Arizona Fall League Prospects

Six Cubs will be playing in the Arizona Fall League this year for the Mesa Solar Sox. RHP David Aardsma RHP Angel Guzman SS/CF Buck Coats OF Matt Murton 2B Eric Patterson 1B/OF Brandon Sing Not exactly who I would have expected, but I'm not exactly sure who makes a good candidate for the AFL. According to the article, the AFL is for AA and AAA prospects and only one player below AA is allowed per major league team, in our case, that would be Eric Patterson. Last year the Cubs sent, LHP Sean Marshall, RHP Jae Kuk Ryu, LHP Russ Rohlicek, C Geovany Soto, SS Ronny Cedeno, 1B Brian Dopirak and OF Adam Greenberg. Greenberg was a member of the "Taxi Squad" and could only play on Wednesday and Saturdays. Wacky!! The 2003 roster featured RHP David Cash (no idea), RHP Ben Christensen, RHP Jason Szuminski, C Casey Kopitzke, INF Brendan Harris, INF Ryan Theriot (also a "Taxi Squad") member, and OF Jason Dubois. Organizational Report will be up either late today or tomorrow.
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What this means is Sing will be included on the 40 man roster after the season. Why waste a spot on a guy who won't be on the team next year. Does Murton being sent down have anything to do with Hendry wanting him to play in the AFL?

No doubt Sing is blocked at first base right now, BUT, he's been playing the outfield quite a bit the last 2 years. He played a bunch in left field last year for Daytona and after Greenberg/Murton got called up he's been trying his hand in right field.

I haven't seen any of this for myself, but apparently he has a gun for an arm but he's a big guy (6-5", 215+), so getting around the outfield is probably a bit of a chore. So far his defensive escapades in the outfield got a "mixed results" review from the Jaxx beat writer, David Brandt.

You can't doubt his numbers though...he's only 6 months older than Murton, but has the power you'd want out of a corner outfielder. His last 2 years in minor league ball..

2003 (High A) .270/.399/571 with 32 HR/84 BB/101 K in 408 AB's

2004 (AA) .286/.404/.561 with 25 HR/77 BB/98 K in 371 AB's

And the Jaxx ballpark is not very friendly to hitters..

The Cubs would probably lose him this off-season if he wasn't put on the 40 man roster as he's 6 year minor league free agent and he's been too good lately to do that. Maybe he's just a guy too old for his leagues or maybe he's a late-bloomer, but he's one of my favorite guys in the system right now.

84 BB in 408 AB's
77 BB in 371 AB's

Base-clogger extraordinaire!

I know very little about Sing, but he seems like the kind of guy that at the very least has the ability to play in the show for a few years mashing lefties. The versatility to play a few positions will only help.

murton being sent down has everything to do with nothing. he's gonna be down 2 weeks and evidently they wanted an (somewhat short) extended look at welle more than they wanted murton for a couple weeks or cutting anyone just to bring murton up later.

murton playing fall ball is crucial to his 06 placement. if he can show an improved bat (specifically he can see/pull righties better) he's got a great shot at being in the cubs LF plans next year. go murton.

and sing isnt a waste...well, no more than dubois at this point. he's got power, youth, and a strong arm.

im not a buck coats fan cuz he's a horrible SS, but that's a hell of a fall crew the cubs are sending...the strongest crew i can remember.

looks like cubs fans now really do have something to talk about in october now heheh...

For those of us who don't know...what is the AFL really for? Is it for your top prospects within 2-3 years? I am completely unfamiliar with it...do any of those guys also play winter ball?

And I'm guessing one more guy gets sent as a "Taxi Squad" member as the last 2 years featured 7 guys being sent to the AFL.

the AFL is a feeling out for many things...from guys who are on the cusp of mlb and need to show some things to guys that the team wants to keep hot throught the off-season.

for guys like guzman its a chance to get him some real work after taking so much time off. for a guy like murton its for him to show the club where they should go with their 06 LF plans. for guys like patterson/coats/sing its about work and pretty much nothing more.

there's a little bit of prestigue that goes to being named to these teams...it shows the players that you're at least being considered. it can help you make level jumps (or become burried).

Here's a brief description of the AFL from a pitcher in the Texas system..

http://www.dickiethon.com/eczajka/hudginsafld...

nice one rob...great find. dude can write, too...

Thanks Crunch and Rob G.

