The Mesa Solar Sox ran their record to 7-0 in the Arizona Fall League Thursday behind four scoreless innings from Nationals prospect Matt Purke. The only Cub to see action was outfielder Albert Almora, who continues to impress after an injury-plagued 2013 season with Kane County. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action.
Albert Almora, CF – Almora is hitting a cool .500 thus far in the prestigious fall league. The Cubs No. 2 prospect, according to MLB.com, led off the third inning with a single to left field but was caught stealing by catcher Austin Hedges (Padres) one batter later. Almora finished the day 1-for-4.
The Sox are on the road to face Surprise in a Friday afternoon tilt. Cubs prospect Dallas Beeler will take the mound for Mesa opposite Will Lamb (Rangers). Almora, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler are all in the starting lineup.
The Cubs’ bats were relatively quiet, but the Solar Sox still racked up another victory Wednesday afternoon. Kris Bryant went hitless for the first time in the AFL (he did draw a walk), while reliever Lendy Castillo picked up the slack on the mound. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s action.
Lendy Castillo, RHP – Entering the game with a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth, Castillo surrendered a leadoff double and then a bloop single to put runners on first and second with nobody out. That’s when the reliever went to work. He forced Aaron Altherr (Phillies) into a double-play and then struck out Jonathan Mayer (Astros) to end the game. Castillo recorded his first save of the fall. His final line read: IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 K.
Wes Darvill, 2B – Darvill hit ninth Wednesday and lead off the third inning with a single to right. He finished 1-for-4.
The Sox host Peoria Thursday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:35 CST. Matt Purke (Nationals) will take the ball for Mesa, opposite Johnny Barbato (Padres). Albert Almora is expected to lead off and play center field.
Mesa is still unbeaten, after taking down Scottsdale 7-4 Tuesday. Albert Almora continued his successful fall season, while Jorge Soler and Armando Rivero got into the action as well. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s game.
Albert Almora, CF – After a few days of rest, Almora led off for the Solar Sox. The 2012 first-round pick drew a walk to start the bottom of the third and scored two batters later on a C.J. Cron (Angels) homer. The team batted around in the third. With men on second and third and two outs, Almora hit a ground-rule double to left-center field, scoring David Freitas (Athletics) and Dixon Machado (Tigers). Then in the bottom of the fifth with nobody on base, he recorded another double to right to finish the game 2-for-4 with a walk.
Armando Rivero, RHP – Rivero entered the game in the eighth inning and gave up a bloop double and a single to the first two batters he faced. Jarrett Parker (Giants) followed with a sacrifice fly. That was all the damage Scottsdale could do, however. RIvero’s final line read: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER.
Jorge Soler, DH – Soler singled in the bottom of the fourth and finished the day 1-for-5.
Mesa heads out to Peoria Wednesday, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:35 CST. Tommy Collier (Tigers) will take the mound for the Solar Sox while right-hander Matt Heidenreich (Astros) goes for the Javelinas. Kris Bryant will be batting fourth and playing third, and Wes Darvill will bat ninth and play second base for Mesa.
The Solar Sox continued their winning ways, edging out Scottsdale 7-6 Monday. A trio of Cubs prospects got into the game for Mesa, with some mixed results. Here are the highlights from yesterday’s action.
Kris Bryant, 3B – Bryant, who is hitting .444 on the fall, batted fourth for Mesa and reached on fielding errors in the first, third and fourth innings. He was stranded in the first, but Taylor Lindsey (Angels) hit a home run to score him in the third. In the fourth inning, he reached second on a stolen base, but that’s as far as he’d get. In the top of the sixth with a man on third, Bryant hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Devon Travis (Tigers). He singled in the eighth to finish the night 1-for-4.
Matt Loosen, RHP – Loosen entered the game in the third with two outs and a man on second and struck out Cory Vaughn (Mets) to get out of the inning. He got himself into a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the bottom of the fourth, but a shallow fly out, a force out and a caught stealing kept the damage to one run. He gave up a leadoff triple in the fifth, but again allowed only one run. His final line read: 2.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 K.
Jorge Soler, RF – Soler hit sixth for the Solar Sox and recorded his third double of the fall with a sixth inning two-out drive to center. He finished the night 1-for-5.
Mesa hosts Scottsdale this afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 1:35 CST. Sammy Solis (Nationals) will take the mound for the Solar Sox, opposite Aaron Northcraft (Braves).
Cubs prospects made an impact on both sides of the ball for Mesa in a win over Surprise Friday night. All three offensive players in the lineup contributed, while a duo of right-handers got in the game as well. Here are the Cubs highlights from Friday’s Solar Sox game.
