2013 Arizona Fall League Schedule Released

The 2013 Arizona Fall League (AFL) schedule has been released, and rosters should be announced later this month

There are three AFL games scheduled every day Monday through Saturday (there are no games on Sunday), beginning with AFL Opening Day on Tuesday October 8th and extending up through Thursday November 14th. The AFL Rising Stars Game will take place at Surprise Stadium Saturday night November 2nd (there are no league games scheduled that day), and the AFL Championship game will be played at Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday November 16th.

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 like SS Javier Baez (who played in the AFL last year), RF Jorge Soler (if healthy), 2B Arismendy Alcantara (if he doesn't play in the Dominican Winter League), 3B Kris Bryant, Mike Olt (if Bryant isn't assigned to the AFL), or Christian Villanueva (if he doesn't play in the Mexican Pacific League and if Bryant or Olt aren't assigned to the AFL), CF Matt Szczur, Jae-Hoon Ha, or Albert Almora (Szczur played in the AFL last year), 1B Dustin Geiger or Dan Vogelbach, and/or Rafael Lopez (if the Cubs are asked to supply a catcher), and (if they have not exceeded their max proscribed IP) a AA starting pitcher like LHP Eric Jokisch or RHP Matt Loosen, and relievers like LHP Zac Rosscup and Kyler Burke and RHP Trey McNutt, and Tony Zych (McNutt and Zych have pitched in the AFL before).

Alcantara is a lock to get added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster post-2013, but Rosscup, Ha, Loosen, and Burke might have to prove themselves in the AFL first. (Rosscup, Ha, and Loosen are Rule 5 eligible post-2013, and Burke can be a minor league FA if he isn't added to the 40-man roster by the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series).    

They have changed a bit over the years, but here are the current AFL eligibility rules:

1. There are six AFL teams, and each AFL team is affilated with five MLB clubs. SD/SEA (Peoria Javelinas), KC/TEX (Surprise Saguaros), LAD/CHW (Glendale Desert Dogs), AZ/COL (Salt River Rafters), CUBS (Mesa Solar Sox), and SF (Scottsdale Scorpiions) are the permanent "host organizations" for the six AFL teams, but the affiliations of the other 20 MLB clubs can vary from year-to-year. Besides the Cubs, the other four MLB organizations affiliated with the Mesa Solar Sox this year will be DET, LAA, OAK, and WAS. (NOTE: The Desert Dogs move from Phoenix Municipal Stadium to Camelback Ranch this season, and the Peoria Javelinas will be playing home games at Surprise Stadium while Peoria Stadium is undergoing renovation).

2. Each MLB organization must assign a minimum of seven players to its AFL affiliate, including a minimum of four pitchers (one pitcher capable of starting plus three relievers) and a minimum of three position players (specific positions needed to be filled by each organization TBD by conference call between the Player Development Directors of the five MLB organizations affiliated with that particular AFL team).

3. An MLB organization can assign additional pitchers and/or players to its AFL team's "Taxi Squad" (players assigned to an AFL team's "Taxi Squad" can be activated on Wednesdays and Saturdays only, but a player can be transferred from the Taxi Squad to the 35-man Active Roster to replace an injured player).

4. A player can be selected to play in the AFL more than once, as long as the player continues to meet eligibility for selection.

5. MLB players (including Rule 5 players) with less than one year (1+000) MLB Service Time accrued (not including time spent on the Disabled List) as of September 1st are eligible.

6. Any player on a AA or AAA roster on August 15th is eligible.

7. Two players on an organization's Advanced Class-A (A+) affilate's roster on August 15th can be assigned to the AFL.. 

8. Two additional players who were on the roster of a minor league affiliate below AA (A+, A, SS-A, R) on August 15th can be assigned to the AFL.

9. Internatiional players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and/or Australia are eligible only if the player is not on the reserve list of a Winter League club from the player's home country. Otherwise, there is no maximum limit on the number of international players an MLB organization can assign to its AFL team.  

10. Players cannot be sent to the AFL to rehab from an injury. (A player rehabbing from an injury is supposed to be assigned to the MLB organization's Instructional League team, not to its AFL affiliate).  



An AFL year to really look forward to. For Cubs fans, it's usually the high point of the season. Looking forward to your takes on the various players again, AZ.

On a separate note, my opinion on Sveum is really changing a lot. Last night, it seemed like this team actually had a strategy at the plate, something that I usually only see other teams doing. Sveum is obviously teaching these guys to try to be more patient at the plate, and make the pitchers work. I've always liked that strategy. I remember noticing it in a big way one year when we played Toronto and the Blue Jays worked Kerry Wood so hard, making him throw strikes, and ever since then I've been a big fan of it. It worked really well with Rosenthal last night.

I think my previous impatience with Sveum and my criticism that he is not doing a good job with the core is that the results have been slow. But he clearly does have this belief that you have to make the pitchers throw your pitch. I think that is hard for some of the younger guys to master, so of course they struggle some. Castro, specifically.

Castillo, however, has, especially lately, gone in the opposite direction. He is learning how to hit like a real pro and is enjoyable to watch.

Rizzo last night gave himself up late in the game. I dunno if he did it on purpose and my sound was off so I couldn't hear JD, but everyone in the dugout high fived him, so it is clearly something that Sveum is emphasizing, this whole non-Cubs thing called situational hitting.

So, Castro will just have to keep taking his lumps until he gets it. He had a pretty terrible at bat yesterday late but he had a pretty decent July.

Junior Lake seems to be showing a little more patience at the plate than I expected, too.

Of course, Sveum does and will always do things that annoy, but all managers do. But last night's game really opened my eyes. I didn't count how many walks they got, but it was a lot. I like walks. They lead to good things.

