With the Arizona Fall League "Fall Stars" Game coming up on Saturday (7pm Central on the MLB Network), it's time to check in on the Boys of Autumn. The Mesa Solar Sox remain in first place in their division with a 11-7-1 record, two and a half games ahead of the Salt River Rafters.
As noted earlier in the week, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler were all named to the "Fall Stars Game." So be sure to tune in on Saturday to get your first look at the future of the Cubs.
Albert Almora: Over 11 games in the AFL, the 19 year old Almora is more than holding his own against older and more experienced players. Almora is hitting .293 with one home run and nine RBI. His OBP is .341 and his SLG is .512. It's a tiny sample size, but he does have three walks and only three strikeouts in 41 at bats, so that might ease some concerns about his plate discipline.
On the downside, he's 3 for his last 23, so he is slumping a bit right now.
Kris Bryant: Bryant is the beast of the AFL and is the runaway favorite to win league MVP. In 12 games, he's hitting .400 with six home runs and 17 RBI. He has six doubles and a triple to go with the six home runs, making 13 of his 20 hits go for extra bases. His OBP is .446 and his SLG is a ridiculous .930. He hasn't slowed down, either, as he's homered in his last two games.
If you're a subscriber to Baseball America, you can read a scouting report on Bryant here. The ex-scout they asked to do the report gave him a future 60 for hitting and a future 70 for power. That translates to around .285 with about 35 home runs a season, in case you didn't know. He liked his arm and even liked his base running, even if he said Bryant wasn't fast. The only downside he had was his fielding, and he felt he'd fit better as a corner outfielder. Defensively and by body type, he compared him to Jayson Werth. (That's not a hitting comp though.)
Moving Bryant to RF would have the added benefit of getting him to the majors faster. The downside is that he'd be a right fielder rather than a third baseman.
Jorge Soler: After a mediocre start to the AFL, Soler has been on a bit of a tear lately, lending credence to the idea that his early struggles were just rust. Soler is hitting .278/.304/407 in twelve games and 50 at-bats. He had a nine-game hitting streak snapped on Tuesday. He hit his first and only home run of the season last Friday. His walk-to-strikeout ratio isn't good (2 to 12), but again, much of that is likely just rust.
Wes Darvill: Darvill is mostly a sub for the Solar Sox, but he's doing just fine in a limited role. Over seven games, he has six hits in 24 at-bats for a .250 average. His OBP is .308 and his SLG, thanks to the home run in his first at-bat of the fall, is .417.
Dallas Beeler: Yes, I know it's a junk stat that's a relic of the 19th century, but Beeler is tied for the AFL lead in wins with three and his 3-0 record over four starts gives him the best winning percentage in the league. (No one else is at 3-0). Over 14 innings, he's got a 3.86 ERA and it's an honest 3.86 with no unearned runs. He's only walked three batters which is good, but he's only struck out six which is not as good.
Lendy Castillo: Castillo continues to pitch out of the bullpen and had gone four straight appearances without allowing a run until he got touched for a run over a third of an inning on Tuesday when he walked three batters. His overall record is a 2.84 ERA over 6.1 innings, but that number is helped by the three runs he allowed on opening day being unearned. Castillo has walked eight and struck out only five, so that ratio is not encouraging.
Matt Loosen: Loosen, normally a starter, has been pitching out of the bullpen in Arizona although he normally goes two innings instead of only one. Loosen has a 2.89 ERA over 9.1 innings although again, he was helped by two runs allowed on opening day being unearned. What's very positive about Loosen is that he's struck out ten and only walked one, which gives him more than a strikeout an inning and less than one walk per nine innings. Small sample size of course, but it's been a good AFL for Loosen.
Armando Rivero: Rivero, on the other hand, has been a mess in the AFL. He's allowed at least one run in each of his last five appearances. Over seven innings he's allowed seven runs, with one of those runs being unearned for an ERA of 7.71. In those seven innings, he's struck out five and walked three.