Jaime Schultz didn't let injuries or an appendectomy get in the way of producing a strong sophomore season. Adjusting to the Arizona Fall League proved a little trickier, however.
After losing his first three AFL starts, the Rays prospect struck out seven over five strong innings Friday afternoon as Peoria defeated Surprise, 8-3.
"I felt pretty good today, and if I made a mistake I was able to kind of figure it out and make an adjustment every time," said Schultz, who allowed a run on three hits and two walks. "It definitely felt better than the first three losses. It felt good to be on other side of it today."
Schultz (1-3) worked three scoreless frames before Rangers No. 4 prospect Nick Williams barreled up a 2-0 fastball for a solo homer in the fourth.
"There's no easy out anymore. In the lower levels that I've been playing at, you can get away with a lot of mistakes in the lower half of the lineup," Schultz said. "Here, facing all this talent, you have to have your 'A' game, no matter who you're facing. If you lose one pitch, they end up depositing it in the seats. That's what happened today. I left one up and away and [Williams] took me deep."
A 2013 14th-round Draft pick, Schultz made a few trips to the disabled list in his first full Minor League season. He compiled a 4-1 record with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts with Class A Bowling Green and Class A Advanced Charlotte, but things did go smoothly after he arrived in Arizona.
Before Friday, Schultz had surrendered 14 runs on 15 hits and 12 walks over 13 2/3 frames.
"Physically, I'm 100 percent. I'm not really that tired because I missed some time. It feels good to get a decent amount of innings, even if it is later in the year," he said. "Sometimes I have streaks where I go out and pitch well and other times I pitch pretty poorly.
"Being out here working with [pitching coaches] R.C. [Lichtenstein] and [Jason Simonatacchi], it's been a lot easier. It's starting to click together now."
Cardinals No. 20 prospect Breyvic Valera and fellow St. Louis farmhand Cody Stanley drove in two runs apiece in support of Schultz, while Edward Salcedo (Braves) and Jacob Wilson -- the Cards' 19th-ranked prospect -- each contributed an RBI.
"[A lead] allows you to settle into a groove. As soon as they put up three runs, you relax," Schultz said. "It gives you a little leeway here and there. It makes it a whole lot easier, especially when they're hitting like they did today."
The Saguaros added two runs in the seventh when Red Sox No. 13 prospect Sean Coyle scored on a throwing error by shortstop Raul Mondesi, the Royals' top prospect, and Juan Perez (Cardinals) delivered an RBI double.
Red Sox right-hander Keith Couch (2-2) was charged with four runs on seven hits over four innings. He walked two batters and struck out two as his AFL ERA climbed to 6.43.