AFL: Joely Rodriguez Finishes on a Sour Note, Elias Diaz Reaches Base Three Times

On Thursday afternoon, Joely Rodriguez started the last game of the Arizona Fall League season. He came into the game with an 0.95 ERA, best among all starting pitchers in the AFL, but he didn’t continue his season-long success. Josh Bell and Elias Diaz were also in the lineup representing the Pittsburgh Pirates. Scottsdale won 8-5 over Salt River, giving them a 12-20 record.

Rodriguez started the first inning by allowing a line drive single on the second pitch of the game. The next batter doubled on a ground ball down the left field line, putting two runners in scoring position. Rodriguez recorded the first out on a pop up to shortstop, then allowed a run on a sacrifice fly to center field. The second Salt River run scored on a double. Rodriguez stranded that runner on a three-pitch strikeout. He allowed as many earned runs in this inning as he did in his first six starts. He threw 14 pitches, 11 for strikes.

In the second inning, Rodriguez allowed his third double. The next batter singled, scoring the third run against Rodriguez. He got the first out via strikeout, but on the play the runner stole second and moved to third on a throwing error by Elias Diaz. A grounder to shortstop scored Salt River’s fourth run. Rodriguez ended the inning with his third strikeout. Through two innings, he threw 31 pitches, with 24 going for strikes. The fourth run he allowed ended up being unearned due to the error by Diaz.

In the third, Rodriguez walked the lead-off batter. That runner was picked off first base by Elias Diaz. Rodriguez quickly got out of the inning after that, with a ground out to third base and a line drive to right field. The fourth inning started off with the fourth extra-base hit Rodriguez allowed, this time a triple. The next batter his a sacrifice fly to make the score 5-3. The next batter reached on an infield single, then moved to second on a throwing error. Rodriguez got the next batter to fly out to center field for the second out. He was at 55 pitches, which ended his day. This one start saw his ERA go from 0.95 through 19 innings to 2.38 in 22.2 innings.

Josh Bell was the designated hitter, batting fifth on Thursday. In the second inning, he reached on an infield single. He hit again in the third, this time coming up with a man on second base. Bell grounded back softly to the pitcher, moving the runner up to third base. He came up with the  score tied, bases loaded and one out in the fourth inning. Bell came up empty, striking out swinging. He came to the plate for the fourth time in the fifth inning and walked. Leading off the eighth inning, he flew out to center field, ending his day 1-for-4 with a walk.

Elias Diaz batted seventh and came into the game with a .255 average. He came up with two runners on in the second inning and drew a walk. In the third inning, he popped out to first base on the first pitch he saw, ending the inning. In the fifth, he came up with the bases loaded, two outs and Scottsdale up by one run. Diaz grounded out to shortstop, but reached on a throwing error, which scored one run. In the sixth, he led off with a line drive single to right field. Diaz walked for the second time in the eighth inning, giving him a 1-for-3 day, with two walks. On defense, Diaz made his third error, which was mentioned above, but he also picked a runner off first base.

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.

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