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Arizona Fall League: Mesa Solar Sox Week 2 update

The Solar Sox went 4-1 on the week thanks in large part to the Cubs’ Nelson Velazquez.

Mesa Solar Sox v. Salt River Rafters
Luis Vazquez
Photo by Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images

We’re two weeks into 2021 Arizona Fall League campaign and thanks to a four-game winning streak, our Mesa Solar Sox are in first place in the East Division with a record of 6-3.

Just a reminder, the Solar Sox play their home games at Sloan Park, the Cubs’ Spring Training home, and are made up of players from the Cubs, Orioles, Marlins, Athletics and Blue Jays this year.

Mesa played five games this past week:

Monday, October 18: Glendale Desert Dogs 7, Solar Sox 1.

Wednesday, October 20: Solar Sox 11, Scottsdale Scorpions 9.

Thursday, October 21: Solar Sox 7, Peoria Javelinas 6.

Friday, October 22: Solar Sox 9, Salt River Rafters 5.

Saturday, October 23: Solar Sox 9, Desert Dogs 4.

If you forgot or missed how the Solar Sox did in Week 1, here’s last week’s recap.

Here’s how the Cubs players in the AFL did this past week.

Outfielder Nelson Velazquez

Velazquez is perhaps the biggest reason the Solar Sox are in first place as he leads the team in hits, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Velazquez didn’t play in Monday’s loss, but he was 2 for 4 with a double and a walk in Wednesday’s win, 0 for 1 with 4 walks (!) on Thursday, 2 for 4 with a home run and a walk on Friday and 2 for 4 with a double and a walk on Saturday. That all adds up to 6 for 13 with two doubles, a home run and seven walks. He struck out five times.

On the season so far, Velazquez is hitting .370/.500/.630 with four doubles and a home run. He’s scored seven runs and driven in five. He played all four games in right field for the Solar Sox.

Here’s Velazquez’s home run.

Shortstop Luis Vazquez

Unfortunately, shortstop Luis Vazquez did not have as good a week as his teammate, although he did also hit his first home run of the AFL. Vazquez also played four games, all at shortstop. In Monday’s loss, Vazquez was 0 for 3 with a walk. In Thursday’s game, he hit a solo home run and went 1 for 3 with two walks. On Friday, Vazquez was 0 for 4 with a walk and on Saturday he was 0 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base. For the week, Vazquez was 1 for 13 with a home run and five walks.

In the AFL this season, Vazquez is hitting .160/.344/.260 with a home run and a stolen base. Vazquez has scored seven times and has driven home four runs.

Infielder Andy Weber

Weber went 0 for 6 in the first week, but he rebounded with a strong second week. Weber played three games at third base this week after playing two games at second base in the first week. In Wednesday’s win, Weber batted leadoff and went 2 for 4 with two walks. In Thursday’s win over Peoria, he had a rough game as he was 0 for 5 with a walk and two errors. But he bounced back on Saturday, going 2 for 4 with a triple and a walk. For the week, that adds up to 4 for 13 with four walks.

For the Fall, Weber is hitting .200/.407/.300, thanks to seven walks and just five strikeouts. Weber has five RBI and four runs scored.

Right-handed pitcher Ryan Jensen

Jensen came into Thursday’s game in relief of teammate Caleb Killian in the third inning. He gave up a two-run, two-out home run in the third and another run on a two-out single in the fifth inning. His line for the week was three runs on four hits over three innings. The positive note was that he struck out six and walked just one. The other positive note is that this outing was an improvement over his first one of the season.

For the season, Jensen has allowed seven runs on seven hits over 4⅓ innings for an ERA of 14.45. He’s struck out seven and walked five.

Right-handed pitcher Caleb Kilian

Kilian started that game on Thursday that Jensen entered in relief. He gave up two runs on two hits and four walks over two innings. Kilian struck out three. That’s not good, but it’s better than his first outing last week when he failed to retire a single batter.

For the season, Kilian has allowed nine runs, eight earned, on seven hits over two innings. That’s an ERA of 36.00, down from infinity last week. He’s issued five walks and has struck out three.

Left-handed pitcher Brendon Little

Little left his first appearance in the AFL last week with the trainer. He has not pitched since. But the Cubs have not withdrawn him from the AFL, so they must think it’s possible that he’ll pitch again soon.

Right-handed pitcher Danis Correa

Correa finally made his AFL debut on Saturday, pitching two-thirds of an inning. He entered the game in the bottom of the sixth inning and retired the first two batters he faced on a foul out and a strike out. He then loaded the bases with two outs on two walks and an infield single before he was pulled from the game. Reliever Brody Rodning (from the Blue Jays) then ended the inning with a strikeout, so none of the runners allowed by Correa scored.

Again, a quick reminder that they are using a ton of experimental rules in the AFL this year, including a 15-second pitch clock, larger bases, banning shifts and allowing only two pickoff throws. There is also the Automated Ball-Strike System in Salt River Fields, where the Solar Sox played on Friday.

The Solar Sox will play all six days this upcoming week. On Monday they have a road game at Surprise and on Tuesday they play at Peoria, ending their six-game “road” trip. Next they play six-straight games at Sloan Park against Glendale on Wednesday, Scottsdale on Thursday, Surprise on Friday and Peoria on Saturday. No AFL games are played on Sunday.