SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After shaking off the rust from his first start in the Arizona Fall League, Zach Haake had everything working Wednesday as Surprise topped Salt River, 4-2.
Haake fired 37 of 60 pitches for strikes and cruised through 3 1/3 scoreless innings -- a much more efficient outing than when he gave up two runs over 2 1/3 frames in his AFL debut.
“I was able to mix it well,” the Royals’ No. 30 prospect said. “When you can mix three pitches in this league, you’re going to have good results, and [I was] just trying to get early, quick contact and limit walks, and that’s what I did well today.”
The outing will make a good building block for the rest of the fall, as the 2018 sixth-round pick showed strong command and sat in the mid-90s with his fastball for the duration of his outing.
“I thought it went well,” Haake said. “I felt really good, was able to mix it really well. I had feel for both the changeup and slider. ... Just trying to get early contact, and I was able to.”
The 25-year-old retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced and was able to keep the ball low in the zone. Seven of his 10 outs came either via groundout or strikeout. Haake, facing a Salt River lineup loaded with prospects, issued a two-out walk in the third, but didn’t surrender a hit until the fourth.
While Haake appeared to be on autopilot for the first few innings, he did get to pitch out of the stretch and face a little adversity in the fourth. He passed that test too.
After striking out the first batter of the frame, Haake walked Spencer Torkelson, (who exited the game shortly thereafter with an ankle injury) and gave up a hit to Michael Toglia.
With runners on the corners and one out, Haake induced a popup to second base to quell the threat before being lifted from the game due to pitch count.
“Obviously, as a competitor, you do [want to finish the inning], but I get it,” the right-hander said. “There’s parameters, and I got through what I got through today. Did I want to get through the fourth? Absolutely. But I understand.”
Haake may have wanted to face at least one more batter, but he’s in Arizona to garner more experience and was able to do so with a quality outing after an abbreviated 2021 campaign. He spent the regular season with High-A Quad Cities, where he posted 3.74 ERA over only 45 2/3 innings, missing roughly six weeks with an oblique injury.
“Pretty good,” Haake said of his 2021 season. “Bounced back pretty well [from the injury] and grateful for the opportunity here to pitch in the Fall League.”
Fellow Royals prospect Seuly Matias got the scoring started for the Saguaros with an RBI groundout in the sixth. In the seventh, Surprise tacked on two more -- one on an error and one via a single to left by fifth-ranked Rangers prospect Sam Huff.
No. 5 Rockies prospect Ryan Vilade drove home a pair in the eighth to account for the Rafters' scoring.