A concussion disrupted his first full professional season a year ago, but Cory Spangenberg bounced back in 2013. He reached Double-A San Antonio and, after adjusting to the higher level of pitching, finished the season strong.
Spangenberg, the Padres' No. 14 prospect, has carried over that hot finish (he hit .322 in the season's final month) to the Arizona Fall League. He leads Peoria with a .313 batting average and .853 OPS in 18 games this fall.
Wednesday, the Peoria second baseman continued his solid fall against Surprise. Spangenberg went 2-for-5 with a triple and a run in the Javelinas' 7-6 victory against the Saguaros at Surprise Stadium. The win snapped Peoria's five-game losing streak.
Spangenberg said the key to his success this fall has been sticking with what was working at the end of the regular season.
"I'm riding the momentum I had from the end of the year," he said. "I think I ended August pretty well and I just tried to stick with that."
Peoria hit three home runs against Saguaros starter Miguel Pena to quickly take control of the game. Left fielder Stefan Romero was the first to go deep with a solo home run in the second inning. First baseman Japhet Amador followed with a two-run shot in the third inning and shortstop Orlando Calixte hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning.
The Javelinas scored their final run in the seventh. Spangenberg led off the inning with a triple and came home on a passed ball.
The early run support benefited Javelinas right-hander Jason Adam. In his final start of the fall, the Royals' No. 18 prospect allowed just two hits and struck out three batters in four scoreless innings.
"He was throwing all three of his pitches for strikes," Spangenberg said. "His last couple starts he's had a good pace. As a defense, that helps us out a lot."
But the Saguaros' offense came alive against the Javelinas bullpen in the late innings. In the seventh inning, catcher Michael Ohlman hit a three-run home run and Surprise added another run to cut the deficit to three runs.
The Saguaros scored again in the eighth and shortstop Derrik Gibson hit a solo home run off right-hander Dominic Leone in the ninth to make it a one run game. But Leone got the final two outs to close out his league-leading sixth save.
Ohlman, the Orioles' No. 12 prospect, finished the game 1-for-3 with a walk to go with his fourth home run in 10 games this fall. Second baseman Mookie Betts, the Red Sox's No. 16 prospect, went 3-for-4 with a walk.
Surprise has already clinched the West Division and its spot in AFL championship game Saturday. Peoria, meanwhile, is assured of a last-place finish. But Spangenberg said the Javelinas want to finish the season playing well.
Spangenberg is doing just that and hopes to use his AFL experience to carry over his strong play into next season.
"I thought I played good on the defensive and offensive side," Spangenberg said. "It was a good stepping stone for next year."