Cubs Assign Six Prospects to Arizona Fall League
Tentative rosters for the 2008 Arizona Fall League (AFL) were announced yesterday (they are incomplete and also subject to change), and six of the seven Cubs prospects who will be playing for the Mesa Solar Sox this fall have been named:
Berg and Roquet were assigned to the AFL last year, too, although Roquet had his AFL season cut short after sustaining a sports hernia. Berg was likely assigned to the AFL again to help the Cubs decide whether to add him to their 40-man roster post-2008 (or risk losing him in the Rule 5 Draft). Berg has a power sinker similar to Jeff Samardzija's, but has had command problems throughout his career. A native of Antigo, WI, the now 24-year old Berg pitched at Triton CC in suburban Chicago before being signed as a "Draft+Follow" by the Yankees in May 2004. He was acquired from the Yankees for Matt Lawton in August 2005.
25-year old Rocky Roquet was signed as a NDFA 5th year senior in May 2006 out of Cal Poly, where he was teammate of Cubs 3B prospect Josh Lansford. Roquet is one of the hardest throwers in the Cubs organization, with a 96-97 MPH fastball and mid-80's slider.
23-year old Donald Veal was the Cubs 2nd round draft pick in 2005 out of Pima CC, and is already a virtual lock to get added to the Cubs 40-man roster post-2008. So he is likely going to the AFL mainly to get more work. Veal has had problems with his mechanics (mainly an inability to repeat his delivery and find a consistent arm slot and release point) throughout his career
Tyler Colvin played briefly in the AFL last year, too, as a member of Team USA (which spent a week playing in the AFL before leaving for the 2007 World Cup in Taiwan). The Cubs #1 draft pick out of Clemson in 2006, the 22-year old Colvin is expected to move up to Iowa in 2009. He will not need to be added to the 40-man roster until after next season.
23-year old Nate Spears is another Cubs AA prospect who is expected to make the jump to AAA next season. Spears was one of the players the Cubs acquired from Baltimore in the Corey Patterson deal in January 2006. Like with Berg, the Cubs probably want to use his performance in the AFL to help determine if Spears should be added to the 40-man roster post-2008. Spears really doesn't have the versatility to play mulitple positions, so if he makes it to the big leagues, it will probably have to be as an everyday second-baseman.
Darwin Barney was the Cubs 2007 4th round pick out of Oregon State, and made the jump from Boise to Daytona out of Spring Training. While the 22-year old Barney has struggled some with his bat, he is a good defensive shortstop, and will likely be the #1 SS at AA Tennessee next season. .
The Cubs have only assigned three pitchers so far, so they will need to select one more. Each MLB club is required to send four pitchers and three position players to their designated AFL team, and each MLB club also has the option to assign up to three additional position players to its AFL club's "taxi squad." Members of the "taxi squad" are position players who are eligible to play only on Wednesday and Saturday, and when they do play, they temporarily replace another position player on the AFL club's active list.
In addition to the six (eventually seven) Cubs prospects who will play for the Mesa Solar Sox in 2008, Peoria Chiefs manager Ryne Sandberg will serve as the Solar Sox bench coach. (Each of the five MLB clubs associated with a given AFL club contribute either the manager, the bench coach, the pitching coach, or one of the two athletic trainers, and the assignments rotate every year).
As usual, the Cubs are the "host" team of the Mesa Solar Sox, as the Solar Sox play their home games at HoHoKam Park, the Cubs Spring Training stadium. While the Cubs are always one of the five MLB clubs associated with the Solar Sox, the other four clubs associated with the Solar Sox rotate from year to year. This year, the Tigers, Phillies, Marlins, and Braves will be the other four organizations providing players and staff to the Solar Sox. (Last year, the Cubs, Astros, Cardinals, Brewers, and Red Sox provided players and staff to the Solar Sox).
The AFL is rated AA+, and is primarily designed for AA players making the transition to AAA, although it is not unusual for a few AAA players to play in the AFL, too. Each MLB club is allowed to assign a maximum of one player who has not played in AA or AAA(and Darwin Barney is the Cubs player with no AA or AAA experience assigned to the AFL this year).
The AFL season runs six weeks, and teams play six games a week (they don't play on Sunday). Each AFL team typically has 20 pitchers, three catchers, eight infielders, and four outfielders (plus "taxi squad" players) on its roster, and usually six of the pitchers are used as starters (each starter pitching once a week, throwing no more than five innings in any start, usually with a maximum of 30 IP accrued over the course of the AFL season).
The AFL consists of six teams playing in two three-team divisions. The Mesa Solar Sox, Phoenix Desert Dogs, and Scottsdale Scorpions are in one division, and the Peoria Javelinas, Peoria Saguaros, and Surprise Rafters are in the other one. The two division winners meet in a single championship game the last Saturday of the season.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.
that game sounds fun as hell.
I was just wondering the same thing. I'd rather not see it at all. If it's inaccurate, it's a bad viewer experience. If it's accurate, it shows some shitty calling by the umpire.