Fall League Fridays: Matt Mervis won’t stop mashing
This week’s update starts with an Arizona Fall League classic Thursday night, punctuated by offensive contributions from 3 Cubs prospects.
The Mesa Solar Sox (5-5) were down 5-0 before their offense even had a say. When the opportunity did come, Matt Mervis answered via this two-out opposite field run-scoring double in the 1st:
Very hard contact off the bat of @cubs prospect Matt Mervis – double to LC scoring Jasson Dominguez. #cubbies #cubs #afl22 @gonjass7 @mmervis12 #ItsDifferentHere @cubprospects pic.twitter.com/37tTyg1Yoc— Michael Caplan (@M_Caplan) October 14, 2022
Next inning, again with two outs, another Cub came through. BJ Murray Jr. delivered this 2-run home run to pull Mesa within 2:
Oppo Taco for BJ Murray!! pic.twitter.com/RtKSmCJU4r— Jordan Miller (@Miller_MiLB) October 14, 2022
In the 3rd, Mervis connected on a solo shot, his second of the season.
A perfect bat flip for a perfect homer 💣— MLB's Arizona Fall League (@MLBazFallLeague) October 14, 2022
Matt Mervis leaves the yard for the second time this season, putting the Solar Sox within one of the Desert Dogs! #AFL22@Cubs @NBCSCubs pic.twitter.com/d3xr4hVjFu
Later in the game, the recently-named Cubs minor league player of the year did it again, this time a 2-run shot that tied the game in the 7th.
All 5 of Mervis hits this Fall have gone for extra bases (3 home runs, 2 doubles).
Owen Caissie followed Mervis with a 2-out single and eventually came around to score the go-ahead run and give Mesa their first lead of the game.
In the 8th, Sheldon Reed (RHP) came on to close out the final 2 innings, holding the Glendale Desert Dogs to 2 hits and a walk to secure the Solar Sox 9-7 win, their second in as many days. Reed bounced back from a relief appearance earlier in the week where he allowed 2 runs on 2 hits over 1.2 IP while striking out 2.
Another Cubs arm, Bailey Horn (LHP), continued his scoreless streak after navigating through 3 walks in the 2nd inning and a leadoff double in the 3rd. Horn has now made 4 appearances, covering 7 innings with a 4-5 K-BB and allowing 3 hits.
Right-hander Zac Leigh had a nice bounceback week after allowing 3 hits and 2 runs in 0.2 IP in the season opener. He was credited with a win after entering a tie game last Friday’s and covering 2 innings where he struck out 3 and walked one. Two punchouts came via his fastball that averaged 95 mph in the outing. The other on a breaking ball in the dirt.
Marquee Sports Network’s player development analyst Lance Brozdowski identified Leigh as an arm to watch this fall and had this to say:
He sits 94-96 mph on his fastball with a slider that he seems to tweak the shape on. Both pitches work best when he’s locating his fastball up in the zone and creating more of a slider shape with lift rather than a down-action breaker, the latter being a common tweak he makes when facing left-handed hitters.
His repertoire is that of a modern leverage reliever: hard fastballs, whiff-inducing sliders. Like most pitchers with big stuff, his command needs to allow him to sit in the zone more, even right over the plate, because his stuff is good enough to beat hitters regardless of location.
Last Friday, Brennen Davis hit his 2nd home run of the fall season but was removed from a game Monday before the start of the 3rd inning. He hasn’t played a game since, but could return to action this weekend.