20 May

historic connection

Ti’Quan Forbes, the former Mr. Baseball from Columbia High and a longtime minor leaguer, will be part of an historic event tonight in Paterson, N.J. Hinchliffe Stadium, one of only two Negro Leagues home ballparks still standing, will host a professional baseball game for the first time since 1950 when the New Jersey Jackals — Forbes’ current team — play the Sussex County Miners in an independent Frontier League contest. A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday attracted celebrities, politicians and baseball dignitaries Willie Randolph, Joe Maddon, Harold Reynolds and Tony Clark. Hinchliffe, which had fallen into serious disrepair, has undergone an extensive renovation project that, per reports, has restored the look it had in the 1930s and ’40s, when it hosted Negro Leagues games and major league exhibitions featuring some of the sport’s biggest names. Among the black stars who played there back in the day are Mississippi natives Cool Papa Bell, Howard Easterling and Rufus Lewis. Lewis, from Hattiesburg, played for the Newark Eagles, who used Hinchliffe as a secondary home field in the mid-’40s. Two New York-based teams also played home games at the park, and it hosted a variety of other sporting events and concerts. … Forbes is in his first season with the Jackals, who have moved into Hinchliffe from Little Falls, N.J. A second-round draft pick by Texas in 2014, Forbes played in the minors for eight years, peaking at the Double-A level. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound third baseman has a .253 career average with 39 homers and 44 steals.

18 May

playing the game

Comes a time for everyone, as the old scout says in “Moneyball,” when you’re told you can no longer play the children’s game. The time may have come for the likes of Mitch Moreland and Jarrod Dyson, veteran free agents in their late 30s with no team to suit up for. But as long as some team somewhere wants you, as long as you still dream of making the major leagues, you soldier on, as Ti’Quan Forbes is doing in 2022. Columbia native Forbes, a pro since 2014 without a big league look, became a minor league free agent last fall. The 25-year-old third baseman had signed with an independent club before the Arizona Diamondbacks came calling in mid-April. He is making good on this, perhaps final, opportunity, batting .283 with four homers and 18 RBIs for Double-A Amarillo. Forbes, who goes 6 feet 4, 225 pounds now, was drafted in the second round out of Columbia High by Texas and traded to the Chicago White Sox (for major league pitcher Miguel Gonzalez) after a productive 2017 season in High-A ball. He reached Triple-A Charlotte last summer but hit just .237 with two homers in 50 games. That trail ran out. He has picked up another. A player can still have an MLB breakthrough at Forbes’ age. Dyson didn’t make The Show until he was 27, and he played 12 big league seasons. Ex-Delta State star Trent Giambrone was 27 when he got the call last year in his sixth minor league season. Giambrone is back in the minors now, playing the children’s game, like Forbes. They haven’t been told they can’t. P.S. William Carey’s fine season ended Tuesday with a loss to Hope International in the NAIA Opening Round at Lawrenceville, Ga. The SSAC Tournament champion Crusaders (37-17) went 2-and-out in the regional.

14 Aug

blast from past

Way back in 2014, he was a full-blown star at Columbia High and then a second-round draft pick by the Texas Rangers. On Tuesday, Ti’Quan Forbes was back on a ballfield in Mississippi, playing third base and banging out a couple of hits for the Double-A Birmingham Barons against the M-Braves at Trustmark Park in Pearl. He’s come a long way – but still has a ways to go on the big league highway. Forbes was the state’s Mr. Baseball as a rangy — and toolsy — shortstop at Columbia. He has filled out to 6 feet 3, 220 pounds and moved to third base but has yet to develop the power expected at that position. Batting .245 this year, his first in Double-A, Forbes has three home runs and a .332 slugging percentage in 103 games. He has a .251 career average and just 24 homers over six seasons, 11 of those bombs coming in A-ball in 2017. That was the year he was traded, in August, from Texas to the Chicago White Sox. His defense has been solid – 15 errors in 94 games at third this year – but the bat needs to perk up. Even though he is only 22 – he turns 23 on Aug. 26 – time may not be on his side much longer.

