19 Aug

when opportunity knocks

There were 612 players selected in the 2021 MLB draft. Walker Powell was not among them. A few weeks after the draft, the Chicago Cubs gave Powell an opportunity in pro ball — and the former Southern Miss star has run with it. The 6-foot-8 right-hander, now pitching for Double-A Tennessee, posted his 10th win of the season, going six innings Friday night in a 10-5 win against Rocket City. He allowed two hits, two runs, no walks and struck out eight. He has won six straight starts, beating both Mississippi and Biloxi during that streak. Powell, 27, who isn’t rated among the Cubs’ top prospects, leads the Southern League in wins and WHIP (1.04) and ranks fourth in ERA (3.79) and batting average against (.230). In his brief pro career, Powell, a self-described “pitch to contact guy,” is 21-7 with a 3.38. Arkansas native Powell spent six years at USM, including a medical redshirt year (Tommy John surgery) in 2017 and the curtailed (COVID-19) 2020 season, and won 30 games all told. In 2021, he went 10-2, 2.31, tossed a no-hitter and claimed C-USA pitcher of the year honors for the league champion Golden Eagles. The Cubs signed him as a free agent on July 30, 2021. He recently told WXXV-TV of Gulfport that he hopes to make the big leagues someday but isn’t hyper-focused on that goal. “I’m just trying to enjoy every second I’m on the baseball field,” Powell said. P.S. USM alum Matt Wallner, now with Minnesota, was hit by a pitch on the right hand Friday night but X-rays were negative for a break. He has had some big hits of late (see previous post) for the first-place Twins. … In a case of Bulldog-on-Bulldog crime, Nathaniel Lowe of Texas took Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff deep in the fourth inning for the Rangers’ first two runs. It was Mississippi State alum Lowe’s 15th homer, his only hit Friday. Fellow MSU product Woodruff (four runs in 5 1/3 innings) got a no-decision as the Brewers won 9-8 in a matchup of first-place clubs.

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