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Kaminska continues dominance with Scorpions

Pirates farmhand pitches five strong innings, lowers Fall League ERA to 1.61

Kyle Kaminska doesn't care what role he fills, but the results tell a different story.

The Pirates farmhand allowed an unearned run on four hits and struck out four over five innings Saturday as the Scottsdale Scorpions held on for a 4-3 win over the Surprise Saguaros.

It was the fifth consecutive Arizona Fall League game in which Kaminska (3-1) has given up one earned run or fewer. And the formula for that success has been a relatively simple one.

"I was doing a good job of getting ahead tonight with my fastball," he said. "When I fall behind, I was still able to throw my off-speed stuff well, and that was important because that's when a lot of guys are looking to swing at a fastball. And because of all that, I got a lot of ground balls."

The 24-year-old right-hander owns a 1.61 ERA through six AFL starts, best among pitchers with at least four starts in a league known as being hitter-friendly. He also leads the circuit with 28 innings pitched.

Kaminska began the regular season as a reliever in the Marlins system. He posted ERAs of 6.23 and 5.11 with Triple-A New Orleans and Double-A Jacksonville, respectively, before being shipped to the Pirates with Gaby Sanchez.

After the trade, the Pirates returned the 2007 25th-round Draft pick to a starting role -- and he thrived in limited action at the end of the season. He was 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in three starts for Class A Advanced Bradenton and 1-0 with a 3.00 mark for Double-A Altoona.

The results have extended to the Fall League.

"I worked in the bullpen for the last two years, but they decided to move me to more of a starting role," Kaminska said. "Because of my three-pitch mix, they thought I had more value there, and I'm not going to argue with that. So far, it's definitely worked out. It couldn't have gone any better while I've been down here."

Does that mean he has a preference?

"It really doesn't matter," the Ohio native said. "I want to play in the big leagues however I can. I mean, that's the goal for any of us here. Whatever I need to do to make it there, I'll gladly do it."

Saturday was slated to be Kaminska's last AFL start. But he could come back if the Scorpions (13-14) reach the Championship Game on Nov. 17. They remain 1 1/2 games behind first-place Salt River in the Eastern Division.

Yankees' No. 5 prospect Slade Heathcott went 2-for-3 with two walks and an RBI out of the leadoff spot for Scottsdale, extending his hitting streak to six games. Carlos Ramirez (Angels) drove in two runs.

Rangers prospect Chris McGuiness doubled and drove in two runs for the Saguaros, giving him a league-leading 23 RBIs in 20 games.

Surprise starter Seth Blair (2-1) surrendered three runs on three hits and five walks over 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals right-hander struck out two.

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to
Read More: Pittsburgh Pirates, Slade Heathcott, Kyle Kaminska, Chris McGuiness