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.
In the midst of a humble postseason, his first in the majors, Hunter Renfroe took a star turn on Tuesday night and is now on the brink of a World Series trip. The former Mississippi State star from Crystal Springs hit a two-run double and made two sparkling catches in right field to help Tampa Bay beat Houston 5-2 and go up 3-0 in the American League Championship Series. Renfroe was 1-for-10 in the 2020 postseason when he stepped in as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning at San Diego. He hit an opposite-field flare that dropped into right field and plated two runs, capping the Rays’ game-turning five-run inning. Renfroe stayed in the game as the right fielder and made lunging, run-saving catches in the seventh and eighth innings. He came up with the Padres and played many innings in right at Petco Park, though he was known more for his arm than his glove. “I feel really comfortable here, as far as playing the outfield,” Renfroe said in an mlb.com piece. “I knew, right away, what these balls were going to do.” Renfroe’s only other postseason hit was a grand slam against Toronto in the wild card round. He batted just .156 in the regular season but had a knack for productive swings. Of his 19 hits, 13 were for extra bases, and he drove in 22 runs in 42 games. P.S. So, how productive has Atlanta’s farm system been in recent years? Consider this evidence: In Game 3 of the National League Championship Series today, the Braves’ nine-man lineup included seven players who suited up for the Double-A Mississippi Braves. And the starting pitcher, Kyle Wright, also did time at Trustmark Park, as did the starters in Games 1 and 2. More than 150 players have advanced to the big leagues through Pearl since 2005. The Los Angeles Dodgers started four players who came up through their system, plus the starting pitcher, in today’s game.
Hunter Renfroe went where no man has gone before last September when he blasted a home run onto the roof of the iconic Western Metal Supply Co. Building beyond the left field wall at Petco Park in San Diego. On Monday night, the Mississippi State alum did it again. Renfroe’s seventh-inning shot, the first of two homers he hit in a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets, came off Jacob deGrom and travelled an announced 431 feet. “I’m proud of both of them,” Renfroe, speaking of his roof bombs, told The Associated Press. Renfroe now has 19 homers on the season, one more than fellow Mississippi native Corey Dickerson. Renfroe has 23 homers in his 101 MLB games and an even 100 as a pro. He hit 77 in 438 minor league games after the Padres drafted him in the first round in 2013.
The numbers are in. MLB’s Statcast numbers, that is, on Hunter Renfroe’s ginormous home run, the one that went where no ball has gone before – the roof of the Western Metal Supply Co. building beyond the left-field wall at San Diego’s Petco Park. Statcast put the distance of Wednesday night’s blast at 434 feet and the exit velocity of the ball off the bat at 109 mph. “I think we all know he’s got a ton of raw power. I wasn’t expecting that,” Padres manager Andy Green told mlb.com. Former Mississippi State star Renfroe, 6 feet 1, 220 pounds, now has four homers in 21 MLB at-bats, with 12 RBIs and six runs. No doubt there are some old Copiah Academy fans who are saying today, “Oh yeah, we saw this coming.” Renfroe hit a Mississippi private school-record 20 bombs for Copiah as a senior just six short years ago. He hit 15 homers his junior year at the Gallman school. He started slowly at State but flexed his muscles as a junior in 2013, belting 16 homers (while batting .345) and earning All-America honors. He also won the Ferriss Trophy that year and was drafted in the first round by the Padres. He hit 77 minor league homers before crashing The Show on Sept. 21. Elsewhere in MLB: Ole Miss product Seth Smith drove in two runs to help Seattle crush Houston 12-4 and hang 2 games out of an American League wild card berth. … Jarrod Dyson, the former Southwest Mississippi Community College star, got two hits, two runs and his 29th steal of the year as Kansas City beat Minnesota 5-2. But Ned Yost’s Royals were eliminated from AL wild card contention just the same. … The fingerprints of former Mississippi Braves were all over Atlanta’s 12-2 win against Philadelphia. The incredible Freddie Freeman extended his hit streak to 30 games; rookie Dansby Swanson – who can play a little, too – went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and three runs; Daniel Castro had three hits and three RBIs; Mallex Smith scored a run; John Gant threw a scoreless inning; and Rio Ruiz got his first big league knock, a triple. … And a blast from another past: John Jaso’s cycle was the first by a Pittsburgh player since former Jackson Generals star Daryle Ward turned the trick in 2004. Ward had five career triples.
A visit to Hawaii is one thing, but a trip to the MLB All-Star Game, your first as a player, is a different level of paradise. After learning he had made the National League team as an injury replacement, former Ole Miss star Drew Pomeranz was forced to cancel a few plans he had made for the break. “My fiance and I were supposed to go to Hawaii to plan our wedding, but … whatever,” he told mlb.com, reportedly with a laugh. “It was a good excuse.” Pomeranz, now with San Diego, pitched a scoreless fourth inning in the NL’s 4-2 loss Tuesday night at Petco Park. He retired Salvador Perez, Jose Altuve and Mike Trout sandwiched around a Jackie Bradley single. “It’s pretty special to have your first one (All-Star Game) anywhere, but even more so here,” he said after the game, played before a crowd of 42,386. Pomeranz, in his first season with the Padres, has an 8-7 record and a 2.47 ERA in 17 starts with 115 punchouts. … In another televised game on Tuesday, played on the Atlantic coast before a much smaller crowd, Southern Miss’ Kirk McCarty delivered a gem for Orleans of the Cape Cod League. The left-hander tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings against Falmouth, allowing just three hits with five walks and five strikeouts. He got a no-decision but lowered his ERA to 1.98 in five games in the college summer league. His Firebirds won the game 2-1 (on a walk-off homer) before 1,381 at Eldredge Park in Orleans, Mass. … And on yet another coast, the Gulf, Lucas Sims of the Mississippi Braves notched his first Southern League win of the year Tuesday with a strong outing at Mobile. Sims worked 6 2/3 and yielded one run on six hits and two walks with seven K’s in a 2-1 victory before an announced 718 at Hank Aaron Stadium. Sims, Atlanta’s top pick in the 2012 draft and No. 10 prospect, started the season with the M-Braves before getting a promotion to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he went 2-6, 7.56 and got sent back on June 17. He is 1-2, 2.95 in seven starts for the M-Braves.