SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- What started as a pitcher’s duel between starters Nick Neidert and Daniel Lynch briefly turned into a slugfest before the East, led by MVP Royce Lewis and a dominant bullpen effort, pulled away to defeat the West, 4-2, in the 14th annual Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game at Salt River Fields.
Neidert and Lynch both put on a show early as they combined to record five of their six first-inning outs via the strikeout.
Neidert struck out the side in the top of first for the East, using his low-90s fastball to record all three punchouts, and then used his slider to tack on another strikeout during a scoreless second inning. He ultimately allowed two hits, both doubles, and threw 21 of 32 pitches for strikes.
“I thought it was good. I had some really good sliders that second inning,” said Neidert, Miami’s No. 11 prospect, about his Fall Stars Game performance.
Lynch recorded a pair of strikeouts and did so while lighting up the radar gun. The Royals’ No. 3 prospect sat in the mid-to-high 90s while completing a perfect frame for the West, and his final pitch of the inning -- a called third strike against Athletics No. 17 prospect Greg Deichmann -- registered at 99.1 mph.
“I was a little bit nervous, to be honest, but I always get nervous before I pitch, so that’s nothing new. I just really tried to have fun as much as I could,” said Lynch, who threw seven of his nine pitches for strikes. “I tried to treat it just like a normal start, so I wouldn’t have been throwing much offspeed in the first inning anyway. I’ve never really been a reliever, so I don’t really know what it’s like to go one inning.”
After both starters departed from the game, the bats came alive.
Lewis put the East on the board in the second inning when he deposited the first pitch he saw from reliever Anthony Castro over the wall in left field for a two-run home run. The homer from the Twins' top prospect plated Phillies No. 1 prospect Alec Bohm -- who had opened the frame with a walk -- and had an exit velocity of 104.6 mph.
“He threw four straight balls to the previous batter, and I just went up there with the mindset that he’s going to throw a strike at some point and I’ve got to be ready for it," said Lewis, MLB Pipeline’s No. 9 prospect. “’I just want to hit this ball hard,’ that’s all I was thinking, and I got a pitch I was able to drive.”
Royals No. 8 prospect Kyle Isbel drilled a solo homer to right field with a 106.9-mph exit velocity to put the West on the board in the third inning, and Reds No. 7 prospect Tyler Stephenson knotted the game at 2 with a long home run to center field in the fourth. Stephenson’s tape-measure blast had an exit velocity 104.6 mph and landed high upon the batter’s eye to the right of the 410-foot marker.
“Yeah ... I didn’t feel it,” said Stephenson about whether he knew he had a home run off the bat, “but I was going to be upset [if it didn’t get out], because you never know with center field.”
The game didn’t remain tied for long, though, as the East rebounded to push across two runs in the bottom of the frame.
The East’s bullpen kept the West’s hitters in check the rest of the way, as seven relievers combined to allow just one hit -- a two-out single in the ninth -- over the final five frames.
Shane Baz, the Rays’ No. 6 prospect, was particularly impressive during his scoreless frame. The 20-year-old right-hander recorded his only strikeout on a 100.1 mph fastball -- the top velocity in the game -- and didn’t throw any of his nine fastballs below 98 mph.
No player recorded multiple hits in this year’s Fall Stars Game, and together the two offenses combined for just nine hits.
Lewis, who started at third base Saturday, and Lowe both finished 1-for-3, while Bohm was the only player on either team to score two runs, going 1-for-1 with a walk in the East’s victory.