Here's the AFL eligibility requirements:

For the record, AFL eligibility is set up like so:

ï Each Major League team provides 6 players. There are 6 teams in the AFL, each one a mix of 5 MLB teams players.
ï All Triple-A and Double-A players are eligible, but they must have been on at least a Double-A roster no later than August 1st.
ï One player below the Double-A level is allowed per MLB team.
ï One foreign player is allowed, as long as they do not live in a country that has a winter ball league, including the Carribbean Confederations or Australian Winter League.
ï No Players with more than one year of ML service (before August 31st) are allowed. The exception are any players picked in the Rule 5 draft.
ï Players on disabled lists in the minors must have been activated 45 days before the end of their season to be eligible

I'm reminded how Dopirak hit well in the AFL last year after being the MVP in A ball - just shows why a prospect is a prospct - you'll see in the organization report.

I find the addition of Murton a little troubling. The purpose of the Fall League is to put the best prospects together so the front offices can get a better sense as to how they would do against "tougher" competition. In other words, it is perfect for Sing, who has been blocked and therefore older and more developed than the leagues he has been assigned (mostly by virtue of being blocked by Choi and Dopirak.)

Another purpose of the Fall League is simply to get guys work or try out a new position -- Guzman and Aardsma fit this bill, and so would Sing. The switch to OF would allow Sing to play every day next year in Iowa.

But what does Murton have to prove? He has faced real major league pitching this season -- more ABs than he would see in the Fall League -- and he has performed admirably. What more do they really expect to learn about Murton? It seems like a waste of a development opportunity to use it on someone who has already proven to have major league value -- unless you are using the AFL to showcase Murton for an offseason trade.

I would like to think that the Fall League slot would be better served with another player in the system like Casey McGehee or Matt Craig (or Luis Montanez if you have to put in an OF for roster purposes.)

As for the "taxi" slot, it might be interesting to see them send Pie -- as a sort of a "rehab" stint.

btw...now that ive read beyond the first few paragraphs and into his "diary" of the AFL...i gotta recomend that link highly. its pretty damn honest.

thnx rob.

David Cash info -- the Cubs got him from the Giants before the 2003 season. He pitched for West Tenn that year and did pretty well, striking out 80 in 59 2/3 innings. He started out 2004 in Iowa but only pitched 17 innings before ging under the knife for TJ surgery. Then at the beginning of this year, while he was in "extended Spring Training," he got suspended for steroid use and pretty much dropped off the face of the Earth.

When Bryan Smith did his Top 30 Prospects this spring (http://www.all-baseball.com/cubreporter/archi...) he said this in a comment: "I like Cash, and yes he was pitching very well in Des Moines last year before getting hurt. The fact that he had elbow surgery is almost a plus, given the success rate. Had Cash stayed healthy, he would have fit somewhere around #20 for me. As it stands, I hope he gets his innings in this year, and I put him back where he belongs."

An interesting note -- the Cubs also sent a PTBNL to the Giants in that deal: Jeff Verplanke, who had been traded to the Cubs for Bill Mueller, but was apparently hurt at the time. Once Dusty became the mananger, he let the Cubsknow what was up and the Cubs traded him back to SF, along with some guy they had just signed out of the indy leagues () for Cash.

dctom...the murton thing is great.

he's useless to the team's 06 plans unless he can show he's not a dud against righties and he's only got a little adjustment until he is usefull.

you cant give the LF job to a guy who cant do much against the righties...he can win the job with his showing.

as far as what he's got to prove...he's gotta prove he can pull the ball if for nothing more than to make pitchers know, esp. righties, they gotta do more to him than just pound him inside.

his money right now is middle/outside...he's very vulnerable inside. if he can put into a pitcher's head that you just cant pitch him in 1 place he'll get stuff he can hit, he'll get more mistakes, and above all he'll be able to hit something he's not very skilled with at the moment.

it'd be as dangerous as giving dubois the full time LF job outta this past spring just cuz he's a prospect...he's got a little work to do, but its pretty minor and with his eye hopefully he can do it and he's not gonna choi it up out there.

Re #12 (Rob G),

Thanks for the AFL eligibility rules. The DL rule seems to mean that Pie would not be eligible this year. The rule makes sense -- otherwise the AFL could degenerate into a "rehab" league.

Regardless, this is overall a very strong set of players, and I can't wait to catch many of the games when I am in Phoenix this October. I last saw Guzman pitch in spring training 2003, and his (admittedly pre-injury) arm was absolutely electric.

