AFL Update: Nov. 7, 2017

Kelvin Gutierrez drew a leadoff walk in the 4th and scored ahead of A.J. Simcox’s two-run HR that gave the Solar Sox a 2-1 lead en route to a 5-2 win over the Scorpions.

Kyle McGowin (pictured) won for third time in five starts with one run let in on a home run and five hits total over four innings. He walked none, struck out five, and threw 55 pitches, 37 for strikes.

Jimmy Cordero also pitched but saw his scoreless inning streak end at 8⅓ innings as he gave up a run in his second inning of work on two hits and a walk. He struck out four and earned a hold.

Gutierrez also drove in a run in the 7th with an RBI single. The Mesa DH finished with a line 1-for-2 with a run scored and two walks and is now 7-for-16 in the six games he’s played with six runs scored and five RBI.
And of course, there was that Victor Robles guy… he led off and played center field, where he made two putouts. He only went 1-for-5 but stayed upright and scored on a steal of third (pictured) that coincided with a wild pitch.

Mesa returns to action this afternoon as they host Peoria. The two teams are both in first place, by 1½ and 4 games respectively, with eight games left to play.

AFL Update: Nov. 5, 2017

There was only one National in last night’s Fall Stars game, but Victor Robles delivered the hype that MLB gave him in a 4-2 win for the AFL East.

Robles delivered just one hit, but it was the first of three runs in the bottom of the 8th that turned a 2-1 deficit into the 4-2 lead. He also walked and stole second base in the 1st and scored the go-ahead run in the 8th on an RBI single by former National Sheldon Neuse.

For his efforts, which included the game-ending putout in centerfield, Robles was named the showcase’s MVP.

Regular-season play begins tomorrow with a night game for the 1st-place Solar Sox against the 2nd-place Scorpions. The two teams are separated by just a ½ game with two weeks and nine games left to play in the 2017 AFL season.

AFL/Offseason Update: Nov. 4, 2017

The Solar Sox were eclipsed on a one-hit shutout yesterday, 3-0 to end the week.

And because we can’t have one day without (contrived) Victor Robles drama, the Nats top prospect played just one inning yesterday and exited without official explanation. He popped up to short in the top half of the inning and caught the final out in the bottom half.

Daniel Johnson replaced Robles in center field but went hitless again (0-3, 2K), as did Taylor Gushue (ditto). Kelvin Gutierrez pinch-walked and played third base for the final two innings.

Austen Williams was the first man out of the Mesa ‘pen and gave up a run on four hits over two innings. He threw 31 pitches, 24 for strikes.

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TRANSACTION UPDATE
Minor-League Free Agency begins at 5 p.m. on Monday. Not coincidentally, Wander Suero was added to the 40-man roster yesterday rather than re-sign as he did last November 3rd. In other news, Erik Davis declared free agency while Esmil Rogers was released.

THE BA TOP 10
Baseball America’s fall SEO campaign 2018 prospect rankings began last week with the Braves, Marlins, and Mets and continued this week with the Phillies and the Nationals (paid sub to read all).

As noted in the comments, the list is skewed towards major IFAs who have yet to play a full season and the top two pitchers taken last June. Just three of the top 10 have played more than one full season, and given the current state of the big club, it’s not outlandish to consider that perhaps two of those players will be on the 25-man roster by the middle of next summer.

THE SYRACUSE CHIEFS
They were bad. Very, very bad.

There’s really not much more to say. The team was old, slow, and had no power on offense and the pitchers were hit-prone (both bats and bodies) and couldn’t miss bats. About the only thing they weren’t in the bottom third was defense, but that may be in part because the players were kept in good shape with all the balls they had to chase.

Somehow, there were enough home-grown, replacement-level players available to the big club when needed, including roughly half-a-dozen homegrown guys. But it would be foolish to infer that had there been fewer injuries in DC, the team would have been significantly better, and specious to even attempt to name/rank these players.

