Arizona Fall League: Checking in on Cubs Farmhands

By Iowa Cubs | November 9, 2018 3:06 PM

Just nine games remain in the Arizona Fall League schedule with the Mesa Solar Sox, the home of Cubs farmhands, holding a 11-12 record, three games behind Salt River in the AFL East Division. Here's a look at how Cubs minor leaguers are faring:

RHP Bailey Clark • 0-0, 3.00 ERA, SV, 7G, 9.0IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, HR, 6BB, 6K

Clark has appeared in seven games for the Solar Sox, posting a 3.00 ERA with three runs allowed through 9.0 frames. He's allowed just six hits, has walked six and fanned six. Clark has allowed one earned run in each of his last three outings after beginning the campaign with 5.2 scoreless frames. 

The 6-4 righty from Duke University was selected by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. In 2018, Clark suited up for Mesa, Single-A South Bend, and Advanced-A Myrtle Beach, compiling a 4-2 record with a 1.89 ERA (12ER/57.0IP). He walked just 18 while fanning 63. 

RHP Erick Leal • 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 5G, 5GS, 17.1IP, 10H, 9BB, 17K

Leal has turned heads in the AFL with 17.1 scoreless frames across five starts. In his last outing on Nov. 6, the 23-year-old allowed just one hit and walked two through 4.0 innings. 

A native of Carabobo, Venezuela, Leal was originally signed by Arizona in 2011 at 16 years old. The righty came over to Cubs camp in February of 2013 with RHP Jesus Castillo in a trade for OF Tony Campana. Leal rose to Advanced-A with Myrtle Beach in 2016, before undergoing Tommy John surgery that sidelined him until May of 2018. Leal went 1-1 with a 1.41 ERA (10ER/63.2IP) through 21 games (8GS) with Myrtle Beach this season. 

LHP Manuel Rondon • 0-1, 5.59 ERA, 6G, 6GS, 9.2IP, 6H, 6R, 6ER, 2HR, 8BB, 7K

Rondon has amassed a 5.59 ERA through six games in the AFL but his numbers are skewed by one bad start. The lefty gave up five earned runs through 0.2 innings on Oct. 29. Eliminating this from his line, Rondon has allowed just one earned run through 9.0 innings across five games. 

Rodon, originally signed by the Angels in 2012, was traded to the Cubs with cash for C Rafael Lopez in 2015. Through six minor league seasons, the lefty is 27-21 with a 3.35 ERA (143ER/384.1IP). He has climbed as high as Advanced-A Myrtle Beach in 2018 where he went 2-5 with a 2.10 clip (8ER/34.1IP) through 19 games. 

LHP Justin Steele • 1-1, 6.75 ERA, 5G, 5GS, 14.2IP, 17H, 12R, 11ER, 2HR, 9BB, 13K

The 23-year-old lefty Steele has struggled in the Fall League, collecting a 6.75 ERA (11ER/14.2IP) through five starts. His lone scoreless outing came on Oct. 18 with 3.0 hitless frames against Surprise. He walked two and fanned two on his way to the win in the outing. Steele has allowed three or more earned runs in three of five starts. 

Steele underwent Tommy John surgery in August of 2017 but recovered quickly and was assigned to Mesa for a rehab assignment on July 3 of this year. Between Mesa, Advanced-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee, Steele went 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA (12ER/46.2IP) in 11 starts. The lefty was originally selected by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2014 draft out of George County High School (MS).

C P.J. Higgins • 8G, .161 (5-for-31), 4R, HR, 5RBI, 6BB, 5K

Higgins is splitting catching duties with two other minor leaguers, which has limited him to eight AFL games. Going 2-for-21 through his first five games - with both hits coming on Oct. 18 - Higgins is beginning to find his swing with hits in each of his last three games (3-for-10). He's walked six times to supplement his production, manufacturing a .289 OBP. 

Higgins hit .271 (102-for-377) between Advanced-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee in 2018 with a career-high 52 RBI. He was selected by the Cubs in the 12th round of the 2015 draft. 

C Jhonny Pereda • 7G, .240 (6-for-25), 2 2B, 2RBI, 3BB, 6K 

Pereda is batting .240 for the season in the AFL but is 5-for-15 with two doubles through his last four games. The catcher has struck out just six times through 25 at-bats. 

Pereda suited up for Advanced-A Myrtle Beach in 2018, batting .272 (120-for-441) with a career-high 57 RBI. His 120 hits, 160 total bases, and RBI paced the Pelicans. 

INF Nico Hoerner • 17G, .338 (24-for-71), 8R, 2 2B, 2 3B, HR, 8RBI, 2BB, 16K

After missing time in 2018 due to a left elbow injury, the Cubs first round draft pick in 2018, Hoerner, is seeing some of his first professional action in the AFL. Horner logged just 14 games during the 2018 regular season, batting .327 (16-for-49) between Mesa, Short-Season Eugene and Single-A South Bend. 

The 21-year-old is swatting .338 (24-for-71) through 17 games for the Solar Sox, with two doubles, two triples and one home run. His averages has risen to .410 through his last 10 games. Hoerner posted a 4-for-5 performance on Oct. 26 against Glendale. 

UTL Trent Giambrone • 8G, .375 (12-for-32), 5R, 2B, 2HR, 4BB, 9K

Giambrone is 12-for-32 in the AFL for a .375 average and a .444 OBP. He got off to a blistering start with a 4-for-6 game in his Fall League debut on Oct. 11. The utility man fell a triple shy of the cycle on Oct. 26 against Glendale, going 3-for-6 with three RBI. 

The 24-year-old blasted 17 home runs for Double-A Tennessee in 2018, adding 20 doubles, two triples and 49 RBI - all career highs. Giambrone was selected by the Cubs in the 25th round of the 2016 draft out of Delta State University. 

OF D.J. Wilson • 12G, .130 (6-for-46), 9R, 2B, 2RBI, 7BB, 17K

Wilson is a career .240 minor league hitter but has seen a drop in production in the AFL. He's helped his OBP with seven walks but has just six hits in 46 at-bats and has also struck out 17 times. 

Wilson, 22, was selected by Chicago in the fourth round of the 2015 draft out of Canton South High School (OH). He batted .219 (52-for-237) with nine doubles, three triples, one home run and 13 RBI for Advanced-A Myrtle Beach in 2018. 

 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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