The Mesa Solar Sox fell back to earth a bit this past week. But that doesn’t mean that Kris Bryant has cooled off. Bryant continues to dominate in the desert. Outfielder Jorge Soler has also heated up, while Wes Darvill continues to be steady. In the Caribbean, several prospects made their season debuts, including Frank Batista, Jeimer Candelario, Willson Contreras, and Hector Rondon.
Note: Coverage of the winter leagues will be by calendar week, Sunday through Saturday
Arizona Fall League
Mesa Solar Sox
Mesa got back on the winning track Monday as they beat Surprise 9-6. It seems AFL teams might be learning their lesson and began pitching around Kris Bryant. Bryant drew two walks while going 1-for-2 with a double. Armando Rivero continued to struggle as he allowed two earned runs on four hits and a walk. Rivero pitched one inning and notched a strikeout, but was also called for going to his mouth while on the rubber.
The Surprise Saguaros were able to return the favor on Tuesday in a 4-2 win over Mesa. Albert Almora was the only Cubs prospect to make an appearance. Almora went 1-for-5 with an RBI as the centerfielder and leadoff man.
Mesa suffered their first back-to-back loss on Wednesday as the stumbled against Scottsdale 2-1 in ten innings. Designated Hitter Kris Bryant was 1-for-5 with a double. Wes Darvill, playing right field, went 1-for-4 with an outfield assist and drove in the Solar Sox only run. Albert Almora did not receive an at-bat as Darvill’s defensive replacement.
It was Cubs’ pitching day on Thursday as Mesa got back on the winning track and beat Scottsdale 7-4. Dallas Beeler toed the bump for the Solar Sox and got his second victory. Beeler struck out two and allowed two runs on four hits in four innings. Matt Loosen followed and fanned three in two innings and gave up an earned run. Lendy Castillo then pitched a scoreless inning with a strikeout. Jorge Soler was the only position player to make an appearance and he announced his return to the lineup with authority. Soler went 3-for- 4 with two RBI.
Mesa was able to string two wins in a row together with a 7-5 victory over Peoria on Friday. Albert Almora experienced his first “O-fer” of the fall by going 0-for-4 with a walk. Kris Bryant had another huge day as he went 3-for-5 with two double and a triple that plated the go ahead run in the ninth. After missing a short amount of time due to residency issues, Jorge Soler has been on a rampage since his return. Soler was 2-for-4 with his first home run and two RBI. Armando Rivero continued his struggles but was slightly better in this appearance. Rivero struck out a batter and gave up an earned run in an inning of work.
The week ended with Mesa losing to Surprise 6-1 on Saturday. Albert Almora continued his downward slide by going 0-for-4, while Jorge Soler was 1-for-4 with a double. Wes Darvill has made the most out of his opportunities as he drove in the Solar Sox only run with a double and went 1-for-3 while starting at third base. Lendy Castillo was wild but effective. Castillo walked and struck out a batter in a scoreless inning.
Dominican Winter League
Kane County third baseman Jeimer Candelario saw his first action on Tuesday and he was 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter in the Eagles 10-6 victory over Oriente.
Another Cubs prospect made his winter debut on Wednesday as Frank Batista had a walk and a strikeout in 1.1 scoreless innings as Cibaenas lost 8-0 to Escogido.
Toros del Este
Last Sunday, Este was able to hang on in a game that started out as a laugher and they beat Oriente 10-7. Jeffry Antigua was one of the pitchers the Stars rallied off of in the sixth inning as he allowed an earned run with a strikeout in 0.2 innings.
The Bulls ran into a buzzsaw on Tuesday as they lost 19-8 to Licey. Reliever Jeffry Antigua went two innings and gave up an earned run on two hits and a walk while striking out a batter.
Tigres del Licey
Licey stated the week off on a good note as they defeated Escogido 5-3. Outfielder Julio Borbon was 1-for-3 with a run scored while Arismendy Alcantara went 0-for-4.
Despite the Tigers’ 19-8 victory over Este in Tuesday, Julio Borbon didn’t have a particularly good game. Borbon went 0-for-5 with a walk and run scored.
Infielder Arismendy Alcantara was able to finally get off the schneid on Wednesday as he was 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored in Licey’s 7-4 win over Oriente.
The Man-eaters were able to make it two in a row on Thursday as Licey topped Cibao 6-4. Arismendy Alcantara went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored in the victory.
