straight game on Sunday. (Note: The big league record is eight straight.) Foscue went deep for High-A Hickory in the completion of a game suspended last Friday. His streak began on July 9 when he was on a rehab assignment with the Arizona Complex League Rangers. He is batting .324 with 10 homers and 23 RBIs for Hickory. Foscue didn’t play in Sunday’s regularly scheduled game, but ex-Mississippi College star Blaine Crim did. And he homered in his second straight game and for the 12th time in July. Crim is batting .298 with 19 homers and 58 RBIs for Hickory. … The remains of the 2021 season will be a lot more interesting for Adam Frazier now that the ex-State standout has been traded from Pittsburgh to San Diego. The Pirates are mired in last place in their division. The Padres are in a heated battle with San Francisco and Los Angeles in the National League West. Frazier, 29, was a coveted trade piece, with several teams reportedly expressing interest. The All-Star second baseman is batting .324 and leads the big leagues in hits with 125. According to mlb.com, Frazier is only the third player in the modern era to be traded midseason while leading MLB in hits. The others: Willie McGee (1990) and Red Schoendienst (1957). Frazier is a left-handed hitter with some pop (39 career homers) who has played six different positions over his six seasons in the majors. … It wasn’t surprising that All-Stars Lance Lynn and Brandon Woodruff gave us quite the pitchers’ duel on Sunday night (see previous post). The surprise was that former Ole Miss star Lynn delivered the game’s biggest hit, a two-run single off MSU product Woodruff that propelled the Chicago White Sox to a 3-1 win over Milwaukee in a matchup of division leaders. Lynn’s second-inning hit, on an 0-2 fastball, was his first since 2017. It came in his first plate appearance in over two years. Woodruff, a good-hitting pitcher, also had a knock off Lynn but came up empty in a key at-bat in the fifth inning. Down 3-1 with a runner at second and one out, Woodruff took a called third strike on a 3-2 pitch.

10 Jul

walk it off

He has mashed 167 home runs in his pro career, but Friday night’s bomb was unique for Bobby Bradley. The ex-Harrison Central High star from Gulfport hit his first career walk-off homer, lifting Cleveland to a 2-1 victory against Kansas City. Bradley, 25, in his second big league season, did a modest bat flip as the line drive sailed out to right-center at Progressive Field. He was mobbed at home plate by his teammates, who were celebrating their second straight walk-off win after a nine-game skid. “Everybody was pumped up and beating me up a little bit and throwing water everywhere,” Bradley told mlb.com. “It’s awesome.” The article said it was Bradley’s first walk-off homer at any level, though it’s hard to imagine he didn’t hit one at Harrison Central. The left-handed hitting first baseman has 10 homers in 100 at-bats this season, which is an amazing ratio even for a small sample size. He has 11 in 145 MLB at-bats overall, one per 13.2 ABs. Mark McGwire’s career record is 10.6. Babe Ruth had an 11.7, Barry Bonds a 12.9. Bradley has 156 minor league homers (one every 16 ABs) since 2014, when the Indians drafted him in the third round out of high school. That’s a special kind of power. P.S. Former Mississippi State star Brandon Woodruff is slated to pitch Sunday for Milwaukee, which means he can’t pitch in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. He has been replaced on the National League roster by teammate Freddy Peralta, another Biloxi Shuckers alumnus. … Ex-Ole Miss standout Drew Pomeranz has returned to the injured list (forearm) for San Diego. Pomeranz, who missed most of May and June on the IL, has a 1.59 ERA in 18 relief outings.

07 Jul

hold on there

Shohei Ohtani, the amazing double-duty All-Star, got the win and Raisel Iglesias the save in the Los Angeles Angels’ 5-3 victory against Boston on Tuesday night. Former Ole Miss star Mike Mayers was the “bridge guy,” pitching the eighth inning, between Ohtani and Iglesias. Mayers was credited with a hold, that somewhat obscure statistic that gives middle relievers something to, er, hold on to. A hold is awarded to a reliever who enters in “a save situation and maintains his team’s lead for the next relief pitcher, while recording at least one out.” Mayers’ scoreless inning of work gives the right-hander 11 holds on the year; the MLB lead is 17. He has a 4.17 ERA and two saves in 41 appearances. Drew Pomeranz, another UM product, fills a similar role to Mayers’ for San Diego. The big lefty notched his eighth hold on Tuesday, pitching a scoreless eighth in the Padres’ 7-4 win over Washington. Pomeranz, who recently came off the injured list, has a 1.59 ERA in 18 games. Chris Stratton, the ex-Mississippi State standout from Tupelo and another middle relief specialist, pitched a scoreless seventh inning in Pittsburgh’s 2-1 win against Atlanta. But the score was tied when Stratton worked – so, no hold. He has four on the year, along with a 2.96 ERA and a save in 35 appearances. P.S. If there was a bright spot in the Braves’ second straight lackluster performance against the lowly Pirates, it was the hitting of Orlando Arcia. Arcia, the second Biloxi Shuckers alum (after Jed Bradley) to play for Atlanta, went 2-for-3 and homered for the Braves’ lone run. He is 4-for-11 with two RBIs, two runs and a steal in three games since being called up from Triple-A Gwinnett, where he was batting .303 with 13 homers. He was Milwaukee’s starting shortstop the previous five years. … To the long list of great catches by Billy Hamilton, make room for the one he made Tuesday. The Taylorsville High product, playing center field in the ninth inning for the Chicago White Sox, ran full speed and laid out for the acrobatic snag, then slid across the rain-soaked warning track to complete the play. “I think that’s the top one, to be honest with you,” Hamilton said in an mlb.com story.