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.

03 Mar

kudos to jucos

Jarrod Dyson, a 50th-round draft pick – yes, 50th — by Kansas City in 2006, is returning to his original team. The former Southwest Mississippi Community College star from McComb has agreed to a 1-year, $1.5 million contract with the Royals, per reports. The 2021 season will be Dyson’s 12th in the big leagues. The speedy outfielder, 36, who won a ring with the Royals in 2015, is a .246 career hitter with 256 stolen bases and good defensive skills. He last played in KC in 2016 and split last season between Pittsburgh and the Chicago White Sox. … When he officially joins the Royals, Dyson will be the fourth state junior college product on an MLB 40-man roster. Corey Dickerson, Tim Anderson and Cody Reed are the others. The state’s jucos have produced a healthy list of big leaguers over the years, the most accomplished of which is arguably Roy Oswalt, a Holmes CC alum who won 163 big league games, second-most all-time among Mississippi natives. If you were choosing an all-time MLB team of state juco alums, Oswalt would have to be the No. 1 pitcher. Dyson, Meridian CC’s Dickerson and Mississippi Gulf Coast CC’s Matt Lawton would be the outfielders. Meridian alums Paul Phillips (catcher), Tyler Moore (first base) and Jason Smith (second base) would join East Central CC’s Anderson (shortstop) and Northwest CC’s Bill Selby (third base) in the infield. Marcus Thames, another ECCC alum, would be the DH. On the bench: MGCCC’s Fred Lewis and Joey Butler, Itawamba CC’s Desmond Jennings, Pearl River CC’s Wendell Magee, Copiah-Lincoln CC’s Nook Logan and Delta CC’s Bobby Etheridge. Cliff Lee (MCC), Greg Hibbard (MGCCC), Tony Sipp (MGCCC), Chad Bradford (Hinds), Reed (NWCC), Mike Smith (Utica) and Mike DeJean (Delta) would fill out a solid pitching staff. P.S. Mississippi-connected players who have recently joined big league camps include ex-Mississippi State star J.T. Ginn (New York Mets), Ole Miss product Cooper Johnson (Detroit) and UM alum Errol Robinson (Cincinnati). Ginn, a second-round pick in 2020, is coming back from Tommy John surgery.

13 Jan

have a great day

For Luke Easter, it was Sept. 29, 1951. For Dmitri Young, it was May 6, 2003. Great days at the plate by those two Mississippi natives have been rated among the top 5 all-time single-game performances for their respective MLB teams. Writers for mlb.com compiled the lists. Jonestown native Easter’s big day came in at No. 4 for Cleveland and Vicksburg native Young’s was No. 4 for Detroit. Easter — who became on Aug. 11, 1949, the first black Mississippian to play in the major leagues — went 4-for-6 with two homers, a triple, three runs and five RBIs against Detroit on Sept. 29, 1951. One of his homers was a grand slam and the other a game-tying blast in the bottom of the eighth inning. Young went 5-for-5 with two homers, two triples and five RBIs on May 6, 2003, at Baltimore. His 15 total bases were one shy of Ty Cobb’s club record. On April 4, 2005, Young hit three homers on opening day for the Tigers. That rare feat – only three others have ever done it — didn’t make Detroit’s top five. … The Kansas City Royals’ page on mlb.com didn’t have a top 5 list as of Tuesday, but if one was produced, Frank White’s Aug. 3, 1982, performance would surely be on it. The Greenville native hit for the cycle with four RBIs. His fourth and final hit was a two-out triple in the bottom of the ninth that drove in the game-winning run against Detroit. P.S. Easter hit .274 with 93 homers in his brief big league career; he was 34 when he debuted. Young, who went to high school in California, hit .292 with 171 bombs and made two All-Star Games over his 13 seasons. White, who grew up in Missouri, was a .255 hitter, five-time All-Star, eight-time Gold Glover and a world champ (in 1985) who ought to be in the Hall of Fame.

12 Feb

welcome aboard

Jarrod Dyson, who’s had to scrap for playing time over most of his 10-year big league career, may well begin the 2020 season as Pittsburgh’s starting center fielder. The Pirates reportedly have agreed to a contract with the McComb native, who spent last year with Arizona and batted .230 with 30 steals in a career-high 130 games and 400 at-bats. Dyson is 35 and has had some injury issues in recent seasons, but when healthy he brings plus-speed on the bases and in the field. He had a very productive 2019, setting career-highs for hits, runs, home runs and total bases. He’s a career .247 hitter (.319 on-base percentage) with 250 steals, second all-time (to Billy Hamilton’s 299) among Mississippi natives. A 50th-round draft pick out of Southwest Mississippi Community College by Kansas City in 2006, Dyson won a ring with the Royals in 2015.

