A's Covey, Montas team up with Marlins' Steckenrider for AFL no-no
By William Boor
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Dylan Covey, Frankie Montas and Drew Steckenrider combined to throw the third no-hitter in the 25-year history of the Arizona Fall League, as Mesa topped Surprise, 1-0, on Tuesday at Surprise Stadium.
Covey (A's No. 19 prospect) got the start and threw five hitless frames before his organization-mate Montas (Athletics' No. 10) threw three strong innings of his own.
After the two Oakland prospects combined to throw eight no-hit innings, and Marlins No. 4 prospect Brian Anderson drove in the lone run of the game with an RBI single in the top of the ninth, Steckenrider -- another Miami farmhand -- came in and closed the door with a perfect ninth.
"I'm just real proud of the way Covey initiated everything, five innings, 44 pitches, pounding the bottom of the zone, which is what his focus was coming into this game," Mesa manager Ryan Christenson said.
Mesa's no-hitter marked the first in the past 15 years of Fall League action, with the previous two coming on Nov. 5, 2001 and Oct. 14, 1997.
Covey, a 25-year-old right-hander, threw 27 of his 44 pitches for strikes and struck out one. A second-inning walk was Covey's lone blemish as he retired 15 of the 16 batters he faced, including 11 in a row to finish his outing.
"I knew I hadn't given up any hits, but I knew I was only going five, so I knew it didn't matter," Covey said. "I was just trying to keep the ball down."
Covey got off to a strong start with Double-A Midland this season, posting a 1.84 ERA in six starts before a strained oblique ended his season in May. After totaling just 29 1/3 innings in the regular season, he has totaled 17 innings across four AFL starts with a 2.65 ERA.
"It feels good," Covey said. "It feels good to finally be healthy and not feel that oblique anymore. It definitely feels good to get those innings in."
Montas, who threw a seven-inning no-hitter with Double-A Birmingham on July 9, 2015, has thrown well in the AFL, and Tuesday was simply more of the same. The hard-throwing right-hander, whom the A's acquired from the Dodgers at the Trade Deadline, has yet to give up a run across four AFL outings, a total of 11 1/3 innings. His fastball averaged 98 mph Tuesday and reached triple digits.
Montas knew Covey had thrown well, but he wasn't aware of the no-hitter until after he left the game. When he was on the mound, he was simply trying to get outs and keep his team in the game.
"I didn't know until after I was done," Montas said. "I just came in, tried to put zeros on the board and do my best. I feel like if you don't know, you don't put that much pressure on yourself."
While Montas may have been unaware, Steckenrider knew what was at stake when he took the mound. He was also able to draw on some experience as he threw an inning in Class A Advanced Jupiter's combined no-hitter earlier this year on May 7.
"I saw it on the board when I was warming up," Steckenrider said. "It was pretty cool to get to experience a little bit of extra adrenaline there at the end, more than usual."
The No. 67 overall prospect faced the minimum in four scoreless innings of his own. Kopech, a first-round selection in 2014, went 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 11 starts with Class A Salem this season and has carried that success over to the AFL, where he has a 1.93 ERA and 18 strikeouts through four starts (14 innings).
Kopech set the tone early, firing each of his first nine pitches for strikes and struck out three of the first four batters he faced. Kopech left the game after 38 pitches, 29 of which were thrown for strikes.
William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.