The Mesa Solar Sox continue to lead the Eastern Division of the Arizona Fall League thanks, in large part, to the contributions of several Cub minor leaguers. Kris Bryant continues to impress the scouts who are in attendance at the games. Bryant is hitting at a .390 pace and is showing a lot of power.
I had a chance to talk briefly with a scout for the Atlanta Braves. I asked him what he thought of Kris and he told me that he “would not be surprised if he wasn’t in Chicago before the 2014 season was over if he continues to play Double A ball at the level he has played in the Fall League.” He thought Bryant showed a lot of maturity and was mentally capable of making the jump.
In the two games I’ve seen, Bryant has hit the ball hard three times including a two run homer. He is working to be a patient hitter who sees a lot of pitches and goes deep into counts.
In both games I attended Albert Almora played only as a defensive replacement and as a pinch runner late in the game. But as one of the youngest players in AFL, he continues to show that he is more than capable of competing at this high level. His average has slipped a bit to .286 but he has shown that he can consistently put the ball in play. He is striking out less than once in ten at bats.
Jorge Soler started in right field for the Solar Sox and had a quiet day going one for four with a single and a walk. He also had an uneventful day in the field but did get a chance to show off a strong arm with a laser throw from right center to home on the fly to keep a runner from scoring. To date he has had a productive Fall League. His batting average (.266) is a little lower than during his 2013 minor league season (.281), but he has driven in 12 runs in the first 15 games.
Cub pitchers have played a significant role in the success of the Solar Sox too. I had a chance to see Armando Rivero pitch in relief. Rivero is a 25 year old Cuban middle relief pitcher signed by the Cubs last spring. He is a rangy (6’ 4” – 190 lbs) right handed fastballer who consistently hits the middle 90’s on the radar gun. He pitched 30 innings for the Cubs at three levels this year. He improved at every stop as he worked his way up.
The most impressive Cub Fall League pitching prospect has been Dallas Beeler. A 24 year old right hander has started five games for Mesa. In that span, he has gone 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA. He looks to have completely rebounded from two different injuries. In 2010 he underwent Tommy John surgery and made a rapid recovery and his 2013 season was cut short with a middle finger injury. Beeler’s winning ways may boost his opportunities in the upcoming season. His reputation is that of a not over powering control pitcher. If he can replicate his AFL success in 2014, he may have a shot at a middle relief spot on a future Cub roster.