03 Jul

hitting his stride?

He has taken small and sometimes wobbly steps over the past five seasons, and he is still in the low minors. But Ti’Quan Forbes, a second-round draft pick in 2014 out of Columbia High, may soon be ready for the big leap to Double-A. Forbes, still only 21, has found his footing at high Class A Winston-Salem in the Chicago White Sox’s system. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound third baseman is batting .274 with four homers, 30 RBIs, four triples and 10 doubles in 67 games. He is 11-for-33 with two homers in his last 10 games. And he is making contact, with just 40 strikeouts in 237 at-bats. Forbes hit .234 in 2017 at two levels of A-ball but showed some power with 11 homers. Originally drafted by Texas, the former Mr. Baseball was traded to the White Sox on Aug. 31 last year (for pitcher Miguel Gonzalez) and played only four games at Winston-Salem before his season ended. Back with the Dash to open this year, Forbes helped the club – managed by Omar Vizquel – win a first-half title in the Carolina League. Maybe we see him with Birmingham in the Southern League before the season is done.

01 Sep

change of address

Former Columbia High star Ti’Quan Forbes changed organizations as part of an under-the-radar second-deadline trade on Thursday. Forbes, 21, a second-round pick by Texas in 2014 who is still in A-ball, went to the Chicago White Sox for major league pitcher Miguel Gonzalez. “Forbes seems like an intriguing enough return for a two-hours-’til-deadline August deal, as he has some pedigree and skills,” msn.com reported. And, a fresh start might do him some good, though the 2017 minor league season is almost over. Forbes was a shortstop at Columbia when he earned Mr. Baseball honors but now plays mostly third base. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Forbes is batting .227 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 51 games for high-A Down East. He batted .242 with eight homers at low-A Hickory before being promoted. He had hit just four homers prior to this season and is at .246 for his pro career.

25 Apr

whatever happened to …

Ti’Quan Forbes, in his fourth pro season but still only 20 years old, has come out swinging at Class A Hickory. The former Mr. Baseball from Columbia is batting .353 with five home runs and 12 RBIs through 17 games in the South Atlantic League. He already has more homers than he got all of last season, when he hit four in 120 games with the same Hickory club. He didn’t go deep in either of his first two minor league seasons. Forbes, 6 feet 3, 180 pounds, was a second-round pick by Texas in the 2014 draft. A shortstop at Columbia High, he is now playing third base, a power position. Forbes hit just .251 last year with 24 extra-base hits. If he continues to rake at his current pace, he could get a midseason promotion to high-A Down East in the Carolina League, where former East Mississippi Community College standout LeDarious Clark is now playing. They were teammates in Hickory in 2016.

03 Aug

finishing kick?

The Hickory Crawdads tapped into some Magnolia State power sources in a Class A South Atlantic League victory against Delmarva. Meridian’s LeDarious Clark and Columbia’s Ti’Quan Forbes, both seeking a strong finish to a lackluster 2016 season, homered in the same inning for the Texas Rangers’ low-A club on Tuesday. It was the seventh bomb of the year for Clark and the third for Forbes. Clark, a 12th-round pick by the Rangers last year, went 2-for-5 with four RBIs, boosting his season stats to .222 and 40. Forbes, a second-rounder in 2014, also had two hits and is at .253 with 28 RBIs. Former East Mississippi Community College and Southeast Lauderdale High star Clark had a good debut season, batting .278 with eight homers, seven triples and 29 steals in short-season A-ball. This season has been tougher sledding for the 5-foot-10, 185-pound outfielder, who has done time on the disabled list. With seven hits, including two homers, in his last six games, Clark is showing signs of heating up, as is Forbes. The 6-3 third baseman, the state’s Mr. Baseball at Columbia High in 2014, is hitting .405 over his last 10 games. Neither Forbes nor Clark currently shows up in rankings of the Rangers’ elite prospects, but both have obvious talent. And, at 19 and 22, respectively, both still have time on their side.

