Staumont shows verve with swing-and-miss curve

Royals' No. 10 prospect allows first run of AFL in his third start

Staumont shows verve with swing-and-miss curve

While Josh Staumont's chances of posting an ERA of 0.00 in the Arizona Fall League came to an end on Saturday, the Royals' No. 10 prospect still was plenty good for Surprise in a 10-8 win over Glendale.

Staumont permitted his first earned run of the Fall League, allowing two hits and three walks over 3 1/3 innings for the Saguaros. Through three starts, the 22-year-old right-hander has pitched to a 0.87 ERA and surrendered just five hits in 10 1/3 innings.

"This was the first five-day rotation start I've had in a while, so there was a little bit of rust to shake off," Staumont said after the game.

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After tallying five strikeouts across his first two starts, Staumont recorded six of his 10 outs via the strikeout on Saturday, with 31 of his 61 pitches going for strikes. The 22-year-old right-hander was particularly successful with his curveball, which he used to induce nine swinging strikes.

"There weren't many fastballs down in the zone being called strikes today," Staumont said. "So I ended up throwing a lot more curveballs and stuff down in the zone to keep the hitters off balance.

"I have a really good feel for my curveball -- it's one of my go-to pitches. It's something I know I can throw and have complete confidence in. It's an equalizer, especially when it comes to even the count, and I'm fine throwing it behind in the count as well."

Though he scuffled initially, throwing 21 pitches in the first inning while working out of a bases-loaded jam, Staumont bounced back to strike out the side in the following frame.

"In the first inning, I was a little too lackadaisical in terms of stepping on the gas, and I was missing with a lot of pitches down in the zone because I wasn't finishing my delivery," said Staumont, who posted a 3.04 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings across 11 starts for Double-A Northwest Arkansas during the second half. "But from there on I put more into it and things kinda straightened out."

In the bottom of the frame, Saguaros third baseman and fellow Royals farmhand Eric Wood provided Staumont with an early lead as he pushed across the game's first run with a home run to left-center field.

Surprise then busted the game open in the bottom of the third inning, scoring five runs on four hits. Batting with one out and the bases loaded, Rangers No. 20 prospect Jose Trevino extended the Saguaros' lead with a two-run double to left field. Wood then coaxed a walk to load the bases once more, and Mauricio Ramos (Royals) made it a 6-0 game with a bases-clearing double to center field.

Staumont returned to the mound in the bottom of the fourth to fan two of the three hitters he faced -- the first reaching on a dropped third strike -- before departing the game after 3 1/3 innings. John Curtiss recorded a quick out in relief but then yielded an RBI single to Tim Locastro (Dodgers), marking the first run allowed by Staumont in three Fall League starts. But Surprise got the run right back in the bottom of the fourth, with Isiah Kiner-Falefa (Rangers) scoring on a wild pitch by Glendale reliever Ralston Cash (Dodgers).

The Desert Dogs mounted a remarkable comeback in the top of the sixth, when they sent 11 batters to the plate en route to scoring seven runs to grab an 8-7 lead. Glendale opened the frame by drawing five consecutive walks against Surprise reliever Trey Ball (Red Sox's No. 14) and then continued to cut into the Saguaros' lead on an Osvaldo Abreu (Nationals' No. 19) sacrifice fly and a two-run single by Drew Ward (Nationals' No. 10). The next batter, Carson Kelly, followed with a two-run home run to left-center field -- his second AFL homer -- to give Glendale its first lead, 8-7.

Surprise didn't trail for long, though, as Andy Ibanez (Rangers' No. 2) notched a two-out double, stole third base and came in to score the tying run on an errant throw by Kelly in the bottom of the sixth. The Saguaros continued to push across runs in the following frame, with Ramos hitting a go-ahead solo homer and catcher Jin-De Jhang (Pirates) tallying an RBI double.

Ramos and Jones paced the Saguaros' offense, as the pair combined to go 5-for-8 with one home run, two doubles and five RBIs. Wood, meanwhile, finished 1-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Ward was the only player to collect multiple hits for the Desert Dogs, as he improved his Fall League average to .417 with a 3-for-5 performance, while Kelly, the Cardinals' No. 11 prospect, tallied three RBIs in the contest to increase his team-leading total to eight.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.