Taillon strikes out three; Hanson helps engineer three-run ninth inning
Though they were wearing Scottsdale Scorpions uniforms, right-hander Jameson Taillon and shortstop Alen Hanson combined Tuesday night for the kind of victory the Pirates envision taking place in Pittsburgh one day in the near future.
Taillon, the Pirates' No. 1 prospect, started for Scottsdale in the final game of Opening Day in the Arizona Fall League. Hanson, their No. 3 prospect, scored the winning run to cap a three-run, ninth-inning comeback and give the Scorpions a 6-5 victory against Salt River at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Taillon didn't factor in the decision, but he was happy Scottsdale started the season with a win.
"We put together a good rally there," Taillon said. "It's always nice to get a win."
Taillon allowed one unearned run on one hit in two innings. He struck out three batters and walked one.
He said he felt good Tuesday night, and he was especially pleased with the success he had with his changeup.
"I got two strikeouts on my changeup," Taillon said. "It's going to be a big pitch for me going forward."
After Taillon exited the game, Salt River jumped on left-hander Adalberto Mejia, the Giants' No. 19 prospect. First baseman Kyle Parker, the Rockies' No. 9 prospect, hit a three-run home run in the third inning to give the Rafters a 4-1 lead.
Parker went 1-for-3 and was one of only two Rafters to get a hit. Center fielder Kenny Wilson collected the rest. He went 3-for-4 with a run.
Parker's home run almost proved to be enough for the Rafters, who entered the ninth inning leading 5-3. But right-hander Matt Stites, who was making his first appearance as a member of the D-backs' organization following a late-July trade from the Angels, couldn't close out the game.
Scottsdale greeted Stites with four straight base hits to fuel the rally in the ninth, and a wild pitch, a balk and an error helped their efforts. Third baseman Kyle Kubitza, the Braves' No. 12 prospect, started the inning with a double. Center fielder Mason Williams, the Yankees' No. 2 prospect, followed with an RBI single and advanced to second on a balk. Hanson reached on a bunt single and Williams came around to score the tying run on a throwing error by third baseman Jake Lamb.
Second baseman Tommy La Stella, the Braves' No. 14 prospect, drove in Hanson with an RBI double to complete the comeback. Right-hander Cody Satterwhite threw a perfect ninth inning to close out the victory.
Kubitza went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Hanson went 2-for-4 with a walk and a run and displayed the skills Taillon said he has grown accustomed to seeing from his teammate.
"Hanson is a quick, scrappy guy and if you don't watch out, he's got some pop in his bat," Taillon said. "It's fun to play with them and watch them do their thing."
For his own part, Taillon said he hopes to use the AFL to keep working on developing his two-seam fastball and see how he stacks up against some of the best prospects in baseball. For one night at least, he proved he can compete with them and showed why he is ranked No. 10 on MLB.com's Top 100 list.
"It was only two innings, but for my first start, it felt pretty good," Taillon said. "I feel pretty good about it going forward."