Scottsdale took on first place Salt River on Friday afternoon with Joely Rodriguez on the mound going up against Mark Appel, the Pittsburgh Pirates first round draft pick from 2012, who decided not to sign and returned to Stanford for his senior season. Rodriguez was named the Arizona Fall League Pitcher of the Week on Tuesday and coming into the game, he had a 1.35 ERA in 13.1 innings, with 13 strikeouts and a .234 BAA. Rodriguez has been the Pirates best pitcher in the AFL, thanks in part to the poor performance from Tyler Glasnow on Thursday.
This game was played with the new “Pace of Game” rules in effect, designed to speed up the games and let MLB test out some ideas that they may use in regular season games. For a summary of the rules, check out this link. Rodriguez struck out the first batter he faced, throwing six pitches in the at-bat. He got a second out quickly with a grounder to third base, before allowing a double. With two outs and a man in scoring position, he got a ground ball to second base to end the inning.
In the second inning, Rodriguez struck out the lead-off hitter. He gave up a bunt single that turned into a runner on second when he threw the ball away. That runner was erased when he tried to steal third base. A miscue by Scottsdale’s third baseman, put the next runner on first. A single, then a walk, loaded the bases with two outs. Things that got out of hand quickly for Rodriguez, who gave up back-to-back singles, which ended his afternoon. He threw eight pitches to the last batter, running his total up to 45 in 1.2 innings. Rodriguez gave up three runs on five hits and a walk, though all the runs were unearned due to the two errors.
There were no Pirates players in the lineup on Friday facing Appel. Early word from the game was that he was sitting mid-90’s, hitting 98 MPH with his fastball and he made quick work of Scottsdale in the first two innings. In the third inning, things fell apart for Appel and he allowed three runs on two hits and two walks. He retired the side in order in the fourth, then put the first three runners on in the fifth before being taken out. Appel gave up a total of five hits, three walks and six runs, five runs were earned.
Scottsdale lost the game 8-6 and moved to 10-12 on the season. They trail Salt River by 5.5 games in the standings with ten games left on the schedule.
The AFL takes off from their regularly scheduled Saturday games to hold their Fall-Stars game. Josh Bell, Elias Diaz and Adrian Sampson will represent the Pirates in the game, which will be shown live on MLB Network at 8:00 PM EST.