The Arizona Fall League (AFL) preliminary rosters have been announced, and the Cubs have assigned seven players to the Mesa Solar Sox (MSS). Present minor league assignment is in parenthesis:
Zach Cates, RHRP (AA Tennessee)
Gerardo Concepcion, LHRP (A+ Daytona)
C. J. Edwards, RHSP (AA Tennessee)
Jake Hannemann, OF (A+ Daytona) - see NOTE
Ivan Pineyro, RHSP (AA Tennessee)
Addison Russell, SS (AA Tennessee)
Dan Vogelbach, 1B (A+ Daytona)
NOTE: Hannemann is assigned to the MSS "Taxi Squad," so he is eligible to play in AFL games on Wednesday and Saturday only.
In addition, Daytona pitching coach Ron Villone has been assigned to Mesa as the Solar Sox pitching coach. (The Cubs were required to supply the MSS pitching coach this year).
Cates, Concepcion, Edwards, and Pineyro are Rule 5 Draft eligible post-2014, and so the Cubs may be using the AFL to get a better look at Cates, Concepcion, and Pineyro (especially Pineyro) before deciding whether to add any of them to their MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) post-2014. (C. J. Edwards is considered the Cubs #1 pitching prospect, so he is a "lock" to make the Cubs 40-man roster in November no matter how he performs in the AFL).
Russell played for the Mesa Solar Sox while a member of the Oakland A's last year, so this will be his second trip to the AFL, but in a different uniform. He will be sharing shortstop with A's SS prospect Daniel Robertson, who was Russell's rival in the Oakland system prior to Russell being traded to the Cubs in the Samardzija/Hammel trade. Russell missed considerable time this season as the result of a hamstring injury suffered prior to being acquired by the Cubs, so playing in the AFL will give the young shortstop some additional reps before he (presumably) gets moved up to AAA in 2015.
Both Edwards (shoulder) and Pineyro (forearm strain) were on the Tennessee Smokies Disabled List for lengthy periods of time this season, so pitching in the AFL will help them to make up for some of their "lost innings."
Remember, the AFL rosters announced this week are preliminary rosters only and are incomplete.
In the case of the Mesa Solar Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays have not named any of their four pitchers yet, and because Dwight Smith Jr has been assigned to the MSS "Taxi Squad," the Blue Jays still need to assign another position player as well. The Oakland A's have yet to name their fourth pitcher, and because Jake Hannemann was assigned to the MSS "Taxi Squad," the Cubs need to assign one more position player to the Solar Sox roster.