27 Sep

not so fast there

It was at some point during the fourth inning Tuesday night that Atlanta broadcaster Tom Glavine, who knows a thing or two about crafty pitching, remarked that Chicago Cubs lefty Justin Steele was giving “a clinic on pitching.” Indeed, the former George County High star shut out the powerful Braves through five innings, retiring eight in a row at one stage, and carried a six-run lead into the sixth. Then Kevin Pillar crushed a leadoff homer — the Braves’ 300th of the season — and everything changed — at Truist Park and elsewhere. The Atlanta crowd woke up and so did the Braves, who knocked out Steele, rallied to win 7-6 — aided greatly by a two-out, two-run fielding error in the eighth inning — and delivered the Cubs a crushing blow in the National League playoff race. On a night when Philadelphia secured the top wild card seed in the NL, the Cubs’ loss also clinched the Central Division title for Milwaukee. In addition, the Cubs fell to third in the wild card standings, a game back of Arizona and just a half-game ahead of Miami. Steele, an All-Star this year and a darkhorse Cy Young Award candidate, went 5 1/3 innings vs. the Braves and was charged with three runs. He has been stuck on 16 wins since Sept. 4. He is 0-2 in his last four outings as his ERA has risen to 3.06. He could get one more start, in the season finale. … The Phillies — and Laurel native Bobby Dickerson, their infield coach — partied hard at Citizens Bank Park after a walk-off hit in the 10th inning against Pittsburgh. They’ll host a wild card series next week. … The Brewers, who had already clinched a playoff berth, celebrated their division title with much more fervor, despite having lost their game Tuesday at American Family Field against St. Louis. They will also host a wild card series. P.S. Southern Miss product Matt Wallner hit a 463-foot grand slam for playoff-bound Minnesota at Target Field, his second slam and 13th homer of 2023. “One of the furthest balls I’ve ever seen hit. Ever. That’s 20-something years of professional baseball,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told The Associated Press after Minnesota’s 11-3 win over Oakland. … Ex-USM star Walker Powell celebrated a Southern League pennant after Tennessee, the Cubs’ Double-A team, beat Pensacola 10-3 to sweep the best-of-3 finals. Walker, an 11-game winner this year, did not pitch in that series.

15 Sep

time to shine

Kemp Alderman chose a good time to come up with what was probably the best game of his young pro career. The former Ole Miss star, a second-round draft pick by Miami this year, went 3-for-5 with a walk, two doubles, a triple, two runs and an RBI as Jupiter beat Palm Beach 7-6 Thursday to reach the Florida State League Championship Series. The 2023 Ferriss Trophy winner as the state’s best player, Alderman had his struggles with the Low-Class A Hammerheads, batting .205 with one homer and 15 RBIs in 34 games. A big-time power hitter at UM, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Alderman slugged just .316 this season. After going 0-for-4 in the opener of the best-of-3 division series against Palm Beach, Alderman broke out in Game 2 with his first three-hit game. The spotlight will get brighter in the league finals, where Jupiter will play the winner of the Clearwater-Lakeland series, currently even at 1-1. One of Clearwater’s driving forces is Emaarion Boyd, the second-year pro out of South Panola High. The Philadelphia Phillies prospect, typically the Threshers’ leadoff batter, hit .262 with 68 runs and 56 stolen bases in 91 games. P.S. On the subject of Ferriss Trophy winners in the Marlins’ system, Jake Mangum — who won two at Mississippi State — enjoyed a three-hit game for Triple-A Jacksonville in its loss to Gwinnett. Mangum had a double (No. 26 this year), a triple (No. 8), scored twice and picked up an assist from center field. In his fourth pro season — first in Miami’s system after a December trade from the New York Mets — the 27-year-old Mangum is batting .305 with five homers, 47 RBIs and 16 steals. He is still waiting on his first MLB call-up.

