The 1-2 punch of Blaine Crim and Justin Foscue, a pair of Magnolia State college products, delivered again for Round Rock on Sunday and powered the Express into the Triple-A Pacific Coast League playoffs. Ex-Mississippi College star Crim went 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs and Mississippi State alum Justin Foscue added a double and two RBIs as Round Rock, a Texas affiliate, beat Tacoma 11-6. The Express, winners of seven of their last nine, will tangle with Oklahoma City (Los Angeles Dodgers) for the PCL title. Crim hit .289 with 22 homers and 85 RBIs in his fourth pro season. Foscue, the Rangers’ sixth-rated prospect in his third season, batted .266 with 18 homers and 84 RBIs. … Biloxi High product Colt Keith went 1-for-5 for Triple-A Toledo to finish his 2023 season with a .306 average, 27 home runs and 101 RBIs. Detroit’s No. 2 prospect, Keith, 22, played at Double-A and Triple-A this season, his third in the minors. … Kudos to Rick Sweet, who was the Jackson Generals’ first manager in 1991-92, for becoming Triple-A Nashville’s all-time winningest skipper with 321 victories over four seasons. Nashville is a Milwaukee farm club; ex-MSU standout Ethan Small went 2-4 with a 3.18 ERA and three saves in 38 games for Sweet’s Sounds this year. … In the big leagues, James McArthur, former Ole Miss star, struck out Yordan Alvarez with the tying run on base to save Kansas City’s 6-5 win at Houston, the last-place Royals’ third straight win vs. the Astros. Combined with Texas’ sweep at Seattle, the Astros are now 2.5 games back of the first-place Rangers in the American League West. McArthur, a rookie, has a win and two saves vs. Houston in his last five appearances. He has not allowed a run in 10 September games. … Ole Miss product Lance Lynn posted a third straight strong start (two runs in six innings) for the playoff-bound Dodgers, who beat San Francisco 3-2 in 10 innings. On the heels of a pair of bad outings, the 36-year-old Lynn has allowed just seven runs in 18 innings (3.50 ERA) in his last three; he is 6-2, 4.50, since the Dodgers acquired him at the trade deadline. Lynn has extensive postseason experience, having made 27 appearances since 2011.
It seemed like a good omen for Atlanta, which hits tons of home runs and scores bunches of runs in the first inning, when Austin Riley blasted a 447-foot, two-run homer in the opening inning Wednesday night to put the Braves on top of Philadelphia. And a good omen it was. With Spencer Strider and a couple of relievers taking it home, the Braves clinched the National League East by beating the Phillies 4-1 at Citizens Bank Park, celebrating their sixth straight division crown on the field of one of their main rivals. DeSoto Central High alum Riley’s homer was his 35th, three off his career-high set in 2022. That bomb was one of a handful of noteworthy homers by Mississippians in pro ball. Former Mississippi State star Nathaniel Lowe hit his 16th, a three-run shot in the fourth inning, as Texas won its fifth straight game, 10-0 at Toronto, and remained one game back of Houston in the wild American League West. For the Rangers, that win may have helped assuage the pain they felt in learning that ace Max Scherzer is done for the year. Ex-Southern Miss standout Matt Wallner’s 12th homer of the season got Minnesota on the board in the third inning against visiting Tampa Bay, but the Twins ultimately fell 5-4. Wallner has homered roughly once every 14 at-bats for the Twins this year. The Twins lead the AL Central by 7.5 games over Cleveland but have lost three of four and have yet to clinch. In the minors, Biloxi High product Colt Keith continued his breakout path, belting his 11th home run for Triple-A Toledo and 25th overall in 2023. Keith, 22, a third-year pro in Detroit’s system, is batting .309 (.932 OPS) with 95 RBIs. In the independent Atlantic League, ex-Ole Miss standout Thomas Dillard extended his league-leading homer total with his 37th for Lexington. Dillard hit 37 homers in three years in affiliated ball in Milwaukee’s system and 31 in three seasons at UM. The Greenwood native is batting .254 with 97 RBIs for Barry Lyons’ Counter Clocks, who are out of playoff contention in the APBL. P.S. Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton made his debut for Triple-A Durham on Wednesday as a defensive replacement in center field. Hamilton, 33, who has 931 professional stolen bases, was signed by Tampa Bay on Aug. 30 after being released by the Chicago White Sox. There is speculation the Rays, a playoff contender in the AL, will bring him up as a speed specialist for the stretch run.
