Congratulations to Phillip Wellman, the former Mississippi Braves manager who piloted the Amarillo Sod Poodles to a Texas League championship on Sunday, beating Tulsa 8-3 in the decisive fifth game. This is the team’s first year in Amarillo after the franchise – still a San Diego affiliate — moved from San Antonio. (Sod poodle is a pioneer nickname for prairie dog.) It was the second championship for Wellman in 19 seasons as a minor league skipper; he won the other in 2008 in the second of his four seasons with the M-Braves. … Condolences to the Biloxi Shuckers, who lost at Jackson, Tenn., on Sunday in Game 5 of the Southern League Championship Series. The Shuckers, a Milwaukee affiliate, have lost in the SL finals in three of their five seasons on the Coast. … It’s now been 11 years since Mississippi celebrated a pro baseball championship, which is beginning to feel like a drought. Over a 15-year span starting in 1981, Jackson’s Texas League clubs won five championships – the Mets in 1981, ’84 and ’85 and the Generals in ’93 and ’96. The independent Senators won a Central League crown in 2003, and five years later, the M-Braves won their lone Southern League title. Long before that, Jackson-based teams won league championships in 1908, 1913, 1925, 1927, 1931, 1940 and 1947, according to research in the Minor League Encyclopedia of Baseball. The 1913 team, known as the Lawmakers, posted an impressive 71-24 record (.747 winning percentage) in the old Cotton States League. Mississippi did not have a pro club from 1953, when the original Senators left town, to 1975, when the Mets moved into Smith-Wills Stadium.
Phillip Wellman, after a year out of the pro game, is a manager again. The former Mississippi Braves manager has been handed the reins of San Diego’s Double-A San Antonio club in the Texas League. Wellman managed the M-Braves from 2007-10 and won a Southern League pennant with the team in 2008. After leaving the Braves, he served as a hitting coach in the St. Louis system and then managed in Double-A in the Los Angeles Angels’ organization in 2014. … The Double-A Biloxi Shuckers have a new manager: Mike Guerrero, first-base coach in Milwaukee last year. A longtime minor league skipper, Guerrero replaces Carlos Subero, who was promoted to the Brewers’ big league staff. There are some familiar names in the Brewers’ system: Former Jackson Generals manager Rick Sweet will run the Triple-A team, Colorado Springs, and ex-Delta State star Edwin Maysonet is now a coach at Class A Brevard County, along with Ned Yost IV, a Jackson native and the son of the Kansas City manager.
Alex Yarbrough, the former Ole Miss infielder, is a player worth keeping tabs on in the minors this season. Yarbrough, 22, a switch-hitting second baseman, is a consensus top 10 prospect in the Los Angeles Angels system and received a non-roster invitation to their big league camp. A fourth-round pick out of UM in 2012, he batted .313 with 11 homers, 80 RBIs, 77 runs and 14 steals at Class A Inland Empire in the California League in 2013. Yarbrough’s defense reportedly still needs work. He is expected to spend 2014 at Double-A Arkansas, where his manager will be Phillip Wellman, the former Mississippi Braves skipper.