Did Castro sac bunt the other day? I was watching it online while at work and I swear that popped up on the screen. It's also possible that I hallucinated that because I was really tired.

yeah let's not get ahead of ourselves here. But hey, he's 23, I can be patient with the guy still.

Az Phil,
How would you rank the young Latin pitchers that are pitching for the Mesa Cubs?

Was curious the last time a southpaw throwing fielder played catcher, 3b, SS, or 2B. Just looked it up . . . Anyone guess the year or player or position?

a.sanchez is worth 1 more contract year and 3m more per year to the cubs every time e.jax takes the mound in comparison to "what could have been."

i like ejax, but his hit/miss performances are getting tiring.

as soon as he gets 2 strikes on anyone it's nothing but sliders...like clockwork...and they're all low or in the dirt. he's one of the few pitchers out there that when you get to a 2 strike count you're probably in better shape for knowing what's coming than any other time in the count...not counting guys like m.rivera, where you know what you're going to get and good luck hitting it.

welly poop delay!

awesome...not really.

m.rivera (NYY) blows 3 save chances in a row...first time in his career.

Bryant promotion forthcoming according to Wilken


tie game!

d.barney's had a nice couple of games.

rosscup AAA debut

1ip 0h 0bb 3k

olt 0-3

h.rondon comes in with 1 out...

single, single, wild pitch, walk, sac fly, ground out...fun times.

rondon hasn't gone back to back outings without giving up a run since june 11th and 13th...13 appearances since then.

What is the deal with him? Is heHe's on the 40-man? With his 1.52 whip as a middle reliever??

Do we really have nothing better in the minors? Geesh...

he's around cuz he's a Rule5 pick...though i dunno how much good keeping is going to be if he keeps, consistently, doing this.

also, m.bowden is sucking lately...6er in his last 5 outings...only 1 out of 5 without giving up a run.

Zach Rosscup. Bring him up!!!

Chris [email protected]
#DBacks sign IF Jake Fox, who was with the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League

Minor league deal I assume.

bryant 2-3, 1K (singles)...2nd error of the season in game 1
bryant 3-4, single/double/triple and 1bb DH'ing in game 2

if he's not out of boise tomorrow, it won't be too long after that. (.354/.416/.692/1.108 in 18 games...4hr, 8 doubles, 1 triple)

daytona actually not rained out...amazing.

last night cj edwards went 3.2ip 2h 4bb 8k, 4r/er

tonight c.black 5ip 5h 2bb 4k, 0r/er

"Multiple sources tell El Nuevo Herald that first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu has defected from Cuba."

oh shi...

the big gun has finally defected.

he's gonna get mad paid.

From Baseball America:

Jose Abreu, 1b, Cuba

Abreu has put up cartoonish numbers in Serie Nacional. After hitting .394/.542/.837 with 35 home runs, 75 walks and 40 strikeouts in 71 games last year, Abreu is leading Cuba in OBP and slugging with a .382/.535/.735 line in 42 games this season. So how many MVP awards would Abreu win if he came to the big leagues? Well, not everyone is even convinced he’d be able to handle major league pitching.

Abreu, 26, has outstanding power to all fields. He’s a smart hitter, his hands work well at the plate and he doesn’t have much effort in his righthanded swing. When he gets a mistake, he makes pitchers pay. The question scouts have is whether he’s more than just a mistake hitter. Abreu has picked up bad habits in Cuba, including an unorthodox setup with a double toe tap in his stride. He cuts himself off and has only fair bat speed, leaving him vulnerable to even average velocity inside. He can handle curveballs in the strike zone but he also showed he was susceptible to chasing hard breaking stuff away, swinging through several sliders at the tournament. With his marginal athleticism, scouts wonder whether the 6-foot-2, 258-pounder would be able to make adjustments against big league pitching, which is why some scouts aren’t wild about him despite his performance record in Cuba and international competition.

i imagine TEX/BOS will be all over him as top suitors...they both have need + a place to put him in 2015

But is he clean?

Unquestionably you were right that Rosscup should have been promoted much earlier, at least based solely on his on-field results.

That said, now that your Rosscup goal has been satisfied, who is your next project? :)

no idea...as far as the cubs go, pretty much everyone from rookie ball all the way to AAA is under the microscope and noticed now more that ever.

hell, when people notice g.concepcion is actually back in action there's not much flying under anyone's radar.

when the garza trade went down i liked the rosscup throw-in...liked it more when i saw him pitch...liked it even more when AZPhil was commenting on velocity uptick...

"Rosscup should have been promoted much earlier"
Rosscup's BB/9 at Tennessee was 3.9. That's high for a reliever.

Russell is 2.4 majors, 2.7 minors.

Beliveau was 3.7 last year at Iowa. They promoted him, then waived him.

i don't know the "official line" for why rosscup has been held back this year. in years past it's been bad-timing injuries holding him back.

the biggest issue i see with his game is that he likes to work high in the zone. there's not a lot of teams that like this. when he "misses" in the zone he tends to miss in the sweet part of the zone. that said, AA hitters haven't been able to do much with it when he misses in the zone, but it may be an issue of how it scales up to better talent.

especially with a non-loogy lefty type, it's preferred that they work lower in the zone. also, there's the whole "not exactly a precise control pitcher" thing...it's not like he's wild, but he's got rather average control.


