19 Feb

the cincy six

There are six Mississippians bopping around Cincinnati’s camp in Goodyear, Ariz. Billy Hamilton might be the only one who breaks camp with the big league team. Though he still hasn’t hit as much as the Reds would like (.260 in 2016, .249 career), former Taylorsville High star Hamilton is their center fielder, bringing plus speed and defense to the job. Ole Miss alum Zack Cozart is the Cincy shortstop – but for how long? Trade rumors have circled Cozart for a while and now that he is in his last season before free agency, they’ve only intensified. Cozart, 31, bounced back from a bad knee injury in 2015 to bat .252 with 16 home runs last year, though knee pain curtailed his season. He says he feels 100 percent now and is happy to be with the Reds. But, it’s not an ideal situation. He could be dealt at any time. “You’re in limbo,” he told cincinnati.com. “That’s the tough part about it.” Stuart Turner, another ex-UM star, is also in a sort of limbo. He is in camp as a Rule 5 pick and is battling for a job as the backup catcher. If he doesn’t get that spot, he’ll likely be returned to Minnesota. Left-hander Cody Reed, a highly rated prospect out of Northwest Mississippi Community College who had rough MLB debut in 2016, will contend for a job on the pitching staff but may well wind up back in the minors. Greenwood native Louis Coleman is in the Reds’ camp as a non-roster pitcher, former Itawamba CC star Desmond Jennings as a non-roster outfielder. Both veterans face seemingly long odds to make the 25-man roster out of spring training.

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