Skole crushed the two-run shot in the fifth inning, walked in the first and smacked a two-run single in the third. He grounded out and flew out in his final two at-bats. His four RBIs marked the second game in a row a Nationals prospect connected for that total, and ran his RBI mark to a team-high 12 for the AFL season, second on team. His slugging percentage of .540 is among the top six in AFL.
Skole’s homer provided the Rafters with a 6-3 lead in the fifth. Salt River trailed 3-1 after two innings.
The former Georgia Tech third baseman is now hitting .300 while playing first base for the Rafters, who have won two straight. Salt River is 13-10, and has a 1 1/2-game lead over Scottsdale for first place in the East division.
Brian Goodwin went 0-for-3 with a sac fly RBI as the leadoff center fielder. He walked and scored a run.
Jason Martinson got the taxi squad start at third base, going 1-for-4 with a double and run scored.
Aaron Barrett pitched a scoreless eighth inning, striking out one batter and not allowing a hit. His ERA dropped to 3.00.
Anthony Rendon got the day off.
The Rafters and Surprise continue the home-and-home at Salt River tonight.
Instant analysis: Skole continues to have no trouble transitioning to AFL pitching, with three homers and 12 RBIs in 14 games. Also intriguing is his exclusive work at first base, with no apparent fielding issues. Skole told me he had never played first base in a pro game before.
But these power numbers and his ability to be athletic enough to play the corner infield spots defensively make him the top infield power hitter in the organization. At first base, that is a need for the Nats, as they look for that player in 2013. He moves well and we could see him in Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse this season if he continues to be so consistent at the plate.