Arizona Fall League Preview
Still want to watch some of baseball’s top prospects? Though the minor league season ended in September, the Arizona Fall League (AFL) is set to begin on October 7th, and the Cubs will have seven players playing, including top prospects Addison Russell and C.J. Edwards.
According to MLB.com, since the league began in 1992, the AFL has seen 212 All-Stars (including 36 this year alone), 25 Rookies of the Year, 12 MVPs and four Cy Young Award winners. This is just to show how successful the league is.
The Cub participants this year are Addison Russell, C.J. Edwards, first baseman Dan Vogelbach, right-handed pitchers Zach Cates and Ivan Pineyro, left-hander Gerardo Concepcion, and outfielder Jacob Hannemann.
This is an opportunity for these young players to make an impact on the Cubs organization. Russell, Edwards, and Vogelbach are all top prospects in the farm system, but still have something to prove. Here are a few things to remember during the fall league on each player.
C.J. Edwards’ performance will determine when Cubs fans will see him at Wrigley. Edwards is coming off an injury season where he only appeared in nine starts for Double-A Tennessee and pitched a total of 53.2 innings. While he pitched well, there is still uncertainty on where he will start the season.
Kris Bryant was in this situation last season going in the AFL. He then won the Most Valuable Player and started in Double-A despite only playing 36 games in A-ball. If Edwards pitches well enough he could start the year at Triple-A Iowa and possibly make his debut with the Cubs in 2015.
Addison Russell’s performance is critical, too, but for different reasons. Performance is everything in life; it shows how people have progressed. For Russell it is to continue his success as one of the top prospects in baseball. This is his second year in the fall league, first with the Cubs. Last year Russell had a slash of .282/.361/.435 in the AFL and in 50 games with Double-A Tennessee, he hit 12 home runs. We will see if he can continue the patience and power combo that has made him so successful.
Dan Vogelbach is going to get his first shot at big time competition. A former second round pick out of high school, Vogelbach has hit 53 home runs in rookie and A-ball the past 3+ seasons, including 16 this past year with Daytona. The six foot, 250 pound lefty has shown a combination of patience and power in his time with the Cubs system and in a hitter friendly fall league he is geared to excel.
Jacob Hannemann is the most intriguing player of the seven Cubs in the fall league. The former Brigham Young football and baseball player took two years off to do his missionary trip and was drafted in the third round in 2013 after only playing one season at BYU. He is now 23 years-old and has been through A-ball, but with streaks of success. He looks like an athlete and has the potential be become one if he can stay consistent.
To round out the group, Gerardo Concepcion is a Cuban defect who signed a 5 year/$6 million deal in 2012. He has not pitched much since coming over which was why he was assigned to the fall league. As for Cates and Pineyro, these are two players with past success in the minors. They are both coming off bad years at Tennessee with high ERAs and low innings, and it looks as if they will try and rebound in Arizona.
Progress matters in baseball and if these players can perform well in the fall league it will look good for the not only them, but the Cubs going into next year.