They played a Triple-A baseball game in Louisville on Tuesday that produced a football-type score and saw a couple of Mississippi products deliver big hits. Biloxi High alum Colt Keith hit his seventh homer, drove in three runs and scored three to help Toledo smack down the host Bats 24-10. Ex-Southern Miss star Chuckie Robinson went 2-for-4 with his 11th homer and drove in five runs for Louisville. Keith, one of Detroit’s top prospects, is hitting .258 and appears on the cusp of a big league call-up, though it might not happen in 2023. Robinson, in his seventh pro season, is having a huge year for Cincinnati’s top farm club, batting .315 with 66 RBIs. He is a .261 career hitter in the minors and hit .136 in 25 games with the Reds last summer. (Former Madison Central standout Spencer Turnbull, on a rehab assignment with Toledo, started and yielded three runs in 3 2/3 innings, running his ERA to 7.71 in four starts for the Mud Hens.) … At Triple-A Round Rock, where the scoring also ran high, Mississippi College product Blaine Crim went 4-for-5 with his 16th homer to power the Express to a 9-6 win over Salt Lake. Crim, in his fourth season in Texas’ system, is batting .296 with 62 RBIs. He has yet to receive an MLB look.
Matt Wallner will strike out. He struck out three times for Minnesota on Tuesday night. Matt Wallner will also hit home runs, big ones, like the game-turning grand slam the ex-Southern Miss star stroked Tuesday night for the Twins in a 5-3 win over Detroit. “That’s not one we will forget. That was more than a nice swing,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told mlb.com. Wallner’s 450-foot bomb to right-center field was his first career slam in the big leagues, and it earned the Minnesota native and lifelong Twins fan a curtain call from the 30,000-plus at Target Field. The win kept the first-place Twins 4.5 games ahead of Cleveland in the American League Central. Wallner said in a postgame TV interview that his swing felt terrible at the start of the night, but that changed in the sixth inning when he sent a pitch from Will Vest into the upper deck. “Just felt like I hit it about as good as I could,” the lefty-hitting outfielder said in an Associated Press article. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Wallner has struck out 36 times in 104 at-bats over 38 games for Minnesota this season. He also has belted nine homers, five in his last 15 games. Lots of K’s, lots of bombs: That’s the yin and yang of many contemporary sluggers. Wallner mashed a school-record 58 homers in three seasons at USM, a show of power that got him drafted 38th overall in 2019. He made his MLB debut last September and, of course, homered in his first game. P.S. Mississippi State product Dakota Hudson improved to 3-0 in three starts since returning to St. Louis’ rotation. He went 6 2/3 (two runs) in a 6-2 win against Oakland. … Former Madison Central High standout Spencer Turnbull, on a rehab assignment for Detroit, allowed six runs in five innings for Triple-A Toledo. … Drew Lugbauer, the Mississippi Braves’ all-time home run king, hit a homer in his first game for Triple-A Gwinnett. Lugbauer, promoted on Tuesday, hit 68 homers over three seasons for the Double-A M-Braves. … At Trustmark Park, Biloxi’s Jacob Misiorowski, Milwaukee’s No. 4 prospect, yielded one hit in six dominant innings as the first-place Shuckers beat the last-place M-Braves 3-0 in the Southern League. Looking like a right-handed Chris Sale, the 6-foot-7 Misiorowski struck out 12 batters. The M-Braves fanned 17 times all told.
