Kris Bryant and Albert Almora are off to excellent starts in the Arizona Fall League, and Bryant put on a show on Friday afternoon. Bryant hit not one, but two, big flies and just missed a third. Bryant hit what was described as a “moonshot” in the fourth inning that cleared the berm in left field at HoHoKam Park. Bryant’s second homer went to right and he finished the game 3-for-5 with two home runs, a double, four RBI and three runs scored.
Kris Bryant is hitting .423/.448/.962 in his first six games this fall with a 1.410 OPS … 11-for-26 with two doubles, four home runs, two walks, two stolen bases, eight runs scored and 12 RBI. Bernie Pleskoff was on hand for Bryant’s two-homer game on Friday and reported, “The ball makes that special sound coming off Kris Bryant’s bat.”
Albert Almora went 1-for-6 with a double on Friday and he is hitting .417/.440/.792 over his first five games with a 1.232 OPS. Almora is 10-for-24 with four doubles, one triple, one home run, one walk, eight RBI and six runs scored.
Arizona Fall League
Jorge Soler went 1-for-4 with a run scored on Saturday. In seven games, Soler is 8-for-35 with three doubles, five RBI, five runs scored. Soler is hitting .229/.229/.314/.543.
The Cubs have five other prospects participating in the AFL not named Bryant, Almora or Soler.
Wes Darvill started at third on Saturday night and went 0-for-4. Darvill has played second and third so far in four games and is hitting .250/.357/.500 with one home run, two walks and a .857 OPS.
Dallas Beeler had a rough start on Friday and was hit rather hard in his three innings of work. Beeler surrendered three runs on six hits with two walks and one strikeout. In two games, Beeler is 1-0 with a 6.00 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP (four runs on nine hits with three walks and three strikeouts in six innings).
Armando Rivero struck out all three batters he faced in his first AFL appearance but has not fared as well since. Rivero gave up two runs, one earned, on two hits with one walk and no strikeouts in an inning of work on Friday. Rivero is 0-1 in four relief appearances with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP (three runs, two earned, on five hits with one walk and three strikeouts in four innings). Keith Law thinks Rivero might show a little more in the spring than he has in his short time in the Cubs’ organization after not making his pro debut until June.
Lendy Castillo notched a scoreless inning on Saturday and has been throwing more strikes over his last two appearances. Castillo surrendered one hit on Saturday with no walks. Castillo threw 11 pitches, eight for strikes. Castillo has allowed four runs, one earned, on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts in four innings this fall (2.25 ERA, 2.25 WHIP)
Matt Loosen pitched a perfect inning on Saturday with two strikeouts on 14 pitches, eight for strikes. In two appearances, Loosen has allowed four runs, two earned, on six hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings (4.15 ERA, 1.62 WHIP).
Buster Olney reported this week that a talent evaluator he spoke with indicated the quality of the Arizona Fall League is greatly diminished this year because teams are holding back their best pitching prospects. The evaluator Olney spoke with said that due to the lack of quality pitching prospects it is “hard to get a read on the position prospects, plus conditions aren’t good for pitchers.” Keith Law quickly responded on Twitter and pointed out that pitching over the last two years was weak but his year’s starting pitching is the best since 2010 or 2009.
Mike Olt will start Spring Training in February in the mix to be at third base for the Cubs on Opening Day in Pittsburgh. Olt spent time at the Cubs’ facility at Fitch Park working with Anthony Iapoce and Oscar Bernard. Olt did not play in the Instructional League and returned home early this month.
Olt is expected to return to Arizona when the new facility opens and will rent a house near the facility so he can prepare for Spring Training. Olt feels healthy for the first time since last November and is now doing exercises for his eyes and taking allergy medication to help with the vision issues he had following a concussion after being hit in the head playing Winter Ball.
Mike Olt realizes nothing is guaranteed and he is expecting good competition in the spring. He is excited for the opportunity and the challenge of winning the job.
Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres
The Cubs signed two of the three top prospects available on July 2 when the International signing period began. Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres are only 16 years old and have been participating in the Instructional League. Fall instructs ended on Saturday.
The Cubs feel both Jimenez and Torres will have a better idea of what to expect after spending the last month-plus in the states.
Anthony Iapoce, the Cubs’ minor league hitting coordinator, said both players are pretty advanced for their age and they are not raw as far as their talent is concerned. Jimenez has played in the states before but this was Torres first trip and the longest that either player had been away from home.
Ray Fuentes works with young Latin players and teaches them both English and coach-speak according to the report on Cubs.com. Fuentes is Cuban, was born and raised in Miami and “knows how difficult it is to adjust to the U.S., especially with language challenges.”
Both players seemed to impress coaches and other players during instructs.
News and Notes
According to Baseball America, outfielder Darnell McDonald and catcher J.C. Boscan have elected free agency. The Cubs outrighted both players off the 40-man roster earlier this month.
Daniel Bard is playing winter ball and will pitch for the Criollos de Caguas in the Puerto Rican/Roberto Clemente Professional League. Alex Cora is the GM for the Caguas Criollos.