Arizona Fall League, Week 1 (10.8–10.14)
Each week, we will recap the performances of the eight members of the Nationals organization participating in the Arizona Fall League, a “finishing school” for top prospects.
The eight Nationals players are members of the Mesa Solar Sox, which is comprised of young stars from the Nationals, Angels, Athletics, Cubs and Tigers farm systems. The Solar Sox will battle the Glendale Desert Dogs, Peoria Javelinas, Salt River Rafters, Scottsdale Scorpions and Surprise Saguaros during the six-week season, with each team made up of players from five MLB organizations.
Here is a look at how each of the Nationals participants in this year’s Arizona Fall League performed during the season’s first week:
ROBERT BENINCASA | RHP
Weekly Totals: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO
Reliever Robert Benincasa made one appearance for the Solar Sox during the first week of the season, closing out the ninth inning of Mesa’s 13-3 victory over the Glendale Desert Dogs on October 9.
Despite allowing a leadoff home run to White Sox prospect Brandon Jacobs, Benincasa settled down to record the final three outs, including a strikeout of Reds farmhand Travis Mattair.
BRIAN GOODWIN | OF
Weekly Totals: .357/.438/.500, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB in 16 plate appearances
Brian Goodwin, rated the 65th-best prospect in baseball according to MLB.com, got off to a quick start in his second appearance in the Fall League, after playing for the Salt River Rafters in 2012.
He collected two hits in the season opener on October 8, drove in a pair of runs on October 10, and went 2-for-4 with two doubles on October 14. His work at the plate helped Mesa to a league-best 4-0-1 record (the Solar Sox tied their opening contest against Glendale).
RICHIE MIROWSKI | RHP
Weekly Totals: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO
Former 45th-round draft pick Richie Mirowski earned one appearance during the first week of the Arizona Fall League campaign, a 1-2-3 seventh inning in the Solar Sox 7-3 victory over the Surprise Saguaros on October 11.
The right-hander stymied all three hitters he faced, including a strikeout of Red Sox prospect Mookie Betts – who fanned just 57 times against 81 walks during his impressive 2013 season at Single-A and Double-A.
ADRIAN NIETO | C
Weekly Totals: .500/.556/.667, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 SF, 2 BB in 9 plate appearances
Cuban-born backstop Adrian Nieto had a successful first week for Mesa, catching the team’s wins on October 9 and 14 over Glendale and Scottsdale.
He went 1-for-2 at the plate with a double, a walk and a sacrifice fly in the first of those two contests, then collected two hits and a walk in five plate appearances five days later. The 23-year-old had a slash line of .285/.373/.449 this season for the High-A Potomac Nationals.
MATT PURKE | LHP
Weekly Totals: (1-0), 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO
Pitching prospect Matt Purke cruised in his first appearance of the Arizona Fall League season, allowing an unearned run in three innings of work in an October 10 win over Salt River.
The 6-foot-4 southpaw surrendered two hits and a walk, striking out two, while throwing 30 of his 46 pitches for strikes. He was credited with the win in Mesa’s 8-1 victory.
MATT SKOLE | 1B/3B
Weekly Totals: .250/.400/.625, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB in 10 plate appearances
Corner infielder Matt Skole received the Opening Day nod at designated hitter on October 8, clubbing a game-tying, two-run home run as part of a 2-for-4 afternoon. He drove in a total of three RBI in the slugfest, which ended in an 8-8 tie between the Solar Sox and Desert Dogs.
Skole made an important step physically on October 10, getting the start at first base for the first time since an injury to his non-throwing elbow prematurely ended his 2013 campaign. He walked and scored a run in support of Purke in the Solar Sox 8-1 win.
SAMMY SOLIS | LHP
Weekly Totals: (1-0), 3.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO
Sammy Solis earned a start and victory for Mesa on October 9, tossing three scoreless innings in 13-3 rout of Glendale. The 6-foot-5 left-hander threw 56 pitches in the effort, allowing three hits and a walk in 3.2 innings of work, striking out two batters.
Solis, a native of nearby Avondale, Arizona, threw 59.2 innings this season after missing the entire 2012 season due to injury.
STEVEN SOUZA, JR. | OF
Weekly Totals: .375/.500/.500, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 R, 5 SB, 2 BB in 10 plate appearances
One of the biggest stories of the Arizona Fall League’s first week was Souza’s performance on the basepaths. The big, physical athlete stole five bases in his two starts, giving him the league lead in the early going.
Souza’s most impressive individual performance came in a 7-3 win over Surprise on October 11, in which he went 2-for-3 with two walks, a double, three RBI and a trio of steals. He followed that up by representing the Nationals in the AFL’s inaugural Bowman Hitting Challenge on October 12, a competition similar to a Home Run Derby. Souza was also a finalist for the Arizona Fall League Player of the Week.