Boom: Arizona Fall League Will Feature ALL of the Big Four (Baez, Almora, Soler, Bryant)

cacti mesaWe’d already heard that top prospects Jorge Soler and Albert Almora would be heading to Mesa this Fall for the Arizona Fall League, and that was plenty to set everyone’s prospecting heart atwitter.

But today the rosters were released, and the Cubs’ contingent will also include both of Javier Baez and Kris Bryant.

*Commence meltdown.*

Having each of the Cubs’ top four prospects in the AFL is not only very exciting, but it’s telling that the Cubs are ready and willing to challenge each of the four with the AFL. Baez is the only one who’s been there before, but it was for just a couple weeks last year (his appearance ended early with an injury). Each is relatively young for the prospect-heavy league.

Almora is technically on the taxi squad, which means he won’t play as much as the other three, which is understandable. At just 19, he’s very young for league.

Also coming to the league from the Cubs are Arodys Vizcaino (recovering from an elbow procedure, which itself came as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery), Matt Loosen (Rule 5 eligible), Dallas Beeler (Rule 5 eligible), and Armando Rivero (big-time Cuban reliever who’s been flying up the ranks this year).

I’ll soon have more on each of the prospects in the league, including the reasons for their inclusion and analysis of what the Cubs will be looking for.

The Cubs’ prospects will play on the Mesa Solar Sox, a team that will also feature players from the Detroit Tigers, the Los Angeles Angels, the Oakland Athletics, and the Washington Nationals.

The AFL season kicks off on October 8, and concludes with a championship on November 16. It’s a healthily long season, and plenty of time to enjoy both baseball and prospects (especially if your big team is at home in October). Every AFL season is fun to follow, but this one will be over the moon.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

81 responses to “Boom: Arizona Fall League Will Feature ALL of the Big Four (Baez, Almora, Soler, Bryant)”

  1. fromthemitten

    ohhhh shit I might have to make the trip to catch a couple games

  2. JB88

    In a complete vacuum, but I think you have to consider this particularly good news as it relates to the health of Vizcaino, Soler, and Almora.

    1. Cedlandrum

      Also Beeler as well.

      1. On The Farm

        Who is Beeler?

        1. JB88

          Dallas Beeler, TN Smokies’ pitcher, who has been out with injury since May.

        2. Luke

          Big guy, has decent stuff. At one time he was projected as high as No 3 starter, but I suspect he’s more of a No 4 guy long term.

          1. swaz46

            I love the fact that there is so much prospect knowledge on this site.

        3. DarthHater

          g1377637096883705061.jpg

  3. cubsin

    Superb! Now we’ll have something to follow every day in October and the first half of November. Then we’ll have trades, free agent signings, the Rule 5 draft and the Winter Meetings to tide us over until Spring Training starts.

    1. On The Farm

      Luckily the Bears Post Season run should be able to get us from Jan. to through the begining of Feb.

      1. jkppkj

        I’m not counting on that, but hoping for it.

  4. willis

    This is pretty awesome news. I’m happy to see the big four bats, but even more important to me is Vizcaino’s inclusion. He needs some innings and against strong competition, if they are letting him play there, must mean they trust he is healthy enough to do so, which is the biggest and best news.

    1. On The Farm

      Everyone one of our big prospects need to come up big here. Soler, Almora, and Vizcaino are rebounding from injuries of different degrees. Almora probably just needs the expirence. Soler is probably ticketed for AA next season, but a good AFL + a good start at AA could lead to an even faster promotion to AAA, and then eventually MLB. Vizcaino can hopefully get some innings to help the MLB club at the minimum in a RP capicity. As for Bryant and Baez hopefully they can continue their career years and use that momentum to do great things next year.

      1. Koyie Hill Sucks

        I hope Almora gets in a few games and as everyone has said it will be interesting to see how Vizcaino pitches.

        1. On The Farm

          I think Vitters got in 7 games his first stint in the AFL, I would think Almora should see somewhere around that number.