After posting a 1.85 ERA in 21 Double-A starts, Hendricks impressed in his Triple-A debut last week by tossing seven innings of one-run ball. An eighth-round pick out of Dartmouth in 2011, Hendricks was acquired from Texas last summer as part of the Cubs’ haul for Ryan Dempster. While the 23-year-old righty lacks big stuff, he’s an extreme strike thrower and commands a deep arsenal that includes four- and two-seam fastballs, a cutter, slider, curve, and change. He keeps hitters off balance by varying his fastball velocity, often throwing it anywhere between 86-94 mph and sitting around 88-90. His stuff doesn’t have plus movement, but the command and deception––particularly with his slow mid-70s changeup––give him a chance for success. Hendricks likely isn’t more than a no. 4 or 5 starter––and that’s probably his ceiling––but the pitchability should enable a big-league future. –Jason Cole

Video (2012): https://vimeo.com/43220029

Here is another Ivy Leaguer, that had a nice career with not much "plus movement". Had very good command, as well:


Nice video- He looks like a good ol' fashioned junk baller. The fastball has some nice sink, but I agree with the writer here that the changeup is his best weapon (the one he throws at 1:14 is just brutal). The curveball, meh... not sure he'll fool many big leaguers with that.

fun stuff...all homegrown team


what current roster would look like if you couldn't make trades or sign FA's, just draft and develop talent. Predictably, the Cubs would be bad.

SP: Cashner, Garland, Lohse, Nolasco, Samardzija,

RP: Alburquerque, Blevins, Downs, Hill, Marmol, Marshall, Russell

C: J. Molina, Soto (think you go with Castillo here, but whatever, it's for fun)

INF: Barney, Castro, Cedeno, Donaldson, HJ Lee (?), Vitters

OF: Campana, Colvin, Fuld, Jackson, Lake

think you swap Lee with LeMahieu there


Ugh. That outfield.

CPat still beats out most of that OF

Y. Darvish no hitter alert through 6

12 K on 87 pitches as well

vs. Astros, so probably deserves an asterisk

Pierzynski was ejected (undeservedly) just after the first and only BB so far. Soto is catching. Darvish would be the first sole pitcher to throw a no-hitter to two catchers since Holtzman.

96 pitches through 7.


here's the call that AJ wasn't thrilled about...

14 K's though 7.1 for Darvish, 103 pitches

and HR on pitch #104


happy to wield my powers for evil...

prefer folks don't touch Kerry's co-record and any no-hitters should be asterisked against the Astros. Also, dude in front of me in fantasy ball has Darvish and gets a bonus for no-hitters or perfect games...can't have that.


Surely you don't also mean the Carlos Zambrano no-no. Nothing questionable about that one.

meant any this year (or the last 2 years really)...although that Z no-no was kind of bullshit too with making the Astros play a home game 90 miles from Chicago.

through 7, 13 K...96 pitches

Kris Bryant to Daytona for the stretch run and possible playoffs.

poor adam rosales...back to the rangers...

A's DFA him, rangers claim him, rangers DFA him, A's claim him, A's DFA him, rangers claim him.

all of this over the past 13 days.

Like a shitty ex that doesn't want him but doesn't want anyone else to have him either.

bryant isn't in the lineup tonight for daytona (not surprising)

also, daytona isn't rained out (surprising)

vitters @3rd for iowa...olt DH'ing.

welly HBP, shoulder...3 times in 3 games in 3 days.

multiple twitter reports say international signing official (Miles, Mooney, Muskat, Gonzalez)...

Cubs add more international talent in singing of Taiwanese RHP Jen-Ho Tseng. Tseng signs for $1.625 million bonus.

Ben Badler/BA article on Tseng...

DOB: 10/3/1994
Bats: L, Throws: R

Scouting Grades (present/future): Fastball: 5/6 | Slider: 4/4 | Curve: 4/6 | Control: 3/4 (2-8 are scouting scales, btw...5 = average)

The wide-bodied teenager is a known commodity in the international baseball world and has expressed a desire to sign with a Major League organization. At 18, Tseng was the youngest player named to the Chinese Taipei World Baseball Classic roster.

Tseng was also part of the 2012 World Junior Championship and played in the 2012 Asian Baseball Championship for the national team for Chinese Taipei, so he is comfortable on a big stage. He's known for his upright, quick delivery and a fastball that has reached 95 mph.

Tseng also has a feel for his secondary pitches, primarily his curveball and slider, and is confident on the mound. The right-hander works comfortably with a fastball in the low-90s, but scouts would like to see him challenge more hitters with the pitch. Scouts like his maturity, aggressiveness, and his poise. He has a large frame which bodes well for his durability.

Tommy Birch tweet:

Ian Stewart released by the Dodgers today. Was hitting just .174 with the Albuquerque Isotopes.

Way to show 'em, Ian.

Must've tweeted about how he was rotting away with such awesome numbers.

Vitters and Olt have solo HR's, I-Cubs up 2-1 in the 5th

extremely fast moving and boring game...cubs down 2-0 going to the top 9th...2 hours, 12 minutes into the game.

grimm 5.1ip 4h 4bb 6k, 1 r/er

rosscup 0.2ip 1h 2bb 2k, 0 r/er (b.schlitter got the last out on a groundout w/ bases loaded)

vitters 1-2 (HR), 1bb

olt 1-3 (HR)

more minor stuffs

Tennessee DH, including Jokisch back on the mound, goes 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K

Baez 3/8 with a HR, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 K, nice defensive play

C. Villanueva with a HR...2/6 on the day

Pinyero: 6 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 ER and Daytona wins again

Olt and Vitters HR'd as mentioned...Olt still with a pathetic 143/211/343 slash line since joining Iowa though

Bogusevic rehabbing in Arizona

2-for-4 nights for Vogelbach and Candelario in Kane County

Vogel-bomb being promoted to Daytona as well

That's some serious power heading to Daytona. Damn.

in LAD land...ryu straight up slapped j.uribe in the dodgers dugout for some reason...uribe looked pissed as hell and ryu just walked away.

...no idea wtf is up with that. they generally/supposedly get along. it didn't escalate...maybe that's just how they do things.



...another vidjah


...and happier times



Arguing over who gets tops.

In the "Can you say another Tim Wilken Bust?" Department:

Brett Jackson at 98 k's, in 268 ABs in 2013. With a .213/.298/.328/.626 slash.

