AFL: Joely Rodriguez Continues Impressive Fall Campaign

On Friday night in the Arizona Fall League, Joely Rodriguez made his sixth start of the season and he continued his strong, season-long performance. All three Pittsburgh Pirates hitters were in the starting lineup, as Scottsdale defeated Glendale 1-0, giving them an 11-17 record. There are five games left in the AFL season.

Rodriguez gave up a walk and a single in the first inning, but managed to avoid any damage by getting a double play ground ball and a well-placed line drive that ended the inning. Rodriguez needed just nine pitches to get through the inning, four went for strikes. He had a strong second inning, though it did take 15 pitches to record two strikeouts and a fly out to left field. The batters went down swinging in both strikeouts.

In the third inning, Rodriguez worked his way out of trouble. He gave up a lead-off single, then picked up his third strikeout. He hit the next batter, before getting a line drive to center field for the second out. Rodriguez loaded the bases when he gave up a hard hit grounder that made it’s way into left field. He retired the side without damage by getting the sixth batter of the inning to ground out to third base.

Rodriguez struck out the lead-off batter in the fourth. He then gave up a line drive single to center field. Rodriguez got out of the inning quickly with two infield pop ups. That was the end of his day. He gave up six base runners in four innings, but kept Glendale off the board and lowered his ERA to 0.95, with 19 strikeouts in 19 innings. Rodriguez threw 56 pitches in the game, 33 for strikes.

Angel Sanchez came in to pitch the eighth inning with two outs and a man on first base. He had a seven pitch battle with the first batter he faced, getting him on a grounder back to the mound. Sanchez came back out for the ninth and struck out the first two batters swinging. After a two-out single to right field, he picked up the victory with an exciting play to end the game. The batter drove a line drive to left field that resulted in a double and a play at the plate for the final out. Sanchez has now pitched ten innings without allowing an earned run.

Josh Bell was the DH on Friday night. He came into the game with a .227/.338/.333 slash line through 66 at-bats. Facing former Pirate pitcher Wei-Chung Wang, Bell struck out swinging in his first at-bat. In the fourth inning, he popped up to second base. He grounded out to shortstop to end the sixth inning. He finished the game 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Leading off the third inning, Dan Gamache grounded out to second base. Two innings later, he flew out to center field. He ended the seventh inning with a ground out to second base. He finished 0-for-3 on the day.

In his first at-bat, Elias Diaz struck out swinging. In the fifth inning, he singled on a grounder up the middle. Diaz singled to lead-off the eighth, then came around to score the only run of the game two batters later after a sacrifice bunt and a fielding error. On defense, Diaz threw out the only runner that attempted to steal a base.

  • Is Rodriguez as confusing a prospect as he seems to me? Will we see the Rodriguez/ Diaz battery as starters in Pittsburgh ?

  • The players in these AFL games appear to me to:
    1. Players look like they are tiring, as they have played a lot of games this year.
    2. They don’t seem to be working on anything special
    3. Some have already been to the majors, therefore judging the talent in this league is very difficult to do.
    4. Bell looks mature enough to be a major league player right now and the fact that he is playing at times with older players makes me think he is not that far away. His stats for this time of year don’t concern me much.
    5. I like Rodriguez, in some ways he reminds me of Watson.

    • Does Rodriguez get it up near 97 ? Cus I have seen Watson hit it more than a few times. Is it assumed he can ramp it up in short bursts ? I think I read he is the typically lefty sitting 88-92 , occasionally touching 94 , at least as a starter.

  • Wabbit_Season
    November 8, 2014 9:05 am


    To your eye, which of the Pirates’ prospects in the Fall League loos the most ready to make a move in the system? Which, if any, are surprising you?

    I very much look forward to your reporting and I get the feeling that results in the AFL are not necessarily the thing teams are looking for. Given that, which guys – to your jaundiced eye – are the cream of our AFL crop?

    Thanks for all you do. You and a nice cup of coffee make an off-season morning very enjoyable.

    “Any one o’ you lily-livered, bow-legged varmints care ta slap leather with me?!! In case any of ye git any idears ya better know who yer dealing’ with. I’m the hootin’est, tootin’est, shootin’est bob-tail wild cat in the west!!! I’m the fastest gun north, south, east aaaaaaaaannnnnnnnddd west of the Pecos!!!”


    • I think Glasnow is the only player that will move up from where he finished last year. Everyone else either moved up already for a partial season or struggled at their level. It’s a tough league to look at stats for because there are players from all different levels. What you like to see is the guys with a full season of AA(or above) at least hold their own in the league.

      There is also the matter of players working on things, so they are there for a specific reason and sometimes that can skew stats. That’s especially true for pitchers, but that could also help out the hitters.

      I think the one thing you MIGHT be able to take from the AFL stats is that Sanchez can pitch in relief. He’s always been a prospect that looked better than he has performed, so he may be much more effective in short spurts. It wouldn’t hurt to look into it because he is very far down on the starting pitcher depth chart.

  • John: Joely Rodriguez and Elias Diaz both had excellent games and Angel Sanchez got the win with two innings of good relief. I have been watching for the last line in most of the updates when Diaz is the Catcher where it lists SB’s and CS’s – have you kept a running total? I get the idea that the AFL this year has a lot of talented base stealers.

    • I haven’t kept a running total, but those numbers can be misleading if you don’t look into them. Diaz gets credit in the boxscore for a caught stealing when the pitcher picks off a runner that runs to the next base instead of trying to go back. That has happened at least three times when he has caught, so his % according to the boxscores looks a lot better than it really is. I usually note his defensive performance each night(unless there is nothing to report) and adjust for the mistake.