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Mississippi in the Majors: Justin...

Mississippi in the Majors: Justin Steele

By: James Bryan Harrell - June 29, 2023
Justin Steele

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The 2023 Major League Baseball season is officially in full swing. In our first in a series of Magnolia State boys making a Major League impact, we take a peak at Justin Steele.

Mid-summer, the Chicago Cubs find themselves battling in the middle of the National League Central Division pack. Despite a losing record, the Cubbies sit only four and a half games back of division leading Cincinnati Reds.

The Cubs pitching staff has been solid thus far in the season, collectively sporting the twelfth best earned run average (ERA) in the majors.

One particular bright spot in the pitching rotation has been left-handed starter Justin Steele. Steele, who hails from Lucedale, has not only been one of the Cubs best starter, but one of the best starting arms in baseball this year. Through 14 starts, the George County native has amassed an 8-2 win-loss record. 

Steele finds himself towards the top of the leaderboard in most pitching categories. Steele’s 2.62 ERA lands him sixth in the NL. His win percentage of .800 ranks fourths. In limiting walks, hits, and home runs, Steele ranks near the top.

Last Saturday, the Cubs traveled to jolly olde London for an across the pond game against their division rival, the St. Louis Cardinals. Steele strode to the mound and shone. He pitched a full six innings, only giving up one run, while striking out eight Cardinals hitters. With lively bats behind him, Steele tallied the win in a 9-1 ball game. 

As the stats show, Steele has developed into a dominant pitcher. With a fastball that only reaches into the low 90s, he does not blow by batters with blazing speed. Instead, he relies on an assortment of pitches to confuse hitters. He does a great job of making sure that his pitches find the bad part of the bat and result in easy outs. Steele’s great command and mastery of his repertoire has translated into high level success in the MLB. 

Before realizing his Major League dream, Steele owned the mound for George County High School in Lucedale. In 2014, he posted a 0.98 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 43 innings. The same year, he would be drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round, foregoing a college baseball career to chase the majors. 

Steele spent six full seasons developing in the minor league farm system before finally getting called up for his professional debut in 2021. Appearing in twenty games that year, he found moderate success. In 2022, the light switch flipped and Steele showed dramatic improvement. Starting 24 games, he posted a 3.18 ERA.

Mississippi produces great baseball talent. Justin Steele’s dominance this season is one of the latest displays. As the MLB season continues, keep an eye on Steele and the Cubs as they make a playoff push.

About the Author(s)
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James Bryan Harrell

James Bryan Harrell writes about Mississippi sports and culture for Magnolia Tribune. JB is a native of West Point and is a senior at Vanderbilt University, where he is majoring in communications.
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