  5. On The Farm

    I am not sure if we could have gotten better AFL news

  6. mak

    Oh man. What’s not to love about this? In my fantasy world (one that does not reflect a knowledge of the system based on watching these guys play), I’d maybe sub out Beeler and put in a guy like Paniagua or Burke. But really great news.

    1. Cedlandrum

      Beeler is a great guy for this. He is a big guy with a solid frame and good stuff. This is do or die time for him with the Cubs. He is rule V eligible I believe and someone may take a flyer on him.

      1. ssckelley

        I doubt the Cubs will need to protect either Loosen or Beeler. Neither have had much success at AA and Beeler has been hurt most of the season. Clubs would have to really be reaching to draft one of those guys.

    2. On The Farm

      Just my thoughts, but I think Burke will be safe, just don’t know if his stuff really screams he is worth stashing for a full season.

      1. mak

        Probably true. I do think “position player converted to pitcher” seems to pop on some radar screens, and I’ve heard the stuff can be good. Regardless, Beeler/Paniagua/Burke/etc. are all about the same level of unknown potentials that it’s really nit picking. Beeler has been out all year, so it probably is appropriate to see if he will have a chance in this org.

  7. Koyie Hill Sucks

    Do they stream these games online? or at least have gameday?

    1. Corey

      MLb is missing the opp for mlb.tv here. I’d gladly pay 30 or 40 bucks to stream these games.

  8. Vin23

    TV??? Wow, I’d rather watch that than another AB by McDonald or Gillespie.

  9. C. Steadman

    this is gonna be the best AFL season ever to follow as a Cubs

    1. C. Steadman

      fan

  10. cubsfanforever

    Agreed. This is awesome news indeed

  11. mjhurdle

    Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates for some A ball player named Herrera

    1. On The Farm

      Per Professor Parks @ProfessorParks:

      “Dilson Herrera has a right side profile on defense, but a promising bat with good pop. Projects as a ML regular down the line if it clicks.”

  12. Cedlandrum

    I haven’t been this excited about an AFL squad in like ever. Hot Damn!

  13. Cizzle

    I wondered out loud about this here about 2 weeks ago and got reamed. I’m glad the eligibility rules changed.

    1. On The Farm

      At least you aren’t still bitter about being reamed ;)

      1. Cizzle

        Not bitter, just didn’t want to get into an argument then about me not knowing the eligibility rules.

  14. RD

    Is it possible to overwork someone like Baez or have him get burnt out a little? He has played A LOT of baseball in many different places the last year… I am not complianing at all- just want to see if anyone else had this thought.

    1. Noah

      It’s one more month of baseball in a hitter friendly environment in a place where he’ll have to do significantly less day to day and week to week travel than he did throughout this season. He’ll still have half of November, all of December, all of January, and most of February off.

  15. JB88

    It will be interesting to see in what role Vizcaino is used. Does he come in out of the pen or “start”. Definitely a subplot to watch.

  16. fromthemitten

    lol Mike Maroth is the pitching coach

  17. Stevie B

    Holy COW!!!!!

  18. On The Farm

    So question, are most of the pitchers guys teams are trying to get an extended look at before the rule 5 draft or do most teams send actual “star” prospects to the AFL? I will plead ignorance since the Cubs haven’t had a whole lot of pitching talent to send, so I was wondering what types of pitchers are the BIG FOUR looking to get hits off of.

    1. On The Farm

      Now I see the tweet form Rosenthal that the Twins are sending Meyer, and Giants are sending Crick so that kind of answers my question.

    2. Noah

      You do generally see a much lower caliber of pitching at the AFL than hitting, but that’s largely because an organization will place innings caps on their pitchers, and they don’t do that with their hitters. So Pierce Johnson, who including playoffs will likely throw about 130 innings this season is likely near his limit and wouldn’t be considered. You’ll generally see pitchers who were injured at some point in the season and could use the innings, like Alex Meyer and Danny Hultzen.

