Picking up where he left off, Pat Urckfitz tossed a perfect inning of relief as the Peoria Javelinas fell to the Surprise Rafters 8-6 in the season opener of the Arizona Fall League.
After more than a month break from game action, Urckfitz showed no signs of rust. The third-year pro came on in the fifth inning with his team trailing 5-1 and retired the three batters he faced. The southpaw threw 18 pitches (10 strikes) fanning one.
Peoria and Surprise will lock horns Wednesday before the Javelinas play the Peoria Saguaros for a pair on Thursday and Friday.
Six teams comprise the Arizona Fall League: the Scottsdale Scorpions, Mesa Solar Sox, the Phoenix Desert Dogs along with the Javelinas, Rafters and Saguaros. Each major league team sends six players to the league. These top prospects come from the Triple-A and Double-A levels with no player having more than one year of experience at the Major League level. Games take place in the Spring Training homes of the A’s, Cubs, Giants, Mariners, Padres, Rangers and Royals.
Current all-stars, David Wright, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard all played in the AFL as have Chris Carpenter, Jimmy Rollins, Derek Lee and Torii Hunter, to name a few. Click here for a complete hall of fame list.
Urckfitz has pitched over 186 innings in three seasons with the Houston Astros farm system. He has struck out 179 while walking 60 to go with an ERA f 3.42.
The lefty nearly doubled his innings pitched this season throwing over 104 frames for the Lancaster Jethawks of the Class A Advance California League. Urckfitz finished the campaign with the Corpus Christi Hooks of the Double-A Texas League.
Last season, Urckfitz led the Lexington Legends of the Class A South Atlantic League in appearances (42) and saves (13). In 49 innings of work, he compiled a 4-1 record with a 2.57 ERA while striking out 42 and walking 13. Urckfitz earned Legends’ Pitcher-of-the-Month honors for May going 1-0 with four saves with 0.71 ERA for the month. He finished the year hurling 57.2 innings.
Urckfitz made 15 appearances for the 2008 Monroe Community College that finished third in the NJCAA World Series. He tossed 11.3 innings of relief surrendering just one run while striking out 15 to earn All-Tournament team.
Urckfitz fanned 25 in 14.2 innings of work for the 2008 Webster Yankees of the New York Collegiate Baseball League. Opposing batters hit a paltry .207 against the lefty. Urckfitz is one of six former Webster players in minor league baseball. Marcus Nidiffer is also in the Astros system currently playing with the Tri-City ValleyCats of the New York-Penn League. Cory Brownsten and Dan Jurik both play in the Atlanta Braves system while Gary Helmick and Jason Stifler are members of the Delmarva Shorebirds – the Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.