Cubs' Bote, Rice excel in Fall League victory

Cubs' Bote, Rice excel in Fall League victory

MESA, Ariz. -- Four of Mesa's six runs during its 6-3 win over Peoria on Wednesday afternoon came courtesy of the Chicago Cubs.

After a red-hot first week in which he earned AFL Player of the Week honors, David Bote continued his offensive output, going 2-for-4 with a first-inning RBI that scored Daniel Johnson, the Nationals' No. 10 prospect, for the game's first run.

Gameday

Bote now has nine RBIs in 10 games with the Mesa Solar Sox.

"I was just looking for a location that I could do some damage with," Bote said when asked about his RBI single. "I got up there and stayed on a pitch. I was looking for some good two-strike pitches and was able to get a base hit."

Bote has spent six seasons in the Cubs' Minor League system, and his 2017 campaign with Double-A Tennessee was his best to date. In 127 games, he hit .272 with 14 home runs and 59 RBIs.

He credits his early success in the AFL and his approach at the plate to always staying aware and paying attention to details, no matter the situation.

"It's just about being focused and being locked in every at-bat," Bote said. "Even when you're not playing, you're watching the pitchers to see what they're doing. You're paying attention to their sequences and trying to figure out what's going on even from the bench."

Bote's Double-A teammate also got in on the fun on Wednesday.

In the fourth inning with the bases loaded, Ian Rice saw a 3-1 pitch from Peoria starter Henry Owens and hit it into the left-center gap, clearing the bases to give Mesa a 5-1 lead. He finished the day 2-for-4 with three RBIs and now has seven hits in his past four AFL games.

Ian Rice on Fall League

Rice admits it's not all about trying to get hits, but more so working on the things that he can control.

"I'm just working on stuff with my swing, I'm not too focused on getting hits," Rice said. "I'm just trying to square up the ball. I'm really just working on my path to the ball and trying to stay to center field longer instead of cutting it to left."

When asked about being able to play with Minor League teammates while in Arizona and if it's helped enhance the experience, both Bote and Rice happily agreed.

"It's always fun playing with a bunch of guys that you've played with for a couple of years," Rice said. "You're comfortable in the locker room with them, you go and do extra stuff with them here. [They're] actually my roommates here too, so it's great."

Bote, Rice, and Mesa teammates Jason Vosler and Charcer Burks each played with one another while with Tennessee this year. In Arizona, they've been able to come together and take in the experience with other guys from around the league.

Burks on learning experience

"Being with [them] all season, it was great to be able to come together and have each other's back," Bote said. "They're all stand up guys here, the coaches, everyone. So it definitely makes it easier."

Spencer Turnbull (Tigers' No. 28) picked up his first win of the AFL season and looked comfortable through four innings of work, allowing just two hits and striking out three.

Taylor Gushue (Nats' No. 23) hit his first home run of the season in the second inning. He connected on a 1-0 pitch from Owens to give Mesa a 2-0 lead.

Peoria added a run in the ninth when Alex Jackson (Braves' No. 16) showed off his power with a no-doubt solo home run. He now has five home runs and 10 RBIs in nine games for the Javelinas.

Mesa and Peoria now mirror each other with identical records of 7-6 atop their respective divisions.

Eddie Poe is a graduate journalism student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.