Cubs Sending Eight Prospects to the AFL, Including the Big Four of Baez, Bryant, Soler and Almora

The Cubs future will be on display at the Arizona Fall League, which begins play on October 8. The top four prospects in the system, including the Cubs’ last three top draft picks, were officially named to the Mesa Solar Sox’s roster on Tuesday.

Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler will play in the AFL along with pitchers Dallas Beeler, Arodys Vizcaino, Armando Rivero and Matt Loosen. Almora was named to the taxi squad and will only be active for games on Wednesday and Saturday.

As expected, the Cubs are using the AFL as a way for players to make up development time they have missed during the regular season, with the exceptions of Javier Baez and Matt Loosen.

Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Dallas Beeler have missed significant time this year due to injuries and Arodys Vizcaino missed the entire season recovering from Tommy John surgery in March of 2012. The Cubs still view Vizcaino as an option for the starting rotation moving forward, they just need to get him healthy and on a mound.

Dallas Beeler has been sidelined with a torn tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand and has been on the disabled list since May 23. Beeler was showing improvement this year prior to the injury.

The Cubs signed Cuban RHP Armando Rivero to a minor league contract back in March and gave him a $3.1 million signing bonus. The 24-year old right hander has shown improvement with each promotion this season. For the year, Rivero is 0-1 in 18 games (Kane County, Daytona and Tennessee) with a 4.23 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP (26 hits, 12 walks, 43 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings).

Matt Loosen is a pitcher to keep an eye on the Cubs’ system. Loosen tossed a no-hitter this year with the D-Cubs but until Monday night, Loosen had struggled at the Double-A level this year.

Albert Almora has been out since August 9 with a groin injury and was recently sent back to his home in Florida to prepare for the off-season. Almora was impressive while he was on the field. In 61 games with Kane County, Almora put together a .329/.376/.466 slash line with 17 doubles, four triples and three home runs for a .842 OPS.

Jorge Soler has been out since the end of June with a fractured left tibia. Soler hit .281/.343/.467 in 55 games with 13 doubles, one triple and eight home runs.

Kris Bryant has not disappointed since he signed with the Cubs just prior to the deadline. In 30 games between Boise and Daytona, Bryant has managed a .349/.395/.670 line with 12 doubles, one triple and three home runs (1.065 OPS) and in 10 games with the D-Cubs, .368/.400/.684/1.084 with three doubles and three home runs.

Javier Baez has put together a special season, especially for a 20-year old. But more importantly, Baez has shown steady improvement all year in the field and at the plate.

In 48 games with the Smokies, Baez has hit .308/.360/.656 with 14 doubles and 18 home runs with 48 RBI and a 1.016 OPS. In 124 games between Daytona and Tennessee, Baez has managed a .287/.347/.583/.930 line with 33 doubles, four triples, 35 home runs and 105 RBI.

One of the many storylines this fall will be where Baez and Bryant play in the field. Both Baez and Bryant figure to be in big league camp next spring on non-roster invites and may be closer to the majors than the Cubs are admitting at this point.

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  • Theboardrider

    At least ince the season ends we’ll have these guys ti follow. I like that these 4 will be playing together. I believe greatness begets greatness and these guys will really push each other. To me it’s one thing really hurting Rizzo, for example, this season.

    I do hope Baez gets a nice break before spring training. Could the fact he’s going to Arizona, despite popular belief, mean they are trying to make a push to get him ready for Chicago next year? I’ll try not to read too much into it but it is possible.

    And who will all eyes be on in the AFL? That’s right, Vizcaino.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I’m just pulling it out of my butt, but maybe they’re sending Baez to either try him at some new positions or see if he improves at SS. A lot less pressure in the AFL.

      • Tom U

        Baez will have a run for his money at SS with Oakland’s Addison Russell. The 19 year old profiles similar to Baez offensively, with a .279 average, 17 HR and 17 SB at Advanced A Stockton.

        The difference is defense, as Baez is fielding only .932 with 42 errors while Russell is fielding .969 with 13 errors for the season.

        • John_CC

          Really? I don’t know the player at all, but did look at his stats, impressive. But his 17 HR came in almost exactly twice as many AB as Javy’s 18 HR at a higher level. And not to defend Baez’s defense, but rather to defend against his detractors that always point out the errors, he has improved quite a lot since being called up to AA, from a .920 Fld% at Daytona to .950 in Tennessee.

          But I hope you are right, some competition should be good for Baez. It seems like he enjoys it the way he has improved every aspect of his game since moving up to AA.

          • Tom U

            Absolutely! First base will be contested between the Angels’ CJ Cron, the Nationals’ Matt Skole, and the A’s Max Muncy.

            The Angels’ Taylor Lindsey and the Tigers’ Devon Travis will compete at second. That means that manager Bill Richardson (angels) will have to find someone to play third along with Kris Bryant.

            Incidentally, the Cubs will have no coaches in Arizona for the Fall League.

        • gary3411

          Addison Russell is going to be awesome.

    • John_CC

      I suspect, like GreyDigger, that Baez will be worked out at different positions. Which positions will be the fun thing to see. You have to think that he’ll get a shot at 2B and 3B. But that means that Bryant will need to start seeing time in LF as well. I don’t know.

      One thing though, I do not believe that this Cubs FO is going to be “pushing” any of these young prospects into the ML before they are ready. That was the way of the old regime.

  • paulcatanese

    That’s a pretty powerful group to send there. Should be some high scoring things going on. Again, interesting where Baez and Bryant line up in the field.

    • daverj

      Here’s to hoping it’s still a pretty powerful group when they hit Wrigley!

      • paulcatanese

        Agree, and the only thing missing is the
        TV coverage of those games, that would be a great bonus.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Yeah, yeah, yeah….blah…and David DeJesus was just put on waivers by the Rays.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Kim must be really hitting the bottle now.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Marlin Byrd is a Pirate. Hitting .285 with 21 HR this year.
    Hey, that’s better than David DeJesus, and Michael Bowden.

    • Tony_Hall

      Didn’t you run him out of town…….

      • Theboardrider

        Guy could always play. Just a headcase. Guys like that will go up and down in stats like a yo-yo. Too bad we got him when he was waaaay down…

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          Byrd was a headcase? You thinking of Milton Bradley? I didn’t remember hearing about issues with Byrd, but maybe I missed that.

          • Theboardrider

            You are exactly right! Totally mixed-up…

  • CubbyDenCritic

    21 HR for Byrd?………get the PED’s testing kit out.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    I think this is all great…should only help speed up the process of getting them to the big show.
    I am a bit surprised on Baez though, as he had a full season, right? Figured we don’t want to wear him out…but then again, hitters are different than pitchers in that regard, I suppose.
    All the others had some injuries or started late, so totally get the need for extra work.

    • bpot92

      He also may play less than the others due to the fact that there are other top prospects from other teams at ss as well

    • triple

      As Bpot says, he definitely won’t be playing every day. I do wonder if he will get a green light from coaches to play some other positions, while other shortstops get some PT. Also, I wonder if the FO will be counting his games played as some more AA experience? That would probably leave him in AA to start next year for just another month or two, maybe a short stop in Iowa, and then be called up after whatever date doesn’t move up his arbitration eligibility. Man is it gonna be fun to see him play in spring training!

      • Neil

        Baez will split time at short with the A’s top prospect, Addison Russell. Hoyer said today that Baez will play other positions but cautioned not to read too much into the Cubs’ prospects playing different positions in the AFL.

        • 07GreyDigger

          Ha. I was right for once!

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  • JasonPen

    Awesome. Just Awesome.