Last 10 games he is hitting .172

It is no wonder that the minor league clubs were bereft of prospects with picks like this in first round during the Hendry era.

Hayden Simpson, Tyler Colvin, Josh Vitters, Mark Pawelek, Ryan Flaherty, Ryan Harvey.

That's a lot of misses.

I hope Javy Baez can make up for some of this.

E-Man: a little confusing to begin a comment with the Tim Wilken Bust Department and then throw in Pawelek and Harvey.

I don't think Vitters is a miss at age 23, nor am I convinced that he will be, although the Cubs are certainly not saving a space for him. I do expect him to be up in September.

His AAA numbers (1+ seasons): .302/.361/.512(.873)

ESPN on the Cubs trying to find space for everyone.


I think Vitters' problem is going to be that he is not the kind of hitter that management values, and his glove will not carry him to the majors.

"Vitters' problem," etc.

Never mind Vitters' problem. The Cubs' problem is to inflate his value before the time is right to trade him. Fortunately, they have September of this season and all of next season to let Vitters build a case for himself, just as Junior Lake has been doing lately.

Players in this organization don't generally skip AAA, so the young position players we see a lot of next season (apart from Castro, Barney and Castillo) will likely be Lake, Vitters, Olt and Jackson.

Vitters can't compete with Olt or Villanueva as a 3B, but other teams may have lower defensive standards, and the Cubs may want to package Vitters as a third baseman. I notice he played third base last night for Iowa, while Olt DH'ed.

VA PHIL: I stand corrected. Tim Wilken started under Hendry 2006. Here are Wilken's picks that year, including Colvin at 1, Samardjia at 2 :http://www.baseball-reference.com/draft/?team_ID=C.... 2007 includes Vitters, Donaldson, Jeff Russell. 2008, Cashner and Tony Campana, Ryan Flaherty - out of 50 Cubs picks, this is the prospect "haul". 2009: Brett Jackson (#1, 31st pick),DJ Lamehieu, Chris Rusin, Brooks Raley - DJ is useful (would prefer him over Barney - another Wilken pick) and Rusin could be a keeper. Raley is a TBA - 2010 is the "Hayden Simpson Class" chosen #16 overall. Other highlights: Matt Ceasar, Austin Reed, Erik Jokisch,Reggie Golden, Dustin Geiger. At least there is some progress here it would seem.

If you were to compare this "bounty" to the teams that know what they are doing - during the same period - this is an abysmal track record of ineptitude.

It would appear as if the ship is at least moving in the right direction according to the scouts/competing GMs.

BOB R: I have been saying for a long time now that Josh Vitters is not a third-baseman. I believe his best position is probably 1st base, but it would be LF if he were to stay with the Cubs, because Rizzo isn't going anywhere.

I think Vitters will be a very good major league hitter. Whether he does it with the Cubs or ends up someplace else depends on whether the Cuba give him a chance to play LF, and if they give him time to learn the the position.

If I had to bet, I would say that Vitters will be traded someplace where he can play 1B, and that he will be an effective MLB player, hitting somewhere in the 5-6-7 slots.

BTW, I believe the same thing about Dustin Geiger. I was listening to the feed on mlb-com the day Geiger was drafted in 2010, and the Cubs announced they were drafting him as a right-fielder, even though he had played 3rd base in HS. Then after he signed he played only 3rd base for a period of time (probably because the Cubs promised him he could play 3rd to get him to sign--he had signed an NLI with Central Florida), before moving him to 1st base full-time this season.

To me, Geiger is a slightly younger version of Vitters, and so I think that Geiger will end up in LF, for the exact same reason Vitters will end up there (presuming he isn't traded).

I could definitely see Vitters playing LF at AAA Iowa and Geiger playing LF at AA Tennessee in 2014, with both players (especially Vitters) likely to be traded once the Cubs start to trade off their extraneous prospects in the next couple of years.   


PHIL: I remember you stating that Vitters is not suited well for 3B. I also am seeing that the bona fide prospects are more and more starting to hit their parent club's big show team's younger and younger.

Vitters was drafted young, and he eventually hits at every level - once he gets going.

However, apparently he has not had the coaching he needed/needs yet to enable him to start showing the promise showed in high school, that made him a #3 overall pick. He will be 24 in two weeks.

Again, compared to other guys who have already busted out at the level he was picked at, Wilken made his "gut feeling" pick taking a high-schooler #3, when Matt Weiters, Justin Hayward, and promising pitchers were picked after him (Madison Bumgarner, Jerrod Parker, Ross Detwiler, Rick Porcello, to name some). Just plain screwed up. Of course, Josh Donaldson was picked in the same round - so Wilken gets a prop for him. Of course we needed Rich Harden...

So, I hope he becomes a very good Major League hitter. I hope he stops getting injured as well. I hope hope he forces the Cubs to keep him. That would be awesome!

But there are other prospects coming along this year, and for sure next - as well as trades that are sure to happen - making it a long shot he will continue to stick with this management, imho.

E-MAN: I'll tell you the big problem I have with Josh Vitters. He keeps getting hurt. This is the point in his career where he really needs to get a full season of AAA under his belt, but he just keeps going on the DL. But I think if Vitters can stay healthy for a prolonged period of time, that he will eventually hit a solid 280-290 with 15-18 HR and 30+ doubles at the big league level. I also doubt that he'll ever walk much, although I doubt that he will strike out a lot, either.

Conversely, Mike Olt's ceiling (for example) is probably Mark Reynolds offensively and Graig Nettles defensively. Which is to say Olt (even before his concussion & vision problem) is the classic "three-outcome hitter" (HR-BB-K), with the capability to easily hit 30+ HR, walk 75+ times, and strike out 200+ times, but with the potential to be a Gold Glove caliber third-baseman. Given that the Cubs have very little HR power in their lineup, that particular type of hitter wouldn't be the worst thing, although he probably would get pushed aside once Baez-Bryant-Soler arrive.