Kris Bryant, DH: Batting fifth for the Sox, Bryant drove in the first run of the game on a two-out single in the first inning with men on first and second, scoring fellow Cubs prospect Jorge Soler. Then with one out in the seventh, Bryant blasted his second homer of the AFL season, a solo shot to center. Bryant was 2-for-5 on the night.
Dallas Beeler, RHP: Beeler got his first AFL action of the season, starting Friday’s game. He struck out Garin Cecchini (Red Sox, No. 82 prospect according to MLB.com) in the first inning and went 1-2-3 in the second. With a runner on first and third in the third inning, Beeler surrendered a RBI groundout, but worked his way out of any further damage, fanning Mookie Betts (Red Sox) and getting Cecchini to ground out to second. His final line read: 3.0 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 K, BB. He also recorded a pair of pickoffs.
Lendy Castillo, RHP: Castillo pitched the fifth inning and struggled a bit, giving up a hit, two walks and an earned run before getting out of the inning.
Wes Darvill, 3B: Making his first start of the season, Darvill recorded an RBI single on a ground ball back to the pitcher in the third inning, scoring Steven Souza Jr. (Nationals). He also drew walks in the fifth and seventh to finish the night 1-for-3.
Jorge Soler, RF: Soler reached on a fielding error in the first, advanced to second on a C.J. Cron (Angels) single and scored on Bryant’s single. In the top of the third, the Cuban singled on a soft liner to center and scored three batters later on a Souza double. He finished 1-for-5.
Mesa continued its offensive onslaught Thursday night, topping Salt River 8-1. Only outfielder Albert Almora and reliever Armando Rivero entered the game for the Cubs, but both made the most of their playing time. Here are the Cubs highlights from yesterday’s action:
Albert Almora, RF: Almora slid over to right field to make room for Washington’s Brian Goodwin (No. 65 prospect overall, according to MLB.com) and batted first for the Sox. He began the night with a groundout and a flyout before leading off the fifth inning with a single to left. An error on a pickoff attempt got the 19-year-old to third, where he’d later score on a Goodwin fielder’s choice. With the bases loaded in the ninth, Almora tripled to center, scoring Matt Skole (Nationals), Max Muncy (Athletics) and David Freitas (Athletics). Goodwin drove him in later that inning. In all, Almora finished 2-for-5 with three RBI and two runs.
Armando Rivero, RHP: Rivero entered the game in the ninth inning and gave up a leadoff double before recording a popout and a double-play to end the game. In two innings pitched this season, the right-hander has a 0.00 ERA with three strikeouts.
It took exactly two games for Cubs farmhands—a group that was already the talk of the Arizona Fall League—to get Arizona and North Side fans buzzing. All four Cubs position players saw action in the Solar Sox’s 13-3 win over Glendale, and all four made an impact. Their combined final line read: 8-for-14, 3 HR, 3 2B, 2 BB, 11 RBI, 8 R. Here’s what each player did yesterday.
Albert Almora, CF — Almora saw his first AFL action Wednesday, and got right to it, leading off the bottom of the first with a home run to left on the first pitch he saw. In the bottom of the second with runners on first and third, the 2012 first-round pick ripped a double to right, scoring Adrian Nieto (Nationals) and Dixon Machado (Tigers). He then led off the fourth with a sharp single to left field and would score three batters later on a Jorge Soler double. Almora again led off the fifth inning with a single to left, but would be stranded. He finished the day 4-for-5 with one home run and three RBI.
Kris Bryant, 3B — Batting fifth in the lineup, Bryant smashed a three-run homer in the bottom of the first, scoring Devon Travis (Tigers) and Zach Borenstein (Angels). Bryant singled to center in the bottom of the third and drew a walk in the fourth. The 2013 first-round pick did commit a fielding error in the top of the third, but no runs scored as a result. He finished the day 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI.
Wes Darvill, 3B — Darvill entered the game as a defensive substitute in the seventh and recorded a two-run home run in the eighth, scoring Soler, who reached on a fielder’s choice. It was his only at-bat of the day.
Jorge Soler, DH — Shifting from the outfield on Tuesday to designated hitter on Wednesday, the Cuba native’s big at-bat came in the fourth inning when he hit a three-run double that scored Almora, Travis and Borenstein. Soler finished 1-for-5 with a walk and three RBI.
