It was a quiet day for the few but proud Mississippians active in the majors. In Triple-A, however, it was a different story on Wednesday: Former Southern Miss standout Chuckie Robinson went 3-for-4 with his first Triple-A home run in Louisville’s loss to Iowa. Robinson, a good defensive catcher, started this season with Cincinnati’s International League club, was sent down to Double-A Chattanooga, then bumped back up a few days ago after hitting .276 in 31 games with the Lookouts. Delta State product Trent Giambrone, who had a cup of coffee in the big leagues in 2021, went 0-for-5 for Iowa, the Chicago Cubs affiliate. … Gulfport’s Bobby Bradley, who started this season in Cleveland, hit a pair of homers — doubling his season total — for the Indians’ Columbus club, which lost an IL game to Omaha. Bradley is batting .202. Ex-Mississippi State star Konnor Pilkington, who also has some time in The Show this year, gave up five runs in four innings as the Clippers’ starter but did not take the loss. USM product Nick Sandlin has joined the Clippers’ bullpen, sent down Monday by the Indians despite a 2.98 ERA, but didn’t work Wednesday. … Former MSU standout and erstwhile big leaguer Brent Rooker went 2-for-4, boosting his average to .281, for El Paso, San Diego’s Pacific Coast League team. … Former Ole Miss standout Mike Mayers, recently demoted by the Los Angeles Angels, made a rare start, yielding one run in four innings for Salt Lake in a PCL loss to Reno. Mayers has a 10.57 ERA in three Triple-A games. … MSU alum Jacob Robson, who made his MLB debut last year, went 0-for-2 but swiped his 12th base and scored a run for Toledo, Detroit’s IL affiliate, in a win against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Robson is batting .206. … Ex-Bulldogs star Jordan Westburg was 1-for-5 with an RBI for Norfolk and is batting .365 since his recent promotion to Triple-A by Baltimore. Ole Miss product Aaron Barrett notched a hold for Philadelphia’s Lehigh Valley club, which lost that game to the Tides in the ninth inning. … Rehabbing big leaguer Corey Dickerson, the former Meridian Community College standout, went 0-for-2 in his third game with St. Louis’ Memphis affiliate. Dickerson, 3-for-7 with the Redbirds, appears close to a return to the Cardinals’ roster.
Former Ole Miss standout David Parkinson, now a Philadelphia Phillies minor leaguer, got a major monkey off his back on Wednesday. The 25-year-old lefty worked 5 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs, and got the win as Lehigh Valley beat Rochester 5-3 in the Triple-A East. It was Parkinson’s first win since 2019. He is now 1-7 (with a 6.36 ERA) over 15 appearances in his first Triple-A campaign. A 12th-round draftee in 2017, he was the Phillies’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2018, going 11-1, 1.45 at two levels of A-ball. He wasn’t as sharp in Double-A in 2019 and didn’t pitch at all last year. Parkinson reportedly has a tendency to dwell on bad outings, of which he has had several in 2021. “One thing about Park is that he’s very cerebral, analytical,” LV pitching coach Aaron Fultz told The Morning Call of Allentown, Pa., earlier this season. “The biggest advice I can give to him is that this game is very, very hard.” Wednesday’s win was a nice reward for his perseverance. … Also admirably soldiering on is Anthony Alford, the Columbia native and former Petal High two-sport star now in Triple-A in Pittsburgh’s system. Alford was 2-for-3 with his 10th homer of the season for Indianapolis on Wednesday. Alford’s latest big league trial ended on April 21, when Pittsburgh took him off its 40-man roster after a 2-for-24 start. He was assigned on May 1 to Indianapolis, where he struggled initially. Batting .175 on June 1, Alford is currently hitting .302, batting third and playing center field. He is 27 now – a long way from his days as a highly rated Toronto prospect — and owns a .150 career average in the big leagues. But he’s still wearing a uniform and trying to remain relevant.
A couple of pitching performances, from very different pitchers, jumped out from Friday’s array of games. Both, by sheer coincidence, involved the Detroit Tigers, who were on the losing side in each game. In the big leagues, former Ole Miss star Lance Lynn delivered one of his typical workhorse performances in the Chicago White Sox’s 8-2 win against the Tigers. In Triple-A, ex-Southern Miss star Kirk McCarty, a Cleveland farmhand, delivered one of his typical crafty performances in Columbus’ 7-1 win over Toledo, Detroit’s top farm club. The veteran Lynn threw 117 pitches to get through six innings. He allowed four hits, walked five, struck out nine and yielded just one run in improving to 8-3 for the first-place White Sox. His 2.02 ERA ranks second in the American League. The self-proclaimed “big bastard” just might get an All-Star Game invite. McCarty, a 5-foot-8 lefty in his fourth pro season, worked seven innings for Columbus, allowing four hits, two walks and the one run with six strikeouts. The only Toledo hitter who really gave him any trouble was Mississippi State alum Jacob Robson, who went 3-for-3. McCarty, an Oak Grove High product, is 6-1 with a 4.11 ERA in his first Triple-A campaign. The six wins rank second in the Triple-A East. He isn’t rated among the Indians’ top prospects, but he is surely on their radar.