26 Aug

showing flashes

At MLB draft time in 2014, he was 17 and a strapping 6 feet 3, 180 pounds with a quick bat, good speed and a strong arm. Ti’Quan Forbes, the former Columbia High star, looked like a rough draft of a big league player. He turns 19 today, and his form is still not well-defined. A second-round pick in 2014 by Texas, Forbes is hitting .251 with no homers, 34 RBIs and 11 steals in 96 games over two seasons at the entry levels of the minors. A shortstop at Columbia, he is now playing mostly third base and has made 35 errors. He is ranked the No. 21 prospect in the Rangers’ system, and his estimated time of arrival is listed at 2018 by mlb.com. That would seem optimistic but not unrealistic. “Everything about his game is projection-based because he flashes you things that you want to see,” a scout told Baseball America a few weeks before the 2014 draft. In his debut summer, Forbes hit .241 in the Arizona League with just five extra base hits. At short season Class A Spokane this year, he’s at .260 with 10 extra base hits, 18 RBIs and one stolen base in 48 games. He recently put together a seven-game hit streak and is batting .361 over his last 10 games. A flash, you might say.

26 Jun

getting lucky

Jarrod Dyson is on the board. In the fifth inning on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium, Dyson went yard for the Kansas City Royals. “I get lucky every 1,000 at-bats,” the McComb native and ex-Southwest Mississippi Community College star told mlb.com. Actually, the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Dyson has hit four homers in 715 career ABs. Point is, he doesn’t get many. The one he hit Wednesday off Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Dodgers was his first in just over a year. Dyson has been hot of late, batting .343 over his last 10 games; he’s at .303 for the year and has 12 stolen bases. But his team has gone cold. A 10-game win streak had propelled Ned Yost’s Royals into first place in the American League Central. But the former Jackson Mets catcher has seen his club drop six of seven since and fall 4 games back of Detroit. P.S. Ti’Quan Forbes, the state’s Mr. Baseball from Columbia High, is off to a hot start in his pro career. Forbes, a second-round pick by Texas, is 8-for-24 for the rookie-level Arizona League Rangers. He has a double, a triple, two RBIs, six runs and a steal in five games. Blake Anderson from West Lauderdale, the first Mississippian drafted (by Miami), is 0-for-8 in two games for the Gulf Coast League Marlins.

02 Jun

think about it …

It’s not too early to start thinking about it. Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss in a Super Regional at Oxford-University Stadium (a.k.a. Swayze Field) next weekend. State is undefeated in the Lafayette Regional heading into a game tonight against host Louisiana-Lafayette. (ULL exacted its revenge on Jackson State today, ending the Tigers’ season.) Ole Miss is undefeated in the Oxford Regional heading into Monday’s play. Don’t bet against both the Bulldogs and Rebels getting through. Pitting those two rivals in a best-of-3 series with a trip to the College World Series hanging in the balance would be some kind of show. State went to the CWS just last year, finishing runner-up to UCLA, and would dearly love to paint Omaha maroon again this summer. Ole Miss hasn’t been to the CWS since 1972. ’Nuff said. Recall that the Rebels beat the Bulldogs two of three in Starkville in early April in their SEC series. UM won the rubber game 12-2, pounding out 20 hits in front of a stunned Dudy Noble Field crowd. The teams played again on April 22 in the Governor’s Cup at Trustmark Park in Pearl. State won 8-3. The atmosphere that night was electric, but it won’t hold a candle to what Oxford will be like if the Super Regional matchup happens. It’ll be Mississippi Madness. Just think about it. P.S. Columbia High shortstop Ti’Quan Forbes is projected to be chosen by the Atlanta Braves with the 32nd pick, according to Baseball America’s latest MLB mock draft. The Braves got that pick as compensation for losing Brian McCann to free agency.