Time for our second-to-last Arizona Fall League update! The regular AFL season ends on Thursday and the Mesa Solar Sox are on a playoff drive, going 4-1 over the past week, including a 7-2 win over the Salt River Rafters in the Military Appreciation Game on Saturday (as seen on the MLB Network). This has improved the Solar Sox overall record to 13-13-1, just 1½ games behind Salt River for a chance to play in the AFL Championship Game on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, there are only three games left and none of them are against Salt River. So Mesa is going to have to win out and hope that Salt River loses two of three. (Or hope Salt River loses out and then Mesa only has to win two of three, but that’s too much help to hope for.)
Nico Hoerner: I don’t want to spoil anything about my mid-winter Cubs prospect rankings, but I’d be pretty surprised at this point if Hoerner doesn’t end up as the top-ranked Cubs prospect. Hoerner didn’t have the best week, going 2 for 13 with a hit-by-pitch in three games. But both of those hits were triples. Hoerner now has four triples on the campaign and is tied for the league lead in triples with his Mesa teammate Skye Bolt of the Athletics.
Hoerner is now hitting .325/.353/.488 with two doubles, the four triples and a home run in 19 games. Hoerner also has one stolen base.
Here’s Hoerner’s triple on Saturday along with a groundout by Trent Giambrone to score him [VIDEO].
D.J. Wilson: Wilson had struggled for much of the AFL, but he had a better week since the last update. Wilson played in three games in left field and went 3 for 11 with a walk and a stolen base.
For the regular season, Wilson has played 14 games and is hitting .148/.242/.167 with one double and four stolen bases in four atttempts.
P.J. Higgins: Higgins caught Saturday’s Military Appreciation game and Monday night’s game at Glendale. He went 0 for 4 on Saturday and 1 for 3 with a walk and an RBI in Monday’s game. He went 1 for 2 in throwing out runners trying to steal.
On the season, Higgins has played ten games and is hitting .158/.283/.237 with one home run over 28 at-bats.
Trent Giambrone: Giambrone got his two games in this week and in one of them, he actually played right field, a position he’s only played six times before as a professional. He played third base in the Military Appreciation game and had a big game, going 3 for 5 with a stolen base and and RBI, driving in Hoerner after his triple with a groundout. He was 0 for 4 in the other game he played.
For the AFL season, Giambrone is hitting .405/.463/.622 with two doubles, two home runs and two stolen bases in 37 at-bats in nine games.
Jhonny Pereda: Pereda caught just one game since the last update on Tuesday. He was 1 for 4.
Pereda has caught seven games and is hitting .240/.321/.320 with two doubles in 25 at-bats.
Erick Leal: There is only one pitcher, starter or reliever, in the AFL this year who has not allowed a single run and that’s Leal. Leal made another scoreless start last Tuesday, hurling four scoreless innings and giving up just one hit. He walked two and struck out five while improving his record to 2-0.
Leal has pitched 17⅓ innings over five starts in the AFL. He’s struck out 17, walked nine and given up ten hits.
Here’s Leal talking about his performance along with some video of him throwing a few pitches. [VIDEO].
Justin Steele: If Steele made his last start of the year on Monday, he went out on a high note. Steele pitched four innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits. He walked two and struck out three.
Steele has started six times for the Solar Sox and went 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA over 18⅔ innings. Steele has struck out 16 and walked 11.
Bailey Clark: Clark made two relief appearances since the last update. Last Wednesday, Clark threw one inning and gave up just one hit. Unfortunately, that hit was a home run. He did not walk or strike anyone out in that appearance.
On Saturday, Clark pitched two scoreless innings in the Military Appreciation Game. He gave up four hits, but was able to pitch out of trouble in both innings. He walked one and struck out one.
Clark has thrown 11 innings over eight relief appearances. He has a 2.45 ERA and one save. Clark has struck out seven batters and walked seven batters. He’s allowed ten hits in those 11 innings.
Manuel Rondon: Rondon also made two relief appearances over the past week. On Wednesday, he pitched one inning and gave up just one hit but once again, unfortunately that one hit was a leadoff home run. Rondon would later walk two batters in that inning, but he got out of that jam with no further damage. Rondon struck out one.
On Monday, Rondon faced three batters. The first one reached on an error by Nico Hoerner. But he got the next two batters on a grounder to Hoerner and a pop out to Hoerner.