2015 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. It;features a 31-game "regular season" schedule plus the "Bowman Hitting Challenge" (first Saturday of the season), an All-Star Game (formerly called the "Rising Stars Game," but now known as the "Fall Stars Game") at the end of the fourth week, and the AFL;Championship Game (pitting the winner of the East Division against the winner of the West Division) on a Saturday at the end of the 6th and final week.

There are no games played on Sundays, on the day of the Bowman Hitting Challenge, or on the day of the Fall Stars Game, but otherwise there are three games scheduled every day Monday through Saturday during the AFL regular season, beginning with Opening Day on the second Tuesday following the conclusion of the MLB regular season (which is October 13th in 2015) and extending up through the Thursday of the 6th week (which is November 19th in 2015).

The Cubs (as well as the other 29 MLB clubs) usually assign some of their better prospects to the AFL. 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 Willson Contreras or Victor Caratini, first-basemen Dan Vogelbach or Jacob Rogers, second basemen Stephen Bruno or Chesny Young, third-baseman Jeimer Candelario, shortstop Gleyber Torres, outfielders Albert Almora Jr, Jake Hannemann, Billy McKinney, Mark Zagunis, and/or Ian Happ, starting pitchers Pierce Johnson, Duane Underwood Jr, and/or Rob Zastryzny (the ultimate choice of starting pitcher being influenced by the health of the pitcher and how many innings the pitcher has thrown in the 2015 minor league regular season), and relief pitchers Dave Berg, Corey Black, Matt Brazis, Blake Cooper, Carl Edwards Jr, P. J. Francescon, Michael Heesch, Michael Jensen, and/or Tayler Scott. 

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. 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. Besides the Cubs, the other four MLB organizations affiliated with the Mesa Solar Sox in 2015 will be LAA, MIA, OAK, and TB. (LAA, OAK, TOR, and WAS were the other four MLB organizations affiliated with the Mesa Solar Sox in 2014). 

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 assigned 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 an athletic trainer to its affiliated AFL club (assignments rotate every year). The Cubs are due to send a manager to the AFL this season, so the Cubs have named Myrtle Beach manager Mark Johnson to be the Mesa Solar Sox manager.

Comments

RHP Trey McNutt's 30-day AZL rehab expired on 8/1 and he has been released.

The 26-year old McNutt was on the Iowa Cubs 60-day DL after undergoing right shoulder surgery last year, and the Cubs either had to either reinstate him to the I-Cubs active list or release him when his rehab expired.

McNutt received an "overslot bonus" after being selected by the Cubs in the 32nd round of the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft (Rule 4 Draft) out of Shelton State CC in Alabama, was rated the Cubs #3 prospect by Baseball, America post-2010 (behind only RHSP Chris Archer and OF Brett Jackson), and became the Cubs #1 pitching prospect after Archer was traded to Tampa Bay in the Matt Garza trade in January 2011. But command issues and then shoulder problems derailed his career.

McNutt was eligible to be an MLB Rule 55 minor league free-agent (6YFA) post-2015 if he hadn't been released (and he was almost certainly not going to be offered a 2016 minor league successor contract by the Cubs), so the Cubs just jumped the gun a wee bit by releasinhg him now.

McNutt was throwing a 90-91 MPH fastball and a pedestrain curve in his recent AZL rehab, far removed from the 96 MPH heater and killer hard-slider he threw pre-shoulder injury. 

McNutt.....one of Hendry's biggest boo-boos!

Don't worry, they would have wrecked Chris Archer, too. I remember when McNutt was in his first full pro season at age 20, and Hendry kept promoting him until he was pitching in the Southern League championship series. Today, the Cubs don't have a single pitcher at AA or higher who is younger than 23. Apparently, they have rules about what age belongs at what level.

Castro for Shields in a double change of scenery deal?

Doesn't Shields get paid a bunch of $$$ the next 3 seasons?

Yes. If Castro clears waivers (interesting debate there) it might be a good fit rather than just having him fade away?

CARLITO: Even though he was a Joe Maddon guy in Tampa Bay, I don't think the Cubs would take on James Shields because his salary ($65M guaranteed 2016-18) might make it next to impossible for the Cubs to sign David Price or another high-priced FA SP post-2015 (presuming they are unable to acquire Tyson Ross, Carlos Carrasco, or one of the Rays starters in a trade). I suspect Shields was probably available for the taking at the trade deadline, but the Cubs saw Dan Haren as the better short-term fit since his contract only runs through the 2015 season.  

Two players who have nearly-identical salaries are Starlin Castro and Jedd Gyorko. (Castro gets $38M guaranteed 2016-19, and Gyorko gets $33M guaranteed 2016-19).  

