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Nationals AFL Update: Mesa Solar Sox Fighting To Make Championship Game

Matt Purke, Brian Goodwin and Adrian Nieto helped the Mesa Solar Sox to wins in each of the last two games as the AFL East-leading Sox try to hold on to first and make it to the Arizona Fall League's Championship Game this Saturday afternoon.

Christian Petersen

With three games left in the 2013 Arizona Fall League season, the first-place Mesa Solar Sox hold a .5 game lead over the Salt River Rafters in the AFL East. The Surprise Saguaros have already wrapped up the West division and secured their spot in the AFL's Championship game, which is scheduled for Saturday 11/16 at 1:10 PM MST (or 3:10 PM EST in D.C.).

The Solar Sox beat the Peoria Javelinas 4-0 this afternoon in Surprise Stadium in Surprise, AZ. Brian Goodwin and Adrian Nieto, Jr. were the the only Washington Nationals' prospects in the lineup today for the Solar Sox' win.

Goodwin, 23, was 0 for 4 with a walk and two Ks, leaving the 2011 1st Round pick 23 for 77 (.299/.329/.442) with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, three walks and 20 Ks in 18 games so far this fall. The left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing outfielder has a .292/.370/.583 line against left-handed pitching so far in Arizona and a .302/.309/.377 line vs right-handed pitchers. Baseball America released their most-recent list of the Nationals' Top 10 prospects last week and had Goodwin ranked 3rd overall as the highest-ranked position player for the second straight season.

Nieto, 24, singled in his first at bat with two out in the second inning, but was stranded at second base. The Nationals' backstop prospect finished the game 1 for 4, leaving him 11 for 40 (.275/.348/.350) with a double and a triple in 11 AFL games.

Saturday in Arizona, 23-year-old Nats' prospect Matt Purke earned his third win in six starts, improving to (3-1) with a 3.91 ERA, 3.03 FIP, nine walks (3.52 BB/9) and 17 Ks (6.65 K/9) in 23 IP. The 2011 3rd Round pick told MLB.com's Spencer Fordin this weekend that his second AFL stint has been a good learning experience:

"'It's definitely been a good learning experience to come out here and play baseball with a lot of good teammates and a lot of good competition,' he said. 'Everybody that's out there, they're the future for their organizations, so it's a good measuring stick for where you are at the end of the season.'"

Purke fell off Baseball America's Top 10 between the 2013-14 lists. Can the former 1st Round pick pitch his way back into the mix and up through the system this season now that he's finally healthy?

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