2014 Arizona Fall League Schedule Released
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:
2013 1st round pick 3B Kris Bryant (who was AFL MVP last year), Cubs 2014 1st round pick C-OF Kyle Schwarber (if the Cubs don't think he would be better served going to the AZ Instructional League instead), SS Addison Russell (who played in the AFL last year while a member of the Oakland A's organization), CF Albert Almora (who alao played in the AFL last year), RF Jorge Soler (if the Cubs want to get him more PT post-2014 and he doesn't play in a Latin winter league), 1B Dan Vogelbach, OF Billy McKinney, OF Jake Hannemann, 3B Christian Villanueva (if he doesn't play in the Mexican Pacific League), 2B Stephen Bruno, SS Marco Hernandez (if he doesn't play in the Dominican Winter League), and/or catcher Rafael Lopez (if the Cubs need to supply a catcher and it's not Kyle Schwarber), one starting pitcher (probably either Eric Jokisch, C. J. Edwards, Pierce Johnson, Ivan Pineyro, or Corey Black, the choice influenced by the health of the pitcher and the number of innings each pitcher has accrued by the conclusion of the 2014 minor league season), and relievers like LHP Hunter Cervenka and/or Andrew McKirahan, and RHP Armando Rivero (who pitched in the AFL last year), Blake Cooper (recently acquired from the D'backs for Brett Jackson), P. J. Francescon, Zach Cates, Michael Jensen, and/or Starling Peralta.
C. J. Edwards is a lock to get added to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster post-2014, but Jokisch, Lopez, McKirahan, Pineyro, Hernandez, Cervenka, and Peralta might have to prove themselves in the AFL first. (Jokisch, Lopez, McKirahan, and Hernandez are Rule 5 Draft eligible post-2014, Peralta can be a minor league 6YFA if he isn't added to the 40-man roster by the 5th day following the conclusion of the World Series, and Cervenka will be either Rule 5 Draft eligible or a minor league 6YFA depending on whether he signed a 2008 or 2009 contract with the Red Sox on 8-15-2008).
Here are the current AFL eligibility rules & restrictions (NOTE: Some of the eligibiility rules & restrictions have been changed over the past couple of years):
1. There are six AFL teams, and each AFL team is affilated with five MLB clubs. KC (Peoria Javelinas), TEX (Surprise Saguaros), LAD/CHW (Glendale Desert Dogs), AZ/COL (Salt River Rafters), CUBS (Mesa Solar Sox), and SF (Scottsdale Scorpions) are the "host organizations" for the six AFL teams, but the affiliations of the other 22 MLB clubs can vary from year-to-year. Besides the Cubs, the other four MLB organizations affiliated with the Mesa Solar Sox in 2014 will be LAA, OAK, TOR, and WAS. NOTE: The home stadium for the Peoria Javelinas in 2014 will be Surprise Stadium.
2. Each MLB organization must assign a minimum of seven players to its AFL affiliate, including a minimum of four pitchers (preferably 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 a conference call "position draft" 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 a Disabled list) as of September 1st are eligible.
6. Any player on a AA or AAA Active Roster (or Disabled List) on August 15th is eligible.
7. Two players on an organization's Advanced Class-A (A+) affiliate's Active Roster (or Disabled List) on August 15th can be assigned to the AFL.
8. Two additional players who were on the Active Roster (or Disabled List) 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. A player on the Restricted List, Military List, Disqualified List, Ineligible List, or Voluntary Retired List is not eligible to participate in the AFL.
11. A player who was on a minor league or MLB DL at the close of the regular season is eligible to play in the AFL as long as the player has been reinstated, but there can be no special limits or restrictions placed on the player's playing time (other than the automatic restrictions imposed on a player sssigned to an AFL team's "Taxi Squad").
12. A player cannot be assigned to the AFL on a Minor League Injury Rehabilitation Assignment by a club participating in an MLB post-season series (LDS, LCS, and World Series).
13. Players assigned to the AFL do not accrue MLB or minor league service time, each player receives the same salary, and the salaries are paid out of a special fund managed by MLB.
Each MLB organization provides either the manager, pitching coach, hitting coach, or athletic trainer to its affiliated AFL club (assignments rotate every year). The Cubs are due to send a pitching coach to the AFL this season, so Daytona Cubs Pitching Coach Ron Villone has been asigned to the Mesa Solar Sox.