SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The first four months of Scott Blewett's 2018 season went poorly, as he logged a 5.65 ERA in 20 starts. But he finished so strongly, with a 2.59 ERA over his final six starts and 41 2/3 innings, that he didn't want his year to end.2018 Arizona
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The first four months of Scott Blewett's 2018 season went poorly, as he logged a 5.65 ERA in 20 starts. But he finished so strongly, with a 2.59 ERA over his final six starts and 41 2/3 innings, that he didn't want his year to end.
2018 Arizona Fall League rosters
Though he had worked 148 1/3 innings during the Minor League season, Blewett asked the Royals to assign him to the Arizona Fall League. They obliged, and the 22-year-old right-hander continued to pitch well in his first AFL start, throwing four scoreless innings to lead the Surprise Saguaros to a 2-0 victory over the Scottsdale Scorpions on Monday night.
"The goal is to pitch in the big leagues and win a championship, and I want to be a guy who throws 200-plus innings every year," the Royals No. 26 prospect said. "I actually threw less innings than I did last year and I want to get up to 165-170 and still work on some things and compete. I could have done that in instructional league, but I think on this stage against some good competition, it definitely helps and will help me improve."
A second-round pick out of a New York high school in 2014, Blewett has made gradual progress since signing for an above-slot $1.8 million. He repeated Class A in 2015-16 and has a 27-34 record with a 4.54 ERA and 439 strikeouts in 539 2/3 innings in five pro seasons. If the way he has pitched down the stretch is any indication, he may be on the verge of a breakthrough and could surface in Kansas City in 2019.
Blewett cruised against the Scorpions, permitting just two singles and one walk while striking out four. He delivered 33 of his 51 pitches for strikes, sitting at 92-94 mph with his fastball and using it to set up a quality curveball. He also employed a changeup to counter a Scottsdale lineup with four left-handers and two switch-hitters.
"I was just getting the fastball established early," Blewett said. "That's the biggest thing for me. Getting that breaking ball going, that secondary pitch is pretty important. That's something I started getting working for me toward the second half of the season, and I've been working on it ever since, getting that breaking ball down.
"My changeup has kind of been something that I can go to whenever. That kept them off balance, so I had three pitches working for strikes."
Andy Young (Cardinals) provided all of the offense Surprise needed with a first-inning RBI single against Austin Orweiler (Reds). Young also helped preserve the shutout by starting a spectacular double play in the bottom of the eighth. He dove behind second base to snare a grounder off the bat of Arquimedes Gamboa (Phillies) and flipped the ball to shortstop Cole Tucker (Pirates), whose relay nipped Gamboa at first base.
The Scorpions did become the first team to limit Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays) to less than three hits in a Fall League game. Baseball's best prospect went 1-for-4 with a walk and still leads the AFL in hitting (.556) and OPS (1.378).
Surprise improved to 4-1, maintaining its one-game lead over Peoria in the West Division. Scottsdale dropped to 2-3, two games behind Mesa in the East.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.