Then there's Christian Villanueva (who once again is blocked by Olt, just like he was when both were in the Rangers organization). Villanueva is sort of the mid-point between Vitters and Olt. Villanueva has more raw power than Vitters but not as much as Olt, he's a legitimate third-baseman but not as good as Olt, and he's a better hitter than Olt but not the naturally good hitter (barrel-on-bal skilll) that Vitters is.  

In another couple of years (maybe even sooner) the Cubs are going to be literally over-loaded with MLB-ready position-player prospects. They will need to make the right calls and keep the best ones and trade the others to fill needs. But they have to be careful to keep an open mind and not dismiss certain prospects because they are blinded by some of the others. Although it might not seem possible right now, Junior Lake could be a better major league player than Albert Almora; Josh Vitters might be a better MLB hitter than Jorge Soler; Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez could be the future Cub middle-infield (leaving Starlin Castro out in the cold); and Dan Vogelbach might be bigger than Anthony Rizzo (both literally and figuratively).


PHIL: The DL thing is huge, as you note.

In seeing Joey Votto in person last night, I saw the big differences with he and Rizzo. Rizzo's swing is slower - loopy almost. It seems as if he would be overmatched right now with pitchers that can bring the heat - like Mat Latos. for example.

But the fact is that since DLee and A-Ram have been gone, there has not been a player on the team that the other team needs to pitch around every time up.

I hope they get a couple with some of these prospects. Vogelbach, Vitters, Geiger, Lopez, Soler, Bryant: one of these guys could do it. TWO would be better.

Maybe Rizzo will really pummel it next year. We'll have to see.

It certainly was funny to think that Ryan Ludwick is still playing baseball with a championship caliber team.

I don't think Rizzo's problem is his swing - it's his lack of swinging. He guesses too much, or something. There are too many times his bat doesn't move at all. A little too much Hee Seop Choi and not enough Starlin Castro in that dude's makeup. By that I mean, take a few more swings up there. Quit guessing. He looks like he has a slower swing than he does but it really reminds me almost exactly of Josh Hamilton's. I don't think it's a loopy swing at all. Another thing about Rizzo that you kind of alluded to - he doesn't exactly have anyone on either side of him most of the time that strikes fear in anyone. He's not really striking a lot of fear either - if he was they'd just pitch around him relentlessly. This is a really good year for him to go through the typical sophomore stuff. I really see this guy breaking out at any time. But it's good to know there's a Vogelbomb waiting in case he doesn't.

I think of Josh Hamilton a lot too when he swings.

I'm still confident that better things are to come with Rizzo. He's hit into a lot of bad luck this year, but I agree with you that his discipline will have to develop in the sense of learning when to attack the pitch and when to sit back and take.

And Hamilton wasn't even in the majors at Rizzo's age. I assume he was at the bottom of a stairwell with a needle in his arm, so I guess that's not a fair comp, but hundreds of players weren't in the league at Castro's age. Overall this team is a classic rebuilding team. I don't see much whining here because the regulars here know their shit, but man, the occasional glance at comments on other sites is downright painful. They just can't understand why this team isn't better.

I was critical of Sveum earlier in the year, more along the lines of I don't know if he's the right guy to help get this young core in the right direction. Oh, look, the Cubs are now 2nd in the league after the all star break in walks, 4th in the majors.

Good thing Theo has stopped taking my advice.

I like walks, and I can live with Rizzo's current approach. I'd rather he did what he does than go fishing all the time.

I wouldn't change his approach at all on strikes 0 and 1. But I get really frustrated when he keeps striking out looking at a close pitch that ends up being strike 3. I think he just needs to refine his approach with two strikes, which may mean taking something out of his swing to better protect the zone.

hamilton was 24 in 2005, so yeah, he was doing lines and drinking, mostly drinking.

"In another couple of years (maybe even sooner) the Cubs are going to be literally over-loaded with MLB-ready position-player prospects."

Or, as is the case with most teams most of the time, most of those prospects won't pan out and the Cubs will have a few MLB-ready position player prospects. Which is a few more than they have had in 2 decades, so this is a great thing, but we have to contain our optimism a bit.

I take your meaning, but I interpret this remark differently. Obviously, the chances that all of these prospects succeed and have long, productive MLB careers is very low. However, all of the following guys are going to get a shot at MLB, barring career ending injuries or performance implosions:
3B - Vitters, Olt, Villanueva
Middle INF - Baez, Alcantara, Watkins
OF - Lake, Jackson, Soler, Almora, Szczur

And many of them will be competing with each other for playing time at the same time while some established MLB players rule out non-phenoms (everyone but Baez?) getting a shot at their positions.

That's not a logjam of productive players necessarily, but it's a logjam of prospects and a limited amount of playing time to spread around. And as Phil points out, the best way to deal with that in some cases is going to be to stick with the guy you believe in most and trade away the other for a position of need (Catcher, Pitching) as best you can.

the best way to deal with it is let them compete and use their minor league options...it'll figure itself out without much interference from the front office. Injuries, lack of performance, age, etc...how many teams can you think of that had a real problem with too many prospects at the same position and then made the wrong choice?

The wrong choice scenario really comes up for the other team during a trade. If they get a Gary Scott instead of an Aramis Ramirez while giving the Cubs a starting pitcher in a trade, their GM ends up on the fan's shit list. If they end up getting a prospect that pans out, unless it's Miguel Cabrera, nobody is going to slam the Cubs for that, assuming the veteran they get in a trade is good. So although there is never a logjam, there can be a basket of prospects that a team might consider sort of untouchable. The Cubs will be lucky to have that problem. They never have since I've been a fan.

