Laird carrying success over to AFL
Yankees prospect drives in five in Rafters' slugfest
Brandon Laird admits there weren't a lot of games like this in the Florida State League.
The Yankees prospect snapped out of a slump with three hits, including his second Arizona Fall League home run, and five RBIs on Friday as the Surprise Rafters held on for a wild 15-12 victory over the Phoenix Desert Dogs.
"The ball flies out here," said Laird, who helped the Tampa Yankees capture the FSL championship last month. "Over there, it's a tough league. There's no crowd, it's hot, the ball doesn't carry real well."
The ball's been carrying well in Arizona for the former 27th-round pick, who's tied for second in AFL with 13 RBIs in seven games. Laird had hits in nine of his first 11 at-bats for the Rafters, then scuffled through a 2-for-18 stretch before another big afternoon Friday.
"I was getting my pitches [early on], then I got real anxious in my approach," he explained. "I kept working on it in batting practice."
The younger brother of Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird singled and scored in the second inning, then delivered a two-run double and came home again in the sixth to give Surprise a 6-3 cushion.
The Rafters (7-3) appeared to blow the game open with an eight-run seventh, keyed by Laird's three-run blast. But Phoenix (6-4) answered with eight runs in the bottom half.
"I'm loving it [out here]," Laird said. "We've got a good team and I've got some good buddies I played with growing up. We're just having fun.
"I ended the season real well, looking to carry it over here. I'm just hoping it can keep going."
Futures Game selection and Texas League All-Star Daryl Jones (Cardinals) homered, doubled twice, drove in two runs and scored a pair for Surprise. Colin Curtis (Yankees) went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Mike Moustakas (Royals) and Mitch Moreland (Rangers) each scored twice.
On a rough afternoon for pitchers, Rangers left-hander Matt Harrison (1-0) tossed a scoreless inning for the win.
Athletics prospect Grant Desme went 3-for-4 with a tape-measure solo homer and three runs scored for the Desert Dogs. Matt Angle (Orioles) also collected three hits and scored three times.
Nationals first-rounder Drew Storen was a bright spot out of the Phoenix bullpen, retiring all five batters he faced.
Daren Smith is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.