While the Arizona Fall League is often talked about as a finishing school en route to the Majors, for Aaron Altherr, it feels like the good old days.
"I love it, it's just like playing in high school again," the Phillies prospect said. "My parents get to come out and watch me play."
The Arizona native went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and an RBI and Astros slugger Japhet Amador hit a game-tying homer in the ninth inning to help Peoria rally past Surprise, 6-5, on Wednesday.
Signed out of the Mexican League earlier this year, Amador blasted his third homer of the fall off reliever David Goforth (Brewers) to lead off the ninth before Altherr doubled, advanced on a passed ball and scored the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly by Jake Lowery (Indians) to left field. Dominic Leone (Mariners) induced a game-ending double play in the bottom of the frame after allowing back-to-back singles to pick up his fifth save.
"Goforth throws pretty hard and he has a good cutter, so I was watching for that. I got a good pitch to hit and I put a good swing on it," Altherr said of his double. "It didn't really roll that far, but I saw the center fielder [Tyler Naquin] still running for the ball when I was running to first."
Altherr began his day with a ground-rule double to lead off the second and then singled home fellow Phillies outfielder Cameron Perkins with one out in the third.
Surprise chipped away at the deficit , scoring twice in the fourth on an RBI single by Henry Urrutia (Orioles) and a sacrifice fly from Brett Nicholas (Rangers) before Daniel Alvarez (Orioles) lined a game-tying two-run single in the sixth. The Saguaros took the lead in the seventh on Red Sox prospect Mookie Betts' first homer with one out off Austin Wright (Phillies).
Altherr snapped an 1-for-23 slump with his first multi-hit effort since Oct. 8. The 6-foot-5 center fielder, who hit .275 with 12 homers, 65 RBIs and 23 steals in 123 games with Class A Advanced Clearwater this past season, missed a few games last month with a wrist injury that sidelined him from Oct. 17-28.
"I felt pretty good. I've been hurt the last couple weeks with my wrist, but I've started feeling better again," he said. "It was very hard [readjusting], especially with the talent down here. It was tough to get my timing back. It took me a while, but I'm happy it's finally back."
While Altherr, 22, may be familiar with playing in Arizona -- he was drafted in the ninth round of the 2009 Draft out of Agua Fria High School in Avondale, Ariz. -- the talent level in the AFL is slightly above that of his high school days.
"It's good competition, this is what I'm going to be facing in the years to come," he said. "It's a good experience being out here, seeing how they pitch and what their stuff is like."
Goforth (1-1) was charged with two runs on three hits over 1 1/3 innings and his second blown save after starter Taylor Jungmann (Brewers) allowed four runs on five hits and a pair of walks in 2 1/3 frames for Surprise.
Houston's Andrew Robinson (1-0) picked up the win for Peoria after allowing a pair of singles in the eighth. Starter Brandon Maurer (Mariners) held Surprise to two runs on three hits and three walks over four innings. He struck out three, throwing just 39 of his 79 pitches for strikes.