A Parallel Universe in Cubs Future?
With the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies set to move their Spring Training & Minor League operations from Tucson to a new joint/shared facility at Salt River Fields at the Talking Stick Resort next year, it is likely that the "Arizona Advanced Instructional League" (AKA "Arizona Parallel League" or "Junior Arizona Fall League") will be expanded to include at least two teams from the east-side of the metro Phoenix area (AZ and COL).
The purpose of the AZ Advanced Instructional League is to provide a separate environment for players who are not advanced enough to play in the Arizona Fall League (which is designed essentially for AA and AAA players), but are too advanced for the traditional AZ Instructional League (which exists primarily for first-year pros and Latin players making their U. S. debut).
At present, the eight MLB clubs that share Arizona Spring Training &; Minor League facilities with another MLB club (KC and TEX in Surprise, SEA and SD in Peoria, LAD and CHW in Glendale, and CLE and CIN in Goodyear) participate in the AZ Advanced Instructional League, and all eight of the clubs participating are located on the west-side of the Phoenix metro area. Games are usually played on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday at the same sites where traditional AZ Instructional League games are played. The only difference is that Parallel teams are a combination-mix of two different organizations, with coaches also provided from each organization. (There aren't enough available pitchers from full-season "A" ball teams for each MLB organization to field its own Parallel squad, because many of the pitchers who spend a full season playing "A"-ball games have thrown too many innings to allow them to throw any more after the end of the minor league regular season). But because the clubs providing the players for the Parallel team share a campus, pitchers from two organizations can be combined on one team, and the players can easily return to their home organization for Camp Days (instruction) because they are already home.
The Cubs would probably be interested in participating in such a league if it is expanded to include Phoenix metro east-side teams (so that more advanced players like Hak-Ju Lee, Logan Watkins, Evan Crawford, Jae-Hoon Ha, could play with and against players with a similar level of experience as themselves), but are handicapped because they do not share a campus with another MLB club. (Same goes from the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A's, and San Francisco Giants). It would be difficult for a club that does not share a campus with another team to coordinate operations with their partner, because the players who would be participating would be based at different complexes several miles apart.
The AFL solves this by totally disconnecting the six AFL teams from minor league complexes, instruction, and individual MLB club identity, making each of the six AFL squads a stand-alone consortium of five MLB clubs (the Cubs, Phillies, Pirates, Mets, and Angels will be providing seven players a piece to the Mesa Solar Sox this year). The AFL model probably could be be applied to the Parallel league, too, but that would mean getting each club to agree to a standard player development philosophy, and at present such agreement does not exist.
Still, don't be surprised if the Cubs partner-up with another MLB club (probably either the A's or the Angels) to form an AZ Junior Instructional League team (Parallel team) this time next year, to provide an extra month of advanced instruction and games (probably about 12-15) after the conclusion of the minor league regular season for the better prospects from Peoria and Daytona. And then the Cubs traditional AZ Instructional League squad would be limited to just the youngest and least-experienced players (from Boise, AZL Cubs, DSL Cubs #1, and DSL Cubs #2), as well as players making their pro debut.
Arizona Phil 4 hours 19 min ago (view)
Someone to keep an eye on in 2021 is RHP (ex-1B) Jerrick Suiter.
He was selected by the Cubs from the Pirates in the AAA Phase of the 2019 Rule 5 Draft and the Cubs immediately converted him from a mediocre AA first-baseman to a full-time pitcher, having seen him throw garbage innings in blow-outs for the Pirates AA Altoona affiliate in 2019.
Dolorous Jon Lester 5 hours 55 min ago (view)
Good to see Roederer and Velasquez providing some production. From what I've followed they haven't been up to much. Granted this season isn't great for development
Arizona Phil 9 hours 57 min ago (view)
The Cubs have added OF Brennen Davis to their AZIL Active List roster.
crunch 11 hours 20 min ago (view)
"He's a strong kid and shows a lot of HR power in BP and it's just a matter of making it game-usable."
reggie golden flashblacks...if BP was a game he'd be an all-star.
Arizona Phil 12 hours 14 min ago (view)
Unfortunately for the Cubs, all of their Top 10 position-player prospects (M. Amaya, Davis, Hearn, Howard, Made, C. Morel, R. Morel, Quintero, Roederer, and Strumpf -- listed alphabetically) are two or more years away from the big leagues, in most cases more like three or four or even five years away.
Arizona Phil 12 hours 30 min ago (view)
TIM: One of the things people wonder about when they see a young shortstop for the first time is does he have the arm and range necessary to play SS or would his tools maybe be better suited for 2B, 3B or OF. So far at Instructs Kevin Made has shown all of the attributes of a SS, and he is an advanced hitter (for his age) as well.
Arizona Phil 13 hours 8 min ago (view)
AZBOBBOP: Ethan Hearn showed off his plus-arm by back-picking a runner off 1st base last week. You don't see catchers with the confidence to attempt pick-offs much out here.
He's a strong kid and shows a lot of HR power in BP and it's just a matter of making it game-usable. His hitting (contact and barreling) has improved at instructs, and that's one of the things he needed to improve.
His receiving should improve with experience as well.
azbobbop 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
Phil, saw Ethan Hearn with a couple of hits today. How has he been trending?
tim815 1 day 18 hours ago (view)
That Kevin Made is already representing offensively seems, on the 1 to 10 scale with 10 being fantastic news, in the 17 or 18 range.
Nwogu in the 9 to 11 span.
Arizona Phil 2 days 11 hours ago (view)
For those of you wondering about catcher Ronnier Quintero (the Cubs #1 IFA signing in the 2019-20 ISP), he participates fully in pre-game and Camp Day work-outs and he catches bullpens, and while he has been the bullpen catcher at every AZIL game he has not yet played in a game.
As a catcher he has a lot to learn, and the Cubs would prefer that Quintero mainly concentrates on receiving and learning how to work with pitchers right now. He can learn about hitting and baserunning later.
Arizona Phil 2 days 12 hours ago (view)
In adition to the 22 pitchers originally on the Cubs AZIL Active List roster plus RHP Manuel Rodriguez (right biceps strain last March) and LHP Brad Wieck (wearing a brace on his left knee) who are on the Cubs MLB 60-day IL and are rehabbing at AZIL, the Cubs have added four additional pitchers to their AZIL Active List roster:
RHP Josh Burgmann
RHP Chris Clarke
LHP D. J. Herz
RHP Michael McAvene
Charlie 3 days 8 hours ago (view)
This is weird. He seemed well liked and shifting him to another role would've made just as much sense.
bradsbeard 3 days 13 hours ago (view)
I'd say the only guys who struggled all season were Baez and Bryant. Willson struggled for a lot of August but was one of the few who hit in September. Most of the team hit well in 2019 (including Baez and Bryant before injuries derailed them). I don't know if there's any reason to blame Ipoce in particular for the September slump.
crunch 4 days 3 hours ago (view)
iapoce expected to stay. i'm surprised. i know it's a weird/short season, but it was a season-long slump for a lot of guys and answers weren't showing up.
crunch 4 days 4 hours ago (view)
i eagerly await the espn 10 part mini-series "Rafael Palmeiro, More Like Rafael Baseballmerio" covering those 28 legendary games.
Dolorous Jon Lester 4 days 4 hours ago (view)
In fairness those 28 games he played at 1B were breathtaking that year