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The 2019 Arizona Fall League starting things off on Wednesday, September 18th, a few weeks earlier than normal. With the early start, a few players weren’t able to make opening day, specifically Argenis Angulo and Ernie Clement of the Solar Sox who were busy playing the AAA national championship game in Tennessee.
Mesa did have their top two prospects leading things off on opening day, however, as Jo Adell (LAA) hit first with Nolan Jones (CLE) right after against the Scorpions. In that game, Anthony Castro (DET) had a rough start, allowing two runs in the first inning and was pulled after three. The middle of the line-up did a fair job coming back as Isaac Paredes (DET), Brandon Marsh (LAA) and Miguel Amaya (CHC) accounted for five hits, three runs scored and three RBI as the Sox ultimately lost 5-4.
The offense didn’t have the same thump on Thursday against the River Rafters with six walks being their best team stat. Adell and Jones continued to struggle, striking out five times in ten at bats between them with just one hit. Even after a full week, neither top prospect has been able to pick things up despite getting more playing time than nearly anyone else in the league. Adell leads all hitters in the AFL with 19 at bats, but has just one hit and one walk with eight strike outs. Similarly, Jones is 2 for 17 with three walks and seven strike outs.
It was a different Angels outfielder, Brandon Marsh, who had the team’s only success against the River Rafters last week and he has continued that success throughout the week. So far, he’s 5 for 11 with three walks and a pair of runs scored.
After this 4-1 loss, the Solar Sox took another loss Friday night against Peoria 5-1. Derek Hill (DET) stood out offensively with two hits, two steals and the only run scored. Keegan Thompson (CHC) had the first good start for the Sox in this game, going three shut out innings with five strike outs, one walk and no hits allowed. This strong start and Hill’s run scored kept things close until the 8th when the defense failed Cubs reliever Wladimir Pinto and the Javelinas ran away with the game. Nolan Jones and Jose Azocar (DET) both committed errors leading three unearned runs.
On Saturday night, the Solar Sox finally got on track as they had their revenge against the Javelinas with a 4-1 victory. Both stars sat on the bench as the Tigers’ Azocar and Paredes accounted for all four RBI. Forrest Whitley (HOU) started for the Javelinas and was tremendous with just one hit allowed in 4.2 scoreless innings. It took the Astros top pitching prospect leaving for things to get started as all four of the Sox runs came in the 8th against Padres’ reliever Reiss Knehr.
While he wasn’t quite as dominant as Whitley, Kirk McCarty (CLE) had an excellent start for Mesa, going three innings and allowing one run on three hits with four strike outs. Alex Lange (DET) had some impressive K numbers in relief as he struck out four in 1.2 IP, allowing no runs on a hit and a walk.
The late inning heroics continued on Sunday as the Sox took on the Glendale Desert Dogs. Isaac Mattson (LAA) jumped into the game in the second inning in relief and went 2.1 scoreless innings with four strike outs. At the same time, the Dogs were able to use four pitchers to dominate over seven innings, allowing just two runs on four hits. Both runs scored on a Greg Deichmann (OAK) home run.
Despite a blow save by Nathan Bates (LAA), the Sox scored five across the final two innings for the walk off 7-6 win. Nolan Jones started the final frame off with his second hit of the season and was followed by three straight walk. This brought the game a bit closer and Deichmann added another RBI on a sac fly with Alfonso Rivas (OAK) ending things with a double.
Along with the previously mentioned Marsh, Deichmann has been one of the Sox top hitters early with a .286/.353/.571 batting line. His home run Sunday was just the second of the season for the Sox with the first coming Saturday night off the bat of Paredes. He’s been the other top hitter so far with a .286/.444/.571 batting line.
The pitching has definitely been the strong point for Mesa so far as Will Vest (DET) and Brady Feigl (OAK) join Thompson and Mattson with at least three scoreless innings. Lange has given up a run, but leads the team with seven strike outs in 2.2 innings and just one walk in two relief appearances.