Pirates Prospects » Arizona Fall League http://www.piratesprospects.com Your best source for news on the Pittsburgh Pirates and their minor league system. Thu, 22 May 2014 07:14:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Arizona Fall League Season Recap http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/pittsburgh-pirates-2013-arizona-fall-league-season-recap.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/pittsburgh-pirates-2013-arizona-fall-league-season-recap.html#comments Fri, 15 Nov 2013 15:00:23 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=69420 The Arizona Fall League ended on Thursday with a 3-2 loss for the Pittsburgh Pirates players and their Scottsdale Scorpions team. The team finished the season with a 10-21 record, but there were some positive signs from the Pirates players assigned to the league.

Jameson Taillon pitched once before an injury ended his season

Jameson Taillon pitched once before an injury ended his season

The Pirates sent a total of eight players to the AFL, the last coming when Phil Irwin replaced Jameson Taillon on the roster. They had three position players, Alen Hanson, Alex Dickerson and Gift Ngoepe, two starting pitchers in Irwin and Taillon and three relievers, Matt Benedict, Zack Thornton and Tyler Waldron. In our AFL season preview, we broke down these players, where they stood as far as prospect status and what was needed to do to establish themselves as better prospects.

Below you’ll find a recap of each player’s performance in the AFL along with some comments on where they stand now that the season is over.

Jameson Taillon went to the AFL looking to add some innings to his season total. He ended up adding just two shutout innings before being shutdown with a tweaked groin. The injury is just a minor setback and Taillon should be able to endure a full workload next season, which will likely include September innings in the majors, as well as possible October innings. In his only game, he threw 35 pitches and was sitting 94-96 MPH, touching 97 MPH and showing strong secondary stuff.

The biggest name for the Pirates in the AFL after Taillon was clearly Alen Hanson and he impressed some scouts. He was the youngest position player on the Scottsdale roster. After some early hiccups on defense, that included two games in a row with two errors (one fielding, one throwing each time), Hanson settled down and excelled on both sides of the ball. He was named to the Fall Stars game, the only representative of the Pirates. Hanson finished with six errors on the year and just one in his last 15 games.

On offense, he had a .253/.294/.329 slash line in 79 at-bats and looked much better from the left side. All three of his extra base hits came off right-handed pitchers, while southpaws held him to a .200 average and .476 OPS. Hanson had six stolen bases in nine attempts. He will likely end up back at Altoona for at least half of the 2014 season, as he looks to refine his skills all around. Hanson will be 21-years-old the entire 2014 season, so for his age, AA is still an advanced placement. If the defense improves, and he has the skills to do that, Hanson will be batting leadoff for the Pirates as their everyday shortstop by mid-2015.

Hanson impressed the scouts, but Alex Dickerson also looked fairly good at the plate. He batted .290 in 18 games, though it was a slightly empty average. He had four doubles and no homers, plus drew only five walks. One caveat with the lack of power is the fact Scottsdale plays in a huge ballpark. It’s 360 down the left field line and 430 to straight away center field. As a team, they had just 11 homers as season, the lowest total in the league. Dickerson was decent hitting against lefties, something he did well during the regular season. He ran into one issue during the season that has caused him problems in the past. He missed a week of action with back stiffness, but is was a minor setback and he picked up hits in six of the seven games he played after returning.

Dickerson split his time between both corner outfield spots and to the chagrin of many Pirates fans, he didn’t see any action at first base. The fact he played both outfield spots without an error and we know he can play first base, gives him some versatility. But the Pirates don’t have a definite long-term option at first base, which raises questions of why Dickerson continues to play the outfield and whether he can be a starter for the Pirates at first base.

Gift Ngoepe the middle infielder, had a great season in the AFL. Unfortunately, Gift Ngoepe the batter, was the polar opposite. While his glove and speed might someday get him to the majors, the chances of that happening didn’t go up with his performance in the AFL. You might be able to find a bright spot with his struggles at the plate. Ngoepe is Rule 5 eligible this off-season, and he proved during the regular season at AA and during the AFL that his bat is far from major league ready. That could keep the Pirates from feeling they need to protect him, but should also turn off any other team from picking him.

