No Southern League pitcher faced more batters during the regular season than Zeke Spruill. So he has no trouble adjusting to the limited workload that comes with pitching in the Arizona Fall League.
The Braves' No. 6 prospect struck out three and allowed an unearned run on two hits over 2 1/3 frames Wednesday before the Phoenix Desert Dogs fell to the Scottsdale Scorpions, 6-5, in 11 innings.
After Alex Monsalve [Indians] reached on an error by Rays shortstop Tim Beckham leading off the third, Spruill allowed a one-out single to Yankees prospect Slade Heathcott and walked Adalberto Santos [Pirates] to load the bases and end his evening.
Pirates prospect Matt Curry greeted reliever Chris Jones [Braves] with a run-scoring single, but Heathcott was thrown out at the plate.
"I was just trying to throw strikes and get ahead of batters," said Spruill, who threw 42 pitches. "After that [error], I couldn't find the strike zone very successfully."
The right-hander, who turned 23 last month, had a successful season with Double-A Mississippi, going 9-11 with a 3.67 ERA that ranked ninth in the league. Spruill is getting a chance to show his stuff in the prospect-laden Fall League, where starting pitchers typically don't work beyond the third inning -- at least not this early.
"It's not tough at all, it's actually easier," Spruill said. "I don't have to worry about getting deep into games, you know how many pitches you're going to throw, you just go out there and do your thing for 45 pitches. [There are] less things to worry about."
Spruill was long gone when the Scorpions scored twice in the ninth to force extra innings. Heathcott delivered a two-out RBI single and Alex Monsalve came home on an error by reliever Gary Daley [Athletics].
Carlos Ramirez came through two innings later, singling home fellow Angels prospect Randal Grichuk with the winning run.
Angels reliever Kevin Johnson (1-0) fanned three over the final two frames to get the win.
The Desert Dogs stole six bases, with Kevin Kiermaier (Rays) accounting for half of the total. Brewers prospect Brock Kjeldgaard went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and two runs scored in the losing effort.
Matt Packer, who pitched at four levels in the Indians system this season, struck out two and did not allow a ball out of the infield during two perfect innings for the Scorpions.