Tommy [email protected]
#IowaCubs manager Marty Pevey said that Josh Vitters reinjured his hamstring during last night's game. May need to go back to DL.

THIS is what I was talking about (and AZ PHIL concurred) with Vitters.

He is turning into the position player's Angel Guzman. And he is only 24 this month.

Makes me wonder whether it's just been a rough year to be Josh Vitters or if he's got some Rocco Baldelli going on.

how low can you go...

Josh Johnson to disabled list...free agent to-be...next buy low target for TheJedi?

That would be an attractive gamble.

k.bryant didn't play game 1 in daytona...they only play 7 innings for double headers, btw

vogel - 2/3, 1HR (DH)

p.johnson - 5ip 4h 3bb 7k, 0 r/er

bryant 3rd, vogel 1st...game 2.

And Bryant HRs in the 4th, Daytona down 2-1

bryant 1-3, HR

vogel 0-3

sureholds game tieing 2r HR, bottom 2nd

And I'm done with Samardizja.

navarro solo shot...swank.

d.murphy HR! tie game!

This Rizzo AB was just what I am wondering about: RISP, 5 straight breaking pitches, K's swinging. He certainly is getting exploited guessing on pitches. And his loopy swing.

Rizzo had no clue that entire AB. Takes two hittable strikes, then waves at a breaking ball. As he plummets towards the .220s, the timing and length of his contract extension is looking sillier and sillier. If his average continues to plummet, I wonder if they will sit him to avoid the embarrassment of hitting in the .220s (or below).

And, he followed Sori Lake, who was the only person in the ballpark surprised that they threw him a breaking pitch with 2 strikes. Strike 2 and strike 3 were the same pitch, and the same pitiful swing. It's as if Sori never left.

Terrible approaches by both batters -- and, I never had a sense that either one would put the ball in play. Yuck.

Pirates vs. Cardinals game is pretty awesome...Cards come back with 1 in 9th after Marte Brant Brown's a ball and then the Clutch Craig naturally brings in the tying run with 2 outs.

To extras...

PS - Allen Craig at the moment is in the midst of the greatest clutch hitting season of all-time; http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/70278/the-nl-centra...

bases loaded with 1 out in bottom of 10th and Mazzaro K's Kozma and Descalso flies out...fun stuff.

bottom of 11th, 1st and 3rd with 1 out, 5 infielders and the infield in, Pirates turn a 6-9-3 double play

you can't make this shit up

Now the pirates get in on the act with bases loaded nobody out and can't score.

And it just got weirder with Pirates intentionally walking Beltran and Craig with two out and a man in 2nd LOADING the bases for the pitcher ....

And it worked. On to the 14th. One million runners stranded in this game and counting.

that's maness!

seemed smart, not weird...I don't feel like counting, but I presume Cards are out of pinch-hitters? looks like they should have some pitchers left...

Yes the Cards have been out of position players for a few innings. It was gutsy ... You are still taking a player on second and pushing him to 3rd. I know they didn't want to face Craig but most teams would have probably pitched to Beltran. My point wasn't that in context the play was weird - but rather that it was another VERY rare play in a pretty exceptional contest.

That inning was an embarrassment. Dale: are you shitting me having a position player bunt with two strikes a man on first and nobody out? For real? Gotta be a statistical disaster strategically? And frickin' Rizzo is lost. I think he'll be fine but damn is he sucking some ass right now.

I assume that was meant as a message to Lake. Unfortunately, it backfired -- it looked like Lake ran down the runway to the clubhouse in shame after that disaster....

that was crap timing to send any kind of message...it was quite odd.

i kinda hope lake missed or mixed up a single rather than someone actually wanting him to do that.

Yeah - just bizarre. And he showed bunt immediately. Totally dumbass by someone. I hope it was s missed sign. Really weird.

Good call crunch. Lake was showing his baseball IQ and bunting on his own:

"Well, yeah, it goes unsaid," Sveum said when asked about the need for Lake to show a better approach. "He’s not supposed to be bunting there with two strikes, either."

This is all Keith Law's fault somehow.

I maintain that Keith Law is pompous and prone to hyperbole when it comes to Lake AND that I actually don't like Lake's game. Relationship Status = 'It's Complicated"

trip around the minors


K. Hendricks 5 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 7 K and the loss againt T. Milone

Vitter 1/3 with a K

Olt 1/4 with 2 K

A. Cabrera 2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 3 K


E. Figueroa 5 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 1 K and the win

Baez 1/3, 1 BB, 1 K

Alcantara 1/4, 1 R, 1 K

Villanueva 2/3, 1 R, 1 2B


Vogelbach 2/6 with a HR over the doubleheader (Daytona split the DH btw)

Bryant 1/3 with a HR and a K

P. Johnson 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K and the win

A. Rivera 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 K, 0 ER and the save


Underwood: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K

Blackburn: 3 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

Boise has put up 12 runs so far, Balaguert with the biggest night including a HR

Two more quality ABs from Lake and Rizzo in the 10th. Dusty must be laughing in the dugout, ever so thankful he's no longer a part of this crapfest.
I hope Dale has a bottle of scotch stashed somewhere.

But, not to worry -- I'm sure Baez, Bryant and Soler will be much better than Castro, Rizzo and Lake....

They have a hell of a lot more going for them than those three. Cubs' future will be fine. But yeah that inning sucked.

I understand Castro isn't having a spectacular year (though it largely was a bad June). But his hit production by the age of 23 ranks up there with some all time greats....hard to say that Alcantara (who is just starting to put it all together) or Soler (who has had 1/2 year of high-A ball) have a lot more going for them than Castro.

e.sanchez gets to suck tonight...2 runs in, 0 outs...awesome.

well once the Cubs lose this, they'll be tied with Brewers for the 4th spot and own the tiebreaker. #silverlining

I'm fine with that. I'd like another top 5 pick!