2002 AFL Roster:

LHP Ferenc Jongejan (pitched for Daytona last year and was released from the organization)
RHP Jon Leicester
RHP Todd Wellemeyer
1B Hee Seop Choi
INF Ryan Gripp (Taxi squad member)
OF Ray Sadler

Thanks for the Cash info, Christian, I just did a bit of research and as you pointed out, basically the Cubs traded Bill Mueller for David Cash (rather than Verplancke) which makes it a lot better deal (well until this year that is). At least it looked better on paper.

Sadler is with the Pirates AAA team right now btw..

Pie couldn't make the AFL for the DL reason and the foreign player rule as well since Guzman is on the team.

Re # 17 (crunch),

Those are good points, crunch. But he has the month of August in AAA to show he can hit righties, I'm not sure what doing it against more AA and AAA pitchers in October will do. But if the Fall League is coupled with instruction, hopefully he'll make the best of it.

I also wonder whether there is any informal agreement between organizations as to roster composition and that led to Murton's inclusion. The Mesa Solar Sox have to field a complete team, so perhaps each team is expected (albeit not required) to send two outfielders and two infielders, with perhaps a gentleman's agreement in rotating catchers (Cubs sent a catcher in 2003 and 2004). The Cub organization is so weak on OF prospects now, and Murton is really the only one aside from Pie that has the potential to be a major-league regular.

Out of curiosity, what are the other four organzitions that contribute to the Solar Sox roster?

Anyone know the link to the AFL complete rosters and who is going from each team?

The other teams which contributed to the Solar Sox last year were the White Sox, Cardinals, Devil Rays, and Rockies.

The full rosters haven't been announced yet, but here's last year's official AFL site:

http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/events/afl/...

my last effort to educate you all...

Actually I'm educating myself and figured someone else might be interested as well..

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/bbw/2001-10-03...

That link has a good explanation of the process of how roster spots are decided upon and coaches.

Here's a link to this year's coaches.

http://www.oursportscentral.com/services/rele...

Von Joshua is our only representive. Apparently Dusty once managed in the AFL.

2001 Cubs AFL participants:
P Mike Meyers
C Ryan Jorgensen
INF Hee Seop Choi
INF Bobby Hill
OF Dave Kelton
INF/OF Nic Jackson

Very good list of prospects to send. I love Murton and Guzman going. Guzman needs some serious work to get himself anywhere close to being ready to stick with the big club next year. And Murton, like Crunch has said, needs to work on a few things and it will give the Cubs a chance to decide if he will be the LF for the Cubs next year or if they need to go out and get one.

The 2001 Cubs particpants in AFL according to this link:

http://www.minorleaguewatch.com/AZFall/01pre-...

P Mike Meyers
C Ryan Jorgenson
INF Nate Frese
INF Bobby Hill
OF Dave Kelton
OF Nic Jackson

According to BA.com the 2001 roster looked like this:

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/leagues/...

P Scott Chiasson
P Chris Gissell
P Mike Meyers
C Ryan Jorgenson
C Yoon-Min Kweon (Taxi Squad)
1b Hee Seop Choi (Taxi Squad)
INF Bobby Hill
OF Darren Blakely
OF Nic Jackson
OF Dave Kelton

Baseball Cube doesn't show Blakely ever being a Cub, so I don't know what's with that list.

http://www.minorleaguewatch.com/AZFall/fin-nl...
2000 Roster?

1B Hee Seop Choi
C Jeff Goldblach
3b/1b Eric Hinske
OF Jason Randolph
SS/2b Jason Smith
P Will Ohman
P Nate Teut

http://www.minorleaguewatch.com/AZFall/fin-nl...
1999 Roster?
OF Corey Patterson
C Pat Cline
1b Julio Zuleta
P Eric Newman

I loved Julio Zuleta, he was up the the Cubs briefly and as I recall did a nice job with a few pinch hits and a few homers.

I believe he was from Panama and had some goofy voodoo thing he did to bring his bat good luck.

A little piece on Ronald "Bear" Bay from a few weeks back...

http://www.minorleaguewatch.com/rbay.html

He moved up to AA in early July and is 3-3 with a 4.76 ERA, 5 HR's/45.1 IP/13 BB/40 K

after going
6-5 3.38 ERA/14 HR/85.1 IP/15 BB/85 K with the High A club

He turned 22 earlier this month....

I think Murton lost a lot of playing time by being on the bench. Can't hurt to get more at bats.
I also think the Cubs are hoping he can develop more power and will probably work on that.

I think they want a better idea before next spring whether Murton can be a starting LF.
If they see improvment in areas he is lacking they will probably give him a shot.

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