White leads Solar Sox past Whitley

October 23rd, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Eli White and the Mesa Solar Sox relished the opportunity to face baseball's best pitching prospect and made the most of it, beating Forrest Whitley and the Scottsdale Scorpions 2-1 on Monday night.
In his Arizona Fall League debut, Whitley (Astros) struck out the first seven Solar Sox he faced in a no-decision on Oct. 9. Mesa got to him early in the rematch, tagging him for three hits and two runs in the first inning. A middle infielder in the Athletics system, White knocked in both runs with an opposite-field single to right and the Solar Sox never relinquished the lead.
2018 Arizona Fall League rosters
"We all know who he is and I actually got to face him a couple times in the Texas League," White said. "It was always a good competition, he's a great pitcher and it gets you a little more fired up when you know you're facing a guy like that.
"I had a hunch he was going to try and come in with a fastball. I faced him during the season and that's kind of how he got me out, pounding me with heaters in. He just missed over the plate a little bit and I was able to shoot it the other way."
White had a breakthrough year in Double-A, batting .306/.388/.450 with nine homers and 18 steals while leading the Texas League in runs (81), hits (154) and on-base percentage. He has continued to swing a hot bat in the Fall League, producing a .375/.483/.500 line with two extra-base hits and two steals in six games. He said he's trying to continue what worked well for him during the Minor League season, such as pulling pitches more with backspin instead of staying inside the ball as much as he had in the past.
Mesa managed just one hit after the first inning but held on for the win, thanks in large part to left-hander Gregory Soto (Tigers No. 14). He outpitched Whitley, twirling five shutout innings while permitting just two hits and a walk and striking out five. He sat at 91-94 mph with his fastball, backed it up with an effective curveball and did a better job of locating his pitches where he wanted than he did in his prior two AFL starts.
Whitley, ranked No. 8 overall on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, wasn't as sharp as he was in his first two Fall League starts. He pitched at 93-96 mph with his fastball but his secondary pitches weren't as effective and he didn't command them as well as he did in his previous outings. He did escape further damage after White's two-run single and finished with five strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings, giving him a league-best 19 whiffs in 12 innings.
Outfielder Ronnie Dawson had two hits for Scottsdale and nearly tied the game in the bottom of the ninth. After Peter Alonso plated the Scorpions' first run with a sacrifice fly, Dawson followed with a double high off the wall in right-center. Right-hander Jake Bray recovered to coax a flyout from Heath Quinn to earn his first AFL save.
The Solar Sox improved to 7-4, tying the Peoria Javelinas for the best record in the Fall League and taking a one-game lead over the Scorpions and Salt River Rafters in the East Division.