Consider this a special edition of the EBS, which probably will not be a regular thing throughout the Arizona Fall League season (or the MLB playoffs, should an idea strike my fancy).

The AFL kicked off yesterday with the Cubs-including Mesa Solar Sox dropping one to the Salt River Rafters. More importantly, five of the Cubs’ AFL players saw action, and all had success. Matt Szczur led off for the Solar Sox and drew a couple walks, Rubi Silva got a pinch hit, Kevin Rhoderick struck out three and gave up just one hit in 1.2 scoreless relief innings, and Tony Zych struck out the only batter he faced (on three pitches).

And then there was Javier Baez. Well, I guess it’s true

  • Noah

    I honestly have some concerns about Baez being in the Arizona Fall League. It’s just such a hitter’s league, and Baez does have some bad habits he needs to correct to become what he could be. It’s really premature, and I’m sure the Cubs have him working on those things and want him to do so in game action, but I’ll get a little more worried if we keep seeing a bunch of 2-4 days with the 2 outs being strikeouts.

    With that said, the sky could be the limit for Baez offensively.

    • Kyle

      He’s the second youngest guy there. If you want him to work on his flaws, you have to find ways to challenge him, as Midwest League pitchers did not. Of course, he was facing a MLB pitcher last night and hit a 430-foot home run, so it’s going to be hard to keep finding ways to challenge him.

    • Spriggs

      There is no doubt that the AFL is a hitter’s league, but it’s not like some ridiculous video game. He will be challenged there. Starters face about 3 or 4 different pitchers every game and yes… some are very good. Young hitters like Harper, Trout, Vitters (yes, same sentence with Trout and Harper) didn’t just walk in and tear the league up. If Baez does tear it up, it will be a great accomplishment. And if he can learn how to recognize a breaking pitch a little quicker, he will be tearing up every league he plays in.

    • Luke

      Keep in mind that Baez got dealt one heckuva reality check when he went to Daytona. Unless he has a very short memory, he should still be amendable to working hard on those bad habits.

      And despite his reputation earned in that one game against the Angel in extended spring training, he seems to be a very coachable kid.

      • fortyonenorth

        How much stock do you put in his Daytona numbers? After all, I don’t know if the D-Cubs played two games in a row after Baez was called-up. Hard to “adjust” to higher-level pitching when you’re seeing them a few times a week at best.

        • King Jeff

          I don’t think we should care about the low numbers as much as we should care how he adjusts to the mistakes he’s making. He seemed to improve with every at bat toward the end of his run with Daytona, and he’s off to a fast start here.

          Noah, I think every Cubs fan in the world would take 2-4 with 2 k’s every night if it came with a HR and 3 rbi’s like it did last night.

  • Eric

    The Baez HR was an absolute BOMB and the double was also very impressive. Team Theo was in attendance and Baez wasted no time making an impression. Dan Vogelbach was also in the house and stopped by to give Theo his best.

  • Cubbie Blues

    I love the fact that Brian Harper (Daytona Cubs Manager) is also the hitting coach of the Solar Sox. Baez won’t be getting contradicting instruction.

  • MightyBear

    I thought Castellanos was a 3B prospect? Why is he playing RF? Is this the same Castellanos everybody wants the Cubs to get from the Tigers?

    • Spriggs

      Same guy

    • Alex

      Probably trying to get him acclimated with another position, since they have some guy named Cabrera playing 3B for the foreseeable future.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        The “foreseeable future” is 2013 and maybe not that much longer. VMart is slated to be the DH in 2013, but his contract is up after that. Miggy will vacate 3rd then, either for DH or 1st (with Prince going to DH).

        Supposedly a lot of teams were asking about Castellanos at the trade deadline and earlier, but the Tigers were stating all year that he was untouchable.

        • Alex

          You have a helluva grasp on what “foreseeable future” means.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            The Tigers were very upfront about this being their plan this spring and it looks like they meant it given the fact that they really could have used a good starter this year. Their local media and fans brought it up a lot last winter, and it seems like there was the usual “we have to win NOW!!” vs. “Don’t mortgage the future!” discussion. However, the Tigers were hoping that one of their young starters (Smyly or Turner) would step up and be adequate, which would have let them do both. (They still might!)

