Area stars playing in the bigs
By By Tony Krausz/assistant sports editor
June 12, 2004
While amateur players waited to see their names next to Major League Baseball teams on Monday and Tuesday during the MLB First-Year Players Draft, five players with area connections were living out the dream of playing big-league baseball.
Big leaguers with connections to Meridian Community College, West Lauderdale High School and Patrician Academy are currently on the rosters of clubs in the American League.
Former MCC players Ciff Lee, who also played at Arkansas, Jason Smith and Jamie Brown are on major league rosters. Brown played for the West Lauderdale Knights in high school.
Lee is the No. 3 pitcher for the Cleveland Indians. Smith, who played on the 1996 Eagles team that finished second at the Junior College World Series, is a member of the Detroit Tigers. Brown is a relief pitcher for the Boston Red Sox.
Jay Powell, who played high school ball at West Lauderdale and later played for Mississippi State, is a relief pitcher for the Texas Rangers, and Eric Dubose, who played at Patrician Academy and MSU, is a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles.
Lee joined the Indians for good in 2003 after battling through an abdominal strain and hernia that kept him sidelined until mid-August. The left-handed hurler, who throws in the low 90s, was acquired by Cleveland from Montreal in a deal for Bartolo Colon in 2002.
The former Eagle and Razorback made his 13th start of the season for the Indians on Friday. Lee entered the game with a 5-1 record with a 3.25 ERA.
Smith was called up to the Tigers on May 13, after second baseman Fernando Vina was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
He has appeared in nine games for Detroit, and he is hitting .421 in 19 at bats. Smith has tallied one double, triple and home run since being called up the big leagues.
The Red Sox optioned Brown to Pawtucket of the International League, the team's triple-A affiliate, on Thursday, after the former Knight and Eagle made four pitching appearances for the team this season.
Brown pitched in 7.2 innings in spot relief appearances, and he went down to the minors with a 5.87 ERA.
Powell, who pitched for the Florida Marlins in the seventh game of the 1996 World Series against the Cleveland Indians, entered his 10th season in the major leagues this season and third with the Rangers. He is in the final year of a three-year contract with Texas.
As of Thursday, the right-handed reliever has appeared in 23 games and has a 3.38 ERA in 24 innings. The West Lauderdale and MSU product has posted a 1-1 record with 17 strikeouts.
Powell was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday because of a sore elbow.
DuBose has started 12 games for the Orioles as of Thursday, and he is expected to start for Baltimore on Monday against Cleveland.
The Patrician Academy and MSU product has posted a 4-4 record with a 4.95 ERA in 68.2 innings of work. He began the 2003 season with triple-A Ottawa and was called up to the Orioles permanently in July.