Pucetas, Pettit pound Rafters
Giants prospect dominates on mound, Angels PoW remains hot
Top Giants prospect Kevin Pucetas pitched five strong innings and Arizona Fall League Offensive Player of the Week Chris Pettit homered as the Scottsdale Scorpions beat the visiting Surprise Rafters, 7-3, on Monday.
Pucetas (4-1) allowed one run on two hits to outduel Orioles' first-round Draft pick Brian Matusz. The Giants right-hander struck out four and did not walk a batter for his fourth win.
"I felt I had good command, had a good tempo going and I was able to get into a rhythm," said Pucetas, who threw 45 of his 72 pitches for strikes. "I had a good day. I was attacking hitters and threw all four of my pitches for strikes in any count, any situation."
Pucetas took a perfect game into the fourth inning before surrendering a leadoff double to Julio Borbon (Rangers). Wes Hodges (Indians) lofted a sacrifice fly to right to score Borbon.
"The one run I gave up, I thought I could have executed a little better. It was a 3-2 slider to Hodges. I was kind of upset about that, I thought I could have made a better pitch to get out of there," Pucetas said. "But he's a great hitter, fellow Futures Game guy and top prospect, so he did what he knows how to do and he did a good job."
Pucetas retired Orioles' top prospect Matt Wieters to end the frame and struck out the final two batters he faced in the fifth to end his afternoon.
"It was one of those starts -- maybe the only one I've had over here -- where everything was going for me as far as being able to execute pitches," said Pucetas, a 23-year-old Limestone College product. "I threw a lot of good off-speed stuff and was able to locate it."
The Spartansburg, S.C. native has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his six starts for the Scorpions (10-17).
"He looked real good, he got ahead and had a good tempo," Pettit said of Pucetas. "Every time he's gone out there, he's getting ahead of hitters. It's a good combo."
Pettit, an Angels prospect who was named the AFL's hitter of the week earlier Monday, went 3-for-4 and slugged a solo homer in the sixth off Rafters reliever Gilbert de la Vara (Royals). He lined an RBI double in the third and raised his average to .377.
"I've been feeling comfortable. I'm putting good swings on good pitches and not chasing balls out of the zone," said Pettit, who ripped a de la Vara fastball for his third homer of the fall. "I'm being more selective."
Pettit, who also doubled twice Monday, has had two or more hits in each of his last six games. He entered the day batting .459 (17-for-35) with a home run and five RBIs in his last 10 games.
"Coming off the season I had, I wanted to be more consistent and get back on track," said Pettit, who finished .248 with six homers and 26 RBIs for the Double-A Arkansas Travelers. "I'm trying to be as consistent as possible and take good at-bats."
Pettit leads the AFL in hits and doubles after batting .667 (14-for-21) last week in six games. He topped the league in hits (14), doubles (four) and on-base percentage (.708) and tied for third in runs scored (seven) for the week.
"It's definitely an honor," Pettit said of the award. "There's a lot of good players down here, so it's always nice to be player of the week."
Scottsdale scored twice in the third and sixth innings before tacking on three runs in the eighth.
Nolan Reimold (Orioles) had two RBIs and Hodges, Wieters and Beau Mills (Indians) each drove in a run for Surprise (9-19).
Pucetas and the Scorpions went up against Matusz (1-3), the fourth overall pick in June by Baltimore. The Arizona native struck out five, but allowed two runs on three hits and a walk over four innings for his third loss.
"I faced him a few times before in college, and he looked pretty good," Pettit said. "He can command all three or four pitches. He throws a good changeup -- he struck me out on a good curve -- so he looked pretty good."
Pucetas said he knew it would be a tough game against the University of San Diego ace.
"You know you've got to do whatever it takes," Pucetas said. "[Matusz] is going to limit you to a few runs, that's why they give these guys signing bonuses -- to win. I knew it would be a tough battle. We were lucky enough to put together a big game and came out on top with a much-needed 'W'."
Pucetas credited his AFL development to Scottsdale pitching coach Ray Searage (Pirates).
"Hearing the same information in a different voice, it can tend to register," he said. "You get that right person who responds well to you and you can learn well from him. It tends to stick in your head a little easier. Our coaching staff is great."
Danny Wild is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.