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addison russell smokiesToday, the Arizona Fall League revealed its prospect-laden rosters, and the Chicago Cubs’ contingent, headed to the Mesa Solar Sox, includes:

  • C.J. Edwards
  • Addison Russell
  • Dan Vogelbach
  • Jacob Hannemann
  • Zach Cates
  • Ivan Pineyro
  • Gerardo Concepcion

Wow. That is a very interesting group. Let’s run through it.

  • Although the AFL isn’t always friendly to pitchers, I’m still glad to see Edwards included. He missed so much time this year with the shoulder issue that it will be good for him to make up a few innings against high-level competition.
  • Pineyro, acquired last year for Scott Hairston, is in a similar situation, having missed a bunch of time with a forearm injury. Glad to see him included.
  • Russell repeats the AFL this year, and for good reason: he missed a large chunk of the first half of the season with a hamstring injury. Playing in the AFL will allow him to get some of the at bats he missed, and possibly set him up for a AAA debut out of camp next year.
  • Vogelbach’s inclusion is interesting, and could be in part to showcase him a little. He’s got a huge bat that he hasn’t quite showed fully this season, and it would be nice to go into 2015 feeling like he’s on the verge of living up to that ample potential. Where the Cubs go with him from there remains to be seen.
  • Hannemann came to pro baseball as an older prospect, having done a Morman mission and played football at BYU. There’s a ton of talent there, but he needs as much competitive baseball experience as he can get. I love his inclusion. He’s the “taxi squad” designee, a la Albert Almora last year, so he can only play two days per week, unless otherwise needed.
  • Cates is an interesting relief prospect after coming to the Cubs as the second piece in the Anthony Rizzo deal a couple years ago. He’s got a live fastball, and is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, so you can expect that this is one last chance for the Cubs to evaluate him before making a 40-man roster decision.
  • Similarly, Concepcion has emerged from the premature “bust” label as a theoretical future relief prospect. He’s just 22, mind you, and is showing some good things this year, now that he’s fully over mono. Like Cates, he’s Rule 5 eligible.

The AFL, which plays between October 7 and November 13, helps pass the time for fans (1) who are nuts about prospects, and (2) follow organizations that don’t make the Major League playoffs. JACKPOT!

It’s fun to follow for so many reasons, not the least of which is it pits some of the best prospects in the game against each other, many of whom are on the doorstep of the big leagues. Among the big names set for the league: Byron Buxton, Corey Seager, Mark Appel, Raul Mondesi, Archie Bradley, and many others.

Last year, Kris Bryant was the most dominant player in the AFL, winning MVP honors and generally destroying all comers. There was a chance that Kyle Schwarber was going to be that guy this year, but it appears his very long season and possibly the Cubs’ interest in working with him in instructional ball as a catcher precluded an AFL trip. It’s probably more the long season part than the other thing, though, lest you go too far.

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