Rutledge tallies Surprise's AFL-best 14th win

November 8th, 2021

SURPRISE, Ariz. – The Surprise Saguaros notched their 14th win of the season Monday, topping the Salt River Rafters, 4-3, in a crisp seven-inning game at Surprise Stadium. But success in the Arizona Fall League is not measured by success in the standings alone.

Winning is fun and results are nice, but effort and progress also matter. In this case, the Saguaros' effort and progress have amounted to the most victories on the circuit.

“It’s a mix of everything,” said Surprise manager Mario Lisson, who manages in the Nationals’ system. “One thing we talked about in the beginning is that people are coming to watch them and it’s kind of like a showcase, but they also have to play the game the right way and understand that it’s not just about trying to hit home runs or throw 100 mph. It’s about playing the game the right way and showing that these guys can help any Major League team."

The talent was on display early and often Monday afternoon.

(D-backs) started the scoring for the Rafters with a solo home run off Saguaros starter . Surprise answered with three runs, including a home run by, the Reds' No. 16 prospect, off Matt Dennis (Rockies) in the bottom of the frame.

The Rafters cut into the 3-1 lead by scoring on a wild pitch by Rutledge in the second and tied the game on an RBI double by Dominic Canzone (D-backs) in the third.

In the bottom of the frame, , the Yankees’ No. 24 prospect, came home on a groundout by Jake Means (Royals) to give the Saguaros the lead.

As for Rutledge, Washington’s No. 3 prospect was charged with three runs – two earned -- on four hits in 4 2/3 innings before yielding to Yankees’ right-hander Clay Aguilar. Rutledge walked two batters and struck out two in the 67-pitch outing.

"They are good hitters and they put good at-bats together,” Lisson said. “But overall, he was good. His last two innings were a lot stronger and that’s what we want to see.”

Rutledge posted a 7.68 ERA in 36 1/3 innings between High-A Wilmington, Class-A Fredericksburg and the club’s complex league in 2021. He sports a 5.79 ERA with 16 strikeouts and eight walks over 18 2/3 innings in Arizona.

“We just want him to get innings because he was hurt throughout the season a little bit,” Lisson said. “Work on his command and his delivery, and he’s done that so far. He’s been better and he’s been progressing as the Fall League has been going on, so we are happy.”

There’s still time for Rutledge – and others -- to get better. League play wraps up on Nov. 19 with the championship game scheduled for the next day.