The best thing that could happen for all of them is for them to not be needed so they can indeed play every day and perhaps play well enough to get traded — or be more prepared for their next trip to the Show.

As always, if you’re so inclined to see the full team’s stats, you can find them here.

AFL Update: Nov. 3, 2017

Former National Sheldon Neuse capped off a see-saw battle with a two-run, walkoff homer in the bottom of the 10th to give Mesa an 8-6 win over Surprise.

Just two Nationals got into yesterday’s game.

Kelvin Gutierrez (pictured) remains red-hot since his return from a hand injury as he singled, homered, walked, and scored two runs. He had two assists and caught a foul pop while playing third base.

Daniel Johnson’s cool-down continues with another 0-for-4 effort. He fielded seven balls hit to him in left field and had three putouts on defense.

The first-place Solar Sox visit the second-place Scorpions with a chance to open up a 2½ game lead.

AFL Update: Nov. 2, 2017

Victor Robles homered and discarded his weapon* to cap off a five-run 8th as the Solar Sox torched the Saguaros, 8-5.
Lee said the bat went 6′ up and 6′ away from Robles.

Robles also walked twice and stole twice in his first two AB’s to finish 1-for-3 with a runs scored and three RBI. Defensively, he made five putouts while playing centerfield.

Taylor Gushue led off the 8th with his second fall homer and extended his hit streak to four games. The Mesa catcher also walked and had ten putouts (all K’s).

Kelvin Gutierrez went 3-for-5 with a run scored while batting eighth and playing third base, where he had no chances.

Jimmy Cordero got the benefit of the outburst for pitching a scoreless bottom of the 7th, striking out two and keeping his ERA at 0.00 for his second fall win.

Mesa scored twice in the 9th to offset Dakota Bacus’s ineffectiveness, as the “white ninja” let in three runs on five hits and no walks over the final two innings.

The Solar Sox return home to host the Saguaros this afternoon, then travel to Scottsdale tomorrow to finish out the fourth week of the 2017 AFL season.

AFL Update: Nov. 1, 2017

Mesa got two in the bottom of the 5th to take a 2-0 lead but it was all Scottsdale after that as they scored six in the 6th en route to an 8-2 win.

Just one National saw game action – Daniel Johnson, who drew a walk in four PA’s as the Solar Sox DH. Johnson, who got off to a 10-for-27 start in his first six games, has cooled down to a .277 BA with 1-for-16 spell since.

The loss dropped Mesa to 10-8 in the AFL East, which is a ½ game better than 9-8-1 Scottsdale. They’ll take on the Surprise Saguaros today and tomorrow before finishing up Week 4 on Friday in Scottsdale.

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As noted in the comments, the AFL did not bother to pretend the Fall Stars game rosters were related to this season as they named Victor Robles to the East team as the sole Washington player on the roster. The game will be televised on MLB Network. There is no word on which announcers you will have to suffer through if you’re unwilling to mute your TV and/or put on closed captions.

AFL Update: Oct. 31, 2017

A four-run 6th broke open a one-run game as Mesa doubled up Salt River, 8-4 yesterday in the Arizona Fall League.

Kyle McGowin got the start and the Jack Morris win with two runs allowed on two homers and four hits total over three innings. He walked none and struck out four while throwing 53 pitches, 32 for strikes.

Austen Williams was the first man out of the Sox ‘pen and earned a hold with two scoreless innings. He issued a walk and struck out one while throwing 34 pitches, 21 for strikes.

Victor Robles, who led off and played center field, reached base three times with a pair of walks and… wait for it… a single (you were expecting something else?). He drove in one run on a sacrifice fly and was picked off first.

Kelvin Gutierrez (picture from earlier this month) returned to action with a bang as he tripled in two in his first at-bat and walked in the 6th. He played third base but had no defensive touches.

