07 Aug

one door closes …

It was a hard fall for Bobby Bradley. Cleveland’s opening day first baseman, the Gulfport native was anchored to the bench by late April, outrighted to the minors in May and then released from Triple-A Columbus on Saturday. He was hitting .174 with seven homers and 30 RBIs — plus 74 strikeouts in 167 at-bats — for the Clippers. Guardians officials decided “maybe a change of scenery would be good for the kid,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona told cleveland.com. Bradley, just 26, figures to catch on somewhere. A lefty hitter with big power — 163 minor league homers since 2014 — he has some value. Drafted in the third round out of Harrison Central High, he rose fairly steadily in the Cleveland system. He debuted in the big leagues in 2019 and was Cleveland’s regular first baseman the latter half of 2021. But he hit just .208 with 16 homers last year and struck out way too much. P.S. Mike Mayers, veteran reliever out of Ole Miss, was brought back from the minors by the Los Angeles Angels and threw 3 1/3 shutout innings Saturday in the team’s loss to Seattle in Game 1 of a doubleheader. It was his first MLB appearance since May 25. He had a 5.40 ERA when he was designated for assignment. … Hayden Dunhurst, catcher for national champion Ole Miss this year, is 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and three walks in his first two pro games. The sixth-round pick is playing for Kansas City’s Arizona Complex League team. … Former Madison Central (and current Stanford) star Braden Montgomery has been a key player for Yarmouth-Dennis in the Cape Cod League. Montgomery hit .250 with four homers and 19 RBIs and posted a 2.25 ERA in three pitching appearances in the regular season. He got the win in relief for the Y-D Red Sox in their CCBL playoff opener.

06 Aug

southern style

Two of the most prominent sluggers in Mississippi college baseball history played a little version of home run derby in the eighth inning of an International League game Friday night at Omaha’s Werner Field. Matt Wallner, Southern Miss’ career homer leader, went deep for St. Paul, a two-run shot in the top half, and Brent Rooker, who led the SEC in homers in 2017 while winning the Triple Crown at Mississippi State, belted a three-run bomb for the host Storm Chasers in the bottom half. (St. Paul won the slugfest 15-6.) For Wallner, Minnesota’s No. 7 prospect, it was his first Triple-A home run in his 14th game at that level. He hit 21 in Double-A before his promotion. The left-handed hitting outfielder went 2-for-5 on Friday to lift his average to .179. He hit .299 in Double-A. Rooker’s homer was his second in his second game for Omaha following his trade to Kansas City from San Diego. He belted 19 at Triple-A El Paso, where he batted .272 for the Padres affiliate. The right-handed hitting outfielder, a former top prospect, has 95 minor league homers and 10 MLB bombs (all with Minnesota) in 67 big league games. He was the 35th overall pick by the Twins in the 2017 draft and was traded to the Padres just before this season began. P.S. Former George County High standout Justin Steele matched a career-high with 10 strikeouts for the Chicago Cubs on Friday. The lefty was pulled with two outs in the fifth inning after throwing 93 pitches against Miami. The Cubs won 2-1. … MSU product Dakota Hudson, in his second start for St. Louis since coming off the injured list, threw four-plus innings (78 pitches) against the New York Yankees, allowing three runs in a game the Cardinals would win 4-3.

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.

03 Aug

around the horn

The San Diego Padres, as you might have heard, made some big moves the past couple days. They also made some smaller ones of local interest: Former Mississippi State star Brent Rooker, playing in Triple-A, was traded to Kansas City for catcher Cam Gallagher. Outfielder Rooker, acquired from Minnesota just before the season, got only seven at-bats with the Padres. He was hitting .272 with 19 homers at El Paso; he has been assigned to Triple-A Omaha by the Royals. The Padres also sent ex-Ole Miss standout Drew Pomeranz on a rehab assignment to the Arizona Complex League. The veteran lefty, 33, has been on the injured list since Aug. 11, 2021, with an arm injury that required surgery. He posted a 1.75 ERA in 27 games last season. … MSU product Adam Frazier continued to provide spark to Seattle’s offense, going 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs and an RBI on Tuesday in the Mariners’ 8-6 win vs. the New York Yankees. Frazier is batting .345 in his last 15 games for an M’s club battling for a playoff spot. … MSU alum Chris Stratton, looking sharp in a St. Louis uniform, worked a scoreless ninth inning in his Cardinals debut, a 6-0 win against the Chicago Cubs. Stratton was acquired from Pittsburgh on Monday. … Davis Bradshaw, the ex-Meridian Community College and McLaurin High standout, has been promoted to Double-A Pensacola in the Miami system. He was batting .310 in A-ball this season and is a .301 career hitter in four pro seasons. … Former Mississippi Braves star Joey Meneses (2016-17), called up by Washington to replace Josh Bell at first base, homered in his MLB debut on Tuesday as the Nationals beat the New York Mets 5-1 in Jacob deGrom’s return to The Show. Meneses, a Mexico native, is a .281 hitter in a long minor league career. … A footnote, duly recognized in MLB Network’s touching tribute, on the brilliant career of Vin Scully: Mississippi native Red Barber, a legendary radio broadcaster in his own right, gave Scully his start with the Dodgers in Brooklyn in 1950 and mentored him in the early days of his career. Scully became the Dodgers’ primary voice when Barber left the team after the 1953 season, and he kept the job through 2016. So sad that he is gone.

