The 2015 Arizona Fall League wrapped up play Saturday when the Scottsdale Scorpions beat the Surprise Saguaros 6-4 to win the Arizona Fall League Championship, the third league title for Scottsdale and first since 2010.
Jeimer Candelario had a sensational fall in Arizona and was nominated for Most Valuable Player, an award Kris Bryant won two years ago. The White Sox’s Adam Engel was named MVP and the Brewers’ Yadiel Rivera won the AFL’s Sportsmanship Award.
Three Cubs’ prospects were named to the Fall Stars Game. Jeimer Candelario and Corey Black were able to participate and Candelario had a double in two at bats. Willson Contreras was unable to play in the game after he strained his left hamstring the week before and was shut down for the remainder of the AFL season.
Mark Johnson called the shots for Mesa. The Solar Sox finished with a 9-21 record which was last in the three-team East Division.
Jeimer Candelario opened more eyes with his performance in the Arizona Fall League. Candelario played in 21 games and reached base just under 40 percent of the time.
Candelario batted .329/.371/.610 with eight doubles and five home runs for a .981 OPS. Candelario drove in 15 runs. Nearly half of his 27 hits went for extra bases and he walked six times with 10 strikeouts in 82 at bats. Defensively, Candelario was charged with three errors, with all three coming in the same game.
Willson Contreras was having a good fall before a hamstring strain on Nov. 5 ended his season. Contreras also impressed scouts with his defense behind the plate. Contreras hit .283/.361/.547 in 14 games with five doubles and three home runs for a .908 OPS. Contreras had almost as many free passes (7) as strikeouts (9) in 53 at bats.
Mark Zagunis reached base nearly 50 percent of the time he stepped in the batter’s box this fall. Zagunis had more walks (19) than hits (11) in 16 games. Zagunis finished with a .234/.455/.340 line that included two doubles and a home run for a .795 OPS. Zagunis struck out 12 times in 47 at bats.
Cael Brockmeyer saw playing time in nine games. Brockmeyer was on the taxi squad and ended up with six hits in 31 at bats for a .194/.258/.306 line and a .564 OPS.
After a rough start to the Fall League, Pierce Johnson had a strong finish with two excellent outings. Johnson was 1-2 in seven starts with a 5.47 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. Johnson allowed 16 runs, 15 earned, on 28 hits with 13 walks and 21 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings.
Over his last two starts (nine innings), Johnson gave up one run (solo home run) on nine hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts.
According to a report from MLB.com, Johnson’s early struggles were due to mechanical adjustments he was trying to apply and he could not find a feel for his slider. Johnson said he feels good about his changeup, a pitch the Cubs wanted him to work on, but lost his cutter.
Lefty Rob Zastryzny appeared in seven games and made six starts. Zastryzny was 2-2 with a 5.19 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. In 26 innings, Zastryzny surrendered 15 runs, all earned, on 25 hits with six walks and 28 strikeouts.
It was a rather tough AFL for right-hander Corey Black. What started in Spring Training carried throughout the year and into the Fall League. Black struggled with his command while lighting up the radar gun. Black appeared in eight games and was 1-0 with an 11.42 ERA and 2.19 WHIP. Black gave up 13 runs, 11 earned, on 12 hits with seven walks and six strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings.
Right-handed reliever David Garner, by all accounts, was rather impressive in 10 relief appearances. Garner allowed four runs on 10 hits with seven walks and 12 strikeouts in 12 innings. Garner was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. Garner had a poor game on Oct. 30 in which he was touched up for three runs on five hits in an inning and three of the seven free passes he issued came in his first two outings.