Taylor Gushue was the designated hitter and lived up the to the title with a 4th-inning, which extended his modest hit streak to three games. He did, however, strike out twice (nos. 11 and 12 in 10 games).

The two teams switch venues for an afternoon game with Mesa playing host. The Solar Sox are on a three-game win streak and have a 1½ game lead in the AFL East.

AFL Update: Oct. 29, 2017

The Solar Sox scored seven in the 8th to turn a 6-2 deficit into a 9-7 win to close out the week.

Daniel Johnson was the sole Nationals position player to appear in the game, but he was 0-for-5 with one whiff. Defensively, he made two putouts and had five touches total.

Dakota Bacus was the first reliever out of the Mesa bullpen but was stung for a two-run homer in his sole inning of work. He labored through 21 pitches (12 strikes) to get through the 4th.

Jimmy Cordero (pictured above) gave up a hit but maintained his 0.00 ERA with a scoreless inning while striking out the side. He threw 14 pitches, 11 for strikes.

The Solar Sox return to action tomorrow in Salt River as they play five day games this week before Saturday’s Fall Stars game. Be on the lookout for a case of Hellenic flu to get Victor Robles into the game as a replacement.

AFL/Offseason Update: Oct. 28, 2017

Victor Robles doubled to lead off the game as the Solar Sox put up two in the 1st en route to a 5-1 win over the Desert Dogs.

Robles, however, stuck three times in the four plate appearances that followed to finish at 1-for-5.

Taylor Gushue, who led off off MLB’s roundup on the Nats in the AFL yesterday, also started again behind the plate and got a single in four AB’s to get hits in back-to-back appearances for the first time.

Mesa returns home to rematch against Glendale to finish out the week. The Solar Sox lead the AFL East by a ½ game with an 8-7 record.

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WINTER LEAGUE UPDATE
Still pretty early, but no need to reinvent the wheel – Byron Kerr has the deal on how the guys have done so far.

HARRISBURG SENATORS
Next week will be the magnesium citrate, but this week we have the castor oil. For those of you too young or too healthy… the 2017 Senators weren’t as bad as the 2017 Chiefs, but they weren’t much better.

Like the 2016 edition, there was an enormous amount of roster churn – 52 different players, 13 pitchers who made five or more starts, and 16 position players who made 100 or more plate appearances. But the talent level wasn’t as high in 2017, and consequently the Sens finished with the second-worst record in the Eastern League at 60-80 (i.e. just 6½ games better than the Chiefs).

The pitching went from the third-best in the E.L. to the second-worst (4.79 R/G) while the hitting improved to near-league average (4.20 vs. 4.32) BUT both the hitters and pitchers were the oldest in the league by a year and a half or more, on average.

For the sixth straight year, it’s a combined list. And in keeping with a theme this year, unranked.

Erick Fedde, RHP 3.04/3.24/1.12, 8.63 K/IP in 56⅓IP (17G, 7GS)
Jose Marmolejos, 1B/LF .288/.361/.458, 14HR in 107G
Raudy Read, C .265/.312/.455, 17HR in 108G
Phillips Valdez, RHRP 2.72/2.92/1.16 in 43IP (25G)

An honorable mention to Ryan Brinley, who had a decent FIP at 2.96, but was otherwise unremarkable in his second go ’round the Eastern League. Likewise for Drew Ward, who nearly set a team record for strikeouts (131) and barely cracked into double digits for HR’s at 10.

Folks interested in seeing the full team’s statistics can find them here.

Transaction Update

No Nationals got into yesterday’s 19-4 debacle in Peoria but we do a have a few transactions to pass along…

ELECTED FREE AGENCY
• 1B Clint Robinson
• RHP Jacob Turner

RE-SIGNED
• IF Bryan Mejia
• C Adderling Ruiz
• LHP Hector Silvestre

No real surprises here – the guys that left might hook on elsewhere, the guys that didn’t felt like they wouldn’t (or their agents did).