Cardinals prospect Sam Gaviglio entered the offseason looking to improve all aspects of his game on the mound.
Things started a little rocky for the right-hander after giving up 10 runs over his first three appearances in the Arizona Fall League. But Tuesday, he went back to simplifying things as in doing so delivered his second straight scoreless start.
Gaviglio yielded two hits and a walk while striking out two batters over five innings as the host Salt River Rafters blanked the Mesa Solar Sox, 8-0.
"I felt pretty good, especially once we got that lead. I wanted to get ahead of hitters," said Gaviglio, who is in his third year of pro ball. "[The first three starts], I think I was trying to do too much and not throwing my sinker enough.
"My emphasis is my off-speed. That's something the Cardinals want me to work on and that needs to get better. Also, my fastball command and make sure I'm getting ahead of hitters."
Gaviglio erased No. 2 Cubs prospect Albert Almora's leadoff single to start the game by getting Tyler Collins (Tigers) to hit into a double play.
He set down the side in order in the second frame after umpires went to the replay to uphold No. 2 Angels prospect C.J. Cron's groundout and the Oregon State product forced an around-the-horn double play to work around a walk and error in the third.
It marked the first time the new challenge system -- currently in a testing phase before being rolled out across baseball next season -- was used in a professional game.
A second video review in the fourth confirmed Rockies infielder Kyle Parker's throw to Gaviglio at first beat Collins to begin a 1-2-3 frame. An inning later, he unfurled his third double-play ball to complete the fifth after instant replay confirmed Tim Wheeler (Rockies) was unable to snare Nationals farmhand Matt Skole's sinking line drive.
"It's always nice to get the call right," Gaviglio said of the challenge system. "But I felt it kind of killed the momentum of the game, especially since we knew the outcome.
"You get a quick out and then you're sitting there on the mound waiting for them to make a call on the play or vice versa."
Henry Garcia (D-backs) worked around a hit in the sixth and Tyler Matzek (Rockies) struck out one batter in a scoreless seventh. Fellow Cardinals prospect Anthony Ferrara fanned a pair of Solar Sox in the eighth and Matt Stites (Padres) sealed the shutout with a perfect ninth.
Offensively, the Rafters did most of their damage in a seven-run third that gave Gaviglio more than enough breathing room to work with.
Jacob Wilson (Cardinals) doubled home two runs in the inning. The others came on first baseman Cron's fielding error, a run-scoring groundout, a deflected base hit, an infield single on a popup to shortstop and a sacrifice fly ball.
Arizona's Nick Ahmed added an eighth run in the eighth before officials reviewed -- and confirmed -- their fourth challenged decision of the evening when Dustin Garneau grounded out for the second out of the inning.
"I think it's always great when you get a big lead," Gaviglio said. "Then I just had to attack the zone and make the hitters hit it instead of making it too fine."
In five AFL starts, the right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.97 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 22 2/3 innings.
The 23-year-old went 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA in nine games -- including eight starts -- between the Cardinals' Gulf Coast League affiliate and Class A Advanced Palm Beach this year.
Mesa starter Dallas Beller (3-1) allowed seven unearned runs on four hits and two walks over 2 2/3 innings.