When the Cubs announced that Javier Baez and Arodys Vizcaino would not be participating in the Arizona Fall League as previously expected, there was a vacuum-sucking sound of disappointment. Once that cleared, however, there was only a set of questions: Who will replace Baez? Will it mean Albert Almora comes off the taxi squad? Who will replace Vizcaino?
Well, we’ve got the first two questions answered now: Wes Darvill and Yes.
Taking Baez’s spot on the full Mesa Solar Sox roster is Albert Almora, who’d previously been assigned to the taxi squad, which would have allowed him to play only twice a week. Almora, who missed a great deal of time this year with a variety of injuries, figures to be extremely young in the league this year, and could find it quite a challenge. From the Cubs’ perspective, though, I’d think they’re happy to get him some additional game action this season as they look ahead to his placement in 2014.
Taking Almora’s place on the taxi squad is Wes Darvill, a utility prospect about whom many of you probably haven’t heard. A 5th round pick out of high school in 2009, Darvill has worked his way up through the Cubs’ system slowly and steadily. He’s light with the bat – this year was the first that he kept his OPS over .700, split between low and high-A. Darvill just turned 22 earlier this month, and doesn’t strike out much. He can play all over the field, so there’s potential future utility value. Darvill is a Rule 5-eligible player, so there was an additional incentive to get him some extra playing time before any decisions have to be made. That said, regardless of his performance in the AFL, it would be a surprise to see him added to the 40-man this winter.
As for the final question – who replaces Vizcaino – we don’t yet have an answer. Vizcaino, who hasn’t pitched competitively in two years after Tommy John surgery and then elbow debridement surgery, was scratched from the AFL in favor of the instructional league. We’ll see if and who the Cubs send to the AFL in Vizcaino’s spot.