A's prospect Olson powers Mesa to first victory
Matt Olson's 37 home runs during the regular season with Class A Advanced Stockton ranked third in the Minor Leagues. So it was no surprise when he bashed two homers Saturday night for Mesa, becoming the first player this season in the Arizona Fall League to record a multi-homer game.
Olson's home runs powered Mesa to a 6-3 victory against Peoria. The victory snapped the Solar Sox's three-game losing streak to open the season.
Olson also had started the fall slowly. Going into Saturday's game, he was 0-for-7 in two games. That quickly changed as Mesa's big first baseman homered in his first two plate appearances. He finished the night 2-for-3 with a walk, three runs and two RBIs.
"I felt pretty good, pretty relaxed up there," said Olson, the A's No. 2 prospect. "I got a couple pitches to hit."
Olson's first homer came in the first inning against right-hander Dylan Baker, the Indians' No. 15 prospect. He then led off the fourth inning with a drive out to center field off right-hander Miguel Almonte, the Royals' No. 5 prospect.
Olson, ranked No. 98 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, has been punishing good pitchers all year. He hit .262/.404/.543 and drew 117 walks in 138 games to go with his 37 home runs. Among Minor Leaguers, only Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo hit more homers.
It was a breakout season for Olson. In 2013, he finished second in the Midwest League with 23 home runs as a 19-year old with Class A Beloit, but he hit .225/.326/.435 in 134 games.
While trading the pitcher-friendly Midwest League for the hitter's haven of the California League may have helped Olson's statistics this season, he said he thinks he matured as a hitter and took better at-bats.
"I had a lot of walks this year, and I think that in turn helped my power numbers in the end," he said. "Being selective and making guys come to me."
With Olson anchoring the middle of their lineup Saturday, the Solar Sox set season highs with six runs and 10 hits. Center fielder Dalton Pompey, the Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect and No. 88 overall on the top-100 list, went 1-for-4 with a triple, a run and an RBI. Shortstop Eric Stamets finished the night 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
As Mesa's offense came alive, left-hander Nate Smith, the Angels' No. 18 prospect, delivered a strong start. He struck out two batters in three scoreless innings and held the Javelinas to one hit and one walk.
Peoria eventually got on the scoreboard in the seventh inning. Catcher Tony Wolters hit a bases-clearing, two-out double off right-hander Austin House, cutting Mesa's lead to one run. But the Javelinas would get no closer. The Solar Sox added two insurance runs in the bottom of the inning and right-hander Mark Sappington, the Angels' No. 9 prospect, threw a scoreless ninth for the save.
Shortstop Francisco Lindor, the Indians' top prospect and No. 4 on the Top 100, led the Javelinas offense, going 2-for-4 with a walk and a run. The 20-year old went 7-for-14 with two walks, four runs and three RBIs in three games in the first week of the AFL.
But the early lead Olson gave to the Solar Sox proved to be too much for the Javelinas to overcome. As a result, Mesa goes into Sunday's off-day on a positive note.
"It's definitely good to get our first win under the belt," Olson said. "After the off day, hopefully we'll be able to keep winning baseball going into Monday."