The Astros are looking at Zack Thornton as one of ten players for the first pick in the Rule 5 draft.

AFL: Thornton and Benedict Combine For Four Shutout Innings

On Friday afternoon, the Scottsdale Scorpions lost for the eighth straight time, going down 6-3 to Surprise. There weren’t any Pittsburgh Pirates players in the starting lineup, but a couple of their relievers sure made quite the impression in their two innings apiece. arizona_fall_league_logo

Matt Benedict came out to pitch in the third inning. Surprise plays at a stadium with Pitch FX, so it gives you a more in depth recap of his outing. In the third inning, Benedict made quick work of the side, needing just eight pitches to get two ground outs and a strikeout. His first five pitches were all fastballs and he hit 93 MPH twice. Benedict finished off the strikeout with three change-ups and a slow curveball on the last pitch for a swinging strike.

In the fourth inning, he gave up three hard hit balls, allowing a single to a batter who was quickly erased on the bases by a line drive double play. Benedict faced the minimum in his two innings of work, throwing a total of 17 pitches, ten for strikes.

Zack Thornton came in four the fifth inning and had a clean inning, but really battled it out. Each batter he faced saw six pitches and just ten of the 18 pitches went for strikes. The final results were good though, two ground outs and a strikeout. Thornton has been getting a lot of ground balls in the AFL, including an appearance last week in which five of the six outs were grounders. He threw 12 fastballs, sitting 90-92 MPH, mixing in two sliders to the first batter, two change-ups to the second hitter, then back to two sliders for the last hitter.

Thornton was back for the sixth inning and made quick work of the first hitter, striking him out on three pitches. The second hitter had the same result and he almost pulled off the nine pitch/three strikeout inning, throwing a ball on strike two to the third hitter before getting him on a called strike on pitch ten of the inning. Thornton hit 93 MPH this inning, though it came on the only ball he threw. He threw five fastball, four sliders and a change-up.

Scottsdale is off this weekend as the AFL breaks for it’s version of the All-Star Game. Alen Hanson will represent the Pittsburgh Pirates in the game, which can be seen on the MLB Network at 8pm Saturday night.

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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