The Scottsdale Scorpions hold a 4.5 game lead in the AFL East following Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Surprise Rafters, and according to MLB.com's John Parker's post game article, the loss kept the Scorpions from clinching a spot in next Saturday's Arizona Fall League Championship game, which will be broadcast live on the MLB Network. There are just 4 games left on the Arizona Fall League schedule, so Nats' 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper has just two more games (if he plays in the Championship) before a whirlwind year comes to an end for the now-18-year-old outfielder.
In Saturday's game, Harper was 0 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. After working the count full and fouling off a few pitches from 25-year-old Milwaukee Brewers' '09 22nd Round pick Michael Fiers in his first trip to the plate, Harper popped out to the infield ending a 7-pitch at bat. The catcher-turned-outfielder committed his first error of the Fall in the the bottom of the second, bobbling a grounder that let two runners advance, and eventually allowed the Rafters' first run to score. Harper's second AB came with two down and a runner on second in the fourth, when Harper was walked on four pitches and stranded on an inning-ending groundout. The Nats' future right fielder reached on an error in his third trip to the plate, stole second, took third on a groundout and scored the Scorpions' first run when he was balked in from third. Given a chance to tie it up with one swing in the ninth, Harper rolled a grounder out to second in his final AB and Scottsdale dropped a 4-3 decision on the road.
8 games into his AFL experience, Harper's now hit in 10 of 31 at bats (.323/.400/.613) with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR, 6 RBI's, 4 walks, 10 K's and 1 stolen base. Harper's got one more game Wednesday and the Championship is on Saturday. Will D.C. fans get their first chance to see Harper live next Saturday?
• Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico:
With the game tied at 5-5 after six innings of play last night, Leones de Ponce second baseman Danny Espinosa stepped to the plate and launched his first Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico HR to give the Leones a 6-5 lead and eventually the win over the Indios de Mayaguez on Sunday. Espinosa's first HR was the 23-year-old Nats' infielder's 17th hit in 15 games and 64 at bats for the Leones and he's now hitting (.266/.324/.422) this winter with 5 doubles, 1 triple, 1 HR, 4 RBI's, 4 walks, 20 K's and 6 stolen bases.
Nats' first base prospect Chris Marrero was 1 for 4 with a run scored and two K's Sunday. The 22-year-old '07 1st Round pick is now 19 for 60 (.317 AVG) with a .358 OBP and a .742 SLG in 15 games with the Leones in which he's collected 4 doubles, 14 RBI's and 5 walks with 14 K's. Espinosa and Marrero's fellow Nats' prospect Jeff Mandel received the win (1-0) for 2.0 scoreless innings of work in which he struck out two Indios. The 25-year-old right-handed '07 19th Round pick has given up just 1 run on 8 hits (1 HR) in 8 games and 10.1 IP for Ponce in which he's walked 2 and struck out 9 batters. 25-year-old left-hander and '06 5th Round pick Cory VanAllen gave up a run on 3 hits in 1.2 IP and '06 13th Round pick Hassan Pena, a right-hander who pitched for Class-A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg last season, earned a hold with 1.1 scoreless innings pitched in which he walked one and recorded a K.
The Leones and the Criollos de Caguas square off tonight in Liga de Beisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico action.