Bryce Harper helps Scottsdale Scorpions to AFL crown

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Bryce Harper is a winner!  Or something.

From MLB.com comes word that the 18-year-old outfield prospect led his Scottsdale Scorpions over the Peoria Javelinas Saturday in the championship game of the Arizona Fall League.  Harper drove in a run in the 3-2 victory, capping off a truly impressive fall campaign in the prospect-packed AFL.

Harper finished up with a .343 batting average, .410 on-base percentage and .629 slugging percentage over 35 at-bats.  He hit three doubles, two triples and a home run, also stealing a base and drawing four walks.

The Nationals were hesitant about sending Harper to the desert this fall because they were worried he might flop against a steep level of competition.  But he proved more than capable and should be allowed to kick off the 2011 season at a high level of Single-A.

If all goes according to plan, Harper should be able to climb his way to Double-A by the end of the new year.

Another young fan was struck by a foul ball, this time at Guaranteed Rate Field

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ESPN reports via the Associated Press that a young boy was struck by a line drive foul ball but was not seriously injured during Sunday afternoon’s game against the Royals. The boy and a woman were escorted by a first aid crew to the concourse area and the boy was later eating ice cream in a luxury suite.

A woman was struck in the face by a foul ball also on the first base side at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, but she didn’t request medical assistance.

Last week, a young fan at Yankee Stadium was hit by a line drive foul ball, which motivated several teams to commit to extending protective netting at their ballparks. The Yankees, strangely, were not among them. Nor were the White Sox.

Diamondbacks clinch NL Wild Card

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Losses by the Cardinals to the Pirates and the Brewers to the Cubs on Sunday clinched an NL Wild Card berth for the Diamondbacks. Their walk-off, 3-2 win over the Marlins earned them hosting rights for the Wild Card game.

The D-Backs, now 90-66, trailed the Marlins 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. Daniel Descalso tied the game at two apiece with an RBI single off of Brad Ziegler. Second half hero J.D. Martinez secured the win with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth against Javy Guerra.

The Rockies beat the Padres on Sunday to increase their lead over the Brewers (+2) and Cardinals (+2.5) for the second Wild Card slot. One of these three teams will visit Arizona for the Wild Card game.

The Diamondbacks are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, when they lost the Division Series in five games to the Brewers.