Ngoepe went 4-for-51 at the plate and struck out 19 times. His .270 OPS was the worst in the league among anyone who played more than one game. Basically, his hitting was awful. The good side is the defense, 17 games in all with no errors. He mostly played second base, but had a couple of appearances at shortstop as well. Ngoepe didn’t get much of a chance to run the bases, so he had just two stolen bases in two attempts. He should be back at Altoona next year alongside his double play partner from the AFL, Alen Hanson. He will have a lot to prove with his bat if he wants to go any further.

Phil Irwin was originally announced for the AFL, then the Pirates decided to hold him back and have him pitch in the Fall Instructional League. When Jameson Taillon went down with an injury, Irwin was sent to Arizona to get in his work. He was coming off an injury, followed by right elbow surgery, so you can’t be too critical about his results in the AFL. Irwin had a strong first outing, throwing three shutout innings. It went downhill for him after that game. In his last four starts combined, he allowed 15 earned runs on 20 hits and six walks in 12.2 innings. Working on a 60 pitch limit, Irwin got through four innings of work twice and twice he was knocked out in the third inning.

The results from Irwin should be scrutinized too much. This was basically like a rehab assignment for him and a chance to build up some innings for next year. He only made three starts during the regular season, throwing ten innings for Indianapolis and 4.2 in his lone Pirates start. The good things are that his velocity was just a tick below normal, he was using all of his pitches and more importantly, he proved he was healthy.

Matt Benedict pitched well in the AFL up until the end. In his last three appearances, he allowed runs in each game, a total of four earned runs in 4.1 innings. Prior to that, he gave up one run in his first eight outings. He posted a very impressive 3.38 GO/AO ratio due to relying heavily on his sinker and held batters to a .233 BAA. Benedict also issued just five walks and while he struck out 11 batters in his 16 innings, he picked up a strikeout in each of his last ten outings. In relief, he was able to touch 93 MPH with his fastball. Benedict was starting for half of 2013 and struggling, but he looks like he could have a place as a reliever if he can continue to command his pitches and keep the ball on the ground.

There were a few good signs from Tyler Waldron in his nine appearances. He had a nice 1.58 GO/AO ratio and didn’t allow a home run. He also had back-to-back appearances in which he threw a total of five no-hit innings. The bad for Waldron was basically everything before and after those five no-hit innings. In those other games, he gave up 17 hits and five walks in nine innings. Left-handed batters hammered him for a .348 average. In his last outing, he was mixing in all of his pitches and he hit 92 MPH. Waldron was in the AFL trying to make up for what was basically a lost season, as an arm injury limited him to 32.1 innings during the season.

Thornton Learns From AFL Experience

During the regular season, Zack Thornton split his time between three levels, beginning in Bradenton, moving to Altoona, then shuffling back and forth between the Curve and Indianapolis. Three important things were consistent between each stop, he kept the ball on the ground, refused to walk batters and piled up strikeouts.

Zach Thornton pitched well in the AFL

Zach Thornton pitched well in the AFL

The overall results were good at Indianapolis, but the ERA went up and Thornton took a lot from that.

“I learned no matter what level you are at if you make the pitch you execute in the right spot that you are going to be successful,” Thornton said. “The approaches are a little different but I still went and attacked hitters and didn’t back down.”

With just 12 walks in 75.1 innings during the regular season, there should be little doubt that Thornton goes out to the mound with a game plan and sticks to it.

“It comes down to be able to execute the pitch and if you can do that you will be very successful in this game. I never change the way I pitch. I go after hitters and pitch to my strengths and stay with the process.”

Going to the AFL allowed Thornton to work on things under the tutelage of Stan Kyles, the pitching coach during the regular season for Altoona and for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Thornton said about Kyles “He knows me very well and if I was struggling he knew my key points to get me back to where I needed to be.”

That allowed him to be comfortable on the mound and concentrate and work on a one particular pitch.

“The thing I really wanted to work on was my change-up, being able to throw it in any count and especially the right on right change-up. I felt like I accomplished that very well and was very successful with it.”