Licey fell 4-1 to Cibaenas on Friday. Julio Borbon was 0-for-3 while Arismendy Alcantara went 0-for-2 off the bench.
Estrellas de Oriente
Reliever Marcos Mateo tossed a scoreless inning on Wednesday as the East Stars lost 7-4 to Licey.
On Saturday, Marcos Mateo picked up his second save as the Stars beat Licey 3-2. Mateo struck out two in a scoreless inning.
Mexican Pacific League
Tomateros de Culiacan
It wasn’t a good start to the week for Culiacan or reliever Marcus Hatley as the Tomateros lost 5-0 to Guasave on Sunday. Hatley pitched an inning with a strikeout, but also served up a home run.
While Marcus Hatley did his part, the Pickers could not muster any run support on Wednesday as they lost 1-0 to Hermosillo. Hatley closed the game with a strikeout in a scoreless inning.
On Friday, Marcus Hatley was able to slam the door as Culiacan beat Mexicali 5-2. Hatley allowed only a free pass with a strikeout in a scoreless ninth. Hatley earned his third save of the season.
Venados de Mazatlan
Reliever David Villegas still appears to be overmatched as he surrendered two earned runs on two hits in 0.1 innings as Mazatlan lost 8-2 to Mexicali on Sunday.
Yaquis de Obregon
Third baseman Christian Villanueva was part of a big day for the Yaquis last Sunday as Obregon beat Hermosillo 10-3. Villanueva was 2-for-5 with a home run and an RBI.
On Tuesday, Christian Villanueva drove in two runs and went 2-for-4 in the Tribe’s 5-0 victory over Los Mochis.
Christian Villanueva cracked a solo home run, his second of the winter on Wednesday, but it wasn’t enough as Obregon lost 8-3 to Los Mochis. Villanueva also notched a double and finished the game 2-for-4.
It took eleven innings before Obregon finally bowed to Mazatlan 3-2 on Friday. Christian Villanueva was 0-for-1 in a pinch-hitting appearance.
It appears as if opposing pitchers are now more wary of Christian Villanueva, as he was 0-for-1 with three walks in the Yaquis’ 3-2 loss to Mazatlan on Saturday.
Venezuelan Winter League
Tigres de Aragua
Kane County catcher Willson Contreras made his first appearance of the winter and went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter in the Tigers’12-10 loss to Magallanes on Sunday.
On Thursday, Willson Contreras made his first start and went 2-for-5 with a run scored in Aragua’s 6-5 victory over La Guaira.
Willson Contreras scored the winning run as a pinch-runner on Friday as the Man-eaters defeated Margarita 8-7 in ten innings.
Leones de Caracas
Iowa swingman Yoanner Negrin continued to be dominant as the Lions shut out Margarita 6-0 last Sunday. Negrin started and tossed five shutout innings while scattering three hits and two walks. Negrin struck out three in five innings in route to his second victory.
Chicago Cubs’ reliever Hector Rondon made his winter debut with a splash on Tuesday in Caracas’ 4-2 loss to Magallanes. Rondon struck out three and walked a batter in a scoreless inning.
It wasn’t a masterpiece on Friday, but Yoanner Negrin got the job done as Caracas beat Magallanes 5-4. Negrin allowed three earned runs on five hits and two walks. Negrin struck out five in five innings as he earned his third win of the season. Hector Rondon gave up a hit in a scoreless inning as he picked up a hold.
Bravos de Margarita
Daytona reliever Frank Del Valle saw his first action of the winter last Sunday. Del Valle struck out two and walked a batter in Margarita’s 6-0 loss to Caracas.
Frank Del Valle gave up a walk and a hit in 0.1 innings as the Braves lost 8-7 in ten innings to Aragua on Friday.
Aguilas del Zulia
Reliever Yeiper Castillo put together a good effort last Sunday when he tossed two scoreless, no-hit innings in Zulia’s 8-3 loss to Anzoategui.
Yeiper Castillo then contributed 0.2 scoreless innings and a strikeout to the Eagles’ winning effort on Tuesday as Zulia beat Lara 7-6.
After the Raptors’ starter yielded five runs without recording an out on Thursday, Yeiper Castillo got the call to stem the tide. Castillo struck out five and scattered three hits in four scoreless innings in Zulia’s 7-6 loss to Anzoategui.
News and Notes
The Cubs re-signed RHP Ryan Searle to a minor league contract; released RHP Ethan Elias and LHP Luis Villalba.