10/19/11 1:58 AM EST
Dogs' Choice unable to best Harper
After break, A's No. 2 prospect homers in his third straight game
By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com
The Harper-led Scottsdale Scorpions rallied to beat Choice's Phoenix Desert Dogs, 11-10, in 10 innings in the Arizona Fall League.
Playing in his first game in 10 days due to a personal matter, Choice got off to a quick start, slugging a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Dogs a 2-0 lead. Oakland's first-round pick in 2010 was surprised by his blast.
"I was just coming back from taking a week off. I was looking for a pitch up in the zone and I just put wood on it," said Choice. "It was pretty cool, coming into the game I was just trying to get my timing back. Getting a homer in my first at-bat back shocked me more than anybody."
Choice is tied with Mesa teammates Robbie Grossman (Pirates) and Junior Lake (Cubs) and Surprise's Mike Olt (Rangers) for the AFL home run lead with four.
Despite Choice's best efforts, Harper (Nationals) gave the fans at Phoenix Municipal Stadium a show in his best AFL game of the season season. The former top pick had three hits, including his first homer, three RBIs and fell a triple shy of the cycle. The No. 2 prospect in baseball also drew a pair of walks and scored twice.
"He's a good hitter, getting to watch a young kid at this level is pretty cool," Choice said of Harper. "It's pretty fun to watch regardless whether you are on his team or not."
Choice, who also smacked an RBI double, had a strong season in the California League, batting .284 with 30 homers and 82 RBIs for Class A Advanced Stockton, earning postseason All-Star honors. His bat was exceptionally hot in the season's second half, as he hit .332 with 14 homers in 53 games. That surge is something that Choice, the Athletics' No. 2 prospect, is trying to maintain.
"Basically trying to keep the same approach I had towards the end of the regular season and just sticking with it," the Texas native said. "Just hitting my pitch and changing my approach for what I think the pitcher is going to do."
The Scorpions scored once in the ninth to tie the game and again in the 10th to take the lead. Nationals prospect Derek Norris hit an infield single with two outs in the ninth. A pair of errors by Phoenix second baseman Corban Joseph (Yankees) in the 10th allowed Joe Panik (Giants) to cross the plate with the go-ahead run.
Red Sox prospect Will Middlebrooks homered and drove in three runs while Darin Ruf (Phillies) collected three RBIs for Scottsdale.
Stephen Harrold (Giants) improved to 2-0, allowing one hit over two scoreless innings of relief.
Pirates farmhand Preston Claiborne (0-1) was tagged with the loss, allowing an unearned run in the 10th.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.