The Arizona Fall League begins today with a 3:35 PM EST start time. The Pittsburgh Pirates will be on the Surprise Saguaros this season. Dario Agrazal will be the starting pitcher today against Salt River. Cole Tucker is batting lead-off and Will Craig is batting fifth.
We posted the AFL season preview over the weekend, but there has been a change since then. Catcher Arden Pabst has been dropped from the roster due to playing time issues according to Jonathan Mayo from MLB Pipeline. He was going to be placed on the taxi squad, which means he would have been active just two days a week, while the other three catchers would be available for every game. He was playing regularly in the Fall Instructional League, so he did get some added playing time since the season ended. It’s possible that he plays winter ball this off-season. Last year he had a spot in Australia until an injury prevented him from going.
Comments are open for anything related to the Pirates. I’ll be updating the article as notable things happen in the game, so be sure to refresh or check back during the game. You can follow along online here on MLB Gameday. While Bryan Reynolds probably won’t play today because there are rarely lineup changes in the AFL during games, all three relievers sent by the Pirates are possibilities.
Top 1st: Agrazal allowed an infield hit off of his glove, but that was it in a seven-pitch first inning.
Bottom 1st: Cole Tucker lined out to left field on the first pitch he saw.
Top 2nd: Agrazal worked a little harder, throwing ten pitches total. He allowed a one-out single, then two pitches later, a 6-4-3 double play ended the inning.
Bottom 2nd: Will Craig pops out to shortstop in his first AFL at-bat.
Top 3rd: Agrazal allows a softly hit infield single and three hard hit outs. He’s up to 31 pitches through three scoreless innings, with three singles, no strikeouts or walks.
Bottom 3rd: Cole Tucker singles on a sharp line drive to right field for his first AFL hit. He stole his first base on the back-end of a second/home steal, then scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly. Will Craig is now 0-for-2 after a strikeout.
Top 4th: Agrazal allowed a single to the lead-off hitter, then hit two straight batter, loading the bases and throwing 16 pitches total the first three hitters. The next batter hit a two-run single on a sharp grounder off of Will Craig’s glove. One pitch later, the score was 3-3 after another single. One more pitch and it was 4-3 after a double. The first out of the inning was a runner being thrown out at home trying to score from first on the double. Agrazal allowed another single to put runners on the corner, as the disastrous inning continued. A sacrifice fly made it 5-3. The inning ended on a grounder to Tucker for the final out. These velocity readings aren’t encouraging from someone who was hitting 95-96 MPH consistently before the injuries began in late 2017:
Seven pitch first inning for Dario Agrazal, who sat 89-91 with a sinker. #Pirates
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) October 9, 2018
Top 5th: Agrazal bounces back with a 1-2-3 fifth inning, which should end his day with five earned runs on eight hits, with no walks or strikeouts. He threw 67 pitches, 43 for strikes, while posting a 7:3 GO/AO ratio.
Bottom 5th: Tucker flew out to center field on an 0-1 pitch.
Top 6th: Blake Weiman is on to pitch. He had an easy inning with two ground outs and a fly out, throwing ten pitches.
Bottom 6th: Will Craig flew out to right field on the eighth pitch of his at-bat. He’s now 0-for-3.
Top 7th: Weiman stays on and allows a lead-off single. After a stolen base, a fly out to right field moves the runner to third. The next batter tripled to give Salt River a 6-5 lead. Weiman recorded a strikeout, then got a grounder to second base, which should have ended the inning, but it was booted. That made the score 7-5 and brought on Geoff Hartlieb. On his first pitch, he got a grounder to Tucker that ended the inning. Weiman went 1.2 innings, with two hits, one earned run and one strikeout.
Bottom 7th: Cole Tucker draws an eight-pitch walk. He moved to third base on an errant pick-off throw. Tucker scored his second run of the game one batter later on a single.
Top 8th: Hartlieb had runners on the corners just three pitches into the inning, giving up back-to-back singles. A stolen base on the next pitch put two men in scoring position. Hartlieb got a grounder to Cole Tucker for the first out, then struck out the next batter swinging. Just when it looked like he could get out without any damage, a single off of the second baseman’s glove brought home two runs. A pop out to the catcher ended the inning, but Surprise is down 9-6.
Bottom 8th: Will Craig flies out to center field on a 2-0 pitch to lead-off the inning. He’s now 0-for-4.
Top 9th: Surprise going all out with Pirates on the mound, which is great for content today, but will kill the next two days. Matt Eckelman is out and he gave up a lead-off triple. That runner scored on a ground out to Tucker. That was followed by a walk, then a ground ball force out at second base. The final out was on a line drive to center field.
Bottom 9th: Cole Tucker continued to be the one bright spot in the game, picking up a single with two outs in ninth. He finished 2-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored. Surprise lost 10-8 and a day when all four pitchers were Pirates and all of them allowed damage.