Former Biloxi High standout Colt Keith, who has reached Triple-A at age 21 in his third pro season, is ranked No. 26 in MLB Pipeline’s newly released Top 100 minor league prospects. Keith is the lone Mississippi product in the overall rankings. The former Gatorade player of the year is Detroit’s No. 2 prospect and is currently hitting .270 with three homers and 19 RBIs at Toledo while playing mainly third base. There are 19 other state college or prep alums in the team Top 30 rankings. Six players from this year’s draft class were slotted in, including Southern Miss alum Hurston Waldrep, who is Atlanta’s No. 2. Ole Miss product Jacob Gonzalez is the Chicago White Sox’s No. 4, fellow former Rebels star Kemp Alderman is Miami’s No. 9 and former Mississippi State star Colton Ledbetter is Tampa Bay’s No. 9. Ledbetter, a left-handed hitting outfielder, is 7-for-17 with a homer in his first five pro games. Cooper Pratt, the state’s 2023 player of the year at Magnolia Heights Academy, is Milwaukee’s No. 10, and ex-USM star Tanner Hall is Minnesota’s No. 15. Of particular note, Justin Foscue, the 14th overall pick out of MSU in 2020, is ranked as Texas’ No. 6 and is having a good year at Triple-A Round Rock, batting .262 with 11 homers, 49 RBIs and 65 runs in 86 games. With third baseman Josh Jung currently out with a broken thumb, the Rangers might give Foscue a call in the near future. … The Double-A Mississippi Braves’ roster includes four of Atlanta’s Top 30: lefty Luis De Avila (No. 13), shortstop Cal Conley (No. 21), outfielder Jesse Franklin V (No. 22) and righty Tyler Owens (No. 27). Former M-Braves right-hander AJ Smith-Shawver, now at Triple-A Gwinnett, is the lone Atlanta prospect in the Top 100 at No. 58. He has already debuted in MLB. P.S. Ex-USM star Nick Sandlin threw four pitches Thursday, got a ground ball to escape a base-loaded situation in the sixth inning and earned his seventh hold in Cleveland’s 4-3 win against Toronto. Sandlin has a 3.45 ERA for the second-place Guardians. … Former Ole Miss standout Thomas Dillard and ex-Harrison Central High star Bobby Bradley traded homers in the independent Atlantic League on Thursday. Dillard’s 31st was not enough for Lexington, which fell 8-6 to Bradley (23 bombs) and Charleston.
Things got a little hot in Houston on Wednesday night. There were six home runs — one by hot-hitting former Mississippi State standout Nathaniel Lowe — two hit batsmen, two ejections, one benches-clearing incident and many angry words. When the final bell rang at Minute Maid Park, Texas had a 13-5 victory over rival Houston, salvaging the finale of the three-game series and leaving town with a 2-game lead in the American League West. Lowe had two of the Rangers’ 17 hits, drew two walks, drove in three runs and scored twice. He also had his tower buzzed on a ball-four pitch by erratic Astros starter Framber Valdez, who had surrendered the homer to Lowe in his previous at-bat. Lowe, who has 12 bombs on the season, is hitting .435 over his last seven games with 10 hits, eight walks, nine RBIs and eight runs. The Rangers (60-43) have scored 10 or more runs in 21 games and have won 20 of them. … Ex-Southern Miss star Matt Wallner also has swung a hot bat of late, but his two-homer game on Wednesday was not enough to push Minnesota past Seattle. The Mariners won 8-7, getting a pair of homers from Mississippi Braves alum Dylan Moore. Wallner is batting .320 over his last seven games and has four homers in 51 at-bats this season. The Twins saw their lead in the AL Central shrink to 2 games over Cleveland, which beat Kansas City 5-3 as ex-USM star Nick Sandlin picked up his fifth win in relief. P.S. Kemp Alderman, the Ferriss Trophy winner out of Ole Miss, went 1-for-6 in a doubleheader in his pro debut for Low-Class A Jupiter in the Miami system. Alderman was a second-round pick. … Former Biloxi High standout Colt Keith went 2-for-3 with his third homer for Triple-A Toledo in the Detroit chain. The 21-year-old Keith — the Tigers’ No. 1 prospect — is batting .290 with 14 RBIs in 19 games at this level; he hit .325 with 14 homers in Double-A.
