Slade Cecconi had struggled a bit in his first two outings in the Arizona Fall League. In his first game he had control issues, walking 4 batters, although he didn’t allow a run in just two innings of work. In his second game he worked in relief, and gave up 5 hits and 3 runs in 3 innings. In both those outings he seemed to lose velocity quickly and just looked like a guy shaking off the rust and trying to build up strength.
Last night didn’t get off to a great start either. Cecconi was spotted a 1-0 lead in the first thanks to a Cooper Hummel bases load walk. In the bottom half of the inning an aggressive Scottsdale Scorpions lineup were attacking early in counts and ambushing fastballs. The leadoff hitter Richie Palacios lined the first pitch he saw to right and two pitches later Curtis Read roped a single to left. Marcos Luciano got caught looking at a full count fastball for the first out. Andrew Bechtold then hit a sharp groundball through the right side hole on the 2nd pitch of his at bat to score a run. Fortunately Joey Wiemer hit the cutoff man, first baseman Ryan Vilade, who spun and threw to third to nail Read. Hunter Bishop lined the first pitch he saw to deep center. Eric De La Rosa took a step in before realizing the ball was tagged and then had to race back and make a catch over his head. Despite all the hard contact, the damage was limited to 1 run on just 12 pitches.
That lineout would be the first of 9 consecutive outs recorded by Cecconi. He mixed speeds, threw strikes, and while not quite displaying the overpowering fastball some might be expecting, he was locating and got some off balanced swings and misses at his slider to record 3 more swinging strikeouts. In the 4th Hunter Bishop hit a double in the gap, and then Buddy Kennedy charged a high hopper to third, but couldn’t make the play as the ball bounced off his glove. It was ruled a hit, but the play should have been made. No matter, Cecconi got the next batter to ground out to first and that completed his night. His final line was :
4 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 0 Walks, 5 strikeouts, 52 pitches, 37 strikes. His fall league ERA is now down to 4.00 and he’s only walked 1 batter in his last 7 innings of work.
The Scorpions Starter Seth Corry of the Giants had a bad start, failing to get out of the 1st inning. The aforementioned Hummel RBI walk was the 4th walk of the inning and he was pulled. But not before he struck out Kennedy with the bases loaded for the 2nd out of the inning.
In the top of the second Caleb Sampen issued 2 walks of his own before Joey Wiemer and Vilade both had RBI singles to make it 3-0 Rafters. Hummel walked to load the bases again, and once again Kennedy struck out swinging to leave them that way to end the inning. Of note, both time Hummel walked, he started to lay down his bat on the pitch prior to ball 4, and both times the umpire called strike and he had to pick up his bat and finish his at bat. The umpire clearly didn’t like that, as in Hummel’s third at bat he was rung up looking on a pitch that caught the corner. He started jawing with the umpire, and that was also not great. He’d end up striking out THREE more times, twice swinging and once again looking in the 9th. The 4 strikeouts were not the most on the Rafters last night however.
Kennedy followed up his two bases loaded strikeouts by striking out three more times, each with runners on base. In all he left 11 men on base. Almost all his strikes were swing and misses at fastballs. He managed to foul off a few pitches, but clearly whatever ailment caused him to miss the first handful of games has him off to a very shaky start. In his two games so far he’s 0-7 with 6 K’s.
Fortunately the other Rafters hitters kept tacking on runs to get to the final score of 8-1. This despite the 17 LOB by the two D-backs hitters. (Hummel also had 6 LOB). He’s just 1 for 11 so far, with 8 strikeouts. He does have 6 walks, but he’ll need to start making more contact when he does decide to swing. And while he does have a good batting eye, it would be advisable for him to stop showing up the umpires.
On a much more positive note, the other Diamondbacks pitchers who appeared in the game all had good nights.
Shumpei Yoshikawa worked two scoreless innings. He loaded the bases on two singles sandwiched around a walk, but then got Luciano to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the 5th. In the 6th he struck out Bechtold on a sweet curveball and after hitting Bishop, struck out the next batter and then got a weak popup to end the inning.
Keegan Curtis pitched a dominating 8th, inducing a ground out to 2nd before getting swinging strikes on 6 of the next 7 pitches to K Luciano and Bechtold. He hasn’t allowed a run yet in 4 games, 3.1 IP
Mitchel Stumpo worked the 9th, and only gave up a two out single before getting a popout to end the game. He’s pitched 4 innings and struck out 6 so far.
10 games into the AFL season already, the Rafters are 5-5 and in 2nd place in the Fall League East Division.
Sundays are off days for the entire league, and in a scheduling oddity, Salt River is off Monday and Tuesday as well. Their next game is as Salt River Fields Wednesday night, also against the Scorpions. Since everyone needs to get their turn and innings in, it might be a while before we see Cecconi in a game again. Perhaps next Saturday in Glendale. I’ll keep an eye out next week and update for anyone interested.
SCHEDULE Circle November 13th, 5 P.M. at SRF on your calendar. That’s the Fall League All Stars game, the biggest event of the season. 75% of the players you’ll see in that game will be in MLB within the next 1-2 years.