Nats prospect launches offense with three RBIs in first three innings
Aside from an 11-inning, Opening Day tie, all Mesa did in the first week of the Arizona Fall League was win. The Solar Sox beat Surprise, 7-3, on Friday night at Surprise Stadium for their third straight victory to enter the weekend as the AFL's only unbeaten team.
The Solar Sox again followed their script from the previous two days, combining good pitching with its unrelenting offense. Friday's star was center fielder Steven Souza, who went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs.
Souza said the Solar Sox are simply having fun playing together.
"We just have so much talent on this team," Souza said. "I think the most important thing is that we jelled really fast. There are a lot of great personalities on the team and we're just having fun."
Mesa's roster is stocked with high-profile prospects, including five players ranked in MLB.com's Top 100 prospects list.
But so far, it hasn't just been the big-name players providing the punch in the Solar Sox offense. On Friday, it was Souza driving in three runs in the first three innings to help Mesa build an early lead.
"I just try to come out here and play for glory of God and have fun doing it," Souza said. "When you have guys like Kris Bryant hitting in front of you and Wes Darvill behind you and Jorge Soler in the three-hole, it makes your job a lot easier."
Bryant drove in the first run of the game with an RBI single off left-hander Will Lamb in the first inning. He also hit his second AFL home run in the seventh inning, a solo shot off right-hander Shawn Armstrong. Bryant, the Cubs' No. 4 prospect, finished the game 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
After its offense staked it to a 5-0 lead in the third inning, the Mesa pitching staff did its job. Starter Dallas Beeler and five relievers combined to hold Surprise to three runs, marking the third straight game Mesa has allowed three or fewer runs.
"It just makes it easy when they're working fast and throwing strikes," Souza said. "The guys have been pounding the zone and doing a great job with it."
The Scorpions' offense was led by center fielder Mitch Haniger, who went 4-for-4 with a double to continue his torrid start to the fall. Through four games, the Brewers' No. 12 prospect is 9-for-16 with a .938 slugging percentage.
Catcher Michael Ohlman, the Orioles' No. 12 prospect, went 1-for-2 with two runs and two walks. Dariel Alvarez, his Orioles teammate, went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
But it wasn't enough to slow down the Solar Sox. After completing a perfect first week of the season, Souza said he is enjoying the opportunity to play in the AFL.
"I'm just excited God put me here," Souza said. "There's so much talent out here. We've been trading thoughts on different perspectives of playing. I'm just excited to have fun and play out here."