The Arizona Fall League started their 2021 campaign on Wednesday and the Cubs have seven players on the Mesa Solar Sox. The Solar Sox, who play at the Cubs’ Spring Training home of Sloan Park, have a roster comprised of minor leaguers from the Cubs, Orioles, Marlins, Athletics and Blue Jays.
The Solar Sox played four games last week and went 2-2. The four games were:
Wednesday, Oct. 13: Surprise Saguaros 5, Solar Sox 0.
Thursday, Oct. 14: Solar Sox 13, Scottsdale Scorpions 5.
Friday, Oct. 15: Solar Sox 9, Saguaros 3.
Saturday, Oct. 16: Salt River Rafters 15, Solar Sox 7.
Here’s how the Cubs players in the AFL did in the first four games.
Outfielder Nelson Velazquez. In that first game when the Solar Sox were shut out, Mesa only managed four hits and Velazquez had three of them. Two of those three hits were doubles. Unfortunately, Velazquez was not nearly as productive in the other two games he played, going 1 for 10.
After three games, Velazquez is 4 for 14 with two doubles, or .286/.286/.429 in triple-slash stats. He managed one run batted in. He has struck out seven times.
Shortstop Luis Vazquez: Vazquez had a big game in the 13-5 win over Scottsdale, chipping in two RBI singles. In the three games he played, all at shortstop, he went 3 for 12 with a walk and five strikeouts. He’s scored twice and had three total RBI.
Second baseman Andy Weber: Weber has played two games at second base so far and while he doesn’t have a hit yet, he does have three walks. One of those walks came with the bases loaded for an RBI. Weber is 0 for 6 with three strikeouts. Weber’s OBP is .333. He’s scored twice.
Right-handed pitcher Ryan Jensen: Jensen started game two and while the Solar Sox won, it was not because of Jensen. Jensen left the game after an inning and a third, throwing 48 pitches. Only twenty of those pitches were strikes. Jensen allowed four runs on three hits and four walks in 1⅓ innings. He struck out one.
Right-handed pitcher Caleb Killian: Killian also had a rough start to his AFL season. He entered game four in the bottom of the fourth inning and he failed to retire a single batter. He gave up five hits (three singles, a triple and a home run), he walked one batter and hit one batter. All seven runners scored as he was pulled after the home run by the Rockies’ Michael Toglia. His ERA is currently infinity.
Left-handed pitcher Brendon Little: Little was the pitcher called in to end the mess that Killian got into in the fourth inning of game four. Little retired the first two batters he faced on a strikeout and a fly out, but then he allowed a run to score on a two-out single, a balk and a two-out RBI single. He stayed in the game to face the first batter of the fifth inning, Spencer Torkelson of the Tigers. Torkelson singled and while Little left the game immediately afterwards, Torkelson eventually came around to score.
The final line on Little was two runs on three hits in 1+ innings. Little waled two and struck out two,
Right-handed pitcher Danis Correa: Has not made his AFL debut yet.
Before people get too hard on the pitchers, the AFL is always a tough environment for pitching and they are using the 15-second pitch clock this year, which is new to all of these players. Killian and Little were also pitching with an automated ball-strike system, or “robot umps.” The ABS system is only being used in games played at Salt River.
The Solar Sox have a game at home against the Glendale Desert Dogs Monday evening and then have four straight road games after an off-day on Tuesday.