SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The all-star event of the offseason league dubbed baseball's "finishing school" turned out to be the school of hard knocks for Mike Minor. Well ... some hard knocks. Others came off broken bats or dribbled under fielders' gloves. Minor, the left-hander taken by the Atlanta Braves with the seventh pick in June's First-Year Player Draft, started for the West in Saturday night's Rising Stars Game of the Arizona Fall League.
But he couldn't finish ... the first inning, that is. "I made some decent pitches, broke some bats, lot of ground balls -- then the big hit," Minor said in summing up the seven runs he allowed in two-thirds of an inning. Team-wise, it all turned out great, as Matt McBride capped a gradual comeback from that 7-0 deficit to the East with a two-run game-winning shot in the bottom of the eighth. Personally, it will also turn out great for Minor, a 21-year-old out of Vanderbilt. The Braves have nothing but high hopes, anticipating him to follow in the footsteps of Tommy Hanson, the latest bright product of the Atlanta pitching factory. But Minor definitely did not follow in the Rising Stars footsteps of Hanson -- who had started this game last year, and pitched three hitless innings with seven strikeouts. The seven runs Minor allowed were three more than his previous professional total -- albeit in limited innings. Minor had gotten in 14 innings with Class A Rome at the end of the season, and has logged 11 2/3 innings in regular-season AFL play. In those combined 25 2/3 innings, he has allowed four earned runs -- then, bang, six in a fraction of Saturday night's game. "Obviously, I didn't like it," Minor said with a still-dour face, long after his stint on the mound had ended. "But everyone is going to have a bad game. "It did stink for it to happen in this game, with TV and all," continued Minor, alluding to MLB Network's broadcast. "I know a lot of my family and friends were watching and I hate that they had to see that. "At the same time, I got them to hit a lot of ground balls, and the first three hits were broken-bat. Then came the big hit." Minor meant the three-run homer by Brandon Allen. Same guy who hit four of them this year for the Arizona Diamondbacks. "Fastball, down and away. He went down and got it," Minor said. The two will meet again. And not just in the next couple of weeks, in Peoria or in Scottsdale. In the coming years, perhaps in Chase Field or in Turner Field. By then, perhaps Minor will be laughing about his Saturday night.