Some games turn out to be nothing short of incredible. Often, those games start out as anything but. That was precisely the case on Saturday night for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, and several Rays prospects were right in the center of it all.
Arizona Fall League: Phoenix Desert Dogs 12, Peoria Javelinas 11
What a game. The Javelinas hit the ground running in the first inning as Padres top prospect Rymer Liriano slammed a 2-run homer off of the Athletics’ Shawn Haviland (who, fun fact, was drafted out of Harvard). Reds shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius laced on an RBI double off of Haviland in the 2nd inning before ex-Rays draft pick Nate Roberts (now of the Twins) made it a 4-0 game with an RBI single. But in the bottom of the 2nd, the Desert Dogs roared back against Mariners pitching prospect James Paxton, with Rays prospects Tim Beckham, Richie Shaffer, and Kevin Kiermaier along with Josh Prince of the Brewers stringing together a great rally beginning with 2 outs and a man on 2nd base, with Beckham lining an RBI single, Shaffer walking, Kiermaier delivering a 2-run double, and then Prince capping the rally with a game-tying RBI single to make it 4-4. But all the progress the Desert Dogs had made was wiped out by a horrific 3rd inning for another Rays prospect, Lenny Linsky.
Linsky allowed a hit and a walk to begin the inning before a Shaffer error at third base loaded the bases. Linsky then got a pair of force outs at second base, scoring 2 runs but at least putting Linsky within an out of escaping the inning. But the Javelinas got him for 3 straight hits before the inning was through including a 2-run double by Evan Bigley (Twins) and an RBI double by Roberts, and suddenly it was a 9-4 game. An RBI single by Mariners top catching prospect Mike Zunino in the 4th off of Linsky made it 10-4 before Mariners prospect Stefen Romero drilled a solo homer off Cory Rasmus (Braves) to make it 11-4. Things looked awfully bleak for the Desert Dogs after Linsky and Rasmus had combined to allow 7 runs, although just 3 earned.
But suddenly the comeback began. Rasmus tossed a scoreless 5th for Phoenix and Rays prospect Chris Rearick followed with 2 shutout frames to keep the Desert Dogs within striking distance. The comeback started with just a single run in the 6th on a Brock Kjeldgaard (Brewers) home run. But then in the 7th, Shaffer and Kiermaier got a walk and a single respectively with 1 out before Prince drilled a 2-run triple, another Rays prospect, Hak-Ju Lee, delivered an RBI triple, and then Khris Davis (Brewers) came through with an RBI single to make it 11-9. Then in the 8th, Tim Beckham completed the comeback with a 2-run blast, his first of the Fall, to tie the game at 11. And in the 9th, Prince walked, Lee bunted him to 2nd, and after Davis was intentionally walked, Kjeldgaard struck out to make it 2 outs in the inning. But Max Stassi (A’s) ended it with a walk-off RBI single as the Desert Dogs won 12-11. Beckham had a huge game, going 2 for 4 with a homer, 3 RBI, and 2 runs scored, Kiermaier went 2 for 4 with a double, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored, Shaffer went 0 for 2 but had 2 walks and 2 runs scored, and Lee had just 1 hit but made it count as it was an RBI triple and he later scored. Gotta give a ton of credit to Josh Prince, who went 3 for 3 with a home run short of the cycle, 2 walks, 3 RBI, and 2 runs scored.
Venezuelan Winter League:
Quickly recapping the Rays prospects, Henry Wrigley started at first base for the Leones del Caracas and went 1 for 2 with 2 walks, an encouraging sign considering patience is the primary thing holding him back at this point, Ryan Reid was victimized by his own error as he allowed 2 unearned runs in a third of an inning for the Cardenales de Lara, although he did force 3 groundballs, and Robinson Chirinos went 0 for 4 with a walk for the Navegantes del Magallanes as he continues to work his way back from a concussion.
Overall, it was a great day for Rays hitting prospects and a horrific day for the pair of Rays pitching prospects who got into games, but smiles overall as Beckham broke out of his slump, Kiermaier continued to mash, and just about everyone else had a nice day.