The Arizona Fall League started on October 4th and goes until November 17th. The Mesa Solar Sox are not comprised of just Cub players, but also prospects from four other teams including the Orioles, Twins, White Sox and Pirates. The Cubs have 6 players on the Mesa Solar Sox roster; pitchers Andrew Cashner, Chris Carpenter and Trey McNutt; infielders Junior Lake and DJ LeMahieu; and outfielder Josh Vitters. Here’s a run-down on how they have performed in the league so far:
Pitcher Andrew Cashner: Cashner has only pitched out of relief, like we heard he was going too. He has only pitched 3 games and has a 6.00 era, giving up 2 runs in 3 innings. However, he has hit the radar with a nice fastball. Cashner has not pitched for 14 days, but Carrie Muskat says he’s fine and no injury has occurred.
Pitcher Chris Carpenter: Carpenter has looked solid in the AFL and has a 1-1 record with a 1.86 era. He’s pitched 9.2 innings and has an impressive 14 strikeouts. Carpenter has looked so good that sports writers have said that he should be off the table in the Theo Epstein compensation talks.
Pitcher Trey McNutt: McNutt has also hit the radar with top speeds (97, 98, and 99 mph). However, speed isn’t everything. McNutt has also struggled for the most part, as he has posted a 6.00 era (6 earned runs) in 9 innings. All four of his appearances have been starts. He should still be a Cub after the AFL, as he’s not expected to go to the Red Sox or Padres as compensation.
Infielder Junior Lake: For the most part, he’s been the best Cub by far, which may come as a surprise. He’s improved and is climbing up through the minor league levels at a good pace. As a 21 year old, he’s playing for the AA Tennessee Smokies. Watch out for this guy. During his time in the AFL, Lake is batting .319 in 72 at-bats, with 4 home runs and 14 rbi’s. Even more impressive are his league-leading 13 stolen bases.
Infielder DJ LeMaheiu: DJ has been up an down this Fall, but still sports a .3oo average with a home run and 12 RBI’s. DJ saw time with the Cubs in 2011, and looked promising in limited action, especially in the field. He will be an excellent defender from what I saw and the bat will come around. I don’t know if he’s a starter in the big leagues, but he would be a good utility guy and a spot-starter/injury replacement.
Outfielder Josh Vitters: Yes, he is listed as an OF on the Mesa Solar Sox roster. I think it could have been the Cubs idea, as they want him to get work in the OF and he could then be a good utility guy if he can’t play as a full-time starter. Vitters has not played as much as DJ and Lake, but has shined in his limited action. He’s posted a .328 average with 2 home runs and 10 RBI’s in 58 at-bats. He has actually looked good the past year or so, thus there is still hope for this kid.
Mesa is in 2nd place and 5 games back, with a record of 10-12. I will have another AFL update when the league comes to an end, this was a half-way point update. The AFL is just for younger kids to get more work in and to improve, and there is not much more to it.