The Arizona Fall League kicked off in Peoria Tuesday as the Javelinas took on the Surprise Saguaros. Lucas Sims, Atlanta Braves number seven prospect, took the mound to open the season against Texas Rangers fourth ranked prospect and 65th overall, Lewis Brinson. Brinson drew a walk and proceeded to steal second. Aledmys Diaz struck out before Michael Reed reached first on a Gabriel Quintana error where Lewis Brinson showed off his speed again, taking third on the throw. After Reed advanced to second on a ball in the dirt, Gary Sanchez showed why he is one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball. On a 2-2 count, Sanchez connected with a Sims fastball and delivered it halfway up the grass berm just right of the left field bullpen.
Luke Weaver came in in the fourth inning and showed some of the rust in getting used to the pace of play rules, as the first batter he faced began the plate appearance with a 1-0 count after Weaver failed to pitch before the pitch clock expired. He went on the hit that batter (Connor Lein) who later scored on a D.J. Peterson base hit for the first Peoria run.
It was easy to see Weaver was working on his delivery, as the first inning he pitched was purely from the stretch, but changed to the windup in later innings. Despite the early trouble, Weaver was very impressive, showing good feel of his off speed stuff and a strong fastball. His mechanics were by far the best of any pitcher on the mound today, striking out five in three innings of work.
Tyler Wade drove in two in the top of the 6th inning on a line drive double over right fielder Tyler O’Neill, who was playing the speedy Wade a bit shallow. O’Neill was able to get back to the ball quickly and get Wade at third to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 8th, Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson, Mike Yastrzemski, hit a solo home run that just cleared the wall in right center to cut the Surprise lead to 5-2. The long balls continued off Royals farm hand Kevin McCarthy, as Nick Torres of the Padres hit a two run shot three batters later. McCarthy continued to struggle, hitting Tyler O’Neill on the hands, before giving up a double off the wall to D.J. Peterson, which scored O’Neill from first to tie the game at five in the bottom of the 8th, ending McCarthy’s day.
Damien Magnifico came in to relieve McCarthy, but a past ball and a single from Gabriel Quintana gave the Javelinas the lead, which they held onto for a 6-5 victory.
Sneaky Standout: Each game I attend this year I will highlight one player that had a better game than the box score might suggest and did some things that really impressed. Today it was Patrick Wisdom of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Wisdom showed the ability to drive the ball the other way and flashed a great arm. MLB.com has his arm grading out at a 70, and rightfully so. He took a chopper deep in the hole and threw a rope to first base to get the speedy Tyler Smith easily at first. His double was a ball he was able to inside-out and punch it down the line, but his lineout to right center was the hardest hit ball from him on the day.
Fun Fact of the Day: Hitting coach for the Peoria club from the Baltimore Orioles organization, Sean Berry, is in his first season coaching at the AFL. He let me know before the game he was a player in the very first season of the league.