Before getting into the game recap from Tuesday, there is an Arizona Fall League update for Friday afternoon. Originally, no Scottsdale games were listed on the tv schedule from the AFL site, but that was(and still is) wrong. Scottsdale will be on MLB Network Friday afternoon and Joely Rodriguez will be the starting pitcher. He was just named the AFL Pitcher of the Week. Two other interesting notes from that game. It is played in Salt River, which is where MLB is trying out the new rules to speed up the game(details in the link). Also, the opposing pitcher will be Mark Appel, who Pirates fans remember as the 2012 first round pick that wouldn’t sign.
Three Pittsburgh Pirates players were in the starting lineup on Tuesday, while a fourth started the game on the mound. Josh Bell was at first base batting fifth. He was followed by third baseman Dan Gamache batting sixth and catcher Elias Diaz was hitting ninth. Scottsdale ended up losing the game 4-3, dropping them to 9-10 on the season with 13 games to go.
Thomas Harlan was on the mound for Scottsdale, pitching in a stadium that has PITCHf/x available. In the first inning, Harlan gave up a hard hit single that deflected off the glove of Josh Bell. Harlan settled down quickly, getting two strikeouts and a fly ball to center field to end the inning. He threw 12 pitches, nine fastballs, one change-up and a two breaking balls. Like his last start, Harlan’s fastball was 87-88 MPH, although the single came off the one 89 MPH pitch he threw all game. Eleven of his 12 pitches in the first were strikes.
In the second inning, Harlan gave up another deflected hit, this one going off his own glove. The next batter quickly jumped on a fastball for a ground rule double, putting two runners in scoring position. The third batter also doubled, although the runner from second base only made it to third on the play. That runner came home one batter later on a ground ball to shortstop, which resulted in an out at third base. Harlan picked off the runner at first, then struck out the batter to retire the side. He allowed two runs in the inning on three hits. Through two innings, he threw 23 of his 26 pitches for strikes. Harlan threw four off-speed pitches in the second inning and his fastball was down a tick to 86-88 MPH.
Harlan started the third inning with his fourth strikeout. He also struck out the next hitter, then ended the inning with a grounder to second base. He needed 14 pitches to get through the inning, throwing more balls in this inning than he did in the first two combined. He was also working heavy with off-speed pitches to the first two batters. PITCHf/x went down when the third batter came up, so there weren’t any readings for his last few pitches.
The fourth inning went great for Harlan, retiring the side in order again. He also picked up two more strikeouts, giving him seven on the day. That’s a huge turnaround from the pitcher that gave up five runs over one inning last time out. He needed just nine pitches in the fourth and he went heavy with off-speed pitches again. Except for the first three batters in the second inning, this was a terrific outing for Harlan, who threw 39 of his 49 pitches for strikes.
On the offensive side, Josh Bell lined out to right field to begin the second inning. In the fourth, Bell struck out swinging. In the seventh inning, he battled for an eight pitch walk, then scored Scottsdale’s second run three batters later. With his team down one run, Bell led off the ninth inning with a double, but never advanced. Besides the ball that deflected off his glove, Bell had just four chances in the field.
Dan Gamache flew out to center field in his first at-bat. He ended the fourth inning with a fly ball to left field. Gamache flew out to left field again in the seventh inning. During his final at-bat, he flew out to right field, leaving him 0-for-4 on the day with four fly ball outs. In the fifth inning, Gamache made a throwing error, his second miscue of the season.
Elias Diaz led off the third inning with a double to center field and scored Scottsdale’s first run two batters later. In the fifth inning, Diaz grounded out to third to end the inning. He came up in a big spot during the seventh inning. With two outs and runners on the corners, Scottsdale trailed 4-2. Diaz singled home a run to bring his team within one. He was in the on-deck circle when the final out was made. Diaz was 1-for-2 in throwing out runners.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.
Diaz appears to be playing well in the AFl….I’m a little disappointed in Bell’s hitting to date….no HR power and low BA…..