  19. Patrick G

    Could Vizcaino break camp next spring if he has a good Fall season and shows he’s healthy? Bit of a long shot but I’m sure everyone is excited to see him ASAP

    1. On The Farm

      I would think since it has been so long since he has thrown they are going to need him to build his arm strength up. His stamina has to be real low. So I don’t think he will break camp with the Cubs.

    2. Noah

      Only if the Cubs have given up on Vizcaino being a starter. If the Cubs are going to try to make Vizcaino a starter, he’s going to be in Iowa to start the season. I also bet that Vizcaino will have pretty strict innings limit next season. Maybe 60-70 innings starting in Iowa, and a call up for another 30 or so out of the pen for the Cubs.

  20. hankp

    Has anyone been to AFL games before? Is the environment similar to going to a minor league game? Gonna be down there for a weekend in October anyway and might extend my trip a day or two if it’s worth it.

    1. Spriggs

      It is awesome! You’ll love it. Usually about 300 to 800 people at the games. Usually closer to 300. They do have programs, concessions, PA announcers, etc.

  21. cub2014

    Brett,
    So each team will have 20 pitchers and 20 position
    players? Or where the Cubs numbers 4&4 random?

  22. Clark Addison

    Will they be playing in the new ballpark?

    I went to an AFL game a couple of years ago and attendance was about 50, most of them scouts and family.

    1. Spriggs

      No. The new park is not ready. Still at Hohokam

  23. Spriggs

    BEST NEWS THIS YEAR!

  24. C. Steadman

    Javier Baez and George Springer led the Solar Sox last year in homers (only 4, but play along) and now both lead the minor leagues…crazy

  25. Tremendous Slouch

    so where can we catch these games on TV? I seem to remember the MLB network televising at least some of the games… Brett will you post a TV schedule (similar to what you did for Spring training games) if you can get your hands on one?

  26. Luke

    This will be a key AFL for Loosen. When he’s been good he’s been very, very good. But his success at Double A has been limited. He needs a strong end to the season, a good playoff start or two, and then a nice showing in the pitching-unfriendly AFL.

  27. Austin8466

    Is the AFL kind of like the Cape Cod league for minor league players?

    I’m not really familiar with it.

    1. Luke

      It’s a prospect-dense scouting/showcase league that allows teams to see some of their better prospects in competition against a higher percentage of better prospects.

      It is similar to the Cape Cod league in that respect, I suppose.

      1. mick

        Many of the players are mlb ready–several will have been up all ready especially pitchers. It is the cream of the crop and every scout, G.M. media etc will be here. Steve Stone hangs out–Billy Beane–Reggie Jackson as he lives here. Roland Hemond started this years ago and is here. Nobody much in attendance so you can talk to these guys or the other 50 that come and go. I talked to Strasberg and Max Scherzer and Harper and Lake . Down through the years I saw Teixeria, Ryan Howard, Carpenter, Pujols, Jeter and on and on play here. About 100$ for 6 weeks of cool days and evenings–day games and night games all in an easy drive. Best kept secret in all of sports. We have an all-star game in mid-season and then a championship game the last day. It will give you a good idea of our guys but will see the other teams top dogs and what we are up against. Hotel-motels nearby are economical this time of year. Talk to anybody that has been here and it is a serious fans dream. All the autographs you want if that is your thing–can even bring bats with you to be signed. There is usually about 20 hardcore pro collectors but does not matter. Players are treated well here with gourmet food at clubhouse. Beware they will not play every game–shared positions and they ticked Baez off bigtime last year.

        1. Eli

          Mick if you go quite a bit, I am looking to go to the nigh and weekend games and would love to have some company.

  28. Adventurecizin' Justin

    Seriously, the MLB Network really should consider televising more of the AFL games! Why Not?

    1. ssckelley

      I don’t get it either, obviously there is not much to broadcast during the off season so why not broadcast some of the games. No different than the BTN, I do not understand why they do not televise more of the Big Ten baseball/softball games during the off season of basketball and football.

  29. Jason Powers

    IcX7G.jpg

  30. wvcubsfan

    So the team name is Solar Sox, but neither of the Sox teams send players? Odd.

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