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.