A game featuring the top performers in a prospects-filled league on Sunday ended with two Cardinals farmhands pitted against each other despite the game’s American League vs. National League format.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Cardinals pitching prospect Tink Hence was summoned from the bullpen to pitch for the AL Arizona Fall League All-Stars. After he failed to retire Dodgers prospect Andy Pages for the last out of the 9-3 NL Fall Stars win, the next batter Hence faced provided some familiarity — and laughs.
Hence squared off against fellow Cardinals prospect Jordan Walker with two outs in the ninth giving the two highly ranked prospects and former 2020 MLB draft picks by the Cardinals a chance to face each other in a live game.
On the first pitch Walker saw from Hence, the Walker lifted sent a fastball from Hence to to deep right field where it was hauled in on the warning track by Orioles prospect Heston Kjerstad.
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A near homer for one. A sigh of relief for the other.
The fly out to the warning track to end the game led Walker laugh and smile at what was close to being a two-run homer against his teammate. Walker was seen on the game’s broadcast smiling and signaling to Hence that he almost took him deep. The two-run homer would have given Walker four RBI in the game after he hit a ground-rule double to right field in the fifth inning.
As for Hence, who mistakenly began walking to the AL dugout once the out was made, he flashed a smile then shared a laugh and quick hug with Walker as he once he rejoined Walker and the NL Fall Stars also included Cardinals prospect Masyn Winn outside of the third base dugout.
The pair of 20 year olds were two of four Cardinals prospects who were selected for the Fall Stars game. Joining them in the exhibition game was Winn — another 2020 MLB draft pick by St. Louis. Winn went zero-for-two at the plate after entering the game as a pinch runner in the bottom of the fifth inning.
On defense, Winn flashed his strong throwing arm after he bobbled a one-hop grounder in the hole at shortstop. After he knocked down the grounder hit to him by Red Sox prospect Nick Yorke, Winn barehanded the ball and fired a strike across the diamond to get Yorke out at first.
Connor Thomas — the AFL leader in strikeouts who has benefitted from the use of a recently developed cutter — was the starting pitcher for the NL Fall Stars and worked a 1-2-3 first inning on eight pitches.
He induced groundouts against the first two batters he faced then struck out Herstad on three pitches to end the inning.
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