In what could be a preview of the AFL Championship Game, Alex Sanabia was at his best.
The Marlins right-hander gave up two hits and struck out four over five innings Wednesday as the Surprise Saguaros blanked the Salt River Rafters, 6-0, in a battle of first-place teams.
It didn't appear to be that kind of day for Sanabia in the first inning. Astros prospect Jay Austin took his second pitch of the game up the middle for a leadoff single and promptly stole second base. A bizarre play at the plate saved his outing, however.
D-backs prospect David Nick lifted a fly ball to center fielder Leonys Martin (Rangers). Austin tagged up, took third and continued toward the plate, where catcher Christian Bethancourt (Braves) took the throw from third baseman Paul Gran (Marlins) and applied the tag to complete an unconventional double play.
Sanabia (2-0) worked around two errors the rest of the way and faced three batters over the minimum. The 23-year-old has a 3.18 ERA in three starts for the Saguaros, who've won three in a row.
The former 32nd-round Draft pick is coming off a season in which he missed the first four months due to an elbow injury. While Sanabia went 0-5 in nine Minor League starts, he was sharp in three September outings for the Marlins, recording a 3.27 ERA over 11 innings.
Jeremy Jeffress (Royals), Dan Jennings (Marlins), Kirby Yates (Rays) and Alejandro Ramos (Marlins) held the Rafters hitless over the final four innings.
Braves prospect Todd Cunningham tripled and drove in three runs, while Gran reached base three times and scored once for Surprise. Martin and fellow Rangers prospect Ryan Strausborger contributed solo homers.
Astros prospect Dallas Keuchel (1-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs on nine hits over four innings. He struck out three and did not issue a walk.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.