28 Jul

worth noting

Into each season, some lowlights must fall. Mississippi State alum Kendall Graveman experienced one on Wednesday. On in the ninth inning to close out a win for the Chicago White Sox at Colorado, Graveman walked the first three batters and then yielded a two-run, walk-off single. He threw 17 pitches, only five for strikes in the 6-5 defeat. “I just didn’t get the job done,” he told mlb.com. “Obviously, that one’s on me … I’m better than that.” It was his fifth blown save in 10 chances and bumped his ERA to 2.89. He was the fifth reliever called on by manager Tony LaRussa; regular closer Liam Hendriks was down. There have been too many lowlights for the 2022 White Sox, the defending American League Central champs now stuck in third place at 49-49. … DeSoto Central High product Austin Riley saw his 18-game hitting streak end in Atlanta’s ugly 7-2 loss at Philadelphia. He went 0-for-4. The Braves put former Mississippi Braves star Michael Harris II in the leadoff spot for the first time, but the rookie sensation went 0-for-4. … In what apparently was Jacob deGrom’s last rehab start for the New York Mets, he was taken deep by former M-Braves standout Drew Waters, now with Triple-A Omaha in the Kansas City system. Waters, the Southern League batting champ in 2019, might be in line for his first call-up after the Royals’ trade of Andrew Benintendi to the New York Yankees. … Current M-Braves star Vaughn Grissom hit his second Double-A home run in a loss at Pensacola. Grissom is batting .370 in 11 games for Mississippi. … At Low-A Augusta in Atlanta’s system, ex-Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College standout Brandon Parker hit two bombs, giving him nine on the season. The outfielder is batting .288 in his second year at that level. … Add Ole Miss’ Brandon Johnson (Kansas City) and MSU’s Brad Cumbest (Colorado), Jackson Fristoe (Yankees) and Kamren James (Tampa Bay) to the list of MLB draft signees confirmed by mlb.com. Also, former Southern Miss (and Delta State) star Hunter Riggins has signed as an undrafted free agent with the Braves.

02 Jul

all in a day

On any given day, 90-some-odd games are played in affiliated pro ball at the different levels, from the big leagues to the rookies. There are Mississippians scattered throughout this landscape, at different stages of their careers, with different objectives in mind. Here’s a snapshot from Friday, starting in Mesa, Ariz., in the Arizona Complex League, where one of Kansas City’s rookie teams met Oakland’s. The Royals’ shortstop and No. 2 hitter is Brennon McNair, 19, a product of Magee High School and the lone prep player drafted out of Mississippi in 2021. McNair had a day Friday, going 4-for-4, with a double, three runs and a stolen base. For the year, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound McNair is batting .314 with a homer, eight RBIs, four doubles, four triples, two steals and 15 runs in 15 games. Just getting started on the road that leads to The Show, McNair is one to track. In addition to batting .527 with 11 homers as a senior at Magee, he was valedictorian and class president. … In Myrtle Beach, S.C., former Clinton High standout Christian Johnson made his Low-Class A debut for Charleston in the Tampa Bay system. Playing left field, he went 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base. Drafted in 2019, Johnson’s career got off to a sluggish start. He hit .168 in parts of three seasons at the rookie level. But the former 19th-round pick, 21 years old, is getting an opportunity at a higher level, and he made good Friday. … In Vancouver, B.C., Ole Miss alum Will Ethridge registered an encouraging start for Spokane, Colorado’s High-A team, allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts and notching his first win since April 29. The 24-year-old right-hander, a fifth-round pick in 2019, is 3-4 with a 5.51 ERA in 12 starts this season, 10-12, 4.82 for his pro career. … At Reading, Pa., in the Double-A Eastern League, former Jackson Prep star Will Warren worked five innings (four hits, one run) for Somerset, the New York Yankees’ affiliate, but got a no-decision in a game the Patriots lost. Warren, 23, drafted just last year out of Southeastern Louisiana, is 3-2 with a 2.90 ERA in six Double-A starts. He already is rated the Yankees’ No. 27 prospect by MLB Pipeline. … In Nashville, Mississippi State product Ethan Small, who got a brief look with the Milwaukee Brewers this season, keeps putting up good numbers for the Triple-A Sounds. The lefty, a former first-round pick, improved to 5-3, 3.30, with a six-inning outing (six hits, three runs) on Friday against Indianapolis. Small, 25, lasted just 2 2/3 innings in his MLB debut back on May 30. He is bound to get another call-up soon. … In San Francisco, at Oracle Park, ex-Ole Miss star and big league veteran Lance Lynn delivered his best start of the season for the Chicago White Sox: six shutout innings, allowing only five baserunners. (The White Sox won the game 1-0 with a run in the ninth; MSU alum Kendall Graveman got the save, his fourth.) Lynn, 35, who missed two months of the season after knee surgery, is 1-1 with a 4.50 in four starts since his return. The scuffling ChiSox, third in the American League Central, need more vintage Lynn. P.S. Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton was called up from Triple-A by Miami on Friday but didn’t get in the Marlins’ game. The well-traveled, 10-year big league vet had played one game for Jacksonville after signing on June 21; he hit .186 this season for Triple-A Tacoma in Seattle’s system before declaring free agency. … Petal’s Demarcus Evans, taken off Texas’ 40-man roster, was outrighted to Triple-A Round Rock’s roster. Evans last pitched in the majors in 2021; he has a 7.50 ERA in 12 games at Round Rock this year.