Getting to the big leagues is hard. Staying, they say, is harder. And getting back to the big leagues after losing your roster spot might be a different level of hard. That’s the plight faced by a handful of Mississippians currently playing in Triple-A with no clear path to another MLB chance. Anthony Alford, Cody Carroll, Chris Ellis, JaCoby Jones and Jacob Waguespack are veteran pros no longer holding a 40-man MLB roster spot in their respective organizations. Alford, 26, from Petal, was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh on April 21, hitting .083 at the time. He has perked up at Indianapolis, batting .292 with six homers in 35 games. But his MLB track record (.150 in 62 games over five years) isn’t good. Former Southern Miss star Carroll, 28, pitched in 15 games for Baltimore in 2018 and got into three games last summer but was waived in September. Assigned to Norfolk this year, he has a 5.56 ERA in 13 appearances. Ellis, 28, a former Ole Miss (and Mississippi Braves) standout, has one MLB game (one inning, actually) on his resume. That was with Kansas City (as a Rule 5 draft pick) in 2019. He was DFA’d after that game and returned to St. Louis, which released him in May 2020. Tampa Bay signed Ellis in the off-season; he is 0-1 with a 6.45 ERA in eight games at Durham. Jones, 29, the former Mr. Baseball from Richton, seemingly had established himself as an outfielder with Detroit. But after struggling to start this season, he was demoted and then DFA’d on June 6. He is batting .222 in 25 games for Toledo. Waguespack, 27, an Ole Miss alum, was up with Toronto last summer (8.15 ERA) but was DFA’d in March. He is 3-2, 3.43 at Buffalo. What are the odds any of these players gets another shot in the big leagues? Well, as they say, as long as you’re wearing a uniform, you’ve got a chance. P.S. Former Mississippi State ace Ethan Small and Mississippi Braves product Drew Waters have been selected for the All-Star Futures Game in Denver on July 11. Small, recently promoted from Double-A Biloxi to Triple-A Nashville, is Milwaukee’s top-rated pitching prospect. Waters, 2019 Southern League MVP, is playing at Triple-A Gwinnett; the switch-hitting outfielder is Atlanta’s No. 2 prospect.
As a middle reliever on a bad team, Chris Stratton isn’t going to get many headlines. The Mississippi State alum from Tupelo deserved one on Friday, though a couple of other players with Mississippi connections likely stole them. Stratton retired all 11 batters he faced in Pittsburgh’s 9-2 win over Miami and earned his first save of the season, second career. The veteran right-hander, a converted starter, has a 2.90 ERA, a win and five holds in 22 games for the Pirates, who are 22-34. Don’t blame Adam Frazier for that poor record. Frazier, a teammate of Stratton’s at MSU years ago, went 2-for-3 with two walks, three runs and two RBIs on Friday. Bidding for the All-Star Game, he has 22 multi-hit games and is batting .338 (.402 OBP) with 21 RBIs as the Pirates’ leadoff batter. Even Frazier’s big night might have been overshadowed by Ke’Bryan Hayes’. With his father Charlie, the Hattiesburg native and former big leaguer, in the house at PNC Park, the younger Hayes went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs in his second game since coming off the 60-day injured list. The rookie third baseman is 5-for-13 with two homers on the season. His dad got to see him homer in the majors in person for the first time. P.S. Down in Triple-A, ex-Petal High star Anthony Alford, who opened 2021 as the Bucs’ center fielder, enjoyed a good night: 4-for-5 with his third homer of the year in Indianapolis’ twinbill sweep against Columbus. Alford, hoping for a return to The Show, is hitting .226 for the Indianapolis club. He was batting .083 when the Pirates designated him for assignment and sent him down.
It’s a small sample size but still worth noting: Former DeSoto Central High standout Austin Riley is batting .325 (13-for-40) with three homers and 11 RBIs through his first 10 games in Triple-A. He has hit safely in eight of those games, including a four-hit, three-homer performance on Sunday, and has yet to make an error at third base. He also has two hat tricks (three-strikeout games) for Gwinnett. “It’s all about adjustments,” Riley told the Marietta Daily Journal. “Each level you move up, the pitchers get better. You never stop learning in this game.” Riley, one of Atlanta’s top-rated prospects, batted .333 with six homers in 27 games for the Double-A Mississippi Braves before his promotion. At 21, Riley is the same age as Ozzie Albies and a year older than Ronald Acuna, who are leading the “Baby Braves” contingent that has helped revitalize the big league club. Most projections have Riley making the majors in 2019, but he could force the Braves’ hand this summer. P.S. Ex-Mississippi State star Dakota Hudson is also in Triple-A and knocking on the MLB door. St. Louis’ first-round pick in 2016, right-hander Hudson is 4-1 with a 2.88 ERA in seven starts for Memphis. He is rated the Cardinals’ No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline. … Hunter Renfroe, the State alum who is hoping to get back to the big leagues, went 1-for-5 with an RBI double and three K’s Thursday in his first game after being sent to Triple-A El Paso. Renfroe was batting .200 with two homers for San Diego when he went on the disabled list in mid-April. … Former Petal High star Anthony Alford, sent down by Toronto earlier this week, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts at Triple-A Buffalo on Wednesday. … Also itching for another shot in The Show is Ole Miss product Bobby Wahl, who has a 1.50 ERA, two saves and 26 punchouts in 18 innings for Triple-A Nashville in Oakland’s system. Wahl made seven appearances for the A’s last year before suffering a shoulder injury. He was dropped from the 40-man roster in the fall. … Braxton Lee, the ex-UM standout from Picayune who started this season in the majors with Miami, is currently on the DL at Triple-A New Orleans. He hit .176 in eight MLB games and is at .186 in 12 games for the Baby Cakes. … Ole Miss alum and onetime big leaguer Alex Presley, who had been at Triple-A Norfolk in Baltimore’s system, has been granted his release and is now a free agent.