Thornton also learned a lot in Arizona just from not sitting in the bullpen like relievers normally do. The Pirates have their starters track pitches between starts, but going to the AFL allowed Thornton to do that for the first time regularly in his career. It was a whole new perspective for him,

“When I am on the mound it is hard to tell how much my ball is moving and what the action is on my ball so it is cool to see it from a different view on other pitchers.”

It also helps when he’s facing the same hitters down the line because he gets to see their approach against the other pitchers.

All that he learned in the AFL led to strong numbers in his 11 outings. In 14.2 innings, he had 14 strikeouts, a 2.57 GO/AO ratio, walked just three batters and had a .157 BAA. To get these results, Thornton mixes in a fastball that sits 90-91 MPH with a low 80′s change-up and a slider in the 77-78 MPH range.

Thornton called pitching in the AFL an amazing experience. Putting what he learned into action and staying on the right path might lead to an even more amazing experience: getting to the majors in Pittsburgh.

]]>
http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/pittsburgh-pirates-2013-arizona-fall-league-season-recap.html/feed 5
AFL: Hanson Drives In Run As Scottsdale Loses Season Finale http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-hanson-drives-in-run-as-scottsdale-loses-season-finale.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-hanson-drives-in-run-as-scottsdale-loses-season-finale.html#comments Thu, 14 Nov 2013 22:01:34 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=69430 On the last day of the Arizona Fall League regular season, the Scottsdale Scorpions dropped their seventh straight game, going down 3-2 to Salt River. They finished the season with a 10-21 record, worst in the AFL. arizona_fall_league_logo

Three Pittsburgh Pirates players were in the starting lineup on Thursday. Alen Hanson was in the lead-off spot, with Alex Dickerson hitting fifth and in right field, while Gift Ngoepe was at second base and batting eighth. For the first five innings, they were going up against the Blue Jays’ top prospect Aaron Sanchez, who has been perhaps the best pitcher in the AFL this season.

Leading off the game, Alen Hanson drew a six pitch walk. He was quickly erased on a double play. In his second at-bat, Hanson went down swinging. He came up in the fifth with two outs and a man on base, but didn’t get to complete his plate appearance due to a caught stealing. In the sixth inning, Hanson grounded out to first base. In the eighth inning, with a man on second base and two outs, Hanson came up with his team down by two runs. He drove home the Scorpions’ second run on a sharply hit single. It was the tenth RBI of the AFL season for Hanson.

In the second inning, Alex Dickerson came up with a man on first and no outs. He hit the ball well, but it was a line drive right at the first baseman, who beat the runner back to the bag for a double play. Dickerson came up in fourth inning, again with a man on first and no outs. This time, he had an eight pitch at-bat that ended with a ground ball double play. Dickerson’s tough day continued with a strikeout in the seventh inning.

He had a chance to play hero in the ninth, coming up with the score 3-2, a man on first and two outs. Dickerson kept the game alive, hitting a single into right field that got the lead runner to second base. The game ended on the next batter with a strikeout.

Leading off the third inning, Gift Ngoepe went down swinging. He came up in the fifth inning with a man on first and no outs and grounded into a double play. That was the fourth double play in five innings for Aaron Sanchez, all involved Pirates players. It seemed like there was a running theme during this game. Ngoepe came in the eighth inning with a man on first and no outs. He didn’t hit into a double play, but that was due to the fact he didn’t hit the ball hard enough. Ngoepe grounded out to second base, moving the runner up one base. That was a big play at the time, because two batters later, Alen Hanson drove in that runner to make the score 3-2.

Zack Thornton came in for the sixth inning. He walked the first batter, then put his infielders to work. Thornton got a ground ball double play with help from Gift Ngoepe to Alen Hanson, then retired the side with a grounder to third base. He threw 11 pitches in the inning, five for strikes. It was his only inning of work.

