Keeping an Eye on the Cubs Prospects

The 20th season of the Arizona Fall League (AFL) kicked off on Tuesday. The Cubs have seven players and coach Brian Harper on the Mesa Solar Sox roster. Javier Baez, Matt Szczur, Rubi Silva, Kevin Rhoderick, Tony Zych and Nick Struck have seen action in the first two days. Dae-Eun Rhee is the only Cubs’ prospect yet to play.

Javier Baez, the second youngest player in the AFL, kicked his season off with a tape measure blast in his first at bat on Tuesday night. Baez played shortstop and went 2-for-4 with a home run, a double and three RBI in the opener. Baez suited up again Wednesday and went 0-for-4 while playing third base. Matt Szczur (1-for-6 with two walks, a stolen base, a sac bunt and HBP) and Rubi Silva (2-for-6 with a run scored) have also played in both games.

The AFL season runs through November 15.

The Instructional League games wrap up this week in Arizona, with the last game on Saturday.

Baseball America’s Top Prospects by League
Baseball America is releasing top prospect lists for each league throughout the minor league system. The Cubs have a lot of talent in the lower levels and several of the Cubs’ best young players made their league’s lists.

2012 AZL Top 20 Prospects
2. Albert Almora, OF
4. Jorge Soler, OF
14. Dan Vogelbach, 1B

2012 Northwest League Top 20 Prospects
2. Dan Vogelbach, 1B
6. Marco Hernandez, SS
7. Jeimer Candelario, 3B
9. Gioskar Amaya, 2B
15. Stephen Bruno, INF
16. Trey Martin, OF
17. Taylor Scott, RHP

2012 Midwest League Top 20 Prospects
1. Javier Baez, SS

2012 Carolina League Top 20 Prospects
9. Christian Villanueva, 3B

Baseball America also included scouting reports for several of the players (by subscription only).

MiLB.com’s Cubs Organizational All-Stars
MiLB.com is taking a look at each team’s minor league system this winter and naming an all-star team for each organization … regardless of age or prospect status. MiLB.com released their report on the Cubs’ system on Wednesday.

Cubs Organization All-Stars

  • Juan Apodaca – Catcher
  • Dan Vogelbach – First Base
  • Stephen Bruno – Second Base
  • Javier Baez – Shortstop
  • Josh Vitters – Third Base
  • Matt Szczur – Outfield
  • John Andreoli – Outfield
  • Greg Rohan – Outfield
  • Nick Struck – RHP
  • Eric Jokisch – LHP
  • Frank Batista – Reliever
  • Anthony Rizzo – Utility
  • Logan Watkins – Honorable Mention

The report from MiLB.com includes quotes from Jason McLeod on each player. McLeod told MiLB.com that he envisions Stephen Bruno as being more of a second baseman. Logan Watkins “really encompasses a lot of what we want our players to do – control the zone, get on base, hit for average, and he played good defense.” Matt Szczur reminds McLeod of Reed Johnson and Nick Struck is a bulldog on the hill according to McLeod.

Full Report from MiLB.com

News and Rumors
According to Bruce Levine, the White Sox tried to trade for Tony Campana and were told that Campana was not available.

The Cubs were happy with the progress Welington Castillo made during the season. Castillo will likely begin Spring Training as the favorite to be the Cubs everyday catcher next season. The Tribune did not rule out the Cubs acquiring a veteran back-up catcher but acknowledged that a veteran backup is not a priority on a rebuilding team like the Cubs.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are in Mesa this week with the Cubs’ scouting staff for the end of year meetings. Epstein and Hoyer have been attending Instructional League and AFL games.

According to Bruce Levine, Bob Brenly is negotiating a long-term deal to stay with the Cubs’ broadcast team.

According to a report from the Tribune, the Cubs believe Darwin Barney can be an integral part of the team for years to come and from all indications Barney is considered a part of the core, despite trade rumors last July. The Cubs want to see him make improvements at the plate, but as of now, he is in no danger of losing his everyday job at second base.

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