A Parallel Universe in Cubs Future?

With the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies set to move their Spring Training & Minor League operations from Tucson to a new joint/shared facility at Salt River Fields at the Talking Stick Resort next year, it is likely that the "Arizona Advanced Instructional League" (AKA "Arizona Parallel League" or "Junior Arizona Fall League") will be expanded to include at least two teams from the east-side of the metro Phoenix area (AZ and COL).

The purpose of the AZ Advanced Instructional League is to provide a separate environment for players who are not advanced enough to play in the Arizona Fall League (which is designed essentially for AA and AAA players), but are too advanced for the traditional AZ Instructional League (which exists primarily for first-year pros and Latin players making their U. S. debut).

At present, the eight MLB clubs that share Arizona Spring Training &; Minor League facilities with another MLB club (KC and TEX in Surprise, SEA and SD in Peoria, LAD and CHW in Glendale, and CLE and CIN in Goodyear) participate in the AZ Advanced Instructional League, and all eight of the clubs participating are located on the west-side of the Phoenix metro area. Games are usually played on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at the same sites where traditional AZ Instructional League games are played. The only difference is that Parallel teams are a combination-mix of two different organizations, with coaches also provided from each organization. (There aren't enough available pitchers from full-season "A" ball teams for each MLB organization to field its own Parallel squad, because many of the pitchers who spend a full season playing "A"-ball games have thrown too many innings to allow them to throw any more after the end of the minor league regular season). But because the clubs providing the players for the Parallel team share a campus, pitchers from two organizations can be combined on one team, and the players can easily return to their home organization for Camp Days (instruction) because they are already home.

The Cubs would probably be interested in participating in such a league if it is expanded to include Phoenix metro east-side teams (so that more advanced players like Hak-Ju Lee, Logan Watkins, Evan Crawford, Jae-Hoon Ha, could play with and against players with a similar level of experience as themselves), but are handicapped because they do not share a campus with another MLB club. (Same goes from the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A's, and San Francisco Giants). It would be difficult for a club that does not share a campus with another team to coordinate operations with their partner, because the players who would be participating would be based at different complexes several miles apart.

The AFL solves this by totally disconnecting the six AFL teams from minor league complexes, instruction, and individual MLB club identity, making each of the six AFL squads a stand-alone consortium of five MLB clubs (the Cubs, Phillies, Pirates, Mets, and Angels will be providing seven players a piece to the Mesa Solar Sox this year). The AFL model probably could be be applied to the Parallel league, too, but that would mean getting each club to agree to a standard player development philosophy, and at present such agreement does not exist.

Still, don't be surprised if the Cubs partner-up with another MLB club (probably either the A's or the Angels) to form an AZ Junior Instructional League team (Parallel team) this time next year, to provide an extra month of advanced instruction and games (probably about 12-15) after the conclusion of the minor league regular season for the better prospects from Peoria and Daytona. And then the Cubs traditional AZ Instructional League squad would be limited to just the youngest and least-experienced players (from Boise, AZL Cubs, DSL Cubs #1, and DSL Cubs #2), as well as players making their pro debut.


AZ PHIL: "Still, don't be surprised if the Cubs partner-up with another MLB club (probably either the A's or the Angels) to form an AZ Junior Instructional League team..."

No doubt with Rickett's emphasis on Farm development, it is probably a slam dunk - wouldn't you say?

Submitted by The E-Man on Sun, 10/10/2010 - 3:40pm.
AZ PHIL: "Still, don't be surprised if the Cubs partner-up with another MLB club (probably either the A's or the Angels) to form an AZ Junior Instructional League team..."

No doubt with Rickett's emphasis on Farm development, it is probably a slam dunk - wouldn't you say?


E-MAN: The Cubs participation in a "Junior AFL" for Class-"A" players is indeed consistent with the increased emphasis in player development favored by Ricketts.

Ever since the MLB Hawaiian Winter League went defunct a couple or three years ago there has been a need for something that fills the void between the Instructional League and the AFL.

I think where there is a problem for the Cubs (in particular) is with the present incarnation of the Advanced Instructional League (or Arizona Parallel League), which seems to work OK for clubs that share a campus with another MLB club, but maybe not so well for teams like the Cubs, A's Angels, et al that don't. It also doesn't do anything for MLB clubs that have their Spring Training and Minor League bases in Florida.

What might work better for everybody is for MLB to take over the Advanced Instructional League concept (or a "Junior AFL") and run it just like the AFL, with six teams, and with five MLB clubs contributing seven players to their respective J-AFL team. The J-AFL could play in the same stadiums as the AFL teams, or in different Arizona Spring Training sites which do not presently host AFL teams, like Goodyear, Camelback Ranch, Maryvale, and/or the new Salt River-Talking Stick facility.

