The Chicago Cubs have selected their six representatives for the prospect-heavy Arizona Fall League, which begins October 4th, and will feature two of the top prospects in the game, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.
The Cubs’ representatives will be pitchers Andrew Cashner, Trey McNutt and Chris Carpenter, outfielder Brett Jackson, and infielders DJ LeMahieu and Junior Lake. Reliever Jeff Beliveau will be on the “taxi squad,” which means he can fill in on certain days when a team can’t quite fill a team. The Cubs play on the Mesa Solar Sox team.
I don’t want to read too much into the selections, but there are a few takeaways:
1.) Organizations tend to send six of their top, just-on-the-verge-of-being-big-league-ready prospects to the AFL.
2.) But only if the kid needs to play more baseball, which many top prospects do not.
3.) The league is frequently used to give guys who missed time due to injury (Carpenter, McNutt, Cashner) a chance to get in some high quality innings in preparation for the next season.
4.) Specifically, the Cubs have said they want to see Cashner stretch back out in the AFL, in the hopes that he can start next year.
5.) The inclusion of Brett Jackson suggests he won’t be called up in September. Although not impossible, it’s hard to see the Cubs shuffling him up to Chicago for a month (of relative inaction, given Mike Quade’s predilections) after a full minor league season (though he did miss a few weeks with a pinky injury), and then sending him down to Arizona for a month of highly-competitive ball. That’s a heck of a long season for your top prospect.