The Arizona Fall League (AFL) is a very competitive league filled with top prospects from various MLB organizations. On Tuesday, teams announced which prospects they would be sending to play in the AFL. Once again, an impressive group of prospects will be making the trip to Arizona.
25 of the top 100 prospects on MLB.com are on AFL rosters including the top prospect in all of baseball, Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins. Of the eight players the Chicago Cubs are sending to play for the Mesa Solar Sox, four of them are on that top 100 MLB.com prospect list.
Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora are the top four prospects in the Cubs’ system and all of them will be making the trip to Arizona.
The other four players participating in the AFL for the Cubs are pitchers Dallas Beeler, Matt Loosen, Armando Rivero and Arodyz Vizcaino. Of these four pitchers, Vizcaino is by far the most interesting of the bunch. Vizcaino was once considered one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. He has had arm injuries the past two seasons, including an injured elbow that forced him out for the entire 2013 season.
It will be very interesting to see Vizcaino pitch once again. He is only 22-years-old and has huge potential, but health is obviously a huge concern.
I am very interested to see Vizcaino, but the “big four” Cubs’ prospects are what I am most looking forward too. Baez has probably separated himself from the pack of Cubs prospects this season. He is hitting .287 with 35 home runs between Single-A and Double-A.
Baez, who has played shortstop exclusively in the minors, is expected to play some 2B and 3B in the AFL. It is expected that Baez will change positions when he reaches the majors with Starlin Castro holding down shortstop for the Cubs.
Bryant was the second overall pick by the Cubs in the 2013 Amateur Draft. Bryant plays third base, but many think he eventually becomes a corner outfielder. He has a very smooth swing that generates incredible power. In only 30 games in the minor league, Bryant is hitting .349 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs. It will be good for Bryant to get more playing time in the AFL as he appears to be a possible fast mover through the system.
The Cubs signed Soler out of Cuba last season. He is an athletic outfielder who hits for a good average and has solid power. Soler only played 55 games this season at advanced-A because of stress fracture in his leg. The Cubs are surely sending Soler to the AFL to make up for the at-bats he lost during the season.
Almora was the Cubs’ first round pick in 2012. He does not have the power that the other three guys have, but he is great in other aspects of the game. Many scouts have said that Almora could play center field in the majors right now. At only 19-years-old, that is definitely saying something.
What Almora lacks in power, he makes up for in his ability to make contact, as his .329 batting average in Single-A this season shows. He also stole 30 bases. Almora was also hit with the injury bug as he only played in 61 games due to a groin injury.
Similarly to Soler, the Cubs would like to see Almora make up for some lost at-bats. Almora is on the AFL “taxi-squad”, which means he can only play on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Even with the limited at-bats, the experience will be a good one for Almora.
I am very excited to see how the Cubs’ prospects perform in the Arizona Fall League. It will be interesting to see how they hold up against such high-level competition. No matter what happens, it is just exciting that the Cubs have this much elite talent to send to an event like this. AFL games kick off on October 8 and end on November 16.