Mesa heads to Salt River Thursday night, where they will see the Blue Jays’ top prospect in right-hander Aaron Sanchez (No. 20 prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com). Washington’s Matt Purke will take the mound for Mesa, with first pitch scheduled for 7:35 central time. Lineups have not yet been posted.
Top prospect Kris Bryant got off to a fast start in the AFL. (Photo by Stephen Green)
The Mesa Solar Sox—a team comprised of prospects from the Cubs, Angles, A’s, Nationals and Tigers—opened up the Arizona Fall League season with an 11-inning, 8-8 tie Tuesday afternoon against Glendale. Trailing 7-3 in the top of the eighth inning, the Solar Sox rallied for five runs, behind RBI doubles from Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler. The Desert Dogs would get a run back in the bottom of the ninth to force extras. Here’s what the Cubs prospects did yesterday afternoon:
- 3B Kris Bryant went 3-for-6 with two RBI and two runs scored. With Angels prospects C.J. Cron on second and Taylor Lindsey on first with nobody out in the second inning, Bryant ripped a single up the middle, scoring Cron. Bryant drove in Cron again with an eighth-inning double, cutting the deficit to three.
- RF Jorge Soler finished 1-for-6 with an RBI. The Solar Sox regained the lead in the eighth thanks to a Soler double to left field that scored Oakland catcher David Freitas from second.
- RHP Matt Loosen entered the game in the third and went two innings, surrendering two unearned runs, striking out one and walking one. He was credited with a blown save.
- RHP Lendy Castillo surrendered three unearned runs in the sixth inning, striking out one.
- RHP Armando Rivero pitched a scoreless eighth inning, striking out the side, including the game’s top prospect, Twins outfielder Byron Buxton. Rivero was credited for a hold.
The Sox will host Glendale this afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 1:35 CST. Cubs prospect Albert Almora will lead off and play center field, Soler will DH and bat fourth, and Bryant will play third base and bat fifth.
Albert Almora will represent the Cubs as a member of the Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. (Photo by Jason Wise)
The Arizona Fall League is upon us. Though many will be tuned into the MLB playoffs for the next few weeks, the AFL is the crystal ball of baseball, giving fans a glimpse of the game’s future stars.
Twenty-five of MLB’s top 100 prospects (according to MLB.com) will be participating in Arizona action, headlined by individuals like the Twins’ Byron Buxton and Pittsburgh’s Jameson Taillon. Even with those two budding stars, no organization has received more hype for the depth it’s bringing to the league than the Cubs. Three of the AFL’s top 10 prospects are from Chicago’s organization: Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant.
Each member of that trio has received his fair share of hype, but a few other Cubs prospects who had solid 2013 campaigns are hoping to give the Mesa Solar Sox a boost as well.
Albert Almora, OF — The 2012 first-round pick and No. 21 prospect in baseball impressed when healthy this season. He hit .329/.376/.466 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 61 games for Class-A Kane County. But he also missed the first month of the season, recovering from a broken hamate bone, and then was out of action from August-on, dealing with groin issues.
Dallas Beeler, RHP — Beeler got off to a fast start in 2013 with Double-A Tennessee, going 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 54.2 innings. But in late May, the right-hander tore a tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand, shelving him for the season. The 24-year-old, 6-foot-5 starter is believed to be healthy and will pitch in Arizona to make up for a lost season.
Kris Bryant, 3B — Bryant was as advertised at the plate this year for the Cubs affiliates. The 2013 first-round pick (and No. 35 prospect in baseball) hit a combined .336/.390/.688 with nine homers and 14 doubles over 36 games with the instructional squad, Short-Season Boise and Daytona. Many eyes will be trained on the 21-year-old this fall.
Lendy Castillo, RHP — Not many players who have a full major league season under their belt play in the AFL. A 2011 Rule 5 pick, the Cubs were forced to put the reliever on their major league roster during the 2012 season or forfeit him back to Philadelphia, his original organization. Castillo spent the majority of 2013 with Kane County before a late-July promotion to Daytona. His 39 walks in 84.1 innings definitely contributed to his lofty 5.87 ERA, but he also fanned 8.1 batters per nine innings and 9.4 per nine in his 20-inning stint with the D-Cubs.
Wes Darvill, IF — The 22-year-old Canadian played all over the diamond for both Kane County and Daytona this season, seeing time at second base, third base, shortstop and left field. Darvill spent the first month of the season with the Cougars before a promotion to the D-Cubs. He hit a combined .267/.339/.380 in 94 games and finished second on the Daytona squad with five triples (seven on the season).
