Every Monday we check in with the Boys of Fall playing for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League.
In case you’ve forgotten, the Mesa Solar Sox are a team made up of minor leagues from the Cubs, Athletics, Marlins, Rays and Yankees. Their home games are played at the Cubs’ Spring Training home of Sloan Park.
Also played at Sloan Park in Sunday was the annual Fall Stars Game, where the best of the AFL gets a national spotlight on the MLB Network. This year, the contest pitted players in National League organizations against those from the American League and the NL came out as 9-3 winners*. But what you are probably really interested in is that the Cubs’ Matt Mervis was named the game’s MVP after he hit a monster two-run home run in the fifth inning. It was the only home run of the game and it came off his Solar Sox teammate, Antonio Menendez.
Here it is and you can tell he clobbered it to left-center field [VIDEO].
Menendez revealed later that he and Mervis had discussed earlier in the season about how to pitch to a left-handed power hitter like Mervis. I guess he didn’t pay attention. Or Mervis just connected off him anyway.
Mervis was 1 for 3 in the game. He flew out to left in the first inning and hit a hard line drive to right field in the fourth that was caught for an out.
Here are a few comments from Mervis in a postgame interview [VIDEO].
But Mervis wasn’t the only Cub in the Fall Stars Game. Bailey Horn came in to pitch the top of the ninth inning and kept the AL from scoring. The first batter grounded out to Cardinals shortstop Masyn Winn, who showed off a Dunston-esque arm when he muffed the grounder, picked it up and then rifled a bullet to first for the out. The next batter flew out to left field. After Horn issued a two-out walk, he struck out the fourth batter to end the inning.
*I put an asterisk after the score because, in order to get everyone into the game, the NL was allowed to bat in bottom of the ninth despite leading 7-3 at the time. The NL scored two more runs in the bottom of the ninth that would not count in any other game.
If you want to check in on previous installments, here’s the introduction, the week 1 update, week 2, week 3 and week 4.
Back to the Solar Sox. The Solar Sox went 1-3 this past week, which dropped them into a tie for fourth place with Glendale with a record of 12-13. However, both teams only sit half a game behind Peoria and Scottsdale, who are tied for second place. The second- and third-place teams will face off in a play-in semi-final on Friday to take on the Surprise Saguaros for the title. Surprise has already clinched first place in the regular season and a bye into the finals.
Mesa has three games left this year, all at Sloan Park. They play Salt River on Tuesday, Glendale on Wednesday and Peoria on Thursday.
Here are this past week’s results. The home team is listed last.
Monday, October 31: Surprise Saguaros 5, Solar Sox 0.
Tuesday, November 1: Scottsdale Scorpions 7, Solar Sox 6.
Thursday, November 3: Salt River Rafters 3, Solar Sox 4 (ten innings).
Friday, November 4: Solar Sox 7, Peoria Javelinas 14.
Here’s more details on how the Cubs on the Solar Sox did this past week. As a reminder, outfielder Brennen Davis is not expected to play the rest of the season after suffering an injury in the second week.
First baseman Matt Mervis
The highlight of Mervis’ week was winning the MVP in the Fall Stars Game, of course, but he also played three games for the Solar Sox this past week. He went 1 for 4 on Monday, 1 for 5 on Tuesday and on Friday, he went 2 for 4 with a walk and a solo home run in the top of the second inning. His home run was his sixth of the AFL season, which puts him alone in first place for the home run crown. Mervis had two RBI and scored twice on Thursday. He also stole a base.
For those of you who keep track of such things, Mervis struck out three times this week: twice on Tuesday and once on Friday.
For the campaign, Mervis is hitting .291 with a .344 on-base percentage and a .655 slugging percentage. He’s scored 11 runs and driven in 12 while stealing two bases.
Do you want to see Mervis’ regular season home run this week? Of course you do [VIDEO].
Outfielder Owen Caissie
Caissie played twice this past week. On Tuesday, he was the DH and went 2 for 5 with a double and two runs scored. On Wednesday, Caissie was 1 for 4 with a walk. He struck out four times this week.
On the season, Caissie is hitting .255/.309/.412 with five doubles and a home run. He’s scored nine times and driven in nine runs. He’s striking out a lot (19 in 51 at-bats), but overall that’s not a bad line for someone so young and with no experience above High-A. The AFL is a tough league and while Caissie isn’t wowing people like Mervis is, he is keeping his head above water, which is a great sign for someone like him.
Infielder BJ Murray Jr.
Murray played one game as the third baseman in Monday’s 5-0 shutout loss to Surprise. It wasn’t Murray’s fault, however, as he went 2 for 3, collecting two of the four Solar Sox hits in that game.
Murray has played in five games and is hitting .250/.294/.438 with one home run. He has scored twice and has two runs batted in.
Left-hander Bailey Horn
Horn’s best outing came in the Fall Stars Game, as noted above. He also pitched one-and-a-third innings in Tuesday’s 7-6 loss and he had his first poor outing of the season. He also gave up his first run of the AFL season and his second one as well.
On Tuesday, Horn allowed two runs on two hits, a walk and a hit batsman over 1.1 innings. Horn also balked once. He allowed an inherited runner to score. Horn struck out two.
That’s the only real blemish on Horn’s AFL campaign. He 0-0 with a 1.50 ERA and one save over 12 innings spread over eight appearances. He’s struck out nine and walked seven.
Right-hander Zac Leigh
Leigh did not pitch this past week. To repeat what I wrote last week, Leigh is 1-0 with one save and an ERA of 4.91. He’s pitched 7⅓ innings over six appearances and has allowed seven hits. He struck out six and walked four.
Left-hander Riley Martin
Martin pitched in Monday’s 5-0 shutout loss and allowed one run on one hit and two walks over two innings. The run scored in the eighth inning when, after retiring the first two batters of the frame, Riley gave up a walk, a single and then another walk to load the bases. The run then scored on a wild pitch. Martin struck out four batters on Monday.
Martin has pitched 10⅔ innings over seven appearances and is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA and no saves. He’s given up nine hits. Martin has struck out 15 and walked five.
Right-hander Sheldon Reed
Reed also did not pitch this week after pitching in last Saturday’s game. To once again repeat last week’s line, Reed has pitched 8⅓ innings over six appearances. He’s 0-0 with a 4.32 ERA and one save. Reed has allowed eight hits and has issued six walks. He’s struck out 10 batters.