The Arizona Fall League has a reputation for favoring offense. Stocked with top hitting prospects playing in hitter-friendly parks, it can be a tough proving ground for young arms.
Cardinals prospect Kevin Siegrist encountered no problems Saturday in his first AFL outing.
The 23-year-old left-hander turned in an unblemished start for Surprise, striking out five over three perfect innings to earn the win as the Saguaros cruised to a 10-2 triumph over the Salt River Rafters.
"It's always good to get off to a good start," Siegrist said. "I felt really good with it, real happy with it. My four-seam, my two-seam fastball were on. I worked in the slider. Pretty much having the location on my fastball helped with my off-speed stuff."
Primarily a starter since the Cardinals drafted him in the 41st round in 2008, Siegrist thought he'd be pitching out of the bullpen in the Fall League. So he was pleasantly surprised when he learned he'd continue to start for the Saguaros.
"I was really excited when they told me I was coming down here," he said. "I thought I was relieving, but being able to start, I'm all for it. I've started for all of my career."
Siegrist split the season between Class A Advanced Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield. He was 6-0 with a 2.28 ERA over 55 1/3 innings in the Florida State League, striking out 41 and walking 22 to earn a promotion to the Texas League.
The New York native continued his strong year with Springfield, notching a 3.62 ERA with 27 strikeouts and nine walks in 32 1/3 innings. It was a second consecutive season of improvement for Siegrist, who recorded a 2.26 ERA over 107 1/3 innings between Class A Quad Cities and Palm Beach in 2011.
He's liked what he's seen so far in Arizona and relishes the challenge of pitching against some of the Minor Leagues' top prospects.
"It's always good to challenge yourself and see what you can do against the better hitters in the Minors. It's exciting," Siegrist said. "I feel like [the AFL] is pretty laid back so far, everyone just getting to know each other and have a good time but still taking it seriously."
Chris McGuiness (Rangers) led a 20-hit attack for Surprise, falling a triple short of the cycle while going 3-for-5 with three RBIs and a run scored. Two Cardinals prospects set the table at the top of the order, with leadoff man Mike O'Neill going 3-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored and Colin Walsh doubling twice and driving in a run.
Andy Wilkins (White Sox) was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored for the Rafters, while Matt Davidson -- the D-backs' No. 4 prospect -- chipped in two hits and an RBI.
Blue Jays right-hander Ryan Tepera (0-1) got the start for Salt River and was charged with four runs on seven hits over 2 1/3 innings.
Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MLB.com.