As he has worked to improve his game in the Arizona Fall League, James Ramsey has spent a lot of time watching the Cardinals, his parent club, in the playoffs. Knowing that 18 of the players on the World Series roster are homegrown has only served to motivate Ramsey more.
"Watching them in the World Series, that's the standard, that's where I want to be," said Ramsey, the Cardinals' No. 10 prospect. "It's been a great motivating factor."
Ramsey saw some of the fruits of his labor Tuesday night. He went 4-for-5 with three doubles and three runs, helping Salt River to a 7-3 victory against Mesa at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The victory was the Rafters' fifth straight.
Ramsey said he has been working to improve his overall approach at the plate. He wants to not only cut down on his strikeouts, but also to make full use of all of his tools, including his speed and baserunning ability.
"I've been working on some things to get my process down, to find out who James Ramsey is," he said. "Some nights it'll turn out like this and some nights it won't."
While Ramsey was the driving force offensively, eight of the Rafters had at least one hit Tuesday. Jake Lamb and Nick Ahmed, the D-backs' No. 11 and No. 13 prospects, both played important roles. Lamb went 1-for-5 with a run and an RBI to extend his hitting streak to 12 games and Ahmed went 1-for-3 with a double and two walks.
Ramsey said the Rafters have come together as a team and have done a good job of understanding the goals of the AFL.
"Everyone has been very upbeat the whole time, even when we were dropping games," Ramsey said. "Everyone understands that we're out here to get better and that when we get better individually, we get better collectively."
Salt River became the first team to score an earned run, much less multiple runs, against Mesa left-hander Matt Purke. Entering Friday, the Rafters were the only team to score on Purke in his three previous starts in the AFL. They managed just an unearned run when the two teams played Oct. 10.
But Tuesday, Purke, the reigning AFL Pitcher of the Week, gave up five runs on eight hits in three innings. The Rafters' two runs in the first inning snapped his scoreless innings streak at 10.
Mesa's offense, which had been the league's best for the first three weeks of the season, has stumbled in recent days. After averaging 6.4 runs in the season's first 17 games, the Solar Sox have scored six runs during their three-game losing streak.
They scored all of their runs in the eighth inning Tuesday. Kris Bryant led off the inning with a home run. Then, with two outs, Adrian Nieto tripled home C.J. Cron and scored on a passed ball.
Bryant, the Cubs' No. 4 prospect, finished the game 1-for-5 with his league-leading sixth home run. Cron, the Angels' No. 2 prospect, went 2-for-3 with a walk.
Otherwise, the Rafters kept the Solar Sox off the scoreboard. Left-hander Grayson Garvin bounced back from two disappointing starts to strike out four batters in 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
Salt River will look to keep its winning streak going Wednesday at Surprise. It is a day game, giving Ramsey and everyone else time to find a TV before Game 6 of the World Series begins.
Ramsey said he has enjoyed watching the games with his Cardinals teammates who are also playing in the AFL, especially Stephen Piscotty, his roommate and fellow outfield prospect.
Now, with the Cardinals facing a must-win game, Ramsey said he knows they will be ready.
"The front office does a fantastic job of believing in players," Ramsey said. "They're down 3-2 in the series, but they are very confident."