Why would the Cubs trade Castro plus maybe either Mike Olt or Christian Villanueva for Gyorko plus maybe somebody like ex-BOS 1st round draft pick RHP Casey Kelly?

Gyorko was drafted (2010 SD 2nd round - U. of West Virginia) by Jason McLeod and Jed Hoyer when they were at San Diego (so Gyorko is their guy, Castro is not), and (like Castro) Gyorko might well benefit from a change-of-scenery (and getting out of Petco, which is not a great place for a fly ball hitter like Gyorko).

The Padres currently have a hole at shortstop at the big league level and they traded away their #1 SS prospect (Trea Turner) last off-season, so Castro would be a fit there. They've given up on Wil Middlebrooks at 3B, and GM A. J. Preller was Intenational Scouting Coordinator and then (later) Player Development Director at Texas when Olt and Villanueva were signed and developed by the Rangers.

The thing about Gyroko is that while he has limited range, he is a very reliable defensive second-baseman who could easily slide over to 3rd base (he played 3B in college at West Virginia), so he is like a RH version of Tommy LaStella (the two of them could even platoon at 2B if necessary). Also, Gyorko will have two minor league options left in 2016, and so he can be stashed at Iowa in both 2016 and 2017 if he isn't needed in Chicago (conversely, Mike Olt and Christian Villanueva are out of minor league options next year and won't be able to ride the Des Moines-Chicago shuttle).  

 

This makes a lot of sense. Thanks Phil. Is your sense that Castro would clear waivers?

CARLITO: Yes, I absolutely believe Castro would clear waivers. 

I don't see this FO acquiring a hitter whose K/BB is 4.25. La Stella's was 1.11 last year. Montero's was 1.73. Career OBPs: Montero .342; Denorfia .331; La Stella .325; Coghlan .339; Gyorko .291. Money owed Gyorko: 16:$4M, 17:$6M, 18:$9M, 19:$13M Ugh! Let's keep this thing moving forward. I don't think he's still "their guy" just because they drafted him. They didn't trade Edwin Jackson's contract for one that was worse. They just wrote him off, sent him home.

Almora already has 2 more hits tonight for the Smokies including a double. His batting avg is up to .265 (McKinney also has 2 hits). I wonder if this is just maturation, a hot streak or he actually discovered something he was doing wrong and has corrected it. Whatever it is, keep it going. http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?gid=... Also, Ryan Williams has 6 shutout innings, 1 hit, 5K, no walks

it's a shame he's finally getting hot with only a few weeks of the minor league season left. at least his bat got hot, though. with the rest of the cubs kids rushing to the majors we gotta occasionally remind ourselves that's not the norm. ...and for as average/poor as he's been doing in the minors for a couple years he's still been playing way over his head on the talent/age scale. dude just turned 21 at the beginning of the season and he's in AA.

Yeah, it felt like they rushed Almora a bit last year -- moved up from A to AA despite only a .306 OBP at Daytona, then he really struggled at AA after moving up (OBP of .250 with 2BB and 23K). I believe he was Theo's first #1 pick, so maybe that explained the unusually quick promotion (?). Hopefully he can finish strong and bring some confidence into 2016.

And he continues to make incredible catches in CF; check out the videos on milb.com. I presume he'll be in AAA next year, at 22, and with the emphasis on defense in today's game, if he can manage a .700 OPS he'll be a valued MLB regular. Y'all heard it here first...no, wait, you've heard it a lot of times from a lot of people..aargh.

...no, wait, you've heard it a lot of times from a lot of people..aargh. Yeah - this ain't BCB as I guess you've noticed since comin' round here...

Contreras with 2 more hits...hitting .343.

Contreras the main dude after 2016, Schwarb the alternate when he's not in LF...sweet. I saw Contreras when he was in the Midwest League and he looked athletic and mobile back there. If he can hit, so much the better.

Dodgers don't like the Cubs...gave up 9 in the 7th yesterday to blow a 5-3 lead in PIT, now down 7-0 at home vs. Wash. Hey -- a little help?

The Dodgers are a mess. They might be swapping standings with the Giants before it's all over. Making them a wild card competitor.

They should just swap managers. Maybe then they wouldn't end up swapping places in the standings.

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  • tim815 6 hours 2 min ago (view)

    The rush to 70 players.

     

  • Arizona Phil 6 hours 19 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 9 hours 3 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 10 hours 8 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 53 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 17 min ago (view)

    well that sucked.

    2-game sweep, 2 games under .500

     

  • crunch 13 hours 44 min ago (view)

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

    https://www.mlb.com/cut4/chipper-jones-sciambi-lau...

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

     

  • tim815 16 hours 13 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.