The Twins prospect pitched four one-hit innings in his first Arizona Fall League start as the Peoria Javelinas shut out the host Phoenix Desert Dogs, 8-0, on Wednesday afternoon. The Javelinas (16-9) have recorded three shutouts, have won five straight games and sport the league's best record.
Darnell (1-0) yielded a two-out single to designated hitter Nick Ahmed (Braves) in the opening inning but nothing else. He retired his final 10 batters and the last one, hot-hitting Kyle Jensen (Marlins), was his fifth strikeout victim. Ahmed's flyout into center field in the fourth represented just the second time the baseball left the infield.
Minnesota's sixth-round draftee in 2010 made his first seven Fall League appearances out of the bullpen, where he accrued a 3.48 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings. With Wednesday's performance, his ERA shrank to 2.51.
The 23-year-old lefty has started exclusively in three Minor League seasons. He went 11-12 and compiled a 5.08 ERA in 28 starts -- all career highs -- at Double-A New Britain this year.
The Javelinas' offensive catalyst, top-ranked Reds prospect Billy Hamilton, doubled in fellow Cincinnati farmhand Didi Gregorius for the game's second run in the second. Hamilton also singled and scored during a three-run rally in the fourth before adding a sacrifice fly in the eighth. He went 2-for-3 overall with those two RBIs and a stolen base.
Left fielder Nate Roberts (Twins) also contributed to the cause as his two-run double preceded Hamilton's sacrifice fly. Despite his league-leading .467 batting average (21-for-45), Roberts batted ninth in the Javelinas lineup.
Desert Dogs starter and Brewers' ninth-ranked prospect Jimmy Nelson (2-2) was charged with the first five runs on five hits and three walks over 3 1/3 frames.
In Darnell's stead, reliever Michael Tonkin (Twins) pitched 2 2/3 one-hit shutout innings. Tonkin, who hasn't allowed a run in eight AFL appearances, gave way to Logan Bawcom (Mariners) and Jay Johnson (Phillies) for the end of the four-pitcher four-hitter.