If a Junior AFL had been implemented this year, more experienced Cubs position player prospects like Hak-Ju Lee, Evan Crawford, Justin Bour, and/or Logan Watkins, and more advanced, more experienced, and/or more polished pitching prospects like Jeff Lorick, Robinson Lopez, Aaron Kurcz, Kevin Rhoderick, and/or Casey Harman could be playing with and against players who are more like themselves, rather than with and against the more inexperienced, raw, and/or remedial prospects that the traditional Instructional League is designed to help.

I actually have some free time each week when I'm not working my full-time job or covering the Cubs minor leaguers out here, so I would be willing to be Junior AFL Commissioner, as long as I am provided with an expense account, a company car, and a fitted cap.

They keep showing Lincecum on TBS, I was explaining to my wife that he's a young phenom. Mrs. Julius says, "More like feMALE ... cut the hair dude."

what is it about postseason dusty...good D SS's making errors they shouldn't...and fan/popup controversies?

just wow.

also, lol brooks conrad.


The Reds are reminding me more of the Piniella postseason Cubs than the Dusty Cubs.

Sosa's corked bat up for auction.


does he really need a few grand that badly? =p

Reds swept, couldn't happen to a better team.

I was pulling for them. Oh well.

Rothschild to decide today as to picking up his 2011 option
The Sixth Sense, I see dead towel drills.

So Jim Hendry gives one way player option to COACHES??????

How Koyie Hill doesn't have a 3/44 in his back pocket is beyond me?

results speak for themselves.

once quade took over the team the SP and pen shaped the hell up.

quade should be pitching coach. no-brainer.

ted turner should be the cubs next manager, imo.


mlb.com says Pat Listach no longer on the Cubs managerial search list-ache or moustache

There's only room for one mustache in the Cubs organization and it belongs to Carrie Muskat.

BTW, postseason baseball is also in full swing here in Korea. I'm pulling for the Doosan Bears (due to proximity, mascot and...the ace that is Les Walrond!) He picked up the win in the first round of the playoffs. Now they're in the second round where Les started again, but the bullpen later blew his lead. He then came in for relief on the very next day and pitched a scoreless (inning? - I forget). Tim Redding started for the opposing team (Samsung Lions) but got the no decision. Samsung won, tying the series at 2-2 for a 5 game series. The winner goes on to the finals to face the team with the best regular season record. If anyone has the means, the games have been exciting with some great defense and lots of flippy floppy scoring.

Recent comments

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  • I am remarkably calm about today's game. Not that I am expecting to win, but that I have no expectations at all either way.

    If the Cubs game goes to 14 innings, I will no longer be calm.

  • TEX/TOR in the 14th inning, btw...fun stuff.

  • Yay! KB at 3B!

  • Molina in the Cards lineup.

  • Fowler (CF), Schwarber (RF!), Bryant (3B), Rizzo (1B), Castro (2B), Coughlan (LF), Russell (SS), Ross (C), Lester (P)

  • If the baseball gods would guarantee that result, I'd take it :-).

  • I wonder if it is about numbers specifically against the Mets. But, it could also be because Kershaw can go 9 innings everytime, while Grienke very rarely makes it through the game. They don't want to expose their weak bullpen.

    I have trouble getting past the extraordinary 1.66 ERA, but I don't know what the heck will happen with the Cy Young vote this year.

  • So Kershaw is opening the series for the Dodgers. How, then, does Greinke get the Cy Young? Not even the best pitcher on his team!

  • You have angered the baseball gods. Now Lester will lose and Hendricks will win.

  • Cubs go home 1-1, with Arrieta starting game 3, I like our chances in this series. Tomorrow's pitching matchup is lousy on paper, so today is obviously crucial.

    Will be fun to watch. My two keys are scoring early, and keeping Lester's pitch count below 15 per inning.

  • Hopefully Der Kaiser won't be doing this until December

  • So, yes, I have been quoting your, "mediocre pitcher" label all year in jest - good or bad.

    He has been pretty filthy against the Cards, and this is the game they need to "steal".

    I am hoping against hope that Pedro Strop only sees the mound if the Cubs are up 8 in a game.

  • I've been pretty harsh with Lester here at various times but that's how it is when you pull in that kind of money, and besides, it's not like he reads my posts or would care what I have to say if he did read them for some reason. If I was him, the first thing out of my mouth would be, what level have you played this game at, pal?

    Anyway, he's really looked good lately, and overall his body of work turned out pretty good, too. I'm glad his worst struggles were in April. This is such an easy team to like that I even like the overpaid free agent.

  • Gordo's lede today:

    ST. LOUIS – Whether it’s a year early or right on time, Jon Lester’s $155 million moment arrives just after 5:45 p.m. Friday.

  • *checks pulse*

    *checks pulse again*


  • Who are you? Andy Rooney?