Photo by Kimberly Contreras

Arizona Fall League Notebook: Mesa Solar Sox, week one

Week one of the Arizona Fall League is in the books. Kimberly Contreras runs down the week that was for the Mesa Solar Sox.

Week 1 is in the books and the Mesa Solar Sox begin week two of the Arizona Fall League in search of their first win. To be fair, it wasn’t a full week; more like a long weekend. Each team played only four games, instead of the usual six. No games on Saturday. The sponsored hitting-based event at Salt River Fields was the only baseball-related focus of the day. Then, Sunday, every Sunday, is a league-wide off day. A new week with a full six-game schedule for each team begins on Monday.

It’s easy to check box scores and follow social media channels and then recap the productivity of the Athletics prospects in the Arizona Fall League. I’m at the games and watch Oakland’s prospects when they are in the game, on the bench, or in the bullpen. Box scores only tell so much.

Here’s what I saw this past week:

Tuesday, October 13 – Mesa travelled to Glendale for Game #1:

Athletics in the game:

Chad Pinder, 2B

Renato Nunez, 3B

* Daniel Robertson, DH

Hot! Hot! Hot! Mid October and still triple digits in the Valley of the Sun. As if all these boys aren’t hot enough after a long season.

Pitchers from the Cubs and Angels organizations were on the mound and suffered the walk-off loss. No big deal. Really. Nerves get the best of everybody. Most of us have never been in a fishbowl like the young men in the Arizona Fall League.

One person who showed ZERO signs of nerves was the Texas League Player of the Year himself, Chad Pinder. The starting 2nd baseman homered for the first in the league! Just for good measure, the Virginia Tech Hokie homered again in the 8th inning. This time, with two runners on base.  I randomly recorded that plate appearance and captured every bit of it.

Renato Nuñez was added to the roster in place of Matt Chapman who is healing from a late season injury. The Venezuelan 3rd baseman is typically known for his bat. However, on Opening Day, it was his glove and defensive prowess that stole the show.  

Stating the obvious: Daniel Robertson, SS for the Tampa Bay Rays, will be included in these updates. Of course.

Daniel walked twice and singled in three of his first four at bats of the day.  

The Glendale Desert Dogs include prospects from the Dodgers, White Sox, Astros, Phillies and Pirates organizations. Houston’s power hitting prospect extraordinaire, A.J. Reed, walked twice and scored.

Wednesday, October 14 – Mesa hosts Glendale

Athletics in the game:

Sean Manaea – starting LHP

Aaron Kurcz - RHP

Brendan McCurry  - RHP

Kris Hall – RHP

Jaycob Brugman, CF

Rematch of opening day teams.

Lefty Sean Manaea, Kansas City’s Comp A draft pick in 2013/34th overall, came to Oakland in the mid-season trade for Ben Zobrist. The Indiana State alum then posted a 1.90 ERA (0.67 WHIP) with the Texas League Champion Midland Rockhounds. Starting the home opener is an honor; one that comes with some nerves.

My first time seeing Manaea did not disappoint. His first inning was little shaky, starting with his warm-up pitches, but that’s understandable. Long season, then down time, then back in action. I give everyone a Mulligan for the first week.

 Manaea’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings were each 3 up and 3 down. Outstanding, and as expected by the young man wearing #54.

Right handers Kris Hall and Aaron Kurcz can cross “fall League debut” off their list. Hall, who wears #44 is an Oakland home-grown product and another member of the Texas League Champion Midland Rockhounds; Kurcz #74, was acquired from Atlanta for an international bonus slot in early July and spent the season with the Nashville Sounds. Each righty went one inning. 

Brendan McCurry’s one inning was classic, typical, and fitting for the righty who’s also known as “Filthy McNasty,” wears #99. Perfect for the Oklahoma State Cowboy who was taken in the 22nd round of 2014. Rumor is he’s got ice water in his veins. I’m inclined to believe it.

Jaycob Brugman in centerfield is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted, but probably is. His bat comes through when it’s need, just like clockwork, but the Chandler, Arizona, native’s defense is a thing of beauty.

Though Mesa didn’t win, it was good to see so much green and gold on the mound!

Thursday, October 15 – Mesa at Surprise (at Salt River Fields)

Athletics in the game:

Jaycob Brugman, CF

Chad Pinder, 2B

Renato Nunez, 3B

Daniel Robertson SS

First night game of the fall at the beautiful setting of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. When the visiting Solar Sox stepped up to the plate, they were greeted by Cardinals’ pitching prospect Alex Reyes. The flame thrower averaged 99 – 101 until he reached his pitch count for the outing and was relieved after 3.2 innings pitched. I know I breathed a sigh of relief, but that was short-lived.

Top of the 5th inning brought new RHP Domingo Acevedo. Much too much like Reyes for my preference.  A fastball that sits near triple digits for the first round of batters is no fun. Especially when going to the first night game. 

Friday, October 16 – Mesa hosts Surprise

Athletics in the game:

Jaycob Brugman, CF

Renato Nunez, DH

Kris Hall, RHP

Brendan McCurry, RHP

Thunderstorms arrived mid-game and cancelled Instructional League and Fall League games in the west valley – Goodyear and Glendale.  The evening game at Salt River Fields was cancelled early in the day, as well.

Though severe weather alerts were issued, and the wind did announce its presence for an inning or two, the Mesa Solar Sox game was not cancelled or even delayed. However, with the way the ball flew out of Sloan Park for the visitors, maybe a cancellation would have been preferred.  The wind was so strong, in fact, even Filthy McNasty gave up a run.

I stood behind home plate for Kris Hall’s inning, and could see the ball move as it arrived at the plate. Not the typical, good type of movement, either. To further illustrate the point, I had to brace myself against a pillar while recording parts of the inning.

Football score loss to end the first week. UNCLE!

Bring on week number two!

Oakland Clubhouse Top Stories