Michael Roth's first full professional season has been a long one. The left-hander started the year with Double-A Arkansas, made his Major League debut in April and was recalled to Los Angeles two more times before finishing back in Arkansas for the Texas League playoffs.
But as November approaches, Roth is still pitching in the Arizona Fall League. He is glad to have the opportunity to play in the prestigious league, but he said he is beginning to feel the effects of the long season.
"It's an honor they sent me out here," Roth said. "It's also good because I was up and down, so my innings were kind of cut short from last year. I understand the reasons for me to be out there, but it makes for a long year. It's a mental and physical grind more so than it was in August when the season was coming to an end."
Despite any fatigue he might have been feeling Thursday, Roth pitched well in Mesa's 7-3 victory against Scottsdale at HoHokam Stadium. It was the Solar Sox second win in as many days against the Scorpions, who have lost six games in a row.
Making his fifth start in the AFL, Roth allowed one run on four hits in four innings. He threw just 47 pitches in his third straight outing of at least four innings. He has a 2.19 ERA in those starts.
"My first two starts were more like just trying to get back in a midseason groove," Roth said. "Since then, it's been pretty solid."
Roth's only hiccup came in the third inning when back-to-back two-out singles and a wild pitch allowed Alen Hanson to score the game's first run. The Scorpions wouldn't score again until the ninth inning when Peter O'Brien hit a two-out, two-run double. The Yankees prospect finished the game 2-for-4.
Thanks to Hanson's run and left-hander Vidal Nuno's second consecutive scoreless start, Scottsdale kept Mesa off the scoreboard until the sixth inning. Nuno allowed just two hits and struck out five batters in five shutout innings.
But with Nuno out of the game, Mesa's offense immediately went to work in the sixth inning. David Freitas walked to lead off the inning and Brian Goodwin followed with a two-run home run to give the Solar Sox the lead. It was the first home run of the fall for Goodwin, the Nationals' No. 1 prospect.
The Solar Sox kept tacking on runs and scored seven runs against the Scorpions for the second straight day. Freitas went 3-for-3 with two runs and a stolen base. C.J. Cron, the Angels' No. 2 prospect, also had three hits, finishing the game 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Roth said Cron and Mesa second baseman Taylor Lindsey impressed him when they played together this season in Arkansas.
"Whenever C.J. and Lindsey are at the plate, I feel like they can do something special," Roth said. "They're both going to be great players."
As Roth approaches the final few starts of his long, successful season, he said his primary goal is to finish strong so he goes into the offseason healthy. But he also wants to improve his seldom-used curveball and continue to refine his command.
"I feel like I can always improve control," Roth said. "Sometimes my arm drags through, and that's when I start walking people. Just controlling the strike zone and commanding the zone with my fastball."