]]>
http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-hanson-drives-in-run-as-scottsdale-loses-season-finale.html/feed 2
AFL: Dickerson Reaches Base Twice, Drives In Run In Loss http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-dickerson-reaches-base-twice-drives-in-run-in-loss.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-dickerson-reaches-base-twice-drives-in-run-in-loss.html#comments Thu, 14 Nov 2013 04:53:41 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=69391 On Wednesday night in the Arizona Fall League, Scottsdale lost their 20th game, dropping an 8-5 decision to Salt River. It was the sixth straight loss for the Scorpions, who at one time had a 7-6 record. Since then, they are 3-14, leaving them with the worst record in the AFL. arizona_fall_league_logo

Alex Dickerson was the only Pittsburgh Pirates player in the starting lineup. He was batting fifth and playing left field. In his first AB, Dickerson grounded out to second base. He came up again in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and one out. Dickerson singled on a ground ball up the middle to drive home the first run for Scottsdale. Three batters later, he scored on a two-run single. In his third plate appearance, Dickerson was hit by a pitch.

In the seventh inning, Dickerson came up with two outs and men on the corners. The score was tied at 5-5 and Scottsdale just had a runner thrown out at home. Dickerson came up empty in the big spot, grounding out softly to third base on a 1-1 pitch to end the inning.

Matt Benedict came in to pitch the fifth inning with Scottsdale holding on to a 4-3 lead. He gave up a lead-off single, followed by a stolen base and a walk.  Benedict got the next batter to ground into a double play, leaving a man on third with two outs. The next hitter singled on a line drive to right field to tie the score. Benedict allowed another stolen base before recording the final out on a strikeout. That was his only inning of work. He threw 19 pitches, 11 went for strikes.

Scottsdale wraps up it’s season tomorrow afternoon.

]]>
http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-dickerson-reaches-base-twice-drives-in-run-in-loss.html/feed 0
AFL: Phil Irwin Makes His Final Fall Start http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-phil-irwin-makes-his-final-fall-start.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-phil-irwin-makes-his-final-fall-start.html#comments Tue, 12 Nov 2013 22:55:54 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=69337 In Arizona Fall League action from Tuesday afternoon, Phil Irwin made his final start for Scottsdale and ran into trouble after being spotted a big early lead. Tyler Waldron followed him and picked up the loss in the 9-7 defeat to Surprise, dropping the Scorpions to 10-19 on the season. arizona_fall_league_logo

Phil Irwin came into the game with a 1-2, 7.71 record in four starts, allowing 15 hits and five walks, while striking out 11 in 11.2 innings. The Surprise stadium has Pitch F/X, one of two teams in the league that has it available.

In the first inning, Irwin started with a 2-0 lead already and walked the lead-off batter on four pitches. He got a ground out from the second hitter, which moved the runner to second base. The next batter flew out to center field for the second out. Irwin couldn’t get out of the inning unscathed, as the clean-up batter lined a double into center field to make it a 2-1 score. He got the final out on a ground ball to shortstop. Irwin was sitting 88-89 MPH with his fastball and mixing in a few curves and change-ups. He made 17 pitches in the inning, nine for strikes.

In the second inning, Irwin got the lead-off batter to line out to first base. The next batter flew out to right field two pitches later. He got another line out to first base to end the inning. Irwin needed just seven pitches to get through the second inning.

He came out for the third inning with a 6-1 lead and gave up a line drive single to center field to start the inning. That runner was quickly erased on a double play. Irwin got a pop out to shortstop to end the inning. Despite giving up a hard hit single, it was still an efficient eight pitch inning for Irwin.

Things got ugly in the fourth inning. Irwin allowed three straight singles to begin the inning, loading the bases. It looked like he would be able to battle back, striking out two straight batters, but instead the game fell apart. On a 1-1 curveball to Ryan Rua(who hit 32 homers this year), Irwin was take deep for a grand slam that made it a 6-5 score. He struck out the next batter on three pitches, giving him three strikeouts in the inning. However, Irwin allowed five runs in his four innings of work. It was not the ending he wanted for his Fall season. He threw 61 pitches, 36 for strikes and his velocity got better later in the game. He was sitting 89-90 late, touching 92 MPH in the fourth.

The only Pittsburgh Pirates player in the starting lineup was Gift Ngoepe. He was batting ninth and playing second base. Ngoepe came up with one out and no one on in the second inning and flew out to left field. With the score 5-1 in the third, Ngoepe singled to left field to drive home a run. It was just his fourth hit of the AFL season. In the fifth inning, Ngoepe was called out on strikes for the final out. He led off the eighth inning and had a six pitch AB that ended with a ground out to first base.

