Today, rosters for the 2017 Arizona Fall League – the prospect-laden postseason league – were released, and the following Chicago Cubs prospects will be on the Mesa Solar Sox: Oscar De La Cruz (RHP), Alec Mills (RHP), Jake Stinnett (RHP), Pedro Araujo (RHP), Ian Rice (C), David Bote (IF), Jason Vosler (IF), and Chaucer Burks (OF).
In addition, the Double-A Tennessee Smokies’ hitting coach, Jacob Cruz will be one of the team’s two hitting coaches. Sweet.
The Cubs group is a combination of top prospects, some near-MLB ready types, and some lower level guys, but each will get a chance to either a) test their mettle against some of the best prospects in baseball, and/or b) make up for some lost time this season.
Among those heading to the AFL for that latter explanation, you’ll find Oscar De La Cruz and Alec Mills. Cruz, you’ll recall, just made his return to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans last Thursday, after missing most of the year, and the Cubs are right to give some extra work to make up for the lost developmental time. According to Luke, De La Cruz would be the Cubs’ top overall prospect had he stayed healthy this year. Instead, after missing months of action, he falls all the way down to … number 2. He projects that well.
Alec Mills, you might recall, was acquired in the offseason as part of the reclamation group of pitchers which included Brett Anderson, Eddie Butler, and Casey Kelly. Unfortunately, injuries have kept him off the field for the majority of this season (most recently he was placed on the Triple-A DL with an ankle injury) so the 25-year-old with upside was unable to show the Cubs what he’s got. Now, however, he will get to throw some innings against some of the best competition in the Minor Leagues and reset for 2018.
And that’s really the best part about the AFL – it pits some of the best prospects in the game against each other, many of whom are on the doorstep of the Majors, while allowing some other guys to make a missed season hurt a whole lot less.
I’ll leave a deeper dive on why each of these prospects are headed to the AFL and what they’ll work on once they’re there for Luke. But for now, I just wanted to get the news in front of you.