Kiermaier comes through in clutch for Dogs
Rays prospect singles in go-ahead run in eighth to push Phoenix past Scottsdale
"When the Rays sent me down here, they reminded me that I'm obviously playing for the Rays, but I'm also playing for the 29 other teams, too," he said. "They want to see me succeed and make the Majors however I can. Obviously, I'm going to represent my team as best I can, but I'm looking for a little exposure, too."
Whoever was watching liked what they saw Friday afternoon.
The Rays outfield prospect singled home pinch-runner Josh Prince (Brewers) in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Phoenix Desert Dogs edged the slumping Scottsdale Scorpions to snap a three-game losing streak.
"I knew I had to get something good going," Kiermaier said. "The big thing for me is being able to put together as many quality at-bats as I can. He left a changeup down and, luckily, I was able to somehow get it through the hole between first and second. I just wanted to stay simple."
Kiermaier, the Desert Dogs' No. 9 hitter, was offered the opportunity to play the hero after Rays' No. 15 prospect Richie Shaffer extended the inning with a two-out double to left before being replaced on the basepaths by Prince. The 2010 31st-round pick came through with his first hit of the day.
The fact that it was two Tampa Bay farmhands who played key roles in the win excited Kiermaier the most.
"You meet so many new guys down here, but I'm always rooting hardest for the Rays guys on this team," said Kiermaier, who walked twice and stole a base. "Richie had that huge double and really got that mini-two-out rally going. It's nice to hit right after him, and we got a nice 'W' because of it, which we'll take as many of those as we can get."
Kiermaier appeared in only 63 games during the Minor League season after missing more than two months due to separate broken hands. In 57 games for Class A Advanced Charlotte, he batted .260 with a .728 OPS.
His numbers have improved in the relatively small sample of the AFL. Through Friday, Kiermaier is batting .316 with five doubles, five RBIs, 10 stolen bases and an .813 OPS in 19 games for Phoenix.
"I'm having a great time," he said. "I'm glad the Rays sent me here because it's a sign they want me to do well. I'm trying to continue to take big steps here because this is the only thing I want to do with my life. ... I'm just looking to stay healthy and, with a week left, finish in a way where I can leave with my head held high."
Kyle Jensen hit a two-run homer in the third for the Desert Dogs. Fellow Marlins prospect Scott McGough got the start for Phoenix, striking out two and yielding one hit over three scoreless innings to lower his AFL ERA to 1.35.
David Adams tied the game for the Scorpions with a two-run shot in the sixth, but fellow Yankees prospect Dellin Betances took the loss after allowing a run on two hits over two innings.