Mississippi Braves

Mississippi Businesses Against Trafficking launches from SOS office


rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi – 2022-10-05 11:54:13

Secretary of State Michael Watson speaks at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., Thursday, July 28, 2022.

A new initiative to combat human trafficking was launched Wednesday by Mississippi Secretary of Michael Watson and business leaders.

The Mississippi Businesses Against Trafficking, or MBAT, program will provide training to businesses and employees on how to spot the signs of human trafficking, and where to report to when they see them.

Watson announced the program flanked by leaders from the Mississippi Board of Massage Therapy, Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association, the and the Dutch Group, who operate Sprint Mart convenience stores. Watson said those business…

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Secretary of State partnering with businesses to combat human trafficking


Secretary of State partnering with businesses to combat human trafficking

Secretary of Michael Watson announced Wednesday morning a statewide partnership with Mississippi businesses to combat human trafficking.

Through the Mississippi Businesses Against Trafficking initiative, a website will be produced by the Secretary of State’s Office and videos and other training devices will be made available to help businesses recognize and report instances of human trafficking. Watson said the initiative made sense since businesses in the state must register with the Secretary of State’s Office.

Citing statistics from the Department of Health, Watson said a case of human trafficking is reported every other day in Mississippi. And there are almost 25 million instances of human trafficking “at and given time” worldwide.

“Sadly, human trafficking is more common in our state than people realize,” Watson said. “I personally know victims and met with several during my time in the state . Our goal is to rescue victims and ensure all are safe from this heinous .”

Legislation has been passed in recent years to deal with human trafficking in the state and to put in measures to try to protect victims of human trafficking. Watson said his initiative, in partnership with businesses, is patterned after programs in other states.

“Through partnership and collaboration with other secretaries of state, we researched how to utilize our current role with the business sector to educate and raise awareness through grassroots efforts,” Watson said in a release. “All Mississippi business owners are invited to join our fight to combat human trafficking in our state.”

Representatives of the hotel association and massage therapists joined Watson at Wednesday’s news conference as did an officer with the Dutch Group that owns Sprint Mart convenience stores. The massage therapists, convenience stores and hotels/motels are all industries where human trafficking might be more prevalent.

“Sprint Mart is proud to partner with MBAT because we recognize the critical role convenience stores and travel centers can play in the identification and reporting of suspected human trafficking,” said Matt Bogue, vice president of the Dutch Group.

The minor league baseball team is partnering with the Secretary of State’s office, and team representatives were involved in Wednesday’s news conference.

Businesses can learn more about the initiative at sos.ms.gov/MBAT.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Biloxi Shuckers giving back to the community all week


www.wxxv25.com – Ansley Brent – 2022-09-06 17:25:58

What better way to celebrate the Shuckers final home stand than to give back to the community?

As the Biloxi Shuckers host the for their last home series of the season, they’re featuring a plethora of community initiatives.

Before game one, the American Red Cross is hosting a at MGM Park in the north parking lot and the game itself is called ‘Strike out the Stigma’ intended to raise suicide prevention awareness.

Other events this week include a college fair night, first responders and frontline workers night, and an…

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Braves surging since promoting Michael Harris


Surging Braves have won 32, lost 13 since promoting the amazing Michael Harris

Michael Harris II has been the big difference maker in the Atlanta Braves turn-around since a slow start this season.

The Atlanta Braves pushed the call-up button on May 28, taking Michael Harris II all the way from the Class AA to Atlanta, making Harris, just turned 21, the youngest player in Major League Baseball.

The move – skipping Class AAA altogether – raised some eyebrows. There was his age, plus the fact Harris had played only 43 games above the Class A level. Were the Braves rushing him, panicking because the defending world champions were off to a disappointing 22-24 start?

Rick Cleveland

Those of us who had watched Harris at Trustmark Park knew better. He was ready. As a baseball player, he was 21 going on 28. Bruce Crabbe, the M-Braves manager, gushed more about Harris’ maturity than he did the kid’s obvious talent. Crabbe talked about Harris’ “rare professionalism at such a young age.”

“He’s so smart,” Crabbe said. “He just gets it.”

Back in April, I watched Harris at practice one afternoon, hours before a night game. Batting left-handed, he sprayed line drives all over Trustmark Park. He blasted a couple out of the park, well over 400 feet to left center field. He stepped across the plate to the right-handed batter’s box and hit one well over the left field wall. (No, he is not a switch-hitter, but he has been in the past. He has also been a pitcher. In fact, many MLB ball clubs valued him higher as a pitcher than an everyday player.)