24 Aug

something different

On this date in 2010, Roy Oswalt the MLB pitcher became Roy Oswalt the MLB left fielder, appearing at a position other than on the bump for the only time in his 13-year career. The former Weir High and Holmes Community College star, with Philadelphia at the time, came in as a replacement for an ejected player in the 15th inning of a 16-inning game against Houston. And, of course, the ball will find you, as they say. The first batter of the inning, Jason Castro, hit a fly ball to left field, which Oswalt caught without incident. Oswalt came to bat in the bottom of the 16th and grounded out for the final out of the Astros’ 4-2 win in the 5-hour, 20-minute affair. Oswalt, who retired in 2013, was 163-102 with a 3.36 ERA for his career, making three All-Star Games. He wasn’t a terrible hitter, either, banging out 101 hits (.154 average) with a homer and 36 RBIs. P.S. Tim Anderson returned Wednesday from his five-game suspension and went 2-for-5 with an RBI and scored the game-winning run in a 5-4 victory for the Chicago White Sox against Seattle. East Central CC product Anderson was the ghost runner in the bottom of the 10th, took off for third base on a failed pickoff attempt by the Mariners catcher and scored when the shortstop’s throw got past the third baseman.

18 Aug

a few atta-boys

Emaarion Boyd, the second-year pro out of South Panola High, got the walk-off knock Thursday for Low-Class A Clearwater in the Philadelphia organization. Boyd was 2-for-5 with a walk, a run and a triple in the 5-4, 11-inning win against Dunedin. Boyd, 19, the Phillies’ No. 13 prospect, ranks second in the Florida State League in steals (49), fifth in runs (65), ninth in triples (five) and 10th in batting average (.272). “His ceiling is that of a speedy table-setter,” according to the scouting report on mlb.com. … Lance Lynn, former Ole Miss star, tossed seven shutout innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who beat Milwaukee 1-0 for their 11th straight win on an eighth-inning homer by Austin Barnes. The Dodgers are 4-0 in Lynn’s four starts since acquiring the veteran right-hander from the Chicago White Sox and 3-0 in his starts at Dodger Stadium. “I’ve always enjoyed pitching in this ballpark, and it’s definitely a lot better as a home player,” Lynn told mlb.com. He is 3-0 with a 1.44 for the Dodgers after going 6-9, 6.47, with the struggling ChiSox. … Tim Elko, the ex-Ole Miss slugger, hit his first Double-A home run for Birmingham and now has 23 for the season across three levels. A 2022 draftee by the White Sox, the big first baseman is batting .267 for the Barons, .301 with 88 RBIs for the year. … East Central Community College product Tim Anderson, now with the White Sox, finally issued an apology (on Instagram) for the fight he started with Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez on Aug. 5. Anderson will begin serving a five-game suspension (reduced from six on appeal) today. The two-time All-Star and 2019 batting champ went 2-for-17 while his appeal was pending and is at .230 for the year. … Konnor Griffin, Jackson Prep’s two-way star, and Samuel Richardson, Lewisburg High slugger, are among the 50 players on the rosters for Sunday’s Perfect Game All-American Classic in Phoenix. Both played on state championship teams this past season. Pitcher/outfielder Griffin, an LSU commit considered a top MLB draft prospect for next summer, participated in the Baseball Factory/Under Armour All-America Game last Sunday in Arlington, Texas, and has been invited to USA Baseball’s 18U national team tryout camp set for Aug. 21-25 in California. Those who make the final roster will compete for Team USA in the U-18 World Cup in Taiwan in September. Richardson, a Missouri commit, played in the Hank Aaron Invitational in Atlanta on July 30. … Drew Davis, a pitcher/infielder at Sumrall, has made the 15U Team USA that is going to the Dominican Republic for a tournament in September.

14 Aug

he’s done it all

A hearty congratulations to former Jackson Mets shortstop Al Pedrique, who notched his 1,000th managerial win on Sunday when his Double-A Reading Fightin’ Phils rallied to beat New Hampshire 8-3. Pedrique, 63, has played, coached or managed at virtually every level of professional baseball since 1978, when he signed with the New York Mets out of Venezuela. Jackson fans from way back will remember Pedrique as the shortstop at Smith-Wills Stadium from 1981 to 1984, playing on two Texas League championship clubs. He hit .285 for the ’84 OJMs. He played 174 big league games and managed another 83 as an interim skipper for Arizona in 2004. He won a Triple-A championship in 2016 as manager for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the Yankees’ system and was on the Miami Marlins staff just last year. On his current Reading roster is former Ole Miss star David Parkinson, who has posted a 7-4 record this season. P.S. Southern Miss alum Matthew Etzel, a 10th-round draft pick last month by Baltimore, enjoyed a six-RBI game with a homer, a double and a steal on Sunday for Low-Class A Delmarva. Etzel is 8-for-22 with two bombs, nine RBIs and six bags for the Shorebirds. … Mississippi State product Colton Ledbetter, a second-round pick by Tampa Bay, went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three runs for Low-A Charleston; he is 7-for-15 with three RBIs and six runs at that level, 11-for-25 overall this season.

10 Aug

in good time

Bryson Ware, former Germantown High All-Stater, started slowly at Auburn but erupted as a senior in 2023 to hit a school-record 24 home runs and earn second-team All-SEC laurels. Similarly, Ware mustered just two singles in the first 28 plate appearances of his pro career before smashing a ninth-inning home run on Wednesday for Clearwater, Philadelphia’s Low-Class A affiliate. The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Ware was an eighth-round draft pick by the Phillies last month and debuted in the rookie Florida Complex League, going 2-for-16 before getting a promotion earlier this week. (Among his teammates on what is an outstanding Threshers club — 69-34 overall in the Florida State League — is former South Panola High star Emaarion Boyd, a second-year pro. Boyd is batting .277 with 47 steals.) Ware began his college career at Pearl River Community College, where he batted .321 with five homers in 16 games in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. He signed with Auburn but didn’t have a big impact his first two years on The Plains. He retooled his swing after the 2022 season, per a story on auburntigers.com, and won the third base job entering the 2023 season. “He’s stayed in the fight,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson, a fellow Mississippian, said back in the spring. Ware hit .350, drove in 63 runs, scored 66 and helped steer the Tigers into the NCAAs for the second straight season. … Ex-Mississippi State star Dakota Hudson picked up his second win in as many starts since returning to St. Louis’ rotation. The right-hander went five innings, allowing two homers to Jose Siri and three runs all told, as the Cardinals beat Tampa Bay 6-4. Hudson beat Minnesota, another playoff contender, in his previous start; he is 3-0 with a 4.31 ERA on the season.

29 Jul

remember the time

On this date in 2009, the Philadelphia Phillies — defending World Series champs — swung a big trade with Cleveland for left-hander Cliff Lee, the former Meridian Community College star and 2008 Cy Young Award winner. Lee went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA down the stretch for the Phillies and 4-0 in the postseason, but the team lost to the New York Yankees in the World Series. Lee was traded to Seattle in the off-season. On July 29, 2010, the Phillies, again eyeing a postseason run, traded with Houston for Roy Oswalt, the former Holmes CC standout who had won an ERA title in 2006. Oswalt went 7-1 with a 1.74 for the Phils and 1-1 in the postseason as the team lost to San Francisco in the National League Championship Series. After the 2010 season, Philadelphia brought Lee back as a free agent. The Phils entered the 2011 season with a fantastic rotation — famously hailed as the “legion of arms” on the cover of Sports Illustrated — of Lee, Oswalt, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton. The team won 102 games — Lee won 17, Oswalt nine — and the NL East title but fell in the division series to St. Louis. Lee and Oswalt both lost their starts. Oswalt left after the 2011 season and was soon out of the game. Lee pitched three more years in Philly with only modest success. Neither would appear in another postseason game, and the Phillies didn’t make the postseason again until last year. P.S. Props to Millsaps College coach Jim Page and former Mississippi State and big league pitcher Paul Maholm for their formal induction today into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, a very deserving honor for each.

01 Jul


Before the curtain fell on June, a handful of Mississippians delivered performances worthy of raucous applause. Bidding for a spot on the National League All-Star team, Justin Steele — the lefty from Lucedale — pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings for the Chicago Cubs in a 10-1 win Friday against Cleveland. Steele is 9-2 with a 2.43 ERA, tied for second-most wins in the NL and tops in ERA. He should be in Seattle, for sure. … Austin Riley, the slugger from Southaven, went 3-for-5 with his 15th home run in Atlanta’s 16-4 demolition of Miami, its closest pursuer in the NL East. Riley, batting .270 with 43 RBIs, 55 runs and a .459 slugging percentage, was a finalist at third base in the All-Star voting and deserves a spot on the roster as a reserve. It would also be great to see him in the Home Run Derby. … Down in the minors, ex-Southern Miss star Matt Wallner continues to build his case for a return to the big leagues with Minnesota. He went 3-for-5 with a single, double and triple for Triple-A St. Paul a day after hitting two home runs for the Saints. He is at .307 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs. Sent down on May 29 — despite getting seven hits in a four-game stretch for the Twins — Wallner hit .320 with five bombs in June for St. Paul. … Colt Keith, the former Biloxi High star, hit a 473-foot home run for Triple-A Toledo and is 7-for-13 in three games since Detroit promoted him from Double-A. The 21-year-old lefty-hitting third baseman is ticketed to play in the All-Star Futures Game on July 8 in Seattle. … Ex-Mississippi State standout Hunter Stovall, quietly having a nice year for Triple-A Albuquerque, delivered a walk-off hit for the Isotopes in a 4-3 win against El Paso. Stovall, a sixth-year pro, is batting .281 with six homers and 26 RBIs for Colorado’s top farm club. … In Low-Class A, former South Panola High standout Emaarion Boyd went 2-for-4 with three runs, two walks and a stolen base — his 39th of the year — in a win for Clearwater. The Philadelphia prospect is batting .276 (.400 OBP) with 46 runs in 52 games in his first full pro season.

