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Arizona Fall League Update

Six Cubs toil away as the Boys of Fall are fighting for an AFL title.

This is actually James Farris in college in 2012. But I liked it because it says “Arizona” on it.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Sunday is an off-day in the Arizona Fall League and with a week left to go in the season, it’s time to take a look at the Cubs playing for the Mesa Solar Sox.

The Solar Sox (and I have to keep telling myself that it’s not the Soler Sox) sport a 14-14 record with five games left to go. They are one game behind the Salt River Rafters for first place in the East Division. There’s a big game on Tuesday afternoon between the two teams.

The biggest Cubs prospects on the Solar Sox are left fielder Eloy Jimenez and second baseman Ian Happ. Jimenez is having a strong season for Mesa, although he seems to be dealing with an injury. He left Monday’s game after running out a grounder to third and hasn’t played since.

But before his presumed injury. Jimenez was hitting .271/.352/.521 with three doubles and three home runs in 48 at-bats. Most encouraging, Jimenez has only struck out nine times (and walked six times) in those 48 ABs.

Happ is only hitting .250, with 15 hits in 60 at-bats. But Happ has also walked 12 times, giving him a .375 on-base percentage. His four doubles, his one triple and his one home run push his slugging percentage to .500. On the downside, he has struck out 20 times and has not looked fluid playing second base, although he has yet to commit an error.

The other Cubs position player in the AFL is catcher Victor Caratini. Offensively, Caratini is struggling a bit with a line of .218/.343/.273 in 55 at-bats over 17 games. However, his highlight of the fall season came on November 1, when he caught a combined no-hitter by Athletics pitchers Dylan Covey and Frankie Montas, along with Marlins prospect Drew Steckenrider.

On the pitching side, James Farris returned from pitching in the “Fall Stars” game and picked up exactly where he left off. In eight innings over seven appearances this fall, Farris has yet to allow a run, earned or otherwise. In those eight innings, Farris has struck out nine, walked only two and surrendered just four hits. The ninth-round pick from 2014 has really been a bright spot in Mesa this year.

Ryan McNeil had perhaps the most buzz of any Cubs pitcher heading into the AFL. But he got off to a terrible start to the fall season, highlighted by a nightmarish Halloween appearance where he allowed four runs in one inning. However, November has been kinder to McNeil as he’s pitched three perfect innings in two appearances. He’s struck out four of the nine batters he’s faced in November.

Overall for the season, McNeil’s stat line is a 9.00 ERA over ten innings in seven appearances. He’s struck out ten and walked five. Not great, but a big improvement over where the season started.

Stephen Perakslis is the other Cubs reliever in the AFL and while he’s only pitched 5.2 innings, they are 5.2 quality innings as he has surrendered just three hits and no runs. Perakslis has struck out five and walked only one. Three of his five appearances have come in November.

Duane Underwood Jr. was shut down for the year after two starts and is no longer on the Solar Sox roster. Underwood made two starts and allowed six runs in six innings. Underwood gave up eight hits, two of which were home runs. He struck out five and walked two.

Former Cubs shortstop Gleyber Torres has been the star of the AFL so far. Torres is hitting .382/.500/.636 with three home runs and four steals for the Scottsdale Scorpions. The Yankees got a good one, and we wish Torres all the best going forward.

Finally, because I know someone is going to mention it, Kyle Schwarber went 1 for 6 with a double and two walks in the AFL. I’m not sure why he only played two games. (That’s a joke, which I mention only because someone won’t get that I’m joking.)