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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

AFL: Hanson Drives In Run As Scottsdale Loses Season Finale

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.

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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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emjayinTN

Hanson fared very well in this upper level prospect league as a kid who just turned 21 a couple weeks ago. He started rough with the errors, but I do not remember you mentioning any errors after that rough start. How did he finish after that rough defensive start? Gift Ngoepe batted .270 – not as an average, but that was his OPS! He batted .078 and those numbers are embarassing. Dickerson was OK, but no HR’s? That does not play well for him helping in the future.

Taillon pitched in only one game due to a groin pull? The guys who really stood out were Zack Thornton and Benedict who both pitched in relief and were right around 3.00 ERA in this hitter friendly league. Irwin finished with a very inflated ERA. Thanks for the updates, John.

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