After that practice, I asked Harris if he had a timetable for reaching Atlanta. He shook his head. “Whenever they need me, I plan to be ready,” he said.

He got the call 36 days later.

READ MORE: Michael Harris II has Mississippi roots

Now then, fast forward to Thursday night at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The game was tied at 2 when Harris stepped to the plate with two outs in the fifth inning. He fell behind – one-ball, two strikes in the count – before fouling off several pitches. On the 10th pitch of the at-bat, he turned on fastball, up and in, and launched a two- home run well over the wall in right centerfield.

In the bottom of the same inning, Harris did something even more impressive – a lot more impressive. The Nationals put runners at first and second with consecutive singles, bringing Juan Soto to the plate. Soto smacked a line drive single, which the left-handed Harris fielded on one hop, moving to his right. Then, without stopping to set his feet, Harris fired a strike to the plate. Luis Garcia, the Nationals’ speedy leadoff hitter, was out, and he was also stunned. His expression, clearly shown on TV, said this: “How in the world did that happen?”

Brian Snitker, the Braves manager, said more.

“Unbelievable play. My God,” Snitker said. “It was a game-changer obviously, but I didn’t think he had any chance, When he uncorked that thing, I was like, ‘Oh my Lord.’ It’s not like Garcia can’t run either.”

Announcers later told us the throw was measured at 94 mph. My God, indeed.

Now then, let’s take a look at what the Braves have done since Harris entered the lineup on May 28 when they were 22-24. They have won 32 games, lost only 13. They have reduced a 7.5-game New York Mets lead in the standings down to 2.5. They have done all this despite losing second baseman Ozzie Albies to injury and despite All-Star right fielder Ronald Acuna’s prolonged slump.

Harris has been the catalyst. Batting mostly at No. 9 in the order, he has scored 29 runs and driven in 26 more in 45 games. He is hitting .284 with eight home runs and stolen a base seven times (in seven attempts).

No telling how many runs he has saved in centerfield. He reminds this writer of a young Willie Mays, running down seemingly impossible-to-catch balls and turning doubles and triples into outs. His arm is as accurate as it is strong. He has turned the Braves’ outfield defense from mediocre to an obvious strength. Said Snitker of Harris, “When he’s out there in the grass, he’s a difference maker.”

Crazy as it sounds, had Harris been with the Braves the entire season, he surely would be playing in next week’s Major League All-Star Game. He has been that good. No, he’s been that sensational.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Braves’ No. 1 prospect Michael Harris is chip off old Alcorn State block


Atlanta Braves’ No. 1 prospect Michael Harris is a chip off the old Alcorn State block

Mississippi Brave Michael Harris II would seem to be on a fast track to Atlanta, his hometown. (Courtesy )

Outfielder Michael Harris II, the No. 1 prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization, has gotten off to a blistering start with the Class AA Mississippi Braves.

Rick Cleveland

Harris hit safely in the Braves first 10 games and was one of only three players in all of Minor League baseball to do so. He has reached base in all 12 M-Braves games and is hitting .319 with three doubles, two triples and four stolen bases. That’s after being the Atlanta Braves Minor League player of the year in 2021 at Class A Rome and spending much of spring training 2022 with the parent club.

Harris has, as baseball folks say, all the tools. The 21-year-old Atlanta native can hit (one), hit for power (two), field (three), throw (four) and really fast (five.) He is that rare five-tool player, and, actually, Harris has six. He can pitch, as well. In fact, most Major League Baseball scouts projected him as a pitcher, not an everyday player before the Atlanta Braves drafted him in the third round in 2019 and decided quickly they wanted him on the field every day — not once every five days. 

Harris gets all that talent honestly — and he’s not the first Michael Harris to display his baseball talents on a Mississippi diamond. His dad, Michael Harris I, was a standout for longtime Alcorn baseball coach Rat McGowan back in the mid 1980s, and he was versatile, too. The elder Michael Harris, who goes by Mike, played every position except catcher for the Alcorn Braves. He once retired 26 batters in a row before settling for a one-hit shutout against Rust College. As a junior he helped the Alcorn Braves win a game against Alabama at Tuscaloosa. He could hit. He could run. In fact, he was playing semi-pro baseball at age 18 in Atlanta when an Alcorn State assistant coach saw him, called McGowan and told his boss, “I found us one.”

The elder Harris grew up playing youth league baseball at Gresham Park in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur. The younger Harris began playing T-ball at the same park at age 3. When this writer caught up by telephone with Michael Harris I on Thursday evening, he had just finished umpiring a game for 10-year-olds at the same ballpark where he and his son learned the sport.

