Today, rosters for the 2015 Arizona Fall League – the prospect-laden postseason league – were released, and the following Chicago Cubs prospects will be on the Mesa Solar Sox:
- Corey Black – Transitioned to the bullpen at AA halfway through this season with mixed results. His strikeouts jumped even more, as you’d expect, but so did his walks. The stuff is there for the 24-year-old righty to be an impact bullpen arm (possibly even a multi-inning guy), but it’s not quite there yet.
- Cael Brockmeyer – Bounced up and down through the system this year because he’s got a very interesting bat, and he just needs more time to work behind the plate.
- Jeimer Candelario – He’s been killing it at AA, and is a Rule 5 eligible prospect after this season. He’ll get in more top-quality work this fall before the Cubs have to make a 40-man roster decision.
- Willson Contreras – One of the Cubs’ best prospects and one of the top catching prospects in baseball. He’s very much on the radar for 2016 (second half?), so a stint in a quality league like the AFL makes sense.
- David Garner – A bit of a breakout relief prospect, Garner had great strikeout and walk rates this year. Could head to AA next year, and be on the big league radar soon thereafter if the performance keeps up.
- Pierce Johnson – Missed time this year, and the AFL will offer an opportunity to add some competitive innings. He’s among the Cubs’ best starting pitching prospects, and could contribute in 2016.
- Mark Zagunis – One of the Cubs’ many quality outfield prospects. I’m a bit surprised he’s going to the AFL after his first full, long professional season, but his bat could be special, and this is a nod to that. He’s ticketed for AA next year, and could contribute soon thereafter.
- Rob Zastryzny – A lefty who missed time due to injury, the AA starter will, like Johnson, get a chance to add in some competitive innings. There’s still big league potential there, but he hasn’t quite taken off since being the Cubs’ second round pick in 2013.
Wow. That’s a lot of big names to follow.
The AFL, which plays between October 13 and November 21, helps pass the time for fans (1) who are nuts about prospects, and (2) follow organizations that don’t make the Major League playoffs, or lose after a single Wild Card game. Maybe number two won’t apply for Cubs fans this year, but the AFL will still be fun, especially when you look at that list of prospects.
The AFL is also fun to follow because 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: J.P. Crawford, Clint Frazier, Sean Manaea, Alex Reyes, Brett Phillips, etc.
Myrtle Beach manager Mark Johnson will be managing the Mesa team this year.