Matt Loosen, RHP — Loosen dominated hitters at High-A Daytona, going 5-2 with 56 strikeouts and a 1.83 ERA in 54.0 innings (including a no-hitter). But he struggled to find that same success in Tennessee. The 24-year-old righty was 3-3 with a 6.14 ERA, though he still managed to fan 60 batters in 66.0 innings. He showed promise late into the season, giving up one earned run in his last three starts combined and striking out 18 batters in 16.1 innings.
Armando Rivero, RHP — Rivero is a bit of a mystery for the Cubs. Signed out of Cuba prior to this season, the 25-year-old right-hander threw just 30.1 innings of full-season minor league ball. In all, he totaled a 4.15 ERA at Kane County, Daytona and Tennessee, and struck out 45. Rivero’s outings could be some of the more closely monitored by the Cubs during play in Arizona.
Jorge Soler, OF — Shin and leg issues kept the 21-year-old Cuban out of action after the High-A Florida State League All-Star Game, but Soler still managed to make an impact. In 55 games, the corner outfielder hit .281/.343/.467 with eight homers and 13 doubles in 210 at-bats. Baseball’s No. 25 prospect will hopefully rack up some innings and plate appearances to get back on track for 2014.
Kris Bryant, the Cubs top pick in the 2013 draft, will take part in the Arizona Fall League. (Photo by Stephen Green)
Though the minor league season coincides with the MLB schedule, it’s an after-season minor league showcase that generally gets scouting departments and prospect followers especially excited.
Since 1992, the Arizona Fall League has taken top prospects from each organization and pitted them against one another in a one-month season. Generally, the seven prospects selected from each team have just finished Triple-A or Double-A and are widely thought of as knocking on the major league door.
This season, the Cubs’ prospects will be representing the Mesa Solar Sox, along with prospects from the Angels, Athletics, Nationals and Tigers. While each of those teams have their own respective stars, many of the most exciting names on the Solar Sox roster are members of the Cubs organization. Five of the Cubs’ top six prospects (according to MLB.com) are headed to Mesa, and four of those rank in the top 40 in all of baseball.
Below is a breakdown of the eight prospects (Albert Almora will serve as a member of the taxi squad, playing solely on Wednesdays and Saturdays), as well as how they’ve fared in 2013.
Albert Almora, OF – The 2012 first-round pick has been solid when healthy for Class-A Kane County this year, accumulating a .329/.376/.466 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 249 at-bats. The Cubs’ No. 2 prospect (No. 23 in MLB) will only play occasionally, as he’s dealing with groin issues.
Javier Baez, SS – The 2013 season has been a breakout one for the already highly regarded Baez. The Cubs’ top prospect (No. 9 in MLB) has successfully made the jump from High-A to Double-A, totaling 35 homers, 33 doubles, 20 stolen bases and 105 driven in between the two levels.
Dallas Beeler, RHP – Beeler got off to a fast start for Double-A Tennessee, going 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA by mid-May. But a tendon tear in his middle finger landed the 6-foot-5 prospect on the DL. The AFL will give him a chance to log more innings before 2013 winds down.
Kris Bryant, 3B – The organization’s No. 4 prospect (No. 37 in MLB) had a rough first week, but has impressed ever since. The No. 2 pick in this year’s draft has totaled a .349/.395/.670 line with seven homers and 27 RBI in 109 at-bats while splitting time between rookie ball, Short-Season Boise and High-A Daytona.
Matt Loosen, RHP – Loosen struggled in Double-A at the outset of the season and was sent down. But a strong two-month stint in High-A, where he tossed a no-hitter, brought the 24-year-old back to the Smokies. This year, the right-hander is 7-5 with a 4.34 ERA and has struck out 8.6 batters per nine.
Armando Rivero, RHP – Rivero signed a $3.1 million bonus with the Cubs in March 2013 after coming over from Cuba. In 27.2 innings, the reliever has entered 18 games and posted a 4.23 ERA for Kane County, Daytona and Tennessee. He has also struck out 14 batters per nine innings in his first season in the U.S.
Jorge Soler, OF – Soler is another elite prospect who has dealt with a handful of injuries in 2013. Though a stress fracture in his shin shut down the No. 3 prospect in the organization (No. 27 in MLB), he finished a half season in Daytona with a .281/.343/.467 line, eight home runs and 35 RBI.
Arodys Vizcaino, RHP – Tommy John surgery in March 2012 has kept the former elite prospect from pitching since 2011 in Atlanta. Vizcaino, the centerpiece of the 2012 Paul Maholm deal, will hopefully get some work in Arizona, as many project him to be with the major league club in 2014.