09 Aug

just stuff

There is a Mississippian on the roster of one of the two Iowa-based teams slated to play tonight in the minor league Field of Dreams Game in Dyersville, Iowa. Former Pascagoula High star Willie Joe Garry is an outfielder for the Cedar Rapids Kernels, Minnesota’s High-Class A affiliate. Garry, who recently came off the injured list, is batting .179 with 10 steals in his fourth pro season. Drafted out of ‘Goula in 2018, Garry is a .199 career hitter who stole 24 bases in 2021. (Listed on Quad Cities’ roster but on the season-long IL is ex-Mississippi State pitcher Eric Cerantola, drafted by Kansas City in 2021.) Tonight’s game will be televised by MLB Network at 6:30 CDT. … Ex-State standout Logan Tanner, the second-highest drafted Mississippi product this summer, made his pro debut on Monday with Cincinnati’s Arizona Complex League team. The Hattiesburg native, a second-round pick by the Reds, went 0-for-3. … The Mississippi Braves are at Tennessee this week for a six-game Southern League series in which they could encounter a couple of Magnolia State products. Ex-Southern Miss star Walker Powell is 2-2 with a 2.88 ERA in six games (three starts) for the Smokies, a Chicago Cubs affiliate. The 6-foot-8 Powell has nine wins over three levels in the Cubs’ system in 2022, his second pro season. Infielder Delvin Zinn, a Pontotoc native and Itawamba Community College alum, has played sparingly this season and is batting .095. He is a .237 career hitter. … The big league Cubs have announced that former M-Braves star Jason Heyward will be released after this season with a year left on his eight-year, $184 million contract. He is batting .174 with seven homers and is on the IL, probably for the remainder of this season. Heyward, 32, a key figure for the Cubs on their historic World Series winner in 2016, arrived in Mississippi as one of the top prospects in baseball in 2009. He hit .352 with seven homers and 30 RBIs in 47 Double-A games. He famously homered in his first MLB at-bat with Atlanta the next year. The Cubs also have released former M-Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, a defensive whiz who was hitting just .173. Simmons, 32, hit .293 for the M-Braves in 2012 and carries a .263 career average in the big leagues. … In Atlanta’s deflating series against the New York Mets last weekend, there were good signs from ex-M-Braves star Ronald Acuna, who went 8-for-19 with two doubles and a home run. He also won the Chevrolet Electric Play of the Week award for a home run-robbing catch in right field in Friday’s game, the only one the Braves won. Acuna is batting .267 with nine homers, 28 RBIs and 23 steals. Atlanta, playing at Boston tonight, needs more from him.

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.

04 Aug

look who’s no. 1

The flurry of recent trades that involved a ton of minor league prospects made for a major reshuffling of the organizational Top 30 charts by MLB Pipeline. Mississippi Braves shortstop Vaughn Grissom jumped up to the No. 1 spot in Atlanta’s list. He is raking at a .362 clip in 17 Double-A games. Nine other current M-Braves, including some on the injured list, are in the Top 30. No. 10 is Darius Vines, a right-handed starter slated to go tonight against Biloxi at Trustmark Park. Former Smithville High star Jared Johnson is No. 23 on the Braves’ list. The right-hander is on the IL (Tommy John surgery) at Low-Class A Augusta. … There are 18 other Mississippi products in the various Top 30s. (The lists will be redone again at some point to filter in the 2022 draft picks.) Former Mississippi State stars Will Bednar (No. 4, San Francisco) and Justin Foscue (No. 4, Texas) are the highest-rated. Others of note: MSU product Jordan Westburg is Baltimore’s fifth-rated prospect; ex-DeSoto Central High standout Blaze Jordan is Boston’s No. 6; Ole Miss alum Ryan Rolison is Colorado’s No. 7; Southern Miss product Matt Wallner is Minnesota’s No. 7; and former MSU star J.T. Ginn is Oakland’s No. 8. Wallner, who homered in last month’s All-Star Futures Game, has reached Triple-A. MSU product Ethan Small, Milwaukee’s No. 10, has made two big league pitching appearances this season. P.S. Lance Lynn, the veteran right-hander from Ole Miss, delivered a shot in the arm for the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. In what broadcaster Steve Stone described as a “wonderful” performance, Lynn threw six innings of one-run ball to beat Kansas City 4-1. It might have been the best of his 10 starts since coming off the injured list. Pitching around a rain delay, he allowed four hits and struck out eight. Lynn is 2-4 with a 5.87 ERA, not the numbers Chicago was hoping for from him. But Wednesday’s outing surely was encouraging. … Ex-UM star Thomas Dillard hit his ninth homer of the season, helping Biloxi complete a twinbill sweep of the M-Braves at the TeePee. … Mississippi College alum Blaine Crim, at Double-A Frisco in the Texas system, went 4-for-5 and hit a pair of homers. He is batting .277 with 15 bombs and 57 RBIs.

