The Arizona Fall League – a post-regular-season league for minor leaguers, noteworthy for typically hosting several top prospects – kicks off today in, um, well, Arizona. This year, the Cubs will send several of their brightest, including the clear cut top three prospects in the system. Those three:

  • Shortstop Starlin Castro rocketed up the prospect charts after a sparkling year spent partially in High A Dayton and AA Tennessee. Castro, 19, was signed as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic. Not only did Castro play solid defense, but he also put up a solid .299 / .342 / .392 line while being, on average, three years younger than his competition.
  • The Cubs’ first round pick last year, Andrew Cashner also had an excellent minor league season – a combined 2.60 ERA between High A Daytona and AA Tennessee, and holding opposing hitters to a batter average that barely surpassed .200. He continues to transition into the starter role with the Cubs after a tremendous closer career with the TCU Horned Frogs.
  • Josh Vitters has been considered the Cubs’ top prospect since they took him in the first round and third overall in the 2007 draft. Vitters tore up A ball before being promoted to High A Daytona, and then struggling with a wrist injury. Hopefully he’ll get his swing back on track in the AFL.

Also playing the AFL for the Mesa Solar Sox are the following Cubs prospects: reliever John Gaub (part of the Mark DeRosa trade), AAA Iowa closer Blake Parker, starter James Russell, and scuffling catcher Welington Castillo.