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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. 

The 2014 Arizona Fall League schedule has been released and rosters should be announced later this month.

The Arizona Fall League (AFL) is an MLB developmental league (approximately equivalent to "AA") that operates for six weeks after the conclusion of the MLB regular season. It features a 32-game "regular season" schedule plus an All-Star Game (formerly called the "Rising Stars Game," but now known as the "Fall Stars Game") at the end of the 4th week, and the AFL Championship Game (pitting the winner of the East Division versus the winner of the West Division) at the end of the 6th and final week. 

There are three games scheduled every day Monday through Saturday during the AFL regular season (there are no games on Sunday), beginning with Opening Day on the second Tuesday following the conclusion of the MLB regular season (which is October 7th in 2014) and extending up through the Thursday of the 6th week. (No regular season games are scheduled the day of the Fall Stars Game).  

The Cubs usually assign some of their better prospects to the AFL. Depending on what positions the Cubs are asked to fill on the Mesa squad, I would not be surprised to see some combination of position players and pitchers such as:

The Cubs reportedly will be recalling Matt Szczur (AKA "Scrabble") from AAA Iowa tomorrow (Sunday), and so the 25-year old outfielder should be making his MLB debut sometime soon after that.


 

The deadline for "non-waiver" (unrestricted) trades is 4 PM (Eastern) on July 31st. No trades can be made between 4 PM and 5 PM (Eastern) on July 31st, and then beginning at 5 PM (Eastern) on July 31st and extending through to the conclusion of the MLB regular season, Trade Assignment Waivers must be secured before players on MLB 40-man rosters can be traded. (Waivers are never required to trade a player on a minor league reserve list).

The AZL Diamondbacks took advantage of four walks (including three bases-loaded walks that forced-in three runs) to plate seven runs in the 5th inning, and cruised to a 12-6 victory over the AZL Cubs Monday night at Cubs Park at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

Gleyber Torres grounded out to end the game, but before that he reached base four consecutive times (single, walk, RBI single, and RBI triple) on the heels of last night's game at Salt River Fields when he reached base all six times he batted (two singles, two doubles, and two walks), for a total of ten consecutive Plate Appearances over the two games without being retired. 

2014 13th round draft pick Kevonte Mitchell (Kennett HS - Kennett, MO) continued his hot hitting, lacing three singles, while also stealing a base, scoring two runs, and collecting an RBI. He also made a fine running catch in CF. Torres, Mitchell, and Eloy Jimenez (who walked twice) are easily the top three position player prospects on the AZL Cubs right now (no others even close).  

Cubs top pitching prospect RHP C. J. Edwards (Tennessee 7-day DL - right shoulder inflamation) got the start for the Cubs (his second AZL rehab start) and worked 3.2 IP (62 pitches - 35 strikes), allowing one run on one hit and three walks with six strikeouts (four swinging and two looking) and a 4/1 GO/FO.

When looking ahead at the Cubs likely post-2014 MLB Reserve List (40-man roster), whether a player presently on the 40-man roster is eligible to be an MLB Article XX-B free-agent or will be eligible for Salary Arbitration, or whether a player presently on a Cubs minor league roster is eligible to be a minor league free-agent post-2014 or is eligible for selection in the December 2014 Rule 5 Draft, will be determining factors. 

Players selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft (MLB Rule 4 Draft) are placed on a club's Negotiation List.

Kevin Brown ripped an RBI triple and two singles and scored a run, Varonex Cuevas drilled a two-run triple and an RBI single, Jesse Hodges reached base four times (HBP, 2B, 2B, and BB), scored two runs, and drove-in another, Alberto Mineo collected three singles and scored a run, and five pitchers combined to throw a three-hitter, as the Cubs overwhelmed the Angels 10-1 in Cactus League  Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #1 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

19-year old 6'2 Dominican stringbean LHP Jose Paulino was the most-impressive Cub hurler today, tossing four innings of one-hit shutout ball. If any of the Cubs teenaged Latin pitchers making their U. S. debut in 2014 make the Boise Opening Day roster, it would probably be Paulino. (I'm not counting RHSP Erick Leal because he was in the U. S. last year at AZL Cubs, and although RHRP Francisco Carrillo and LHRP Alberto Diaz will be making their U. S. debut this season, both pitchers are in their 20's).

Manny Ramirez served as a DH and batted five times in the game (once in each of the first five innings), going 1-5 with three ground outs, a fly out to RF, and a single off the LF wall (ManRam can still hit, but he just doesn't run as well as he once did).

Ryan Sweeney (Cubs MLB 15-day DL - hamstring) played CF for five innings and batted four times, going 1-3 with a walk, a single and a run scored. Sweeney seems to be running just fine, so I would think he will probably get moved-up to AAA Iowa very soon to continue his rehab (just like Justin Ruggiano did a couple of weeks ago), before being reinstated from the DL sometime next week (barring any setbacks).  

RHRP Kyuiji Fujikawa (Cubs MLB 60-day DL - 2013 TJS rehab) threw an inning and allowed one run on a HBP and an RBI double. He did strike out two batters, however (both swinging). His rehab has gone kind of slow, but he really needs to get out of here ASAP, even if it's just a minor league rehab assignment at Kane County or Daytona.   

In EXST Cubs roster news, INF Tim Saunders has been sent to Extended Spring Training from Daytona and he played 2B in today's game, so expect Saunders to be on the Boise Hawks Opening Day roster. RHP Trevor Graham also was returned to Extended Spring Training from Daytona, so he should join LHP Tyler Ihrig, RHP Erick Leal, and RHP Trevor Clifton (plus one more starter TBA, could be Jose Paulino) in the Boise starting rotation. And RHP Josh Davis has been moved up to Kane County from Extended Spring Training, in what will be his second tour with the Cougars this season. (Davis has logged some time with the Daytona Cubs in 2014, too).

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