01 Aug

seize the day

Austin Riley wasn’t the only Mississippi product capping the month of July with a big day. In addition to DeSoto Central High alum Riley’s record-setting, walk-off double for Atlanta (see previous post), Corey Dickerson, Kirk McCarty, Hunter Renfroe, Kendall Graveman and Adam Frazier also earned some high-fives on Sunday. Dickerson, the ex-Meridian Community College star, produced the kind of game St. Louis was anticipating in his first season with the Cardinals: three hits, a homer (his fourth), two runs and three RBIs in a 5-0 win over Washington. Dickerson, who got off to a woeful start in 2022, is batting .226. McCarty, the rookie lefty out of Southern Miss, got his second MLB win, throwing 3 1/3 innings (one run) in middle relief for Cleveland in 5-3 victory against Tampa Bay. His first win came Tuesday at Boston. Mississippi State alum Renfroe, back in Boston with his new club Milwaukee, went 4-for-4 with his 19th homer in a 7-2 loss. He has six bombs in his last nine games and has raised his average to .254. Graveman, another ex-MSU standout, notched his 16th hold with a scoreless inning (the eighth) for the Chicago White Sox in a 4-1 defeat of Oakland. And MSU product Frazier, who had scuffled for many weeks with Seattle, went 2-for-4 with a run as the leadoff batter in a 3-2 loss to Houston. He is batting .353 in his last 19 games (.244 overall) for the resurgent Mariners. P.S. Former East Central Community College standout Tim Anderson continues to play for the White Sox while his three-game suspension from a Friday incident is under appeal. He is 3-for-8 in two wins. … The Los Angeles Dodgers have released ex-Ole Miss star Bobby Wahl, who had appeared in six games in Triple-A this year. He pitched in 17 big league games from 2017-20.

30 Jul

bring the wood

Since coming off the injured list in late June, Brandon Woodruff has been putting the hurt on opposing batters. The Mississippi State product from Wheeler, now working for the Milwaukee Brewers, beat Boston at Fenway Park on Friday night, his fourth win (against no losses) in six starts since his IL stint. Woodruff (9-3, 3.55 ERA, on the season) checked the Red Sox on four hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run and punching out nine in the 4-1 win that kept the first-place Brewers 3 games up on St. Louis in the National League Central. “If I can get ahead and mix it up a little bit …,” he told mlb.com in casually explaining his success. Over his last six starts, Woodruff has a 2.06 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP and 48 strikeouts in 35 innings. “Very happy to hand him the ball every five days,” manager Craig Counsell told Sportsnaut before Friday’s game. Woodruff has matched his win total from a hard-luck 2021 and seems certain to surpass his career-high 11 wins in 2019. He was an All-Star in both of those seasons. The big right-hander was an 11th-round draft pick in 2014 after an uneven career at State; it might rank as one of Milwaukee’s shrewdest picks ever. P.S. Ex-Ole Miss star Lance Lynn, who started this season on the IL, allowed three homers in the Chicago White Sox’s 7-3 loss at home to Oakland. Lynn is 1-4, 6.42 ERA, in nine starts. He was an 11-game winner and an All-Star in 2021. The White Sox fell to 49-50 and might lose Tim Anderson to a suspension. The East Central Community College alum appeared to bump the home plate umpire in Friday’s game while arguing his ejection for protesting a strike call. … Former DeSoto Central High star Austin Riley, who homered and doubled twice in Atlanta’s 5-2 win vs. Arizona, is batting .427 with 11 homers, 13 doubles, 21 runs and 24 RBIs in July. … Southern Miss left-hander Dalton Rogers, the third player picked from the state in this year’s draft (third round), has signed with Boston for a reported $447,500, according to mlb.com. USM pitcher Landon Harper (14th round) reportedly has signed with Atlanta.