“Just trying to give back,” the elder Harris said. “Can’t get enough of it I guess.”

Michael Harris won the Rawlings Gold Glove as the most outstanding fielding outfielder in minor league baseball in 2021. (Mississippi Braves)

No way the elder Harris could ever count the hours he has spent at Gresham Park, especially watching his son develop into the player who was heavily recruited by colleges before signing a $548,000 bonus contract with the Braves.

The father says the son showed promise through all the youth leagues, but it was when he was in the ninth grade, playing for the high school varsity team, the father first believed the son might have a future playing the sport.

“That was when he really started to grow, put on some muscle,” Michael Harris I said. “That’s when you could really see the potential, see what he could become.”

What the junior Harris has become is a 6-foot, 190-pound package of talent, just now getting what baseball people call his “man strength.”

That strength was evident during Thursday batting practice when laced line drive after line drive deep into the opposite field. (The younger Harris bats left-handed, but took a few turns from the right side of the plate with no noticeable fall off.)

“I used to switch hit,” he said. “I still like to mess around with it.”

Harris hit .294 with gap power (26 doubles, three triples, seven homers) last year at Rome. The Braves believe he can become a 25-30 home run guy as his strength continues to develop.

Brian Snitker, the former M-Braves manager who now manages the World Champion Atlanta Braves, was mightily impressed with Harris this spring in Florida.

“I’m all over Michael Harris,” Snitker told reporters there. “I love that kid. It’s hard not to. That’s what they look like. He just needs more experience.”

The Braves would like for Harris to spend at least most of this season at Pearl. But there seems little doubt the master plan is for Harris — perhaps as soon as 2023 — to play beside Ronald Acuna Jr. in the Braves outfield. Like Acuna, Harris plays both center and right fields.

Bruce Crabbe, the Mississippi Braves new manager, calls Harris “a real pro” and talks not only about the immense talent but also “his rare professionalism at such a young age.”

“The kid know what it takes, and he works at every part of his game,” Crabbe said. “He’s such a smooth runner it’s hard to tell how fast he’s really going, but it’s fast. He hits the ball to all fields with power, and he’s only going to get stronger. He just needs reps. He’s so smart. He just gets it.”

As for Michael Harris II, his dream always has been to play for the Atlanta Braves, his hometown team. He says playing with the Big League club this spring made him realize how close that dream is to becoming reality.

“I’ve just got to put in the work, and I’ll do that,” he said. “Whenever they feel like they need me, I plan to be ready.”

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Freddie Freeman’s exit is baseball, 21st century style


Freddie Freeman’s exit is baseball, 21st century style

Freddie Freeman spent much of the summer of 2009 in Pearl as a Mississippi Brave. (Photo courtesy )

My gut reaction to the Atlanta Braves deciding not to sign Freddie Freeman? Here goes: The bean counters — heartless, ungrateful SOBs that they are — win again. I can’t believe Freeman, a Braves company man since before he played in Pearl at age 19 in 2009, will finish his career in somebody else’s uniform.

In case you can’t tell, I did not like the one bit. I have followed Freeman’s career with particular interest since he came through Trustmark Park — a tall, skinny kid with a goofy grin, still developing his man strength.

Freeman was called up to Atlanta at the end of the very next season and has played all of his 11 full Major League seasons for the Braves. He has hit .295 with 271 home runs and 941 runs batted in. He has been clutch. He also has played an immaculate first base. He has been one of baseball’s really good guys, really good teammates — the face of his franchise since Chipper Jones retired.

Rick Cleveland

And now he’s gone, probably to the Los Angeles Dodgers. We will see. The end was signaled Monday when the Braves announced a trade that will bring Matt Olson, formerly the first baseman for the Oakland A’s, to Atlanta. Olson is a fine young player who hits for power, plays exceptionally well at first base and, at 27, is five years younger and a whole lot cheaper than Freeman.

The Braves traded four outstanding prospects for Olson. Mississippi Braves fans are extremely familiar with centerfielder Christian Pache and catcher Shea Langeliers, who have played recent seasons in Pearl. M-Braves fans would have become familiar with young pitchers Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes, who figured to be through Pearl over the next couple seasons.

Back to Olson: He hit .271 with 39 homers last season. He is an Atlanta native, from all accounts another good guy and teammate. There’s only one problem with Olson: He’s not Freddie Freeman, and he can’t help that.