Jordan Westburg is on the board. The ex-Mississippi State standout hit MLB career home run No. 1 on Monday, helping Baltimore beat Philadelphia 3-2 in a big interleague series. Westburg is batting .266 in 20 games; he has 60 minor league homers on hs ledger. … Also going yard for the first time in the big leagues was former Biloxi Shuckers standout Sal Frelick, whose blast in his third MLB game helped Milwaukee beat Cincinnati 3-2 in a big National League Central contest. … Coincidentally, those homers came on the same day as Will Verdung’s first as a pro; the Itawamba Community College alum, a recent draftee, went deep in his debut for Atlanta’s rookie club (see previous post). … And in keeping with that theme, South Panola High product Emaarion Boyd hit his first pro homer on Sunday for Philadelphia’s Low-Class A Clearwater team. A 2022 draftee, the 177-pound Boyd, 19, leads the Florida State League in steals with 41. … Jacob Gonzalez and Calvin Harris, both drafted out of Ole Miss by the Chicago White Sox, made their pro debuts on Monday in the Arizona Complex League. Gonzalez started at shortstop and went 0-for-1 with two walks; Harris started at catcher and went 1-for-3. … All 14 players drafted out of the state this year have signed. Tupelo High’s Johnathan Rogers, a 6-foot-3 right-hander picked in Round 20, has inked with Detroit, though mlb.com’s draft tracker doesn’t indicate the bonus. … In Monday’s huge American League West clash between Texas and Houston, ex-MSU star Nathaniel Lowe went 1-for-3 with two walks, two runs and an RBI but the first-place Rangers fell to the Astros 10-9 at Minute Maid Park. Former Ole Miss star Grae Kessinger, a backup infielder, did not play for Houston, which closed to within 2 games of the division lead. … DeSoto Central High alum and current Braves star Austin Riley earned NL player of the week honors after smacking six homers and driving in 16 runs last week. Riley tied a franchise record with homers in five straight games. … Ole Miss product Lance Lynn is listed in an mlb.com article as one of the 17 players most likely to be traded before the Aug. 1 deadline. The veteran pitcher, 36, has had a rough season with the White Sox. … Detroit has announced that former Madison Central standout Spencer Turnbull, on the injured list since May 6, will make a rehab start tonight and another Sunday in A-ball. Turnbull, coming back from 2021 Tommy John surgery, was having a rough time before injuring his neck.
Trent Giambrone, the former Delta State standout, is having a standout season as the shortstop and leadoff batter for the York Revolution of the independent Atlantic League. Giambrone, 29, is batting .280 with 13 homers and 48 RBIs in what is his eighth professional season. He put up a 2-for-4 on Saturday, driving in a pair of runs for the Revolution in a 10-7 win against Lexington. Giambrone, listed at 5 feet 8, 175 pounds, defied the odds as a 25th-round draft pick by reaching the big leagues with the Chicago Cubs in 2021. He is one of nine DSU alums to play in the majors. He got a pinch single in his first at-bat and was 2-for-13 overall as a September call-up. He went back to the minors in 2022 and became a free agent at season’s end, signing with York this spring. Giambrone batted .351 over two years at DSU but didn’t replicate that success in the minors (.231 career). However, he appears to have found a happy place in the Atlantic League, a good quality loop where several Mississippians are currently playing. P.S. Ole Miss product Thomas Dillard, playing for Lexington on Saturday, went 3-for-4 with two doubles and his league-best 22nd home run (see previous post). … Tim Elko, another ex-Rebels star, put up a 3-for-4 with a triple and four RBIs for High-Class A Winston-Salem in the White Sox’s organization. In 10 games at this level, Elko — a ’22 draftee — is batting .308 with a homer and eight RBIs. Half of his 12 hits are extra-base knocks. … Former Biloxi High standout Colt Keith, Detroit’s No. 1 prospect (per mlb.com), went 1-for-1 with a walk in Saturday’s All-Star Futures Game in Seattle. Keith is batting .335 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs between Double-A and Triple-A this season. … The Tigers’ previous no-hitter before Saturday’s combo job was thrown by Madison Central High product Spencer Turnbull on May 18, 2021, at Seattle. Turnbull, who missed all of the 2022 season following Tommy John surgery, is back on the injured list now (neck injury) but is throwing off a mound. He is 1-4 with a 7.26 ERA in seven starts this year.
