Panik, Scorpions walk off against Saguaros
Giants prospect plates winning run in first pinch-hit appearance
Joe Panik made his first pinch-hit experience of the Arizona Fall League a memorable one.
The Giants prospect came through with a two-out walk-off single against the Royals' Jeremy Jeffress in the the ninth Thursday, giving the Scottsdale Scorpions a 2-1 win over the Surprise Saguaros. Panik wasted no time in the at-bat, taking the first pitch he saw to center field for the game-winner.
"[Jeffress] walked two guys in front of me with two outs, and there was a mound visit," Panik said. "I kind of had a feeling that he was going to go right after me and try to get ahead in the count. I was just looking for a fastball to attack early in the count. Luckily for me, I got that and was able to put a good swing on it."
Selected with the 29th overall pick in June, Panik batted .341 with 54 RBIs in 69 Northwest League games this past season en route to being named the circuit's Most Valuable Player. The St. John's University product also displayed a keen batting eye, walking 28 times while striking out on just 25 occasions.
"It's just preparation," Panik said. "When I was at St. John's, the coaches there did a great job preparing me not only hitting-wise but from a mental aspect of the game, teaching me how to go about the game the right way and prepare myself."
So far in the AFL, the 21-year-old second baseman has enjoyed similar success, hitting .307 with nine RBIs in 21 games. He has been particularly hot of late, batting .405 with two homers and eight RBIs in his past 10 contests.
"Coming from the Northwest League to the Arizona Fall League is definitely an adjustment in the caliber of the pitching," Panik said. "It just took some time to get used to the speed of the game, but everything's starting to click."
The Scorpions scored their only other run of the game in the sixth when the Angels' Jean Segura crossed the plate on a groundout by fellow Halo Mike Trout.
Scottsdale starter Tyler Cloyd (Phillies) enjoyed his best outing of the AFL, yielding one run on four hits over a season-high five innings. He struck out three without issuing a walk.
Making his first start of the fall for Surprise, Ryan Kelly (Rangers) did not allow a hit over three innings. He fanned five and walked one while keeping the Scorpions off the scoreboard.
The Saguaros plated their only run in the first when Christian Colon (Royals) doubled and Mike Olt (Rangers) followed with an RBI single two batters later. Olt is now tied with Salt River's Nolan Arenado (Rockies) for the RBI lead at 33.
David Heck is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.