Tyler Waldron came out of the bullpen for the fifth inning and allowed a lead-off double, followed two batters later by a one out RBI single to tie the score. That batter moved to second on the throw home, then scored three pitches later on another RBI single. Just like the previous single, the runner moved up to second base on the throw home.

Things didn’t get any better for Waldron, who allowed a double just two pitches later. He walked the next batter, before leaving the game on a high note, picking up the second out via strikeout.  He faced seven batters, threw 24 pitches, 16 for strikeouts. He hit 92 MPH once, sitting 89 MPH with his fastball, while mixing in five curveballs and five change-ups. One more run scored after Waldron left, though it was unearned.

Just two more games remain on the AFL schedule for Scottsdale. They play Wednesday night before finishing up with an afternoon game on Thursday.

]]>
http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-phil-irwin-makes-his-final-fall-start.html/feed 2
AFL: Dickerson and Hanson Reach Base in Loss http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-dickerson-and-hanson-reach-base-in-loss.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-dickerson-and-hanson-reach-base-in-loss.html#comments Mon, 11 Nov 2013 22:36:03 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=69285 On Monday afternoon in the Arizona Fall League, the Scottsdale Scorpions lost 8-2 to Surprise. They have now lost four in a row and drop to 10-18 on the season. arizona_fall_league_logo

Both Alen Hanson and Alex Dickerson were in the lineup for Scottsdale. Hanson was in his usual two spot at shortstop and Dickerson was moved down to the six hole, playing left field. Two other Pittsburgh Pirates players got into the game before it was over.

In his first at bat, Alen Hanson grounded out to third base on a 1-1 pitch. He came up in the third inning, his team was trailing 4-1, with a man on second base and one out. Hanson ended up walking on six pitches. In his third AB, he grounded out to third base. Hanson had a seven pitch at bat in the seventh when he flew out to left field leading off the inning. He got another chance to hit with two outs in the ninth inning. Hanson popped out to shortstop to end the game. He is now hitting .250 in 76 AB’s.

Alex Dickerson came up in the second inning with a man on first and one out. That base runner quickly moved to second base on a steal, but remained there one pitcher later when Dickerson grounded out back to the pitcher. In the fourth inning, he flew out to center field on the first pitch he saw. Dickerson collected a single in the sixth inning, then in his last at bat, he grounded out to second base, leaving him with a 1-for-4 day.

Zack Thornton came out for the fourth inning and struck out the first batter on three pitches. He started out with three straight balls to the second hitter, all well out of the strike zone. Thornton came back to get him to ground out softly to first base on a 3-2 pitch. With two outs, he allowed back-to-back doubles to make the score 5-2. He then allowed a triple that brought home the sixth run, before ending the inning like it started, picking up a strikeout on three pitches. Thornton threw 24 pitches, 14 for strikes.

Gift Ngoepe came into the game in the eighth inning as a defensive replacement at second base. He did not bat, but had one play in the field. The ninth inning included two ground outs to Alen Hanson and one to Ngoepe, who has still yet to make an error in the AFL.

]]>
http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-dickerson-and-hanson-reach-base-in-loss.html/feed 0
AFL: Scottsdale Eliminated From Playoffs http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-scottsdale-eliminated-from-playoffs.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-scottsdale-eliminated-from-playoffs.html#comments Sat, 09 Nov 2013 22:11:49 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=69203 In the Arizona Fall League on Saturday afternoon, the Scottsdale Scorpions nearly got shutout again by Glendale, this time losing by a 3-2 score. They didn’t collect their first hit until the seventh inning and had just three in the game. Four Pittsburgh Pirates players got into action. arizona_fall_league_logo

Both Alen Hanson and Gift Ngoepe were in the lineup on Saturday, after each sat out last night’s game. Hanson was at shortstop and batting eighth. In every other game this season, he either batted lead-off or second. Ngoepe batted ninth and was at second base. Alex Dickerson wasn’t in the original lineup, but he was inserted after a late change. Dickerson batted fourth and played right field.