Freddie Freeman’s first home run as a Mississippi Brave in 2009

courtesy Mississippi Braves

So here’s my reaction to Monday’s news after much Monday cussing and fussing and then sleeping on it: I still don’t like it, but the more I look at it, the more I understand it from Braves General Manager Alex Anthopoulos’s perspective. Apparently Freeman wanted a six-year contract, and Anthopoulos was only willing to go five, knowing that precious few sluggers remain as productive into their late 30s.

Anthopoulos, it should be noted, earned his keep and then some for the Braves last year after injuries had decimated the ball club and the Braves seemed dead in the water. The GM’s mid-season acquisitions of Joc Pederson, Adam Duvall and Jorge Soler and Eddie Rosario resurrected the team en route to a World Series championship.

Granted, manager Brian Snitker, another former M-Brave, was terrific. So was Freeman. So was a replenished bullpen. But the Braves would not have come close had it not been for Anthopoulos’s brilliant maneuvering. You ask me, Anthopoulos earned at least some benefit on of the doubt on his decision-making. And he believes the Braves short-term and long-term future look better with the younger Olson at first base and with the club not having nearly $200 million tied up in Freeman over the next six seasons.

From all accounts, Anthopoulos was emotional when he announced and discussed the trade. He said it was as hard to pull the Freeman trigger as anything he has ever done.

Freddie Freeman didn’t have to shave often as a 19-year-old Mississippi Brave in 2009. (Photo courtesy of Mississippi Braves).

Bottom line: This is baseball in 2022. And it has been this way for years. Braves fans should know this all too well. Remember, Hank Aaron retired a Milwaukee Brewer, not an Atlanta Brave. Greg Maddux played his last seven seasons with the Chicago Cubs, not the Braves. Tom Glavine spent most of his declining years with the Mets, not the Braves. John Smoltz played for two different teams after the Braves let him go. Those are all Hall of Famers we’re talking about. Freeman surely will be, too.

Olson? Time will tell.

Where Freeman and the Braves are concerned, it’s a two-way street. Freeman could have taken the Braves’ reported offer five-year deal for $135 million and retired there. Or the Braves could have done what they always did with Chipper Jones, which was sign him to a lucrative extension before he ever got into the final year of his contract.

Frankly, I wish the latter had happened. It did not. That’s baseball, 21st century style.

Today, I prefer to think back to the summer of 2009 when Freeman and his then-best pal, Jason Heyward, spent most of a season in Pearl. Heyward was the more prized prospect of the two. He was more physically advanced, more a grown man than Freeman. The ball sounded different coming off Heyward’s bat. I remember telling Phillip Wellman, then the M-Braves’ manager, I thought Heyward was going to be a Hall of Famer. Wellman responded with something like this: “Don’t sleep on Freddie Freeman. When all is said and done, he very well could be the guy people remember most.”

Here we are nearly 13 years later. Heyward has hit .259 with 158 homers. Again, Freeman has hit .295 with 271 dingers. No contest there.

We won’t know for at least three or four years whether the Braves made the right move Monday. Those of us who have watched them closely over the last 11 years know only this: An era has ended. And we will have nothing but positive memories of Freddie Freeman as a Brave, both in Atlanta and way back when in Pearl.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Olympian Brittney Reese and Ocean Springs Night at MGM Park


www.wxxv25.com – Grace Boyles

The Shuckers were back in action tonight for the first time since last Friday as they opened up their home series against the while also welcoming the City of and Olympian Brittney Reese to MGM Park.

Ocean Springs Mayor Kenny Holloway and 2020 Tokyo long jump silver medalist Brittney Reese threw…

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M-Braves game against Biloxi Shuckers postponed


www.wjtv.com –

, Miss. (WJTV) – The game against the Biloxi Shuckers at MGM Park was postponed on Wednesday due to unplayable grounds at MGM Park. The game will be made up as part of a to-be-determined doubleheader later in the series. 

The series opener is now for Thursday night at MGM Park, with the first…

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Shuckers postpone game with M-Braves following Ida, COVID test

Biloxi - Local News Feed Images 002

www.wxxv25.com – WXXV Staff

Due to the impact of Hurricane Ida and to allow for additional testing and contract tracing of the organization following a positive Covid test, Tuesday’s game against the Mississippi Braves has been postponed.

We are adhering to Minor League Baseball’s health and safety protocols and will practice caution…

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Mississippi Braves return home for series with Biloxi Shuckers


www.wjtv.com –

PEARL, Miss. (WJTV) – On Tuesday, the will be playing at home after being away playing games on the road, the team winning eight games and losing four.

In the returning game, the M-Braves will be going against the Shuckers for a six-game series,

  • Tuesday at 6:35 p.m.
  • Wednesday at 6:35 p.m.
  • Thursday at…

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