We are halfway through the 2023 Arizona Fall League season and that means it’s time for an update on the Mesa Solar Sox. The Cubs are one of five teams that make up the Mesa Solar Sox, who play their home games at Sloan Park, the Spring Training home of the Cubs. The other four team that make up the Solar Sox this year are the Astros, Athletics, Orioles and Yankees.
After a disastrous week 2 when the Solar Sox went 0-6, Mesa did win some games this week. But while a 2-4 week is certainly “better,” it still wasn’t good. Mesa’s 5-13 overall record puts them firmly in last place in the six-team AFL. But some of the Cubs players did have a solid week and one is making a bid for MVP.
Here are the six games Mesa played this past week. The home team is listed second.
October 16: Surprise Saguaros 8, Solar Sox 10 (ten innings).
October 17: Solar Sox 5, Scottsdale Scorpions 7.
October 18: Glendale Desert Dogs 6, Solar Sox 2.
October 19: Peoria Javelinas 3, Solar Sox 8.
October 20: Solar Sox 4, Desert Dogs 11.
October 21: Desert Dogs 7, Solar Sox 6 (ten innings).
Here’s how the individual Cubs on the Solar Sox did this past week.
Alcántara had a huge game in Monday’s win. In the top of the 10th, he stole what would have at least been an RBI double at the wall and possibly a two-run home run with a terrific catch up against the center field wall. Then in the bottom of the inning, Alcántara hit a two-run walk-off home run. Alcántara finished Monday’s game going 2 for 4 with a double, the walk-off home run, a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
After Monday, Alcántara struggled. In three games, he went 0 for 11 with two walks and a hit batsman. For the week, Alcántara finished 2 for 15 with three walks and two hit-by-pitch. He scored four runs and drove in four.
Alcántara played center field three times this week and in right once.
So far this AFL season, Alcántara is hitting .188/.310/.417 with two steals, 12 RBI and seven runs scored.
Here’s that catch that saved a run on Monday [VIDEO].
And here is the walk-off home run in the bottom of the inning [VIDEO].
Whatever injury Franklin suffered last Thursday, it was enough for the Cubs to pull him out of the AFL. That doesn’t necessarily mean it was something serious — teams pretty much never want their prospects playing through a minor injury in the AFL — but it does mean that it was serious enough that the Cubs didn’t think it would heal before the season ends in a little under three weeks.
Triantos is tearing up the AFL this autumn and is leading the league in slugging percentage (.765) and OPS (1.290). He’s second among qualified hitters in batting average (.431) and on-base percentage (.525).
Triantos had another great week, going 11 for 24 with a double, a two-run home run on Saturday and another triple on Wednesday. In 13 AFL games, Triantos has four triples already, whereas he only hit four triples in 83 minor league games this past season. Triantos also stole a base, his sixth of the AFL campaign.
Triantos played left field once, center field once, second base once and was the DH twice.
Infielder Carter Trice replaced Franklin on the Solar Sox, which I can only assume was because he was available and in Mesa because the AFL is a tough assignment for a 12th-round pick who hasn’t played above Rookie ball — and even only 10 games there. The experience should be good for Trice, but I wouldn’t expect him to play much and he didn’t this past week. Trice was the DH on Saturday and was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and a run scored.
After two rough starts, Hull pitched out of the bullpen this week and things did not go a lot better. Hull threw 3+ innings of relief on Friday and gave up four runs on six hits, including a solo home run by Kevin Parada, a highly-regarded prospect with the Mets. Hull walked one and struck out two.
Over 10.2 innings this fall, Hull is 0-1 with a 11.81 ERA. Home runs have been a big problem as he’s allowed four of them. Hull has walked six and struck out six.
Kachmar threw the final three innings for the Solar Sox in Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to Glendale. He allowed a two-run home run in the eighth inning, which kind of put the game out of reach, but otherwise his final line was two runs on two hits. Kachmar struck out four and walked one.
Over three relief appearances and seven innings, Kachmar has a 3.86 ERA.
Laskey pitched twice this past week. In Monday’s extra-innings win, he threw a scoreless top of the ninth inning. He walked the first batter but then retired the next three in order. Laskey struck out one that day.
Laskey took the mound again on Friday when he was summoned out of the pen to relieve Hull with no outs and two on in the bottom of the sixth. The runners on first and second immediately pulled off a double steal, putting runners on second and third and no outs. But it looked like Laskey was going to get out of the jam when he got two outs on two grounders to pulled-in infielders. But with two outs, he loaded the bases with an infield grounder and then Parada clubbed a three-run double off of Laskey.
So the final line on Laskey in Friday’s 11-4 loss was one runs (and two inherited runs) on two hits over one inning. He struck out one.
For the AFL season so far, Laskey has pitched five innings over five appearances and has an ERA of 3.86. He’s struck out six and walked just one.
Romero also made two appearances this past week. The first came in Tuesday’s 7-5 loss to Scottsdale, but it wasn’t Romero’s fault as he threw 1⅔ innings of relief without allowing a hit or a run. He did walk one and he struck out one.
Romero’s second appearance came in Saturday’s 7-6 10-inning loss to Glendale, but once again Romero did his job. He pitched the eighth and ninth innings and once again did not allow a hit or a run. He walked one batter and struck out one.
For the AFL season, Romero has pitched 7⅓ innings in five appearances and has allowed just one run for an ERA of 1.23. He’s also only allowed one hit. Walks are his big issue as he’s issued six of them while striking out five.
Santana started Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to Glendale, but he was sparkling as he pitched 3⅔ scoreless innings. Santana gave up three hits. He walked two and struck out two. It was Santana’s first start for the Solar Sox.
Santana has pitched nine innings and allowed four runs for an ERA of 4.00. He’s walked four and struck out five.