29 Jul

still grinding

In the category Best Performance by a Mississippian on a Team Going Nowhere, here’s a nominee: Nathaniel Lowe, Texas Rangers. Ex-Mississippi State standout Lowe hit a home run and a triple off Shohei Ohtani on Thursday night in the Rangers’ 2-0 win against the Los Angeles Angels. Lowe, hitting .370 over his last seven games, is batting .276 with 15 homers and 43 RBIs for the Rangers (44-54). A 13th-round draft pick out of State back in 2016, Lowe is now in his fourth MLB campaign, second with Texas. He has 97 hits this season and his next will be his 300th total in The Show. He is a .265 career hitter. A few other praiseworthy performances from Thursday down on the farm: Ex-Columbia High star Ti’Quan Forbes hit two doubles and a homer, driving in six runs, for Double-A Amarillo in the Arizona system. Forbes is at .247 with seven homers. … Ole Miss product Thomas Dillard went 2-for-3 with his eighth homer for Double-A Biloxi, which got a win over Montgomery but is in last place in the Southern League South. … Davis Bradshaw, a Meridian Community College product from McLaurin, went 1-for-3 for High-A Beloit in the Miami chain and raised his average to .322. He has 23 RBIs, 23 runs and eight steals in 67 games. He is a career .302 hitter in four pro seasons. … Southern Miss alum Reed Trimble, only recently activated from the injured list, extended his hit streak to four games and is 6-for-20 (.300) for Low-A Delmarva in the Baltimore system. He was the 65th overall pick in 2021. P.S. Tyler Stuart, the 6-foot-9 right-hander from USM, has signed with the New York Mets, per mlb.com. He was a sixth-round pick. … Detroit has announced that Spencer Turnbull, the Madison Central High alum, won’t pitch in the big leagues this season. The right-hander had Tommy John surgery last summer, shortly after throwing a no-hitter on May 18. He was 4-2, 2.88 ERA, in 2021 and is 11-25, 4.25, for his MLB career with the Tigers. … On this date in 1966, Clarksdale native Fred Valentine had a day: a franchise-record seven hits, including two doubles, and four RBIs in a doubleheader for the Washington Senators. He hit .247 over a seven-year career.

27 Jul

central casting

There is a three-team battle going on in the American League Central, and a bunch of Magnolia State products were on the frontlines Tuesday in three different skirmishes. Start in Boston, where former Southern Miss pitcher Kirk McCarty, making just his fourth big league appearance, delivered four shutout innings and got his first MLB win in Cleveland’s 8-3 victory at Fenway Park. “It’s special,” said McCarty, who in the last couple weeks was claimed on waivers by Baltimore and then reclaimed by the Guardians. The left-hander allowed just one hit and one walk while fanning four. He followed fellow former Golden Eagles star Nick Sandlin in what was a bullpen game for Cleveland. Sandlin, who has a 2.81 ERA, got the last two outs of the third inning. The Guardians (49-47) moved to within 2 1/2 games of first-place Minnesota (52-45) in the AL Central after the Twins lost at Milwaukee. The Brewers gave former Mississippi State star Ethan Small his second big league start, and it was a little rough, much like his first one back in May. Small yielded a leadoff home run to Byron Buxton, three more hits, four walks and two more runs in 3 2/3 innings. He has a 7.11 ERA in his two MLB games. However, the Brewers, the first-place team in the National League Central, rallied to win 7-6, aided by ex-State slugger Hunter Renfroe’s 17th home run. Meanwhile, the Chicago White Sox (49-48, 3 games back in the AL Central) kept pace with their third straight win, beating Colorado at Coors Field 2-1. Ex-State standout Kendall Graveman worked a scoreless eighth inning for Chicago, notching his 15th hold. East Central Community College alum Tim Anderson, the ChiSox’s All-Star shortstop, had a hand in all four of the double plays the team turned in that game. P.S. Props to former Mississippi Braves manager Brian Snitker for notching his 500th win with Atlanta on Tuesday. His club, the reigning World Series champion, has won four straight NL East titles. … South Panola High product Emaarion Boyd, one of the two prep players drafted (11th round) out of the state last week, reportedly has signed with Philadelphia. He is the seventh player of 23 drafted to sign, according to mlb.com (see previous posts).