21 Jun

tag team

A couple of old college rivals teamed up Tuesday to spark Memphis to a win over Iowa in the Triple-A International League. Ex-Mississippi State star Dakota Hudson, a first-round pick by St. Louis in 2016, threw five strong innings and ex-Ole Miss star Errol Robinson, a sixth-rounder by the Los Angeles Dodgers in ’16, went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run as the Cardinals’ top farm club won 8-5 over the Chicago Cubs’ top affiliate. Hudson, recently back from the injured list, improved to 4-4 with his third win this month. He allowed seven hits, two walks and two runs while fanning eight. The 28-year-old right-hander has had some rocky outings among his 10 starts and his 5.57 ERA reflects as much. Hudson is 32-17 with a 3.61 in major league work for St. Louis, but he was sent to the minors during spring training, reportedly because his velocity was down. Robinson, playing mostly third base for the Redbirds, is riding a five-game hit streak during which he is 8-for-15 with five RBIs and five runs. On the year, he is batting .233 in 36 games. He has bounced around during his seven pro seasons, including a stint in independent ball, but has yet to make an MLB appearance. He signed with St. Louis last July and put up some decent numbers in Double-A. P.S. Blaze Jordan, the DeSoto Central High product, leads the High-Class A South Atlantic League in batting at .322 and has a 10-game hitting streak. The Boston Red Sox prospect is batting .355 in June. He has 10 homers and 47 RBIs for Greenville. … Former Ole Miss standout Tim Elko leads the Low-A Carolina League in homers with 15 for Kannapolis (Chicago White Sox). He has a .298 average and 52 RBIs. (Why is he still in this league?) … South Panola High alum Emaarion Boyd continues to pace the Low-A Florida State League in steals with 36 in 45 games at Clearwater (Philadelphia). The 2022 draftee is batting .270.

13 Jun

speed demon

The highest grade scouts give prospects for a specific tool is 80. Emaarion Boyd got a 70 for his “run” tool, and the ex-South Panola High standout is showing it off in his first full pro season. An 11th-round draft pick last summer by Philadelphia, Boyd leads the Low-Class A Florida State League in stolen bases with 33. He swiped six in one game last week. The 5-foot-11, 177-pound center fielder also has produced with his bat, hitting .268 with five extra-base hits and 14 RBIs for Clearwater. Boyd has scored 31 runs in 40 games for the Threshers, who stand 40-16 and already have clinched a first-half division title. Boyd is rated as the Phillies’ No. 12 prospect. The mlb.com scouting report highlights his ability to put the ball in play — he hit .345 in rookie ball in 2022 — and projects that he’ll get stronger and add power to his game. The speed will always be there. P.S. Magee’s Brennon McNair, an 11th-round pick in 2021 by Kansas City, also has flashed eye-catching speed this season. Playing at Low-A Columbia in the Carolina League, McNair has 15 steals in 16 attempts. The third baseman is batting just .209 but has a homer, four doubles and four triples. … James Beard, considered one of the fastest players in the 2019 draft coming out of Loyd Star, has been stalled by injuries in the Chicago White Sox’s system. He swiped 28 bags in A-ball in 2022 but hasn’t played yet this season. … Billy Hamilton, probably the fastest player to come out of the Magnolia State, is on a rehab assignment for the White Sox at Triple-A Charlotte. The former Taylorsville High star, 32, is Mississippi’s all-time MLB steals leader with 326, two this year. He has 405 in the minors, three this year.