Mississippi State talks USA win, USM matchup
Cody Brown finally has his orders.
After officially signing with the New York Yankees as an undrafted free agent on June 17, the former Mississippi State super utility player and Hattiesburg Regional Most Outstanding Player has been assigned to the Staten Island Yankees.
The Class-A short-season affiliate is already seven games into its New York-Penn League season and boasts a 6-1 record.
After going unselected in this month’s MLB Draft, Brown said he had considered pursuing physical therapy as a career before MSU coach Andy Cannizaro helped out the former Biloxi Indian and set him up with the Yankees.
“It was definitely tough. Every guy who plays in college is waiting to hear their name called. I was just sitting by the phone and watching the draft online. I was just on the couch wondering if my name would ever be called. I was trying not to get my hopes up too much but still holding out hope that an organization would like my talents enough to draft me,” Brown told the Sun Herald at the time. “Sitting there the whole day and then going from not getting drafted to a scout picking up the phone and calling me two hours after was definitely emotional; going zero to 100.
“You can only imagine what it’s like being told you’re going to go play for a team like the Yankees. I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest I was so excited.”
A super-utility player for MSU, Brown is coming off of a career year. As a senior, he hit .323 with nine homers, 42 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, a .433 OBP and a .539 slugging percentage.
Brown will be just the latest former Coast standout looking to make it in the minor leagues. Here are some other South Mississippians in professional baseball.
Jonathan Holder (Gulfport): Jonathan Holder made his MLB debut in 2016 with the New York Yankees. He pitched in 8 1/3 innings, posting a 5.40 ERA with five strikeouts. Holder earned a spot in the Yankees’ bullpen out of spring training and has been a reliable option for New York. The former Admiral and MSU Bulldog has recorded 33 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings with a 3.78 ERA. Holder returned to the Coast this offseason to train before reporting to camp. As the first former GHS standout to make the MLB, the Admirals retired Holder’s number this spring.
Jacob Lindgren (St. Stanislaus): Jacob Lindgen is currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. After a meteoric rise through the New York Yankees system, the 55th overall selection in 2014 made his debut in 2015. In seven innings, Lindgren had a 5.14 ERA with eight strikeouts and four walks. This offseason he was signed by the Atlanta Braves and placed on the 60-day disabled list. The Mississippi State left-hander previously told the Sun Herald he hoped to return to the mound by the end of this season.
Tony Sipp (Moss Point): Tony Sipp is still making Moss Point proud at age 33 in the majors. The Houston Astros reliever has a 4.24 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings. In nine seasons with Cleveland, Arizona and Houston, Sipp is 22-18 with a 3.69 ERA.
Tyler Bray (Vancleave): Tyler Bray had split 2017 between High-A and Double-A in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. On Thursday, however, the former VHS Bulldog was promoted to Triple-A Memphis. While in Double-A with the Texas League’s Springfield Cardinals, Bray was 3-0 with a 4.50 ERA. In four professional seasons, the right-handed reliever is 11-11 with a 4.21 ERA. He has also struck out 230 against just 81 walks in 194 2/3 innings.
Joey Butler (Pascagoula): After previously earning cups of coffee with Texas, St. Louis and Tampa Bay, Pascagoula native Joey Butler is currently with the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate. In 28 games, Butler is hitting .215 with two homers and a .640 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). His best year came in 2015, when he hit eight homers with a .276 average in 88 games with the Rays.
T.J. House (Picayune): T.J. House has been in pro ball since 2009, when he was a 16th round selection of the Cleveland Indians. He made his MLB debut in 2014 with the Tribe and amassed 117 2/3 innings over parts of three seasons in Cleveland. Now a member of the Toronto Blue Jays organization, House is in Triple-A with the Buffalo Bisons. The left-handed starter is 6-6 with a 3.99 ERA.
Bobby Bradley (Harrison Central): Bobby Bradley is coming off of a three-homer game for the Akron RubberDucks, Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The former Red Rebel has drastically upped his batting average after initially struggling in his Double-A debut. Heading into Thursday night, Bradley was hitting .259 with 14 homers, 49 RBIs and a .848 OPS. MLBPipeline.com ranks Bobby Bradley as the Indians’ fourth-best prospect and the No. 2 first baseman in MiLB.
Braxton Lee (Picayune): Braxton Lee earned a spot in the Southern League’s all-star game as a standout for the Tampa Bay Rays’ Montgomery Biscuits. He was traded to the Miami Marlins’ organization Monday as half of the return for MLB shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. In his Jumbo Shrimp debut Wednesday, Lee batted leadoff and went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Entering Thursday, Lee was hitting .323 with 14 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs, 47 runs scored and 12 stolen bases.
Mason Robbins (George County): Mason Robbins is hitting .264 with a .289 OBP and .322 slugging percentage in his Double-A debut for the Chicago White Sox. Over four seasons, the former GCHS Rebel has a .287 career average with 17 homers and 158 RBIs.
D.J. Davis (Stone): A former first-round selection of the Toronto Blue Jays, D.J. Davis is hitting .228 with a .574 OPS for the Dunedin Blue Jays. Over six seasons, Davis has a career .238 average with 27 homers, 182 RBIs, 115 stolen bases and a .311 OBP.
Justin Steele (George County): Justin Steele is having a bounce-back season after struggling in 2016. In 71 2/3 innings, the Southern Miss signee is 5-4 with a 2.39 ERA. He has also struck out 59 against 27 walks, but opponents are hitting .263 off of the southpaw. The former Chicago Cub fifth-round selection is 13-12 with a 3.46 in 52 career appearances across four levels. MLBPipeline.com ranks Steele as the Cubs’ No. 22 prospect.
Zac Houston (Poplarville): An 11th round selection of the Detroit Tigers out of MSU last year, Zac Houston has been next to lights out during his young pro career. The 6-foot-5 right-hander struck out 49 against 15 walks in 29 2/3 innings last season while posting a 2-0 record at two different levels in the low minors. The former Poplarville ace has continued to have success this year with the Midwest League’s West Michigan Whitecaps. In 30 2/3 relief innings, Houston has struck out 44 against 15 walks with one save. Opponents are hitting just .162 off the hard-throwing right-hander.
Colin Bray (Vancleave): A former sixth round selection by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Bray is currently on a rehab assignment with Rookie League affiliate Visalia. He was previously in High-A. In 15 games combined, the Vancleave product is hitting .296 with a .745 OPS. Over five seasons, Bray has a career .276 average with 20 homers, 137 RBIs and a .738 OPS.
Walker Robbins (George County): After struggling in his pro debut last season, Mason Robbins’ younger brother, Walker Robbins, is off to a solid start in 2017. The former Mississippi State signee and fifth round selection of the St. Louis Cardinals has a hit in each of his first four games for the Johnson City Cardinals. He made the most of his ’17 debut, belting a walk-off homer in the Cardinals’ opener. He’s currently hitting .222/.300/.444 with a double, home run, three RBIs, three runs scored and a stolen base in 18 at-bats.
Jacob Taylor (Picayune): Former Pearl River Community College right-hander and LSU signee Jacob Taylor had his pro debut in 2015 cut short by injury, pitching just two innings before being sidelined. The former fourth round selection of the Pittsburgh Pirates saw minimal work in 2016, posting a 9.00 ERA in 11 innings. The former Maroon Tide standout made his first start of the season Sunday for the Bristol Pirates of the Appalachian League. He struck out three and allowed one earned run on two walks and three hits in five innings.