23 Jul

now that’s clutch

On the brink of a fourth straight loss, one strike away from defeat at their home park Friday night, the Milwaukee Brewers were jolted to life by a 447-foot, game-tying home run off the bat of Hunter Renfroe. The ex-Mississippi State star’s 14th homer of the year — and first in over a month — came in the 10th inning and enabled the Brewers to play on against Colorado, ultimately winning 6-5 in 13 on Luis Urias’ walk-off single. “Obviously, we want to win any way possible, but this really helps the camaraderie in the clubhouse,” Renfroe said in an mlb.com story. Things didn’t look good before Renfroe smashed a 2-2 slider from Robert Stephenson high over the left-field wall at American Family Field to tie the score at 5-5 with two down in the 10th. “If you’ve got a chip, you’ve got a chance,” a Brewers broadcaster said as Renfroe rounded the bases. The Brewers opened up a 1 1/2 game lead over St. Louis in the National League Central. Renfroe, who missed a couple weeks with a hamstring injury, is batting .247 with 31 RBIs in his first season with Milwaukee after a career year in Boston in 2021. … Elsewhere in MLB, George County High alum Justin Steele allowed a first-pitch homer to Philadelphia’s Kyle Schwarber but nary another run in five innings as he picked up the win in the Chicago Cubs’ 15-2 blowout of the host Phillies. Steele is 4-6. … Former Ole Miss standout Nick Fortes drove in three runs in Miami’s 8-1 win at Pittsburgh that ended a three-game scoreless streak for the Marlins (see previous post). The drought reached a franchise record-tying 37 innings before it ended. P.S. Minor matters: Former Ole Miss star Errol Robinson signed a minor league contract with St. Louis on Friday and was assigned to Double-A Springfield. Robinson was playing for Sussex County in the independent Frontier League, batting .312 with 22 stolen bases. Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016, Robinson was a minor league Rule 5 pick by Cincinnati in 2020 and reached Triple-A last season before being released. He was batting .176 at Louisville and .254 for his pro career. … Ole Miss product Tyler Keenan has been promoted to Double-A New Hampshire in Toronto’s system. The power-hitting third baseman was drafted by Seattle in 2020 and traded earlier this season. He was batting .300 in 15 games at High-A Vancouver, where he had spent time on the injured list. … Ex-Southern Miss star Reed Trimble came off a brief rehab assignment and was sent to Low-A Delmarva by Baltimore. He was 2-for-4 in Friday’s game. The 2021 draftee hit .200 in A-ball last season and had been on the IL since the start of this year. … MSU product J.T. Ginn pitched three innings (no earned runs) on a rehab assignment for Oakland’s Arizona Complex League team. He was 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA at Double-A Midland when he was hurt. Ginn was acquired by the A’s in a spring trade with the New York Mets.

21 Jul

odds and ends

A way-too-early mock draft for 2023 by MLB Pipeline has Ole Miss shortstop Jacob Gonzalez going second overall to Cincinnati and former Southern Miss pitcher Hurston Waldrep ninth to the Los Angeles Angels. Waldrep reportedly has transferred to Florida. … Former Petal High star and ex-big leaguer Anthony Alford, who turned 28 on Wednesday, is batting .244 with four homers and 17 RBIs for the KT Wiz in the Korean Baseball Organization. Alford, who has played in 102 MLB games, had four at-bats with Pittsburgh this season. … Oddly coincidental: Mississippi natives Nook Logan and Craig Tatum debuted in the big leagues on this date five years apart. Logan, a Copiah-Lincoln Community College product from Natchez, went 1-for-3 in his first game for Detroit in 2004, while Hattiesburg native Tatum, a Mississippi State alum, was 0-for-2 for Cincinnati in 2009. Logan was one of three Mississippians, along with Dmitri Young and Marcus Thames, who started for the Tigers on July 21, 2004, against Kansas City. Logan hit .268 with 56 steals in 321 games over four MLB campaigns. Tatum hit .223 over parts of three seasons. … The Double-A Mississippi Braves, off to a 14-4 start in the second half of the Southern League season, return to the field on Friday at Montgomery. The M-Braves have won six straight. The Biloxi Shuckers (6-12) return on Friday against Pensacola at MGM Park. … The state semi-pro tournament is slated for this weekend at Mississippi College’s Frierson Field. The venerable Hattiesburg Black Sox are the presumptive favorites. … The Triple-A Nashville Sounds are having a Tim Dillard Bobblehead Night on July 29 and will retire the former pitcher’s number in a pregame ceremony. Dillard, a Saltillo High and Itawamba Community College alum, pitched with the Sounds for parts of nine seasons and spent parts of four years in the big leagues with Milwaukee. … On July 30, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame will formally induct ex-Delta State star Barry Lyons and Ole Miss product David Dellucci, both former major leaguers, as part of its Class of 2022.

19 Jul

it’s a wrap

Major League clubs found a deep pool of talent in Mississippi this year, selecting 23 players from the state over the 20 rounds of the three-day draft. The picks ranged from Mississippi State pitcher Landon Sims at No. 34 overall to Arizona to Meridian Community College outfielder Ke’Shun Collier at No. 593 in Round 20 to the Chicago Cubs. National champion Ole Miss saw seven players drafted, the first being pitcher Derek Diamond in the sixth round to Pittsburgh. Seven MSU players also were picked, including the first position player from the state to go off the board, catcher Logan Tanner at overall pick No. 55 in Round 2 to Cincinnati. Five Southern Miss players were drafted, all pitchers, topped by Dalton Rogers, third round to Boston. William Carey’s Chris Williams Jr., an outfielder, was picked in the 18th round by Detroit. South Panola outfielder Emaarion Boyd went in the 11th round to Philadelphia and Tishomingo County shortstop Spence Coffman in the 19th round to San Diego as the only high school players selected. No state SWAC school players were picked.