23 Sep

final fling

The final homestand of Ned Yost’s final season as manager of the Kansas City Royals will begin Tuesday with a game against Atlanta, the organization that gave the former Jackson Mets star his first big league coaching job. Yost, 65, who won a World Series with the Royals in 2015, formally announced his pending retirement today. A catcher in his playing days, Yost spent 1976 and part of the ’77 season with the JaxMets, New York’s Double-A club. He had a short big league career before landing a job as Atlanta’s bullpen coach in 1991. He coached for the Braves until 2003, when he was hired as Milwaukee’s manager. He took the reins in Kansas City in 2010 and is the Royals’ all-time winningest manager. The current club is 57-100, headed for its third straight losing season. … Yost is one of five Mississippi-connected managers in the majors; the others are Ole Miss alum Mickey Callaway, former Mississippi Braves manager Brian Snitker, former JaxMets infielder Ron Gardenhire and ex-JaxMets manager Clint Hurdle.

16 Aug

running on empty?

When you’ve been found wanting by one of the worst teams in baseball, it’s not a good sign. But Billy Hamilton, still one of the fastest players in MLB, may find another opportunity to use his breathtaking speed. The former Taylorsville High star was designated for assignment today by Kansas City, which means he could be claimed by another team or, more likely, become a free agent. Hamilton signed a one-year free agent deal with the Royals in the off-season after six years with Cincinnati, where, from 2014-17, he averaged 58 steals a year despite a sub-.250 average. Wrote MLB Trade Rumors at the time he signed with Kansas City: “(I)f Hamilton starts filling those massive gaps (in Kauffman Stadium) with liners and shows a newfound devotion to the strike zone, the Royals could have the steal of the decade … .” That didn’t happen, and his plus-defense in center field wasn’t enough to keep him in the Royals’ lineup. Hamilton was batting .211 with 18 bags in 93 games. At 28, he can still run, so perhaps a team with a need for such a specialist will come calling.

12 Jul

back to it

It’s a good bet that Adam Frazier did not want to break for the All-Star Game — and not because he wasn’t invited to the event. Frazier, a Mississippi State alum, was on fire at the plate in the days leading up to the break. The Pittsburgh second baseman had 18 hits in seven games from July 1-7, raking at a .600 clip that raised his average to .287. He scored 11 runs and drove in seven and was named the National League’s player of the week for his efforts. Frazier will hit the restart button today when the Pirates play National League Central rival Chicago at Wrigley Field. The lefty-hitting Frazier figures to be in the lineup, probably leading off, against Cubs righty Yu Darvish. … On the other hand, Billy Hamilton, the former Taylorsville High standout, was playing like someone who needed the All-Star break. The Kansas City center fielder, batting .217 for the year, hit .198 with just four RBIs and five runs in his previous 30 games. Renowned for his speed, he has just 16 steals in 78 games. It might not be a good sign for Hamilton that the Royals have called up prospect Bubba Starling, a center fielder in the minors. The Royals host Detroit today. P.S. Ole Miss product Lance Lynn earned his MLB-leading 12th win on Thursday, throwing seven innings (with 11 punchouts) in Texas’ 5-0 victory vs. Houston. Lynn is 5-0 with a 2.00 ERA in his last five starts. … Ex-Mississippi State star Mitch Moreland went 0-for-4 in his rehab debut with Triple-A Pawtucket. The Boston first baseman has been on the injured list for all but one game since May 25. He is batting .225 with 13 homers.

18 Apr

give a flip

“Bat flips have become part of the game.” So says Tim Anderson in an mlb.com story. Former East Central Community College star Anderson, the Chicago White Sox’s marvelously talented shortstop, plays the game with much zeal, which is fine. But a demonstrative bat flip after a home run in the fourth inning of a scoreless game? That crosses the line. Anderson should not have been surprised when he was plunked — in the butt — by Kansas City pitcher Brad Keller in his next at-bat. Keller was ejected, as he should have been. Anderson was, too, rather inexplicably. All he did was yell at people as the two teams confronted each other on the field. The managers, Rick Renteria and Ned Yost, also did a lot of yelling and also were booted. A show of genuine emotion in baseball is great. Let the kids play, as they say. But there’s a time and place for it. Players have always done a pretty good job of policing their game. That’s what happened in Chicago on Wednesday. What baseball doesn’t need is the over-the-top histrionics of the NFL and the NBA, where every sack and every dunk are celebrated as if world peace had been achieved.

29 Mar

road trip

The road has been a winding one for Chris Ellis over the last six years, but it has led him to the big leagues. The former Ole Miss and Mississippi Braves star officially made Kansas City’s 25-man roster on Thursday. He did not pitch in the Royals’ opener. Ellis was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels out of UM in the third round in 2014. He was traded to Atlanta, making the Southern League All-Star Game with the M-Braves in 2016, then traded to St. Louis, then chosen in the Rule 5 draft of minor leaguers last December by Texas, which promptly traded him to Kansas City. The Royals will have to keep the 6-foot-5 right-hander on their active roster all season or offer him back to St. Louis. Ellis is 40-35 with a 4.47 ERA in his minor league career and went 6-4, 3.76 at Triple-A Memphis in 2018. Primarily a starter in the minors, he apparently will work out of the bullpen for KC.