Alex Dickerson came up in the first inning with a man on first base and two outs. He grounded out to second base to end the inning. In the fourth inning, Dickerson had a six pitch AB, flying out to center field. With his team down 3-0, he came up in the seventh and had a chance to tie the game. Dickerson had men on first and second with no outs when he singled to load the bases.

In the ninth inning, Dickerson came up with no outs and two runners in scoring position. He had a good chance to tie up the game, which sat at 3-1 at the time. Dickerson had a six pitch AB, but came up empty, popping out to shortstop.

Leading off the third inning, Alen Hanson went down swinging on four pitches. In his second AB, he grounded out to first base on the first pitch he saw. Hanson led off the eighth inning with a pop out to first base. It was the second straight game without a hit for Hanson, who collected three hits Wednesday night.

Gift Ngoepe hit a 3-2 pitch softly back to the pitcher in his first AB. In the sixth inning, Ngoepe flew out to right field. Two times through the order, Glendale pitchers had still not allowed a base hit. In the eighth inning, Ngoepe flew out to left field. With another hitless game, Ngoepe is now 3-for-44 on the AFL season.

Matt Benedict came in during the fourth inning, entering the game with his team down 2-0, no one on base and two outs. He allowed a double on the second pitch he threw, then two pitches later, that runner came around to score on a single. Benedict got the third out on a ground ball to second base.

In the fifth inning, Benedict walked the lead-off hitter. That runner was quickly erased as Hanson and Ngoepe teamed up for a 6-4-3 double play. Benedict got the next hitting to go down swinging for the third out. He threw a total of 19 pitches, just nine for strikes.

The Scorpions are off tomorrow. There are just four games left in the regular season and Scottsdale won’t make the playoffs, getting officially eliminated today.

]]>
http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-scottsdale-eliminated-from-playoffs.html/feed 0
AFL: Quiet Night For Dickerson in Shutout Loss http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-quiet-night-for-dickerson-in-shutout-loss.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-quiet-night-for-dickerson-in-shutout-loss.html#comments Sat, 09 Nov 2013 04:46:56 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=69184 On Friday night in the Arizona Fall League, the Scottsdale Scorpions were shutout 1-0 by Glendale. The Scorpions had just four base runners all night, collecting two singles, a double and a walk.

Alex Dickerson was the only Pittsburgh Pirates player in the lineup on Friday night. He moved up to third in the batting order and he was in right field. Dickerson has been switching back and forth between right and left field.

In his first at bat, Dickerson grounded out weakly to shortstop. He came up in the fourth and drove the ball well to deep center field, but it was caught near the warning track. Through four innings, Glendale’s Alex Meyer had not allowed a hit. By the time he came up leading off the seventh inning, Dickerson’s team had picked up one base hit and they were only down by a run. He couldn’t get on base in his third AB, flying out to left field.

Dickerson came up in the ninth with a chance to win the game. His team was down 1-0, had a man on first base and one out. He ended up chasing a ball in the dirt for a strikeout, leaving him 0-for-4 on the night.

]]>
http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-quiet-night-for-dickerson-in-shutout-loss.html/feed 0
AFL: Two Hits For Alex Dickerson in Loss http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-two-hits-for-alex-dickerson-in-loss.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-two-hits-for-alex-dickerson-in-loss.html#comments Fri, 08 Nov 2013 04:47:16 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=69141 On Thursday night in the Arizona Fall League, the Scottsdale Scorpions had their three game winning streak snapped, losing 4-2 to Surprise. arizona_fall_league_logo

Three Pittsburgh Pirates were in the starting lineup on Thursday night. Alen Hanson was at the top of the order, playing shortstop. Alex Dickerson was in left field, batting clean-up. Gift Ngoepe was at second base and batting in the nine hole.

Leading off the game, Alen Hanson hit a hard one-hopper right at the second baseman for the first out. In the third inning, he grounded out to first base. Hanson led off the fifth and drove the ball to the opposite field warning track for a long out. In the seventh inning, Hanson flew out to deep right-center field. He hit the ball good three times but had nothing to show for it.