27 Aug

zooming on

Toronto, which picked up Corey Dickerson in a trade in July, has added another McComb native to its roster. The Blue Jays claimed Jarrod Dyson off waivers today from Kansas City. Dyson, 37, nearing the sunset of a nice career, is a good outfielder who can still swipe a base. (The nickname Zoombiya still fits.) He was batting .221 with eight bags in 77 games (just 122 at-bats) for the Royals. He is a .244 career hitter with 264 steals since his MLB debut in 2010. The Blue Jays will be his seventh team since 2017. Dyson was a 50th-round draft pick out of Southwest Mississippi Community College by the Royals in 2006.

16 Aug

welcome back

Chris Ellis is getting a second chance in the big leagues, courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays. Ex-Ole Miss standout Ellis, who made a single, one-inning appearance with Kansas City in March 2019, was purchased today from Triple-A Durham, where he had a 6.32 ERA over 15 appearances, 13 starts. The 28-year-old right-hander was originally drafted by St. Louis in 2014 after going 10-3, 2.55 for Ole Miss. He is 46-45 with a 4.92 career ERA in the minors. Once a rated prospect, Ellis pitched for the Mississippi Braves in 2016, posting an 8-2 record and making the Southern League All-Star game before a promotion to Triple-A. He has been with four different big league organizations and also pitched in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, keeping the dream alive.

13 Jul

this just in …

The first high school player from Mississippi has been picked in the MLB draft. Brennon McNair, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound shortstop from Magee, was plucked by Kansas City today in the 11th round. McNair went 319th overall; he was not rated among the top 250 draft prospects by MLB Pipeline. McNair, a South Alabama commit, hit .527 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs as a senior for Magee, which reached the Class 3A finals. … Mississippi State outfielder Rowdey Jordan (New York Mets) and Southern Miss pitcher Hunter Stanley (Cleveland) also were picked in Round 11.

27 Apr

as the game turns

The score was tied in the fifth inning at Comerica Park on Monday when former McComb High star Jarrod Dyson came up to face ex-Madison Central star Spencer Turnbull. Kansas City’s No. 8 hitter, leading off the inning, slashed a double to left field against Detroit’s starting pitcher. A sac bunt and a sac fly later, the Royals led 3-2. That would be the final score as the Royals, completing a four-game sweep at Detroit, improved to 14-7, best record in the American League. The Tigers fell to 7-16, worst in the league. Dyson, 36, back in KC after several years elsewhere, is a role player for the Royals. He has just 13 at-bats, four hits, three runs and two steals. He has been used mainly as a defensive replacement; his speed plays in the outfield. Dyson is good at little things, which has been a key to the Royals’ good start. See the bunt and sac fly on Monday. “People call them little things, but they’re big things. They’re really important for teams that fight like our team fights,” manager Mike Matheny said in an mlb.com story. The Tigers, meanwhile, are mired in a major funk, having lost 10 of 11 as their offense sputters. Their only win in that span was on April 21 in Turnbull’s first start of 2021 coming off the COVID-19 list. The big right-hander, now in his fourth MLB season, pitched well enough to win Monday, allowing just five hits (one homer) and no walks while striking out five over six innings. Tigers broadcasters raved about his curveball. But the Tigers went 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base. “Baseball’s cruel, and when you’re in these situations and these ruts, it feels like all these weird things happen,” manager A.J. Hinch said.