Huffman powers Desert Dogs to victory
Indians prospect hits grand slam in eighth to put Phoenix ahead
Chad Huffman picked a good time to hit his first home run of the Arizona Fall League.
The Indians prospect smacked a two-out grand slam in the eighth inning Wednesday, putting the Phoenix Desert Dogs up for good as they defeated the Mesa Solar Sox, 11-8. Overall, the 26-year-old first baseman finished the day 3-for-4 with five RBIs, more than doubling his AFL total to nine.
"It was just one of those things, it came together today," Huffman said. "I got some pitches to drive and got some barrel on it."
With two outs and men on second and third in the eighth, the Desert Dogs trailed the Solar Sox, 8-7. Top Athletics prospect Grant Green came to the plate just a single away from the cycle, looking to become the first person to accomplish the feat in the AFL since the Marlins' Logan Morrison did so on Oct. 30, 2008. But Green was hit by the first pitch of the at-bat, setting the stage for Huffman.
"To be honest, I thought Green was going to get a single for sure," Huffman said. "I thought he would get the cycle and give us a one-run lead."
Instead, Huffman stepped in to face reliever Brandon Kloess (White Sox). He left the yard on the seventh pitch of the at-bat.
"I was just battling with the bases loaded, trying to get a hit," he said. "[Kloess] had some good stuff, he really did. Good slider, fastball. I got a fastball up and it kind of happened. I got the barrel on it and it stayed fair."
Reds reliever Brad Boxberger closed the door on Mesa in the ninth for his third save of the AFL. He allowed one hit and struck out one.
Selected by the Padres in the second round in 2006, Huffman has twice been claimed off waivers, resulting in a stint with the Yankees and now his spot with the Indians. He is hitting .231 in 13 AFL games, but has been hot lately, batting .381 (8-for-21) over his last five contests.
"I'm just starting to get more comfortable," Huffman said. "I didn't take any live pitching before first pitch here. It took a while to get back in the swing on things. The last live pitch I saw was in the [Triple-A] National Championship Game [on Sept. 20]."
Green finished the game 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored.
Cleveland reliever Cory Burns (2-1) earned the win with a scoreless inning out of the bullpen.
Like most other players, Huffman is simply trying to refine his game in the AFL. Having played most of his career in the outfield, he is still getting used to life at first base.
"I'm definitely working on my defense at first base, getting comfortable out there," he said. "Just getting consistent, working on your craft a little bit. There's always room for improvement. The more consistent you are, the closer you are to being a Major Leaguer."
David Heck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.