Alex Dickerson came up in the first with a man on first base and two outs. The runner moved to second base on a wild pitch before Dickerson grounded out sharply to second base for the final out of the inning. Leading off the fourth inning, Dickerson scorched a double down the right field line. He scored the first run for the Scorpions, coming home on a single three batters later.

In the fifth, Dickerson came up with his team down 3-1, two men in scoring position and one out. He singled hard to left field, scoring one run, but the second runner was cut down at home. Leading off the eighth inning, Dickerson was called out on three straight strikes.

Gift Ngoepe led of the third inning with a bloop to center field that the shortstop made a nice running over-the-shoulder catch on. Ngoepe batted in the fourth with his team trailing 3-1, with two men on and two outs. He flew out to left field on the second pitch to end the inning. Ngoepe grounded out to second base to end the sixth inning. He came up with two outs and no one on in the ninth inning, looking to get on base to give Alen Hanson a chance to tie the game. Ngoepe wasn’t able to get on base, striking out for the final out. He is now 3-for-41 on the season, though he still hasn’t made an error this AFL season.

Tyler Waldron came to pitch the fourth inning. He got the first hitter to fly out to center field. The next batter was called out on a 93 MPH fastball on the outside corner. Waldron got the last batter out on a grounder to Alen Hanson. He threw 13 pitches in the inning, eight for strikes.

In the fifth, Waldron gave up a triple to straight away center field on the first pitch. With the infield in against the next batter, Waldron got a grounder to Alen Hanson that he couldn’t handle for his first error since October 15th. The next hitter lined a single to left field that put runners on the corners. Waldron got the first out on a swinging strikeout. While the next batter was up, the runner on first base stole second. Waldron got the second out on a line drive right to third base, then got out of the inning while allowing just one run by getting a second straight line drive to third base.

Waldron’s two innings were drastically different, looking great in the first and he was hit hard in the second inning. He threw a lot of strikes in the second inning, with 11 of his 13 pitches in the zone.

Tomorrow’s game will be televised live on the MLB Network at 9 PM EST.

]]>
http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-two-hits-for-alex-dickerson-in-loss.html/feed 3
AFL: Three Hits For Alen Hanson In Win http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-three-hits-for-alen-hanson-in-win.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-three-hits-for-alen-hanson-in-win.html#comments Thu, 07 Nov 2013 05:16:00 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=69104 On Wednesday night in the Arizona Fall League, the Scottsdale Scorpions picked up their third straight win. The 7-4 victory over Surprise came on a night that Phil Irwin started for Scottsdale and two Pittsburgh Pirates players were in the starting lineup. Prior to this current mini winning streak, the Scorpions lost eight in a row.  arizona_fall_league_logo

Alen Hanson led off for Scottsdale in the bottom of the first and lined a single into right field. He stole second base with two outs, then scored the first run of the game on a single up the middle. Hanson got up in the second inning with two men on and one out. He hit a soft grounder to shortstop which resulted in an out at second base. Hanson then stole second base, his second steal of the game and sixth of the season. He scored his second run of the game one batter later on a triple.

In the third inning, Hanson batted for a third time and drove in Scottsdale’s seventh run on a line drive single up the middle. In the fifth inning, Hanson was robbed of a likely triple by a great running catch in the left-center gap. It came with one out and two men on base and ended up as a double play when the runner on second was called out. In the eighth inning, Hanson picked up his third hit with a liner into right field.

Alex Dickerson hit a soft liner to center field in his first AB after returning from injury. He had missed a week of action with back soreness. In his second at bat, Dickerson went down swinging to end the second inning. He grounded out softly to first base his third time up. In the sixth inning, he flew out to right field on the first pitch.

Phil Irwin was the starting pitcher for Scottsdale on Wednesday night. He came into the game 0-2, 8.68 in three starts. He walked the lead-off hitter on five pitches. The batter stole second, then moved to third on a hard single up the middle. What happened next was a first in AFL and MLB history. The runner from first, stole second base, but he was initially called out. They went to instant replay, which is being used as an experiment in the AFL to see how it works. The call was overturned and the runner was safe, putting two runners in scoring position with no outs. Irwin picked up the first out on a strikeout, then picked up his second strikeout against the next hitter on a 3-2 pitch that hit the outside corner.