Also - boy did the cards just blow an opportunity ... Bases loaded 1 out in bottom of 10th.

Now Cards with 1st and 3rd and one out in 11th and couldn't score. RF just covered 2nd on a double play!


Theo explains the international spending spree (liked this class of players, can spread it around next year on smaller signings, mostly pitching, knew they were going over and got money just to lighten the tax)

Gordy claims Cubs put in bids for Ryu and Darvish, but were blown away by bigger spenders and infers it's all Ricketts fault. Could be the case, could be TheJedi didn't want to spend that much on the players either.

ROB - sorry to inject here, but I have a timely question on the TCR FBB league page and i notice you're around.

-edit- thanks for the reply on the TCR FBB page.

Wittenmeyer/Sun-Times tidbits...

Outfielder Jorge Soler, one of the top prospects in the system, likely will miss the rest of the Class A season after an exam on his fractured tibia showed he’s not ready to have his walking boot removed. Team president Theo Epstein said the Arizona Fall League is still a possibility
for Soler.

 Epstein said one of the ways the team plans to address a catching deficit in the farm system is by targeting three players for position changes during the instructional league.

 The front office plans to discuss this week when to slot Class AAA right-hander Jake Arrieta into the rotation for the rest of the season, likely during the next time through.


Old Dog, new trick? Out of the Schlitter?


No one is mentioning any of our 2013 international signings in these lists. Curious why?

I'm guessing Torres and Jimenez would be in there?

Hard to rank a 16 year old who has never played any professional game though...unless a kid really dominates or has extremely rare talent (i.e., not just the top player, but one of the best they have seen), I don't think it is common for many lists to include a player before they are at least in rookie ball. Much too difficult to determine whether the prospect's stats in the DSL/VSL will be repeated.

even with the down season m.olt #9 is a joke...i doubt he'll fall further than 4-5 on most people's lists.

it's kinda important to factor in not only his past with the bat, but also the fact he can actually stick at 3rd without a questionmark on his play there...which is getting more rare these days with a lot of 3rd prospects.

Bruce Levine's take on Soler. Shooting for AZ Fall league Oct 8th.


AZ Phil, care to speculate on the 3 position players the Cubs management has "targeted" to try converting to catchers in the AZ Instructs this fall?

The criteria for this? Decent hit tool, good throwing arm. I've seen catchers converted to 3B (Josh Donaldson, Ron Santo) but is there a track record for third basemen or other infielders moving behind the plate with success? Maybe someone with a RF arm could convert? Any chance Rock Shoulders has the throwing arm for this? Sorry for all the questions but I just don't have a good handle, nor precedent for success here.

from Carrie Muskat:

The Cubs are lacking impact players at the catching position in the Minor Leagues. Epstein said they have talked about converting a few kids to catcher, and have targeted three players. That will begin this fall during instructional league.


2013 11th round pick Jordan Hankins was announced as a catcher on draft day but has yet to catch as a pro. He is possibly one. But I thought he caught some in college already.

Roney Alcala, who hit .353 in the VSL (which has completed its season) as mainly a 3B (I believe), started at catcher last night in the DSL.

Early this season, Stephen Bruno was reported as willing to begin the conversion to catcher. (Subsequent to that report, Bruno underwent Tommy John surgery.)

If I were a third baseman in the system not named Bryant, Olt or Villanueva, I'd be raising my hand right now.

CUBSTER: SPRINGS mentioned Roney Alcala, and I would say he would be a VERY likely one. Alcala is only 19 years old, he's a switch-hitter, he hit 353/386/544 for the VSL Cubs and led the VSL in RBI, and he already had played a few games at catcher in the VSL prior to being moved to the DSL Cubs yesterday and geting the start behind the plate. So while it wouldn't be a matter of him starting from scratch at catcher, it would be a matter of him making catcher his primary position, instead of being a C-3B-1B-LF-RF. 

QUIET MAN mentioned Cubs 2013 11th round draft pick Jordan Hankins, and while the Cubs did announce him as a "catcher" on draft day, he has played only 3B-2B-1B so far at Boise. So he could make the move to catcher (the Cubs clearly thought he could be one on draft day), although he's not exactly an impact bat at this point, and probably projects (right now) as more of a utility guy.

Rock Shoulders played 3B in HS and JC before he was drafted by the Cubs in 2011, and he was playing 3B at Instructs post-2011 before suffering a season-ending knee injury that required surgery. He is blocked at 1B, and so either he moves to LF (which he has played some in the minors) or maybe try catcher. He has a decent arm, it's just a mater of whether his knees can handle the physical rigors of the position.

VA PHIL mentioned Steve Bruno as someone who caught some bullpen sessions at Instructs last season and was supposedly going to try making the conversion to catcher this season, but he ended up winning the starting 2B job at Daytona out of Minor League Camp, and he was leading the D-Cubs in hitting prior to suffering a season-ending elbow injury that required TJS. But he didn't catch at all in Minor Lerague Camp, so I don't know if he had changed his mind during last off-season, or the Cubs just decided he was more of an everyday 2B at this point. 

I mentioned this time last year that I thought 3B Ben Carhart had the physique of a catcher and that maybe he might be converted to catcher at some point, so he would be a possibility.

Prior to this season, the Cubs typically converted one or two position player to catcher every year, with varying results: 2B-SS Robinson Chirinos (2008 - worked out well), OF Jae-Hoon Ha (2009- it was a fiasco), INF Matt Cerda (2008 - HS shortstop converted to catcher after he signed, it did not work out, and he was eventually moved to 3B), INF Jonathon Mota (2010 - AA utility player who is just an emergency catcher at this point), IF-OF David Macias (2011 - another utility player adding catcher to his tool box, but he retired after last season and he is now the Cubs Assistant Player Development Director), Willson Contreras (2012 - has worked out well, although he was a catcher prior to signing with the Cubs, then was moved to 3B and played there for three seasons after signing, before being moved back to catcher last year), 3B Jair Bogaerts (2012 - acquired from Red Sox, was released at end of Extended Spring Training), IF-OF Anthony Giansanti (2012 - another utility player who learned the catching trade but rarely plays the position in a game), and OF Rony Rodriguez (2013 - ex-U. of Miami OF signed as a NDFA last off-season). 

