Fall League Fridays: Velazquez, Weber a part of offensive explosion
Scoring in the Arizona Fall League this year has been wild.
Just how wild?
The Mesa Solar Sox played 5 games between Oct. 29 and Nov. 3. In the first 3 games, they scored 9, 13 and 15 runs that left them with 2 losses and a 15-15 tie. The following 2 games were won with 7 and 5 runs.
Regardless of game results, Cubs prospects Nelson Velazquez and Andy Weber have been major contributors to this league-wide uptick in offense.
In their most recent win Wednesday, the Solar Sox found themselves trailing by 1 going into the 8th inning. Velazquez led off the inning with a single to center and scored the tying run two batters later. The next inning, Weber came up with the go-ahead run at first and singled to right, moving the runner to third base. That run scored one batter later on a forceout and held for a 5-4 win.
In the first 2 games of that 5-game stretch, Velazquez and Weber went a combined 10-for-15 with 6 extra-base hits, 9 RBI, 3 walks and a strikeout each. Velazquez connected on a home run in each game. Weber had a 3-hit, 4 RBI game that included this:
Through 14 games, Weber is slashing .317/.446/.517 with an impressive 14 walks to 11 strikeouts. Defensively, he has featured at second base, third base and shortstop. And with so much versatility, silly moments are sure find you somewhere:
Tuesday, Velazquez was named Arizona Fall League Hitter of the Week for putting together a .480/.552/1.000 line and a 1.552 OPS. That afternoon, he hit his league-leading 6th home run of the season — a 105 mph blast to right center seen below:
Despite an opening week where he stuck out 9 times and only walked once, Velazquez has reached base in all 17 games he has played for Mesa. He also put together 9 multi-hit games and went hitless in four, one of which was an 0-for-1 effort with 4 walks.
Cubs pitching has begun to emerge from the shadows of this offense-happy season.
Last week, Caleb Kilian was named Arizona Fall League Pitcher of the Week for his 3 scoreless innings and 6 strikeouts. He made his second AFL start Tuesday, going 4 scoreless innings with 4 strikeouts. Below is a quick showcase of his 4-pitch repertoire and breakdown from Marquee Sports Network analyst Lance Brozdowski:
And while no games took place Halloween night, the Salt River Rafters decided to showcase their holiday costumes Saturday, culminating in Rockies prospect Ryan Vilade taking batting practice in one you have to see: