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Arizona Fall League Update: Hoerner continues to rake

The Solar Sox are struggling in the AFL, but some Cubs minor leaguers are shining

Nico Hoerner
Eugene Emeralds

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for yet another update on the Mesa Solar Sox and the Cubs who are toiling with the “Boys of Fall” in the Arizona Fall League.

The Mesa Solar Sox had another tough week, going 1-3-1 over the past week. This moves their overall record to 9-12-1 and they are currently 4½ games behind the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League East Division. The West also won the “Fall Stars” Game on Saturday, 7-6.


Nico Hoerner: It’s not Hoerner’s fault that the Solar Sox have struggled. In fact, he’s been one of the best players on the Solar Sox. This past week, Hoerner played three games, going 5 for 12 with a double and a triple. He stole one base. Hoerner was also a substitute in the Fall Stars game and was 1 for 2. He was caught stealing after his single, however.

In 16 games in the AFL, Hoerner is hitting .358/.380/.493 with two doubles, two triples and one home run and one steal. Not bad for a guy who has only played 14 games outside of the AFL. Yep, he’s now played more games in the AFL than he has in the regular season minors. That’s pretty rare.

D.J. Wilson: Wilson got two starts this past week and he was 1 for 7 with a walk. Wilson has struggled badly in the AFL, hitting .116/.220/.140. That’s 5 for 43 with a double and two walks.

P.J. Higgins: Higgins caught two games this past week and had hits in both of them, going 2 for 7 with a walk. In eight games in the AFL, Higgins has gone 5 for 31 with a home run. That’s .161/.289/.258.

Trent Giambrone: Giambrone played in Friday’s tie game and went 0 for 3. On the season, Giambrone has played seven games and is 12 for 28 with a double and two home runs. That translates to a slash line of .429/.500/.679.

Jhonny Pereda: Pereda played one game since our last update, going 1 for 3 with a walk last Tuesday. On the AFL campaign, Pereda has played six games and was 5 for 21 with a double and three walks. That’s .238/.333/.286.


Justin Steele: Steele made two starts this past week and neither one of them was good. He started last Tuesday and allowed three runs on four hits over two innings. He walked two batters and struck out two.

His start yesterday (Monday) was worse. Steele gave up a run on a solo home run in the third inning and then a two-run home run in the fourth. He later gave up a fourth, unearned run in that fourth inning. That gave him a line for the game of four innings, allowing four runs on four hits, two of which were home runs. Steele did strike out five batters while walking two.

Steele has now made five starts in the AFL and has a record of 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA. He’s struck out 13 and walked 9 in 14⅔ innings.

The big picture here is that Steele’s real goal in the AFL is to regain arm strength and stay healthy after Tommy John surgery. The results aren’t good, but they are pretty secondary to him just being on the mound and throwing.

Erick Leal: Leal has made four starts in the AFL and has yet to allow a run. That’s pretty good. On Wednesday, Leal made a four inning start, giving up just three hits. He walked four and struck out four. He also hit one batter. So it wasn’t a great start, but the bottom line is that he didn’t allow a run.

Leal has pitched 13⅓ innings this fall and has struck out 12 and walked 7.

Bailey Clark: Clark made two relief appearances the past week, one on Wednesday and one in the Fall Stars Game on Saturday. On Wednesday, he pitched the sixth inning and allowed a run on two hits and two walks. Clark struck out one.

In the Fall Stars Game, Clark entered the game in the fourth inning and got into trouble immediately. He gave up singles to the first two batters. A ground out put the runners on second and third and then a third single scored two run. Clark retired the next runner on fly to left field and then exited the game to give someone else a chance to pitch.

On the AFL campaign (not counting the Fall Stars Game), Clark has pitched eight innings over six relief appearances. He’s allowed two runs for a 2.25 ERA and one save. Clark has struck out six batters and walked six.

Manuel Rondon: Rondon had one strong relief appearance on Thursday, pitching two scoreless innings. Rondon allowed just one single and he walked one while striking out two.

Rondon has pitched 8⅔ innings this Fall over two starts and three relief appearances. He’s 0-1 with a 5.19 ERA. Rondon has given up five hits. He’s walked six and struck out six.