With two outs, Irwin got a grounder to third base that was bobbled at first, resulting in a close play at first base. The runner was called safe, but instant replay was used again and the play was overturned. So Irwin was hurt by the new replay system at first, but then got help from it two batters later. He threw a total of 28 pitches, 15 went for strikes.

In the second inning, Irwin got a ground ball to second base for the first out. The next batter hit a long double to the left-center gap. Irwin walked the third hitter, putting two men on with one out. After a stolen base made it first and third, Irwin got a double play on a grounder to Alen Hanson to get out of the inning. He threw 19 pitches, ten for strikes.

Irwin came back out for the third inning with a 6-0 lead. He got a long fly out to center field from the first batter on a 3-2 count.  The second hitter lined a single into right field. That was the end of the night for Irwin, who reached his pitch count limit. In 2.1 innings, he allowed one run on three hits and two walks, striking out two batters.

Matt Benedict came in to relieve Irwin, inheriting a runner on first with one out. On the third pitch Benedict threw, he gave up a long home run to right field. The next hitter grounded out to second base on the first pitch, then Benedict struck out the third hitter to end the inning.

Benedict came out for the fourth and got a quick ground out to first base for the first out. The next batter hit a hard one-hopper to Alen Hanson, who made a nice play on it for the second out. The third hitter grounded out softly to Hanson, who bounced the easy throw to first base for the final out. Benedict needed just five pitches to get through the inning. Facing six batters, he threw 13 pitches, nine for strikes.

Zack Thornton came on to finish the game, entering with a three run lead. The first batter grounded slowly to Alen Hanson for the first out. The next batter hit a lazy fly ball to center field for the second out. Thornton finished off the game with a grounder up the middle that Hanson made a nice play on.

** Thursday’s Scottsdale game will also be shown on the MLB Network at 9 PM EST.

]]>
http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-three-hits-for-alen-hanson-in-win.html/feed 12
AFL: Hanson and Ngoepe Collect RBI’s in Victory http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-hanson-and-ngoepe-collect-rbis-in-victory.html http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-hanson-and-ngoepe-collect-rbis-in-victory.html#comments Tue, 05 Nov 2013 22:18:44 +0000 http://www.piratesprospects.com/?p=69031 On Monday afternoon in the Arizona Fall League, Scottsdale was able to break their eight game losing streak, winning 7-4 in ten innings at Peoria. On Tuesday, the same two teams met up in Scottsdale and the Scorpions were able to make it two in a row, winning 4-0 with help from both Pittsburgh Pirates players in the lineup. arizona_fall_league_logo

Both Alen Hanson and Gift Ngoepe were in the starting lineup on Tuesday. Hanson started at shortstop and batted second, while Ngoepe was his double play partner, hitting ninth.

Alen Hanson came up with one out in the first inning and grounded out to first base on the second pitch he saw. In his second at bat, Hanson saw just one pitch, lining out to center field for the final out of the third inning. He came up in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and two outs. Scottsdale had taken a 3-0 lead at this point. Hanson saw four straight strikes, fouling off an 0-2 pitch before reaching on an infield single that brought home the Scorpions’ fourth run. In the seventh inning, he was called out on strikes.

Leading off the third inning, Gift Ngoepe tried to bunt his way on, fouling off the first pitch. On the next pitch, he grounded out to shortstop. In the fourth inning, Ngoepe came up with his team up 1-0, the bases loaded and two outs. He was able to work a full count walk, though the pitcher missed badly on all six pitches he threw. The RBI was the second in the AFL for Ngoepe, who also drove in a run yesterday with a sacrifice fly. In the sixth inning, he lined out to shortstop. Despite the recent RBI’s, he is still just 3-for-37 at the plate this season.

Alen Hanson has now gone since October 15th without making an error. That errorless streak follows five errors in the team’s first six games. Gift Ngoepe has been even better. He hasn’t committed an error all season.

Just a reminder that tomorrow’s game will be televised on the MLB Network. The game starts at 9 PM EST.

]]>
http://www.piratesprospects.com/2013/11/afl-hanson-and-ngoepe-collect-rbis-in-victory.html/feed 1