Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
Checking in on Cubs Prospects as the Mesa Solar Sox hit a long losing streak.
As I've said before, I really don't put much value in the outcome of Arizona Fall League games, which is why I haven't been covering it regularly here. But I know there is some interest in it so I figured that someone would be interested in how the Mesa Solar Sox are doing.
I feel sorry for that person, because Mesa hasn't won since I last wrote about the team. In fact, they've lost seven straight games. It's certainly not all the fault of the Cubs players for the Solar Sox's losing streak, but they're pitching in to do their share.
Javier Baez: Baez has struggled since the last update. He's played in five games and has three hits in twenty-two at bats. While his defense is still getting praise for having a better than expected range at shortstop, he's been making a lot of errors with nine already in eleven games. He had one good game at the plate this past Saturday where he went 1 for 4 with a three-run home run, which was his third in Arizona. He even walked in that game, which was his only walk so far in the AZL. Unfortunately, he made two more errors in that game.
Matt Szczur: Szczur has been getting on base at a decent clip in Arizona (.383 OBP in ten games) but has only one extra base hit, a double, in those ten games. Since the last update, Szczur has played four games and has four hits, all singles in seventeen at-bats. The good news is that he's walked three times and stole two bases in those four games.
Rubi Silva: Silva has mostly been a reserve outfielder for Mesa, starting only two games since the last update. He got into one more game, at second base, when starting second sacker Jonathan Schoop was hit by a pitch. Silva would later get ejected from that game. Silva has one hit, a triple, in nine at bats since the last update. He's hitting .207 overall with a .233 OBP and a .276 SLG.
Dae-Eun Rhee: Rhee leads the Solar Sox in inning pitched with 9.2 in three starts so far. Unfortunately, he's got a 6.52 ERA and a whopping 17 hits allowed. He's made two starts since the last update. In the first he gave up three runs on five hits over four innings. He was marginally better in the second one, allowing two runs over 3.2 innings. If you're looking for a bright spot, he's only walked one batter so far in the AFL.
Kevin Rhoderick: If you're looking for a bright spot for the Cubs in the AFL, look to the bullpen. Rhoderick made two more appearances and has two more scoreless innings. His K rate dropped a bit as he "only" struck out two batters in those two innings. (He did not have a strikeout in last Friday's inning.) So far in 5.2 innings, Rhoderick has only allowed one run, has struck out nine and only walked one. Pretty good for a hitter's league.
Tony Zych: Maybe the only bad thing you can say about Zych's stint in the AFL is that hasn't been as good as Rhoderick's, even if his ERA is a little bit lower by the virtue of having thrown a third of an inning more. Zych made three appearances since the last update. He gave up a run on two hits over an inning on Saturday, but he was unscored upon in his other two appearances. Overall, he has given up a run over six innings over six appearances. He has not walked anyone which is good, but has only struck out three.
Nick Struck: Struck made two appearances since the last update. He had one disastrous outing on Friday when he couldn't throw a strike and couldn't finish his inning, and one rather uneventful one on Monday. In the Friday outing, he got tagged for three runs on two hits and three walks over two-thirds of an inning. In the other one, he gave up a two-out single to Nick Castellanos, but retired the other three batters he faced on two ground outs and a fly out. Overall, that one bad outing has given him a bad 7.20 ERA in the AFL.
What does all of this mean? Mostly nothing. It's good for these players to get more experience playing at a higher level, and I certainly don't think it's a bad thing to see someone like Baez humbled a little bit. It's not going to affect his prospect status. If you want to get excited about Rhoderick, be my guest. He's a decent relief prospect that could be in Wrigley sometime next season with an ultimate upside as an 8th inning guy. But for the most part, it's just another step in the development process.
But more baseball is always better than less baseball.