AFL Recap: Tough Day at Plate For Hanson, Benedict Strong in Relief

After playing two night games to open the season against Salt River, the Scottsdale Scorpions moved on to Peoria for a day game Thursday. Scottsdale dropped their second straight game, losing 6-3 today. arizona_fall_league_logo

Alen Hanson was the only Pittsburgh Pirates player in the starting lineup. He batted lead-off and played shortstop. Hanson struck out in his first AB, then reached on an error in the second inning. He would steal second and third, giving him three stolen bases on the young season. In the fourth, Hanson went down swinging again. In his fourth at-bat, he flew out to left field. In the ninth, Hanson went down swinging for the third time, this time on three pitches. After two games, he is 2-for-9, with two singles. Hanson handled all four chances in the field cleanly.

Matt Benedict came on to pitch the third inning for Scottsdale. He retired the side in order, getting two ground outs and a soft liner to center field. Benedict had an easy fourth inning, getting a strikeout, a fly out and a ground out. In the fifth, he made it eight outs in a row, before giving up a double on a grounder down the first base line. That was the end of his day. He threw a total of 37 pitches, 25 went for strikes.

Peoria has Pitch F/X available, unlike most of the other parks in the AFL. Benedict threw 20 fastballs, 12 change-ups and five sliders. He was sitting 88-91 MPH with the fastball, topping out at 92 twice. His off-speed pitches were 83-85 MPH. You can check out the full chart at

Zack Thornton came on in relief of Benedict and finished off the fifth inning with a groundball to second base. He had an easy sixth, though one batter reached via error, which was charged to Thornton. In the seventh, he ran into trouble, allowing two runs on three hits and another error, again from himself. Both runs ended up being earned.

Thornton had nearly an identical pitch count as Benedict, throwing one more pitch and the same number of strikes. Thornton threw 23 fastballs, all in the 88-90 MPH range. He mixed in a change-up in the low-80’s and a curveball in the 77-79 MPH range. His full chart can be viewed here.

  • Is it my imagination or are runners stealing bases at will in this league? Is this normal? Do they just not emphasize the pitchers to hold the runners? Is it because of battery mates not being used to each other?

    • There has been a lot so far, runners are 27-for-33 in stolen base attempts in 9 games so far. Too early to really come up with a pattern, but that is a similar amount of attempts per game compared to last year(over the full seasons), with a slightly higher success rate. I’m sure the % of caught stealing will go up as catchers and pitchers work together more. I’ve also noticed over the years, that guys who run, like to show that skill right away at a new level, so they run less as the season goes along. That might not hold true for the AFL since every game in like a highly scouted minor league all-star game and the season is only 31 games long. Players like to stand out in these games, which is tough to do daily with so much talent.

      • Thanks John. Good point about players showcasing their talent, I hadn’t thought of that.