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Marlins prospect DeSclafani sparkles in AFL start

Baseball's top prospect Buxton goes 1-for-4 for Salt River

While many of his Salt River teammates got to rest during September between the end of the Minor League season and the start of the Arizona Fall League, right-hander Anthony DeSclafani was busy working out of the Marlins bullpen. He pitched in six games, ending the season with 5 1/3 scoreless innings over five appearances.

Saturday, DeSclafani returned to his typical role as a starter, as Salt River visited Glendale. He held the Desert Dogs to one run in three innings and the Rafters went on to win, 2-1. Since an Opening Day loss, they have won four straight games.

DeSclafani struck out two batters and allowed three hits. Glendale scored its lone run in the third inning thanks to back-to-back singles and a sacrifice bunt.

"I felt good," DeSclafani said. "Everything was working well. They got a few hits and a run on a pushed bunt. I'm here to concentrate on location and my secondary stuff."

Improving his offspeed stuff has been a focus of DeSclafani's for much of the season. He made three stints with the Marlins before getting called up for September and said those experiences taught him his offspeed pitches needed to be more consistent and he needed to throw them more often when he was behind in the count.

DeSclafani said he saw better results in the Major Leagues when he started incorporating those adjustments in September and he hopes to continue his progress during the AFL. He also is working to improve his curveball, a new addition to his arsenal. He started throwing it in September after talking with Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and bullpen coach Reid Cornelius.

DeSclafani threw a few curveballs Saturday, both to begin at-bats and when he was behind in the count. He said he was pleased with the results.

"It breaks their timing up for sure," DeSclafani said. "It's slower than everything else I throw. It's another pitch they have to worry about and I'm excited to take that into Spring Training."

While DeSclafani was on top of his game Saturday, the Rafters offense wasn't able to get him much run support. Left-hander Wei-Chung Wang held them to one run on two hits in two innings and right-hander Parker Bridwell, the Orioles' No. 12 prospect, followed with two hitless innings of relief.

Salt River took the lead in the sixth with a run off right-hander Chris Bassitt. Outfielders Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario led off the inning with back-to-back singles and third baseman Rio Ruiz followed with a ground out to second base, scoring Buxton.

Buxton and Rosario, the Twins' Nos. 1 and 10 prospects, collected three of the Rafters four hits. Buxton, baseball's top prospect, went 1-for-4, while Rosario finished the night 2-for-4 with a stolen base.

Glendale's offense was led by shortstop Tim Anderson, the White Sox No. 2 prospect, and center fielder Tyrone Taylor, the Brewers' top prospect. Both went 2-for-3 and Taylor drove in Anderson for the Desert Dogs' lone run of the night.

Even once DeSclafani was relieved to start the fourth inning, Glendale's offense fared no better. Five Salt River relievers combined for six scoreless innings to end the game. Their best chance came in the ninth when a walk and two singles loaded the bases with one out against right-hander Jake Reed. But he escaped the jam with a strikeout and a fly out to end the game and pick up the save.

DeSclafani said Reed did a good job of bearing down to get out of the inning unscathed.

"It got a little hairy, but it's a testament to him staying focused and not giving in," DeSclafani said. "He filled up the strike zone and got out of it."

At the end of the first week of the AFL season, Salt River stands alone with four victories. DeSclafani said all aspects of the team are working well together at the outset of the fall.

"We've gotten solid pitching, hitting, defense," DeSclafani said. "Really, we're doing everything right now. We've got everyone working well together."

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill.
Read More: Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles, Byron Buxton, Anthony DeSclafani