AFL: The Beat Goes On

Last month, the list of the seven Cubs prospects set for the annual Arizona Fall League rolled into Mesa and began preparing for the most well-publicized post-season event each year.

No, not the World Series.

"World Series? Schworld Scheries," one participant in the Fall League said jokingly, apparently oblivious to his spot-on Lou Holtz impression.

Almost a month after reporting to Arizona, the progress reports received by the Cubs player development department have been, well, just great.

"All the reports have been great," Cubs Director of Player Development Oneri Fleita said of the Cubs' contingent of prospects in the Fall League. "This is always a league that is hard to judge because you don't really get enough at-bats. It's good work and Pat (Listach) has done a good job with them."

The Mesa Solar Sox team houses prospects from the Cubs, Twins, Astros, Mets and Dodgers organizations. The Sox are managed by Cubs coach Pat Listach, who also managed Double-A West Tennessee this past season.

"It's actually pretty fun trying to mix and match," Listach said of managing prospects from five different organizations.

One of those players which Listach is currently managing is catcher Jake Fox.

Fox has three hits in his last 24 at-bats and is 9-for-40 overall. Entering the Fall League, Listach warned that Fox would get some looks at various positions away from the backstop.

But thus far, the 24-year-old has yet to explore those positions. Behind the plate, Fox has committed one error and zero passed balls in nine games. He's thrown out two of eight opposing runners.

On the up and up, Scott Moore has reached base safely in all but one of his 14 starts. Moore has a hit in eight straight games and 10 of his last 11 overall. He is batting .271 with seven doubles, three homers and nine RBIs, and holds a .368 on-base percentage in part due to a team-high nine walks.

Speaking of on-base percentage, Eric Patterson has the second highest mark on the Mesa team with a .408 clip through 16 games. He's 21-for-63 overall with eights walks and eight strikeouts, and seven stolen bases in nine attempts. He also has seven multi-hit games. Defensively, Patterson hasn't fared too well with six errors – a league-high for second basemen.

Both Moore and Patterson were named to the Fall League's inaugural "Rising Stars Showcase Game," held last Friday in Surprise, Ariz. They combined to go 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

As far as pitching is concerned, right-hander Adam Harben hasn't pitched since Oct. 21, the result of elbow soreness.

Meanwhile, left-hander Carmen Pignatiello is still nursing a cut on his non-throwing hand and likewise hasn't pitched since Oct. 21.

In three starts, Harben has allowed five runs and 10 hits in seven innings combined. He has struck out seven and walked four. Prior to his injury, Pignatiello had allowed two hits in four outings spanning 3 2/3 innings.

Lincoln Holdzkom had given up no earned runs and two hits through his first five games, but then yielded four runs and five hits over three innings on Oct. 26. That same outing, he walked his first batter in Fall League competition. The right-hander has struck out 14 in 13 1/3 innings and is 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA against 51 batters faced.

Left-hander Clay Rapada has not allowed a run in his last seven outings, and only recently gave up his first hit since Oct. 13 to snap a span of four straight games without allowing a hit.

Rapada has 13 strikeouts to only two walks and has yielded four hits through nine appearances to make up a 1.08 ERA in 8 1/3 innings of work. Furthermore, he has the lowest ERA and average against for any Mesa pitcher with a minimum five innings.

The Solar Sox are 9-11 in head-to-head play against the remaining five clubs in the Fall League and are three games back of first place Phoenix, the defending AFL champion. The regular season ends Thursday, Nov. 16 with the league's championship game set for Nov. 18 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"It's all a great experience for all of the players," Fleita said. "They're getting a chance to play against some better competition. They know they're out here playing in front of a lot of scouts on a daily basis and that there's a lot at stake for their careers. It's all good."

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