Different season, different league, same old Thomas Dillard. The former Ole Miss slugger, who led the independent Atlantic League in homers this summer, has hit three bombs in 11 games in the Mexican Pacific League, Mexico’s winter league. Dillard, a switch-hitting first baseman, belted 39 homers for Lexington in his first year of indy ball and batted .258 with 100 RBIs. Now playing for Culiacan, Dillard is hitting .308 with nine RBIs. As a senior at Oxford High in 2016, Dillard led the nation with 16 homers and went on to hit 31 in three years at UM, including 14 as a junior in 2019. He spent three seasons in Milwaukee’s system, belted 12 homers for Double-A Biloxi in 2022 but was released after the season. Playing for Barry Lyons’ Counter Clocks in the Atlantic League — a Triple-A caliber loop — and now in the MPL, Dillard is showing that he still has plenty of thunder in his bat. P.S. Blaine Crim, the ex-Mississippi College star who played in Triple-A for Texas this season, mashed a home run in his first game in the Dominican Winter League but has just one hit since. He is 2-for-20 for Escogido. Crim hit 22 homers for Round Rock this summer and has 83 homers in his four-year minor league career. Southern Miss alum Chuckie Robinson, who had a good year (.290, 13 homers) in Triple-A for Cincinnati, is hitting .278 with three doubles for Cibao in the DWL. Also in the league is Ole Miss product David Parkinson, who got a win with three scoreless innings of work in his only appearance to date for Escogido. Parkinson, on a bit of a roller coaster since being drafted by Philadelphia in 2017, spent most of the 2023 season in Double-A, going 9-5 for Reading.
Mississippi certainly seems to have a knack for producing power hitters. It’s a thing, as they say. Check the Atlantic League batting leaders today and you’ll find ex-Ole Miss star Thomas Dillard on top in the home run category. Playing for Barry Lyons’ Lexington Counter Clocks in the independent league, Dillard mashed his 21st homer on Wednesday in a 9-4 win against Staten Island. The lefty-hitting first baseman has moved two homers ahead of former Harrison Central High star Bobby Bradley, who led the league about a month ago. Power has been Dillard’s calling card for much of his career. He led the nation in homers as a senior catcher at Oxford High with 16, earning All-America honors and state player of the year recognition from USA Today. At Ole Miss, he belted 14 homers and hit .310 as a junior and was drafted in the fifth round by Milwaukee in 2019. He played three seasons in the Brewers’ system, hitting .241 with 37 homers — 12 at Double-A Biloxi in 2022 — but striking out 356 times in 986 at-bats. Milwaukee released him last December. Lyons was happy to add him to the roster this spring for his first Lexington team. Dillard, only 25, still strikes out a fair bit but has posted a .269 average (.412 on-base percentage) and 53 RBIs for the 30-31 Counter Clocks. P.S. Madison Central product Braden Montgomery did his Shohei Ohtani act on Wednesday for Team USA, hitting a two-run homer and striking out the side in an inning of work against Chinese Taipei. Montgomery is 3-for-15 with two homers and four RBIs for the Collegiate National Team, which begins a five-game series against Japan on Friday.
Challenged by the Milwaukee Brewers to compete in the Midwest League as a first-year pro, ex-Ole Miss star Thomas Dillard appears to have figured something out. Batting .125 with no home runs through 13 games with Class A Wisconsin, the fifth-round pick has now homered in three straight games and is 7-for-15 in his last four. The switch-hitting Dillard, 21, hit .278 in four games at the rookie level before the Brewers promoted him to the low-A club. Listed as a catcher, which he played at Oxford High and for a handful of games at Ole Miss, Dillard has played only first base, left field and DH for the Timber Rattlers. Known for his power, Dillard hit 31 homers in his three years with the Rebels, including 14 this past season. He was a highly recruited player out of Oxford High, earning All-America recognition after blasting a nation-leading 16 homers for the state champion Chargers in 2016. P.S. Former Mississippi State ace Ethan Small, Milwaukee’s first-round pick in June, has made two appearances in the rookie Arizona League and retired all nine batters he’s faced, five via strikeout.