The Nationals first overall pick in the MLB draft is a guy you might have heard about….Bryce Harper. With his father and 821 others watching in Scottsdale, Harper made his debut in the Arizona Fall League last night and the Pittsburgh Pirates were right in the middle of the action.
Harper’s first play in RF was not memorable, actually it was a misplay that allowed Mesa Solar Sox third baseman Josh Vitters to reach second base. That’s when Solar Sox clean-up hitter Andrew Lambo stepped to the plate and ripped a single to CF making it 1-0 Solar Sox. Thanks Bryce. (His revenge would come later)
Josh Harrison got the start at second base. He had an error in the first inning, but it didn’t lead to a run for Scottsdale.
Harper batted seventh and played right field for the Scottsdale Scorpions at Scottsdale Stadium. Keith Law sent this tweet about Harpers batting practice power display. The picture went out to his 331,000+ Twitter followers explaining where one of the five bombs hit by Harper landed:
Josh Zeid, a phuture Philadelphia Phillie, was on the mound in the second inning for the Mesa Solar Sox when Harper came to the plate for his first professional at-bat. Harper swung at the first pitch and popped out to the shortstop in shallow left field.
My lights flickered in the house. People at the game said it started raining. However, there was no confirmation on the locust rumor.
Lambo came to the plate again in the fourth inning after Vitters had reached on a single. Lambo proved he was human. Maybe it was the locusts that were circling the field, nevertheless, he hit into a double play.
In the fifth inning Kyle Smit replaced Zeid. He flirted with trouble, but got out of the inning without allowing a run. With two outs and a runner on third base, Smit got Harper to line out to CF which kept the score tied at one.
Jordy Mercer got the start as DH for Mesa. He was in the fifth spot in the order and in the first inning was batting when Lambo was thrown out trying to steal second. Mercer grounded out to the pitcher when he leadoff the second. He flew out to CF to end the fourth inning. Harrison struck out for the seventh time in 25 at-bats to lead off the fifth inning.
Scottsdale grabbed the lead in the bottom of the fifth after two walks off Smit and a single loaded the bases. Smit, who was solid before last night— 0 runs, 4IP, 4K, allowed a bases loaded walk and was replaced by Chris Carpenter.
In the sixth, Mesa struck for a run to cut their deficit to one run. Lambo came to the plate with Jeremy Moore on third base. Scottsdale manager Randy Knorr brought in Rockies leftie Rex Brothers to face Lambo.
Brothers was very effective this season holding batters to a .170 average. But Brothers had struggled in AFL action giving up six hits in two innings pitched. It took the lefty four pitches to get Lambo. The last pitch was a Lambo swing and a miss for the final out of the inning.
Harper lead off the sixth inning by ripping a one hopper to third baseman Josh Vitters for the first out of a 1-2-3 Scorpions inning.
Jordy Mercer was caught looking to lead off the seventh. After Ryan Flarhety flew out to Harper, Josh Harrison ripped a single to left. After another hard hit single, Knorr went to the mound to get Brothers. But the Solar Sox would leave the bases loaded as Scottsdale dodged a bullet and clung to a one run lead.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Pirates RHP prospect Brian Leach was summoned from the bullpen to face the top of the Scorpions lineup. A fielding error allowed Steve Lombardozzi to reach and it was a sign of things to come for Leach.
AJ Pollock followed with his third double of the AFL season putting Scorpions on second and third. Leach got Conor Gillaspie to fly out to center for the first out. The second out came as third baseman Vitters threw to Tim Kennelly, the Solar Sox catcher to get Lombardozzi at home.
Marc Krauss followed with a line single to left which scored Pollock. Leach followed with a wild pitch with moved the runners to second and third. Leach would then walk Charlie Culberson to load the bases and set the stage for some AFL history.
Somehow the Pittsburgh Pirates are always involved in bad news. Just grin and bear it.
With the bases full of Scorpions and two outs, Bryce Harper would rip a two-run ground rule double to left field. His first professional hit was a big one. Pop the champagne.
Leach would get out of the mess by getting Caleb Joseph to ground out to shortstop Andrew Romine.
Mesa wouldn’t go quietly and in the top of the eighth, Jeremy Moore singled to center. Moore would swipe his fourth base of the season and Vitters followed with a walk bringing Lambo to the plate with two Solar Sox on and nobody out.
Lambo worked a walk to load the bases. Mercer followed with a sacrifice fly to left scoring Moore from third. But with two outs and Lambo at second and Vitter at third, Harrison grounded out to kill the rally. The Solar Sox had outhit the Scorpions–nine hits to eight heading into the bottom of the eigth, but trailed by three runs on the scoreboard. Three errors by Mesa certainly didn’t help their cause.
Bryan Shaw came on to pitch the ninth and struckout the side to clinch the Scorpions victory.
April 15 at Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown, Maryland can’t come soon enough. Just a hunch, but we think there will be more than 822 in attendance.