The Arizona Fall League regular season is now over. The Mesa Solar Sox finished with a three-game winning streak to close to season, but that only moved them out of last place and into a tie for fourth place out of six. At 14-16, the Solar Sox finished 1½ games out of a playoff spot.
In the AFL, the second- and third-place teams face off in the first playoff game. The winner of that game plays the team with the best overall regular-season record for the title. The Peoria Javelinas play the Scottsdale Scorpions tonight at 6:30 p.m. MT. The winner then will take on the Surprise Saguaros at 6 p.m. MT on Saturday for the title. Tonight’s game should be available online, as should Saturday’s title game. The title game will also be broadcast on MLB Network.
For one last time for those of you who tuned in late, the Arizona Fall League is an annual league for minor leaguers to get more experience and more coaching at the end of the regular season. There are six teams who each have five teams contributing players to their AFL roster. One thing that participants in the AFL say is the best part of the experience is the chance to learn from coaching outside of their organization, as well as make friends with prospects from other teams. The Solar Sox play at Sloan Park, the Cubs Spring Training home. They are also always joined by the Athletics, who also train in Mesa. The other three teams rotate, but this year they are the Astros, Orioles and Yankees.
There were only three games on the AFL schedule for the Solar Sox as the season ended on Thursday. But the Solar Sox finished on a high note, winning all three games. Those scores are:
Tuesday, November 7: Salt River Rafters 3, Solar Sox 7.
Wednesday, November 8: Surprise Saguaros 4, Solar Sox 8.
Thursday, November 9: Scottsdale Scorpions 1, Solar Sox 4.
Al Yellon attended the game on Wednesday, and he has a few thoughts on the Cubs players he saw below.
Here’s how the individual Cubs on the Solar Sox did this past week, as well as their final season statistics.
Alcántara played in Tuesday and Thursday’s games. He played center field in both games. On Tuesday, Alcántara went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk and a stolen base. He scored one run.
On Thursday, Alcántara was 1 for 4.
After a slow start to the AFL season, Alcántara finished strong. His final triple-slash line was .256/.330/.535 in 86 at-bats over 21 games. He had seven doubles, one triple and a team-leading five home runs. Alcántara also led the team with 23 RBI, which was good for second overall in the league. He stole three bases in four attempts.
Triantos was the starting DH in Tuesday’s game and went 1 for 4 before he was pinch-hit for in the eighth inning by Carter Trice. Triantos did not play in the final two games.
Triantos is a candidate for the league MVP award after he hit .417/.495/.679 in 84 at-bats over 22 games. He finished second in the league in batting average, third in on-base percentage, second in slugging and second in OPS. Triantos had three doubles, a league-high five triples and three home runs. He also stole nine bases in ten attempts. He scored 18 runs and drove in 15.
Trice was the player who pinch hit for Triantos on Tuesday and he struck out in his only at-bat. He then served as the DH on Thursday’s finale and in his second at-bat, Trice hit a solo home run. It was only his second hit of the AFL and his first home run.
Trice’s home run:
Carter Trice got all of this one for his first AFL HR! pic.twitter.com/7qdpGMhQec— Brad (@ballskwok) November 10, 2023
Trice was an injury replacement for Cubs outfielder Christian Franklin, who was a last-minute replacement for Alexander Canario, who went to play Winter Ball instead.
Trice played six games and was 2 for 16 with a double, a home run and a walk. That sounds bad, but considering that Trice has never played above the Arizona Complex League before, he didn’t do too badly facing mostly Double-A and Triple-A pitching.
MLB dot com had a story about Trice’s home run and how he ended up in the AFL. Trice also talked about how the Cubs are converting him to catching. He wasn’t ready to catch Double-A and Triple-A pitchers in an AFL game, but he did get valuable experience catching their bullpens.
Franklin’s AFL season ended after just six games. He went 6 for 20 with two doubles and a walk. That’s a line of .300/.333/.400.
Hull didn’t pitch in the final three AFL games. He finished the campaign making four starts and one relief appearance. He pitched 17.1 innings and allowed 18 runs, 14 of which were earned for an ERA of 7.27. He had a record of 0-1. Hull struck out 13 and walked nine. Hull also surrendered four home runs.
Kachmar got a hold in Thursday’s finale after pitching 1⅓ scoreless innings. He allowed one hit, struck out two and walked no one.
Over 10 innings and six relief appearances, Kachmar allowed seven runs on six hits. One of those runs was unearned, so he finished with an ERA of 5.40. He struck out ten and walked five.
Laskey pitched the top of the eighth inning on Tuesday and retired the side in order, striking out two.
For the season, Laskey pitched nine innings over nine relief appearances. He gave up just one run, giving him a nice ERA of 1.00. Laskey allowed six hits. He walked two and struck out 15, which is a pretty strong record in any league.
Romero threw the top of the ninth inning in Wednesday’s win in a non-save situation. He walked the first batter he faced, but then Romero retired the next three on a fly out to center, a strikeout and another fly to center.
Here’s what Al said about Romero.
Romero walked the first guy he faced, then retired the next three to end the game. He hasn’t pitched above A ball, but at only 22 still has a shot at a real MLB career. I assume he’ll go to Double-A in 2024.
I’d agree that Romero does have a shot at a major league career. He’s not a top prospect because there is a lot of uncertainty about his control and his ceiling is probably middle relief, but he certainly could have a major-league career that is more than just a cup of coffee.
For the AFL season, Romero threw 10⅔ innings over eight relief appearances. He gave up two runs on just three hits for an ERA of 1.69. His big issue is control, as he walked eight batters. Romero also struck out eight batters.
Santana pitched two innings of relief on Wednesday and ended up with his third win, a team high. Santana did not give up a run or a hit on that game. He did walk one, but got him to hit into a double play to face the minimum. He did not have a strikeout.
Here are Al’s thoughts on Santana:
Santana also walked the first guy he faced, then induced a comebacker 1-4-3 double play and overall, recorded five of his six outs on ground balls. He’s 25 and also hasn’t pitched above A ball but... I can see a possible MLB middle reliever here.
Santana finished the AFL season at 3-0 with an ERA of 2.45 over two starts and four relief appearances. Santana allowed six runs, five earned, on 11 hits over 18⅓ innings. He struck out eight, walked six and hit two batters. He also gave up two home runs.