I would think somebody like Dustin Geiger or perhaps Jeimer Candelario might be candidates, mainly because they are blocked at the position they presently play, and they are young enough toi be able to spend the time necessary to master the position. A plus-hitter with the arm to play 3B is (generally-speaking) the type of player most-likely to make the conversion, but of course it depends on the player and how commited he is to making the conversion.

BTW, Javier Baez played catcher as a sophomore in HS prior to moving to 3B as a junior and then SS his senior year, but there is no way he moves to catcher now. It would cause him to interrupt his development as a hitter, and he is on a fast-track to the big leagues.

Josh Vitters would have been another candidate, but he will be out of minor league options after next season, and I just don't think there is enough time left for him to make the conversion before he runs out of minor league options. And of course he doesn't seem to be a particularly durable player, either 

Hey AZ Phil, just wanted to ask about some guys you might have seen in the AZL. Mostly about the pitchers, as the offense on the AZL Cubs isn't particularly impressive. What are your thoughts on the recent draftees that are still in AZ (Clifton, Ihrig, Renner, Graham, Hermans and Garner)? How much of the other, more highly drafted guys did you see? Also, I'm curious about a handful of the other pitchers, namely Orbandy (who has a pretty wild story of getting to the Cubs), Villalba, Villegas, Santana, Torres, and Carlos Rodriguez? Some of those guys seem ready to move up, but do you think the Cubs are letting them get acclimated to USA in a more controlled environment?

I know that there are a lot of questions there, but I'm a fan and I really enjoy reading your scouting reports on these guys.

Thanks for any insight!!

@IowaCubs roster moves:Luis Flores activated from DL,Chad Noble assigned @smokiesbaseball & Jeff Antigua promoted to Iowa

per Mark Gonzales/Tribune: Cubs third round pick Jacob Hannemann slight tear in right non-throwing elbow. rehab and rest prescribed. no surgery.

Today's lineup (Castro gets day off): DeJesus CF, McDonald LF, Rizzo 1B, Castillo C, Schierholtz RF, Murphy SS, Watkins 2B, Ransom 3B, Rusin P

"per Mark Gonzales/Tribune: Cubs third round pick Jacob Hannemann slight tear in right non-throwing elbow. rehab and rest prescribed. no surgery."

Damn. Not the throwing elbow but still scary news.

Wow...McDonald, Murphy, Watkins and Ransom in the same lineup, with Welly batting cleanup Got to be one of the worst of the Ricketts era, wich is saying something.

Arrieta to start Friday against the Cards. Villanueva heads to the pen.

I think Rizzo needs to sit for a few days -- in his last 10 games, he's 6-for-40 (.150) with 2 XBH. In the few ABs I have been able to stomach, he hasn't had one good, authoritative swing -- tentative and lost.

olt 0-4 (no Ks)

coleman started 5ip 1h 0bb 5k, 0 r/er

rosscup 1ip 0h 0bb 2k (2.2ip 1h 2bb 7k)

Rosscup for president!

Bryant another solo HR for Daytona

soriano hits his 6th HR as a yankee in 64ab...while sporting a .250 ob%

this one was a grand slam.

15 hits, 1 double, 6 HR...2bb, 21K..18 RBI

make that 7 HRs...and his 2nd double. 3-3 night so far.

7 RBI all off Weaver. When is the last time a batter had 7 RBI off the same pitcher I wonder?

Javier Baez is 2-3, thru 4 innings... 2 doubles, 3 rbi, 1 run.

Villaneueva/Andreoli also with doubles. 5-1 Smokies, Rhee pitching.

Rhee? Whee!

Garza just gave up a 3 run HR to Brewers Francisco. 4-2, Brew Crew top 4th.

L. Hawkins everybody...



He had decent stuff. And was destroyed regularly by opposing batters. Still a mystery.

didn't seem that mysterious...he had one pitch, a straight mid 90's fastball that he had to locate.

PS - He got nailed in the nuts with a comebacker the batter before, might explain the expression :)

Recent comments

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  • Great news.

    "Terms of the deal were not disclosed."


    Rob Richardson 26 min 23 sec ago view
  • Theo inks five year extension

    PC tonite at PNC

    jacos 48 min 40 sec ago view
  • Not as a major factor, but could be a tie-breaker. But, yeah, on performance and experience, it's Coghlan.

    billybucks 1 hour 36 min ago view
  • Arrieta’s 2.85 ERA would be good enough to lead 26 other teams. He's 3rd on #Cubs behind Hendricks (1.99) and Lester (2.28)

    Rob G. 1 hour 42 min ago view
  • jacos 2 hours 40 min ago view
  • For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.

    [Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]

    Charlie 3 hours 46 min ago view
  • tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.

    crunch 3 hours 53 min ago view
  • I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.

    Tito 6 hours 17 min ago view
  • I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.

    And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.

    When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.

    VirginiaPhil 6 hours 21 min ago view
  • Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.

    billybucks 6 hours 27 min ago view
  • I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.

    Tito 6 hours 30 min ago view
  • Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.

    My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.

    VirginiaPhil 6 hours 43 min ago view
  • Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.

    VirginiaPhil 6 hours 47 min ago view
  • HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.

    Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.

    Arizona Phil 6 hours 52 min ago view
  • Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?

    Hagsag 10 hours 37 min ago view
  • It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.

    Still impressive.

    John Beasley 10 hours 38 min ago view