Before the curtain fell on June, a handful of Mississippians delivered performances worthy of raucous applause. Bidding for a spot on the National League All-Star team, Justin Steele — the lefty from Lucedale — pitched 6 1/3 shutout innings for the Chicago Cubs in a 10-1 win Friday against Cleveland. Steele is 9-2 with a 2.43 ERA, tied for second-most wins in the NL and tops in ERA. He should be in Seattle, for sure. … Austin Riley, the slugger from Southaven, went 3-for-5 with his 15th home run in Atlanta’s 16-4 demolition of Miami, its closest pursuer in the NL East. Riley, batting .270 with 43 RBIs, 55 runs and a .459 slugging percentage, was a finalist at third base in the All-Star voting and deserves a spot on the roster as a reserve. It would also be great to see him in the Home Run Derby. … Down in the minors, ex-Southern Miss star Matt Wallner continues to build his case for a return to the big leagues with Minnesota. He went 3-for-5 with a single, double and triple for Triple-A St. Paul a day after hitting two home runs for the Saints. He is at .307 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs. Sent down on May 29 — despite getting seven hits in a four-game stretch for the Twins — Wallner hit .320 with five bombs in June for St. Paul. … Colt Keith, the former Biloxi High star, hit a 473-foot home run for Triple-A Toledo and is 7-for-13 in three games since Detroit promoted him from Double-A. The 21-year-old lefty-hitting third baseman is ticketed to play in the All-Star Futures Game on July 8 in Seattle. … Ex-Mississippi State standout Hunter Stovall, quietly having a nice year for Triple-A Albuquerque, delivered a walk-off hit for the Isotopes in a 4-3 win against El Paso. Stovall, a sixth-year pro, is batting .281 with six homers and 26 RBIs for Colorado’s top farm club. … In Low-Class A, former South Panola High standout Emaarion Boyd went 2-for-4 with three runs, two walks and a stolen base — his 39th of the year — in a win for Clearwater. The Philadelphia prospect is batting .276 (.400 OBP) with 46 runs in 52 games in his first full pro season.
The good news on Brandon Woodruff is that the Mississippi State alum threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday following a similar session on Saturday. What remains uncertain is when the 30-year-old right-hander might come off the injured list and rejoin the Milwaukee rotation. “I have to get to a certain point where I get the pitch count up,” the ex-Wheeler High star told mlb.com. “Once I get to live BPs, that determines the speed of how this thing will go.” So, maybe late July? Woodruff has been out since April 11 with a shoulder injury. He had a 0.79 ERA in his two starts of 2023. The Brewers are second in the soft National League Central, a half-game back of Cincinnati, but almost certainly need a healthy Woodruff to stay in playoff contention. He is a two-time All-Star who is 42-25 with a 3.14 ERA since he arrived in the majors in 2017. He has a 3.18 ERA in eight postseason appearances from 2018-21. … Madison Central alum Spencer Turnbull (neck injury) has begun throwing sessions but no timetable has been reported for his potential return to Detroit. After missing all of 2022 following Tommy John surgery, he was 1-4, 7.26, this season before being shut down on May 13. P.S. Ole Miss product James McArthur, called up by Kansas City on June 24, has yet to make his MLB debut. The 6-foot-7 righty had a 4.87 ERA at Triple-A Omaha after being acquired in a trade with Philadelphia. … Former Biloxi High star Colt Keith is expected to make his Triple-A debut today for Toledo (Detroit system) at Columbus. … Ex-Ole Miss standout Tim Elko is expected to make his High-Class A debut today for Winston-Salem (Chicago White Sox) at Aberdeen.