Javelinas roll with help of Cassel, Johnson

Phoenix, AZ -- The Peoria Javelinas started the 2005 Arizona Fall League with a 9-6 victory over the Grand Canyon Rafters. The win opens a 32-game campaign that features top prospects from every MLB franchise. Padres farmhand Michael Johnson got off to a nice start and Jack Cassel picked up the win.

Padres' farmhand Jack Cassel earned the win with one shutout inning in relief of the Rockies' Jon Asahina. Working with a fastball in the low 90s, he surrendered two hits in his inning, but escaped with a groundball double play and another easy grounder to second.

While the AFL touts 40 first round draft picks here this year, including nine who saw action Tuesday, the game was very sloppy. The Rafters committed six errors on the day, including two before they recorded their first out. The Javelinas committed three of their own, but were able to minimize the damage, allowing only one unearned run.

The only Padre in the starting lineup was first baseman Michael Johnson, who was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. Johnson came to the plate with a runner on third and two outs in the first and hit a ball 405 feet to dead center, but it died on the warning track.

"I'm looking to work on being more selective," said Johnson about his goals for the month in the desert. "With the better pitching, it's going to be crucial not to chase."

The Javelinas jumped out to a 2-0 lead with three straight singles in the first. The second run scored on a pair of errors on a steal attempt by Baltimore's Brandon Fahey. Asahina gave back one when a wild pitch plated a run for the Rafters in the second, but the Javelinas strung together four more singles in the fourth to extend their lead to 4-1.

The Twins' Garret Jones tied the game up in the fifth with a monster homerun to right off of Ramon Ramirez, a Rockies right-hander acquired from New York in the Shawn Chacon deal, but the Rafters committed three errors in the bottom of the inning to put the Javelinas ahead to stay. Johnson's RBI single off the Marlins' Taylor Tankersley was the only hit in the three-run inning.

The only 1-2-3 frame came in the bottom of the eighth when Yankee right-hander T.J. Beam retired Fahey, Orioles' super-prospect Nick Markakis and Adam Jones, a Mariner first-round pick originally from San Diego.


With third overall pick Jeff Clement, highly-regarded Padres' prospect George Kottaras and the Rockies Chris Iannetta, the Javelinas have significant depth at catcher.

"I don't have a set plan," said manager Gary Pettis on finding a way to get all three significant playing time. "We're just gonna use them as we go."

In the opener, Clement appeared as the DH while Iannetta got the start behind the plate.

Cassel was a late addition to the AFL roster. Originally taken in the 2000 draft, the right-hander split time between Mobile and Portland this year. He appeared in 47 games (six starts) with a combined ERA of 3.95.

On a day that featured many bad defensive plays, Rockies' third baseman Ian Stewart turned in two stellar diving plays, including one in the third which stranded a pair of runners.

Jones' homer in the fifth landed at the top of the grass hill well beyond the 385 sign in left field. Press box estimates had the ball traveling about 440 feet. In the seventh, he hit his second blast of the day just over the wall.

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