This time last year, Mookie Betts was getting some well-earned rest after wrapping up a 71-game campaign with short-season Lowell.
Now the 21-year-old is among the top second base prospects in the Red Sox system, getting extra reps against elite youngsters in the talent-laden Arizona Fall League.
Boston's 16th-ranked prospect sparked a six-run sixth inning Tuesday night as the Surprise Saguaros pulled away for a 9-2 victory over the Salt River Rafters.
A 2011 fifth-round Draft pick, Betts batted .314 with 15 homers, 65 RBIs, 38 stolen bases in 42 tries and 93 runs scored across two levels in his first full Minor League season. He hit .296 with 33 extra-base hits in 76 South Atlantic League games with Class A Greenville, then batted .341 with 39 RBIs in 51 Carolina League contests for Class A Advanced Salem.
"I think just playing more, getting more experienced, getting a little stronger," Betts told MLB.com. "The main thing is experience. I expect things and know what's going to happen. I know how to handle each situation. And I have a good group of guys around me to help me."
With the score tied, 2-2, Betts led off the sixth with a single, stole second and scored on a base hit by Rangers prospect Ryan Rua.
"Just getting on base, no matter how it is," Betts said of his mind-set in the sixth. "As a leadoff guy in that inning, I have to look to get on and break the tie."
Brewers prospect Jason Rogers delivered a two-run single, Daniel Alvarez (Orioles) followed with a two-run triple and scored on a base hit by Indians No. 5 prospect Tyler Naquin.
"It feels great," said Betts, a 2011 Louisville Slugger High School All-American. "We'd been playing from behind the last couple games. To get a big game and be comfortable for a few innings felt real good."
Naquin finished with three hits and two RBIs, while Rangers top prospect Jorge Alfaro was 2-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and a pair of runs scored.
Nick McBride (Rangers) notched his first AFL win after allowing a run on three hits over 1 1/3 innings in relief of Red Sox southpaw Miguel Pena, who yielded one run on five hits over 3 2/3 frames.
Rafters starter Bo Schultz (D-backs) gave up two unearned runs on four hits over five innings to lower his ERA to 2.16.
"He had real good command of everything," Betts said of Schultz. "He was throwing strikes in, out, up, down, everywhere. There's not much you can do when a guy's throwing like that. You just have to stay in the game. It was good that we stayed in the game while he was still pitching."