Today, the Chicago Cubs announced that they’re sending eight prospects to the Arizona Fall League, which starts in early October. The prospect-laden league is a proving ground for a variety of players each year, and is host to a ton of the biggest names in the minors. Cubs prospects play for the Mesa Solar Sox.
For the Cubs in 2012, those names are Javier Baez, Matt Szczur, Rubi Silva, Dae-Eun Rhee, Nick Struck, Tony Zych, Kevin Rhoderick, and Zach Rosscup. As I’ve said previously, the Fall League is all about getting a look at guys who didn’t get to play much during the year, are in line for a possible look in the bigs the next year, or who are fringe 40-man guys at risk for being lost in the Rule 5 Draft if they aren’t protected. The list this year is a strong variety of all three of those categories, with Rhee, Rosscup and Struck falling into the ever important third category. Zych and Rhoderick are definitely going to get bullpen consideration next year, and the Cubs probably want to get more looks at Szczur, who they had to put on the 40-man roster last year. Silva is a tweener in his position, so it’s possible the Cubs want to see him play a bit more at second base or in the outfield. As for Baez, well, the Cubs likely just want to see him get some more at bats, particularly after a rain-soaked August in Daytona.
At least one or two of those guys will be on the “taxi squad” in the AFL, so they won’t be eligible to play every day. But if last year is any indication, they’ll still see plenty of action, relatively speaking.
Jorge Soler, you’ll note, will not be headed to the AFL. Given his long layoff between his defection and residency process, I’d be surprised if he didn’t play somewhere this offseason. If he doesn’t head to a Winter League, then he’ll continue to train in Arizona at instructionals for a while, at least.