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Tigers' Simcox powers Solar Sox with first homer

MLB.com

MESA, Ariz. -- A.J. Simcox could not have picked a better time to hit his first Arizona Fall League home run.

The Tigers farmhand connected on a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to give Mesa the lead and ultimately help power the Solar Sox to a 5-2 win over Scottsdale at Sloan Park.

MESA, Ariz. -- A.J. Simcox could not have picked a better time to hit his first Arizona Fall League home run.

The Tigers farmhand connected on a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to give Mesa the lead and ultimately help power the Solar Sox to a 5-2 win over Scottsdale at Sloan Park.

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"It felt good," said Simcox. "It's always good to get those."

David Bote (Cubs) staked Mesa to an early lead when he plated Sheldon Neuse (A's No. 14) with a single, capitalizing on a scoring opportunity after Scottsdale starter Albert Abreu had issued a pair of walks to open in the top of the second inning

That score held until the fourth inning, when Steven Duggar tied the game with a loud home run to right-center field. It was the first Fall League homer for the Giants' No. 7 prospect, who finished the game 2-for-4 with a stolen base.

Mesa would bounce back to reclaim the lead in the bottom of the inning, courtesy of Simcox's home run. Batting second in the frame following a leadoff walk by Kelvin Gutierrez (Nationals' No. 12), Simcox turned on the first pitch he saw from Abreu and deposited the ball just over the wall in left field.

"My first at-bat I was really rotational with my swing and I wasn't staying through the zone," Simcox said. "I talked to our hitting coach and tried to get linear with my swing in [my second] at-bat and make an adjustment. I started a little bit earlier, saw the ball well and stayed linear and got a good swing on it."

The Solar Sox continued to score after Simcox's homer as they tacked on another run in the bottom of the seventh courtesy of Victor Robles' top-of-the-scale speed. The No. 2 overall prospect (Nationals' No. 1) reached on an infield error to open the frame, moved into scoring position on a wild pitch before stealing third base and came around to score when he realized the pitch had once again gone to the backstop.

Video: WEST@EAST: Robles wins the Fall Stars Game MVP honors

Gutierrez would drive home another run before the end of the inning, plating Jaycob Brugman with a two-out single inside the first-base line.

The Scorpions wouldn't go down easily, however, as they loaded the bases with one out in the eighth before pushing across a run on Tomas Nido's (Mets' No. 9) sacrifice fly to center field. The Solar Sox would halt Scottsdale's attempt at a comeback there, however, and A's right-hander Nolan Blackwood struck out the side in the ninth to earn the save.

As for Abreu, the Yankees' No. 7 prospect showcased impressive stuff in his outing despite struggling with his command, particularly his fastball command. It resulted in the 22-year-old right-hander issuing five walks in 3 2/3 innings, during which he allowed three earned runs on two hits while striking out three.

His fastball consistently registered at 92-95 mph in the outing, and, when ahead in the count, he showed the ability to induce swing-and-misses with both of his breaking balls as well as his changeup. Overall, Abreu has pitched to a 3.18 ERA with 23 strikeouts and 12 walks over 22 2/3 innings (five starts) in the Fall League, all while limiting opposing hitters to a .192 average.

Mesa starter Kyle McGowin, a Nationals farmhand, was much sharper than his counterpart, as he allowed just one earned run on four hits in four innings to record the win. Operating at 88-91 mph with his fastball and effectively changing speeds in the outing, the 25-year-old righty struck out five and threw 37 of his 55 pitches for strikes.

Thairo Estrada, along with Duggar, collected multiple hits for Scottsdale the loss. The Yankees' No. 17 prospect scored one of his team's two runs behind a 3-for-4 performance that improved his Fall League average to .377.

Video: Yankees prospect Estrada on representing Venezuela

Robles and Gutierrez both tallied one hit and scored a run for Mesa, with the latter also reaching base via walks twice in the contest. Simcox, meanwhile, snapped out of a 1-for-16 funk with the home run, while his pair of RBIs gives him seven in 20 Fall League games.

"I feel like I'm seeing the ball pretty well," the 23-year-old shortstop said. "Every day is part of the process, and we're working on adjustments and things like that. I've been finding some barrels -- but just not getting as many hits as I would like. It's a work in progress, and I'm getting there."

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero