2017 Arizona Fall League Schedule Released

The 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.

The 2017 AFL schedule features a 30-game "regular season," plus the "Bowman Hitting Challenge" held at Sloan Park in Mesa on Saturday October 21st, an All-Star Game (formerly called the "Rising Stars Game," but now known as the "Fall Stars Game") played in the stadium at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Saturday November 4th, and the AFL Championship Game (pitting the winner of the East Division against the winner of the West Division) played at Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday November 18th. There are no games played on Sundays or on the day of the Bowman Hitting Challenge and on the day of the Fall Stars Game, but otherwise there are three games scheduled every day Monday through Saturday (except for one off day on Wednesday October 8th), beginning with Opening Day on Tuesday October 10th and extending up through Thursday November 16th. 

The Cubs (as well as the other 29 MLB clubs) usually assign some of their better prospects to the Arizona Fall League, and sometimes minor leaguers who are eligible for selection in the MLB Rule 5 Draft might be sent to the AFL to give them a chance to play their way onto the MLB 40-man roster. Depending on what positions they are asked to fill on the Mesa squad, I would not be surprised to see the Cubs assign some combination of position players and pitchers such as catchers Ian Rice or P. J. Higgins, INF Chesny Young, third-baseman Jason Vosler, super-sub IF-OF David Bote, OF Charcer Burks, and OF Eddy Julio Martinez (Young, Vosler, Bote, and Burks will be first-time Rule 5 Draft eligible post-2017), starting pitchers Alec Mills, Oscar de la Cruz, Jose Paulino, Michael Rucker, Tyson Miller, or Ryan Kellogg, or possibly even one of the Cubs 2017 draft picks like Alex Lange or Brendon Little (starting pitchers assigned to the AFL are usually pitchers who didn't throw a whole lot of innings in the minor league regular season either because of injury or because they spent part of the season working out of the bullpen), and relief pitchers Dillon Maples, Dakota Mekkes, Craig Brooks, James Norwood, Jake Stinnett, Brad Markey, David Garner, Wyatt Short, and/or Tommy Thorpe (de la Cruz, Paulino, Maples, Norwood, Stinnett, Markey, Garner, and Thorpe are Rule 5 Draft-eligible post-2017). NOTE: Post-2017 Cubs minor league free-agents like RHRP Daury Torrez, RHP James Pugliese, RHP Justin Hancock, C-1B Tayler Davis, SS Carlos Penalver, OF John Andreoli, and CF Trey Martin can be assigned to the AFL ONLY if  the player signs a 2018 Minor League successor contract or is added to an MLB 40-man roster.prior to the start of the AFL season.   

Here are the current AFL eligibility rules & restrictions. NOTE: Some of the eligibility rules & restrictions have been changed (relaxed) over the past couple of years:

1. There are six AFL teams, and each AFL team is affiliated with five MLB clubs. SEA & SD (Peoria Javelinas), KC & 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 twenty MLB clubs can vary from year-to-year. NOTE: Besides the Cubs, DET, HOU, OAK, and WAS will be affiliated with the Mesa Solar Sox in 2017. (BAL, CLE, MIA, and OAK were the other four MLB organizations affiliated with the Mesa Solar Sox in 2016).

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). NOTE: C-1B Victor Caratini, RHRP James Farris, 2B-OF Ian Happ, LF Eloy Jimenez, RHRP Ryan McNeil, RHRP Steve Perakslis, and RHSP Duane Underwood Jr were the Cubs players assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox in 2016.   

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 play in no more than two games per week (it used to be Wednesday and Saturday games only, but now it's just no more than two games per week regardless of the day), but a player can be transferred from the Taxi Squad to the 35-man Active Roster to replace an injured player. NOTE: The Cubs initially did not assign any players to the Mesa Solar Sox Taxi Squad in 2016, but OF-DH Kyle Schwarber was briefly assigned to the MSS Taxi Squad 10/22-10/25.   

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 players selected in a preceding Rule 5 Draft) 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. International 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 assigned to an AFL team's "Taxi Squad").

12. A player cannot be assigned to the AFL on an Article XIX-C Minor League Injury Rehabilitation Assignment by a club participating in an MLB post-season series (LDS, LCS, and World Series). NOTE: OF-DH Kyle Schwarber was added to the 2016 Mesa Solar Sox Taxi Squad on 10/22 after being reinstated from the Cubs MLB 60-day DL (so it was NOT considered a "rehab assignment"), and he played in two AFL games before re-joining the Cubs for the World Series on 10/25.  

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.

14. Only players who are under control of an MLB organization are eligible to play in the AFL. A free-agent (unsigned player) is not eligible to play in the AFL.

Each MLB organization provides either the manager, a pitching coach, or a hitting coach to its affiliated AFL club (assignments rotate every year). The Cubs are responsible for providing a hitting coach to their affiliated AFL club in 2017. NOTE: Cubs AA (Tennessee) hitting coach Jacob Cruz will serve as hitting coach for the Mesa Solar Sox in 2017. 

CUBS ASSIGNED TO 2017 MESA SOLAR SOX (updated 7-26-2017)
Jacob Cruz (Hitting Coach)


AZ Phil, have you heard or seen whether De la Cruz or Mills are throwing or otherwise have a chance to return before the end of the minor league season?

BRADSBEARD: I haven't seen Mills or de la Cruz throw, but the rehab group operates on a different bullpen side-session schedule than do the AZL Cubs pitchers, so I may have missed it.


Hi Phil, was so sad to hear about John. I will miss him. He was such a special person. I posted a note on your write-up on John. You captured him so nicely. I have a new email [email protected]. I finally gave up on AOL. Email me so I have your email address. Thanks! Montana Bob

we need 48 other people to complete this assemblage of cubs fans...

As they need a defined "starting pitcher" on the Solar Sox, my leans would be either James Pugliese or Brad Markey.

ARIZONA PHIL: What are your impressions of Yunior Perez and Dakota Mekkes? What are the other scouts saying, if anything? Thanks.

E-MAN: Yunior Perez was considered the pitcher with the best arm signed by the Cubs in the 2015-16 IFA. He is a big kid (6'4) and features a mid-90's FB that very well could increase in velocity as he matures, but his secondary stuff needs a lot work and he has MAJOR command issues. So he is long-term developmental guy (high ceiling/low floor). He (finally) had a decent outing last night for the AZL Cubs, so hopefully he can build on that. Scouts like him just because he has a "live" arm with a plus-FB. Dakota Mekkes reminds me a lot of Dick Tidrow or maybe Rod Beck. He is a big man with a wide girth (6'7 250+) and he has a deceptive delivery that produces a lot of strikeouts without a high-octane FB or plus-secondary pitch. He has what scouts call "pitchability," which means he just gets outs. I think Mekkes is a very likely candidate to pitch in the AFL post-2017, and if he pitches well there he could get an get an NRI to Spring Training. He projects to start the 2018 season in the AA Tennessee bullpen, but I could envision him pitching his way into the Cubs bullpen with a strong performance in Spring Training.

Thanks PHIL. Very interesting on the Michigan State product. Dick Tidrow or Rod Beck I would not complain. Or, Phil Regan for that matter.

Cubs assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox (AFL): 

Pedro Araujo, RHRP 
David Bote, IF-OF 
Oscar de la Cruz, RHSP 
Alec Mills, RHSP 
Ian Rice, C 
Jake Stinnett, RHRP 
Jason Vosler, INF 

The rosters are provisional and subject to change. For example, Araujo is eligible to be a minor league 6YFA after the World Series, and so he must sign a 2018 minor league successor contract in order to play in the AFL. 

As I mentioned in the original post (see above), the AFL is often used as proving ground for players eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft, and Bote, de la Cruz, Stinnett, and Vosler (and Araujo if and when he signs a successor contract) fit that profile.  

Mills and de la Cruz both missed considerable time in 2017 and getting reps in the AFL will help both pitchers make-up innings lost due to injury. Mills is already on the MLB 40-man roster, but de la Cruz (one of the Cubs top SP prospects) is not and he will be eligible for selection in the Rule 5 Draft if he is not added to the 40 by 11/20 (although he is very close to being a "lock" to get added). 

Rice has emerged as a legit MLB catching prospect at AA in 2017 (although his bat is more advanced than his glove right now), but getting additional experience in the AFL can't help but aid his development. (Rice will not be Ruke 5 Draft eligible until post-2018). 

Interesting group of guys heading to AZ this year. Think this means Chesny and Jose Paulino aren't added to the 40 Man? How about Erling Moreno? He is the one I'd hate to lose most of those 3. And though he's far away from MLB, some teams have been going based on upside in rule 5 in recent years. I wonder if Clifton has cost himself a roster spot with his bad year, or if they just want to limit his innings and give him a rest after an awful season.

DJL: Trevor Clifton has thrown way too many innings this season to be assigned to the AFL. I'm actually kind of surprised he hasn't been shut-down. But even with his struggles lately, Clifton is certainly "on the bubble" for a slot on the MLB 40-man roster on 11/20. Same goes for LHP Jose Paulino, IF-OF Chesny Young, IF-OF David Bote, 3B-1B Jason Vosler, OF Charcer Burks, and RHRP Jake Stinnett. And RHRP Matt Carasiti and/or C-1B Taylor Davis could get added to the 40 just to keep them from walking away as a minor league free-agent after the World Series (as happened with Jose Rosario last year). 

I believe the only prospects who are virtual-locks to get add to the Cubs MLB 40-man roster are Adbert Alzolay, Oscar de la Cruz, Dillon Maples, and Jen-Ho Tseng, The Cubs will probably add six or seven, so figure two ir three of the guys who are "on the bubble" will get added to the 40 along with Alzolay, de la Cruz, Maples, and Tseng. 

Erling Moreno is one of the Cubs top six or seven SP prospects, but he would be a long-shot to get selected in the Rule 5 Draft because I doubt that the claiming team could keep on their 25-man rostet for an entire season. Even if he were to be selected, I would think the Cubs would probably believe that they would get him back, so I doubt that he would get added to the 40 post-2017.

Jose Paulino is more of the type of pitcher (a LHP with a 93-94 MPH sinker & power slider combo) who could be stashed in an MLB bullpen for an entire season and be used as a LOOGY and to throw "garbage innings," so the Cubs might not be able to re-claim him if he gets selected. That's why Paulino is more-likely to get rostered post-2017 than Moreno, even though they are comparable prospects (and Moreno may even be a better prospect). So Paulino is very likely "on the bubble" along with Slifton, Young, Bote, Vosler, Burks, Stinnett, Carasiti, and T. Davis, because he is a definite candidate to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft (and lost for good) if he is left off the 40-man roster. 

There is still a week to go in the AFL, but I feel confident about this: AZ PHIL'S 2017 AFL ALL-STAR TEAM C - Alex Jackson (ATL) 1B - Eric Filia (SEA) 2B - David Bote (CUBS) 3B - Austin Riley (ATL) SS - Nicky Lopez (KC) LF - Braxton Lee (MIA) CF - Victor Robles (WAS) RF - Ronald Acuna (ATL) DH - Francisco Mejia (CLE) SP - Max Fried (ATL) RP - Cody Carroll (NYY) MVP: Ronald Acuna

David Bote has returned home to attend to a personal matter and so his AFL season has apparently concluded. 

C-1B Ian Rice has been moved up to the "regular" MSS active list from the Taxi Squad. 

Presuming the Mesa Solar Sox make it that far (and they are up by 2-1/2 games with only four to play), Cubs RHSP Alec Mills is in line to start the AFL Championship game next Saturday. 

Mills has been one of the best starting pitchers in the AFL this year, and is the ace of the Solar Sox starting rotation.  

Mesa Solar Sox lose to Glendale Desert Dogs today at Sloan Park while Salt River Rafters win their game, cutting the Solar Sox AFL East lead to 1-1/2 games with two games left to play. It doesn't help that Solar Sox MVP David Bote went home last week.

Confirmed Cubs RHSP Alec Mills will get the start for the Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL Championship Game Saturday afternoon versus the Peoria Javelinas (the best and most-loaded team in the AFL) at Scottsdale Stadium (it will be televised on MLB network). Mills has been one of the better SP in the AFL this season and is clearly the ace of the Solar Sox staff, and he'll have to take his "A" game to the mound versus Peoria. On the negative side, Cubs INF (and Solar Sox MVP) David Bote went home last week to attend to a personal matter and is not expected to return for the Championship Game, and RHP Adbert Alzolay (arguably the Cubs #1 pitching prospect) has been shut-down after reaching his 2017 innings limit. But RHRPs Jake Stinnett and Pedro Araujo are well-rested and could very well see action out of the Solar Sox pen on Saturday, and OF Charcer Burks, INF Jason Vosler, and C-1B Ian Rice have been getting regular playing time for the Solar Sox and so any or all of the three could be in the MSS starting lineup on Saturday (TBD).

not to distract (too much) from his nice AFL showing, but as a guy that's about to turn 26 in a couple weeks i would expect alec mills to carve these kids up. that said, it's nice to have him in the AAA/majors pipeline for 2018 along with tseng.

Recent comments

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  • tim815 5 hours 50 min ago (view)

    The rush to 70 players.


  • Arizona Phil 6 hours 7 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have released OF Luis Berrelleza, INF Rochest Cruz, LHP Misael Garcia, OF Orlando Guzman, C-1B Brayan Mancilla, RHP Yander Montero, OF Carlos Pacheco, and OF John Rodriguez. 


  • crunch 8 hours 51 min ago (view)

    it screws up stats.  i know you play for wins/losses, but real money is on the line for players and makes agent/player homework selling their client a bit harder.

    it also makes historical comparisons difficult.

    the amount of time i've seen a fresh inning starting out...bunt guy to 3rd for an out, IBB, IBB is too high.  what would amount to a leadoff single following that can easily turn into 2 runs (1 earned) with guys on the corner...which usually leads to another IBB.


  • Charlie 9 hours 56 min ago (view)

    Jay Jaffe has a timely argument against the runner on second rule over at fangraphs: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-runner-on-second-i...

    I still don't know why we don't just have ties. Obviously, the Cubs could have dodged most of these situations by simply hitting a little bit during the regulation innings.


  • Arizona Phil 12 hours 41 min ago (view)

    The Cubs have signed free-agent RHSP Adrian Sampson to a minor league contract and he has been assigned to AAA Iowa, and RHP Michael McAvene, LHP Jack Patterson, and OF Donnie Dewees have been placed on the 60-day IL to open up slots for Sampson, Trayce Thompson, and Kyle Ryan on the Cubs minor league 180-man Domestic Reserve List. 


  • crunch 13 hours 6 min ago (view)

    well that sucked.

    2-game sweep, 2 games under .500


  • crunch 13 hours 32 min ago (view)

    stumbled onto this today...clip from a 2019 ESPN broadcast game with boog, chipper jones, and david ross in the booth...


    boog used to call games for ATL, btw...


  • tim815 16 hours 1 min ago (view)

    Someone on social media was floating Yoelqui Cespedes to the Cubs in a Bryant trade.

    I was clueless if it was permitted. It is.


  • Wrigley Rat 1 day 3 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs have traded for outfielder Trayce Thompson, who was with the Diamondbacks at Triple-A, but is formerly of the big league White Sox, Dodgers, and A’s. The Diamondbacks are getting cash in the deal, which is a reflection of the reality that Thompson, 30, is a depth outfielder at this point in his career. Thompson is the younger brother of NBA star Klay Thompson. https://www.bleachernation.com/cubs/2021/05/11/cub...


  • crunch 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    i'd like to point out ross feels more comfortable with j.pederson and k.bryant in CF over j.heyward.

    watching heyward not just look human in the OF, but having a bit of a hard time is rough.  he's just not getting to stuff like he used to.


  • crunch 1 day 9 hours ago (view)

    bryant out of the game for no apparent reason...that...doesn't seem good...

    he's "under the weather" according the clubhouse.  that's better than screwed up oblique or similar, at least.


  • crunch 1 day 11 hours ago (view)

    this shane bieber guy kinda sucks.  1 run in, bases loaded 0 outs.

    i hope 4-5 innings of alzolay and the 5 pen guys after him hold it down.

    ...hey wow, bases loaded 0 out turns into 0 runs...very cubs.


  • George Altman 1 day 12 hours ago (view)

    Baseball wants more offense, fans want more action -- limit pitching staffs to 12, ideally transition to 11 over a 3 year period. 

    Teams are asking RPs to throw only 45 pitches a week. Think about that.

    SPs who throw 175 IP/Yr will be museum pieces in 5 years.

    It's not shifts. Oh....and electronic Strike zones as soon as possible. 


  • crunch 1 day 13 hours ago (view)

    given that the starters are on pace to pitch around 150 innings this year they might need the zillion relievers.

    i'm under the impression that d.ross got a new Fitbit exercise tracker prior to the season and likes to have excuses to walk to the mound for higher step counts.  i'm going with this theory until proved otherwise.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 14 hours ago (view)

    I get that 40 man rosters are complicated, but now we have 10 GD relievers and 3 bench guys, one of whom is an obviously injured Javy.

    I can't wait until they reinstate the 13 pitchers maximum rule.


  • crunch 1 day 14 hours ago (view)

    baez (again) a late scratch because back ouchies.