            It’s the same thing with the Nats. Anthony Rendon is not really being blocked by Ryan Zimmerman: as soon as Rendon is ready, then Zimmerman moves to 1B. (Zim might move earlier: he now throws like his shoulder is in agony.)

            The Rangers might have to figure out what to do with Olt, but they’ll likely have an opening at 1B soon.

            • Luke

              There has been talk since the draft that Rendon could probably handle second base. I suspect the Nats will try that first.

    • BD

      Because the Tigers have a triple-crown winner at 3B with nowhere else to put him.

    • Chris

      Yep, the Tigers moved him to the OF this past season. They were considering brining him up to play the OF.

  • cubchymyst

    stumbled upon this and figure I’d share. Its a preliminary top 50 hitters in the minors by John Sickels.

    • Richard Nose

      Welp, this just made me horny.

      • cubchymyst

        Here is a downer for you then, I also found his preliminary top 50 pitching prospects list which contained 0 Cubs.

    • Luke

      Baez, Almora, and Soler did not surprise me at all.

      Vogelbach did a little.

      • Richard Nose

        I honestly thought Vogelbach would be a bit higher, not very high though. Kinda thought Bubba Starling would be higher too. Starling and Vogelbach have both produced already. Puig, Soler, and Almora havent had much of an opportunity to. I didn’t realize Kolten Wong and Jackie Bradley were legit hitters either.

      • Myles

        In comments, he admitted that he wasn’t sure that Vogelbach deserved to be on the list, but he “wanted to highlight him”

        I’m all for taking BPA in the next draft, but I hope that we target pitchers next year in the draft just like we did this one.

  • BluBlud

    Out of the 12 batters to reach base, 5 times it was a Cubs prospect. Out of 5 runs, 2 of them were Cubs. Out of 5 RBIs, 3 were from Cubs players. They had the only Sac Fly. Out of the 7 strike outs by Mesa’s pitchers 4 of them were Cubs. Looks like the Cubs players held up their end of the Bargain in this game.

  • Ssckelley

    Why is AFL considered a hitters league? Even if teams are not sending their top pitching prospects it appears they are using a lot of them, 12 used between both teams in this game.

    • Kyle

      Arizona is a pretty hitter-friendly environment. Nice, dry air takes the bite of pitch’s movements and helps the ball carry, plus visibility is always great.

      Contrast that with Florida, which is very humid, and is notoriously pitcher-friendly.

  • lou brock lives

    As noted many times at this sight there is a legitimate lack of quality third basemen available this off season at the ML level, but on Sickels list of top 50 hitters at the minor league level there are 8 third basemen.
    Many are with teams already stocked with a top quality player at that position – Beltre at Texas, Cabrera at Detroit, Zimmerman at Washington, Headley at San Diego & others.
    Maybe Theo should be talking earnestly with 1 or more of these teams when looking to move Garza / Soriano & others since our Cubs are in desparate need of a third sacker & starting pitchers.

    • Ssckelley

      I wonder what San Diego would want for Headley.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Seemingly quite a lot, given that several teams supposedly inquired last winter and again at the trading deadline. The Pads made noises about wanting to build around Headley and it seems likely that they are serious: given the “chatter,” the probably got (or could have gotten if they simply said “no”) some interesting offers on Headley.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    How about my TN Smokies relievers: Rhoderick and Zych: 2.0 IP, 1 hit, 4K’s

    Not a bad little effort in the AFL debuts.

  • Alex

    Here is a nice story on the Cubs Prospects from

    . Sorry that it’s in a mobile format, but I’m posting from my phone.

  • North Side Irish

    Found a link to Baez’s HR…wow…just wow…

    • FFP

      Hah! Wow. That was fast.
      Love the fan-videographer’s “color commentary” too. He sounds like a New Englander.
      Great find.

    • Brett

      Nice find.

    • MichiganGoat

      That kid has some power, nice find lets hope we see this happening on the north side in the next few years

  • Sven-Erik312

    This is good, I’d like to see you and Luke keep an eye on all of those games.