Rafael Martin doing all the right things in Arizona (plus Harper update)

Despite the Scorpions' 5-13 last-place record, Scottsdale right-handed reliever Rafael Martin has pitched well this month in the Arizona Fall League.

The San Fernando, Calif., native has pitched six relief innings over four games since Oct. 11, allowing just one run on four hits, with two walks and five strikeouts, for an impressive 1.50 ERA.

Scorpions and Potomac Nationals pitching coach Paul Menhart said Martin is "one of the bright spots overall on the pitching staff and really stands out" in the first few weeks of the AFL season.

Martin went two innings in relief Wednesday, allowing just one hit and no runs in a 10-5 loss to Mesa.

"He threw very well (Wednesday)," Menhart said. "He attacked the zone. He was able to keep the ball down, moving the ball in and out. His four-seam cuts very well and now he has better command of it and knows where it is going. His changeup is good and he is getting a nice spin on his slider."

Martin earned an invitation to pitch in the AFL courtesy of a stunning season between Single-A Potomac (six games) and Double-A Harrisburg (32 games), where he went 5-1 overall with a 1.65 ERA and 54 strikeouts.

Menhart said that Martin separates himself because he has an unrivaled confidence on the mound and is not afraid of going after every hitter.

"(Martin) has a certain poise and demeanor out there," Menhart said. "He knows he is better than the hitter. That is a notable trait compared to other pitchers because he knows he is good. And it shows."

Martin threw 43 2/3 innings this summer, but like a good NHL goaltender, he needs to play a lot to continue his consistency.

"He is the kind of kid who needs to throw often," Menhart said. "He doesn't need a layoff. He is getting out a caliber of hitter here (in the AFL) that is not far away from the big leagues. This is a very good sign."

AFL update: Mesa led 8-0 and went on to win 10-5 over Scottsdale, but Bryce Harper continues to be on a tear at the plate. Harper went 2-for-3 with a three-run home run and four RBIs. His blast cut the Solar Sox advantage to 8-3. Harper has two homers and seven RBIs in his last four games, and is hitting .297 in his last 10 games with two homers and 10 RBIs. Harper has raised his average to .244.

Derek Norris, despite two errors and a passed ball, is also crushing the ball, his average now at .361, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. Zach Walters went 0-for-4 and is now batting .163.

Lefty Sammy Solis had a side session today and gets Thursday and Friday off before starting again Saturday.

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