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Arizona Fall League Final Recap: Nico Hoerner shines for Solar Sox

The AFL season is over for 2018. A look at how the Cubs prospects did.

Nico Hoerner
Nico Hoerner
Eugene Emeralds

The Arizona Fall League has completed another season and the Peoria Javelinas defeated the Salt River Rafters 3-2 in ten innings on a walkoff home run by Braves prospect Braxton Davidson. Davidson also broke his foot running the bases, so there was some real drama there.

The Mesa Solar Sox, the team that the Cubs’ prospects play for, finished the season with a 15-14-1 record. That record put them just a half a game behind Salt River for a spot in the Championship Game. They won two of their final three games, but it turned out that they needed to win all three to catch Salt River for the division title.

Here’s a quick summary of how the Cubs prospects did in the AFL.

Hitters

Nico Hoerner: All eyes were on the Cubs’ 2018 first-round pick and Hoerner lived up to everyone’s expectations and more. Hoerner played in two of the final three games and went 4 for 9 with two doubles.

Hoerner finished the AFL season with a batting line of .337/.362/.506 with four doubles, four triples, one home run and one stolen base. Even for the hitter-friendly AFL, that’s a terrific line. His .337 average was ninth in the league and he was named in this article as one of the top ten breakout prospects of the AFL.

If you’re looking for a downside, Hoerner did walk only two times compared to 16 strikeouts.

Here’s Hoerner talking about his experience in the AFL. [VIDEO]

D.J. Wilson: Wilson did not have a strong AFL and in particular, he did nothing to dispel the questions about his hit tool. He did, however, finish strong. He played in two of the three games in the final week and went 4 for 9 with a double and two steals.

For the entire AFL, Wilson played 16 games and hit .190/.268/.238 with three doubles. He was a perfect six-for-six in stealing bases.

Trent Giambrone: Giambrone played all three of the final games and went 1 for 12 with two walks. He also made two errors in the one game that Mesa lost, but since Mesa lost 14-3, I don’t think Giambrone’s mistakes were a factor in the final outcome of the game.

While the final week wasn’t good, Giambrone had an excellent AFL campaign overall. Giambrone got into 12 games and hit .327/.400/.490 with two doubles and two home runs. He also stole two bases in three attempts.

P.J. Higgins: Higgins played just ten games in the AFL and none of the final three Solar Sox contests. Higgins finished with a line of .158/.283/.237 with one home run.

Jhonny Pereda: Pereda caught one game this past week and went 2 for 4 in that 14-3 shellacking.

For the entire AFL, Pereda played in eight games and went .276/.344/.345 with two doubles.

Pitchers

Erick Leal: in his first five starts in the AFL, Leal did not allow a single run, earned or unearned. Unfortunately, he started last Tuesday’s game and gave up his first run of the fall in the third inning. It got worse. In the fourth inning, Leal faced six batters and failed to retire anyone. In that last start, Leal pitched 3+ innings and allowed seven runs, six earned, on six hits. He walked two and struck out three.

Still, one bad start shouldn’t detract from an overall terrific AFL season. Leal pitched 20.1 innings and went 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA. He struck out 20 and walked 11.

Justin Steele: Steele’s season ended before our last update, so it’s time to just recap how he did. Steele pitched 18⅔ innings over six starts and posted a 5.79 ERA with one win and one loss. Steele struck out 16 and walked 11. It should be noted that Steele only returned from Tommy John surgery in July, so just the fact that he was on the mound should be taken as a positive.

Bailey Clark: Clark made one relief appearance in Wednesday’s 10-6 win and he gave up two runs on three hits in just one inning. Clark walked one and struck out one.

For the entire AFL season, Clark pitched 12 innings over nine relief appearances. He allowed five runs overall which gave him a 3.75 ERA. Clark struck out eight and walked eight.

Manuel Rondon: Rondon pitched one inning in Thursday’s finale and retired all three batters he faced.

For the AFL as a whole, Rondon pitched 11⅓ innings over two starts and six relief appearances. He allowed six runs, which left him with a 4.76 ERA. Rondon struck out seven and walked eight.