I already previewed the pitchers representing the Cubs organization in the Arizona Fall League, you can find that post here: http://chicagocubsprospects.mlblogs.com/2013/10/06/arizona-fall-league-preview-pitchers
Even with Javier Baez scratched from the roster, their is an exciting list of players on the Mesa Solar Sox roster.
Kris Bryant: The number 2 overall pick in this years draft Kris Bryant is just one of the Cubs top prospects on the Mesa Solar Sox roster. Bryant has great power potential and an above average hitting tool. He is a prototypical middle of the order hitter. He is a solid defensive player at third base, but most scouts see him being moved to right field. It should be interesting to see if he plays the outfield during the AFL. The 21-year old out of the University of San Diego was the College Player of the Year, and is one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Bryant had a very impressive pro debut hitting .336 between the AZL Cubs (6 ABs) Boise Hawks, and Daytona Cubs. He blasted 9 HRs in 36 games, driving in 32 runs, with a .390 OBP. He slugged .688 with a 1.078 OPS. I expect Bryant to start next year at Double-A, and could possibly push for a September call-up as soon as next year.
Wes Darvill: Darvill was a late addition to the Mesa Solar Sox roster, taking the place of Javier Baez. He was a 5th round pick in 2009, but is still a pretty young prospect, having just turned 22 in September. Darvill can play all over the infield and will provide versatility for the Solar Sox. Darvill isn’t on the prospect radar, but if he continues to develop, he could become a utility player on a big league bench. Darvill hit .267 between Low-A Kane County, and High-A Daytona. The LH hitter has very little power only having 3 HRs in his career. He had 11 SBs, and a .339 OBP.
Albert Almora: Another one of the “Big Four” Almora was the #6 overall pick in 2012. Almora battled injuries throughout the 2013 season and he is on the Solar Sox roster to get more ABs for the time he missed due to his injuries. He has the highest floor of any of the Cubs prospects. Almora is projected to play Gold Glove defense in center field, and many scouts say he could play above average defense right now in the Majors. Almora is a very instinctual player and has a plus hit tool. He doesn’t have any off the radar tools but is solid across the board. In 61 games with the Low-A Kane County Cougars Almora hit .329 with 3 HR, and 23 RBI. Almora also collected a .376 OBP, .466 Slugging, and an .842 OPS.
Jorge Soler: Soler is another player who missed much of the 2013 season due to injury. Soler was signed in 2012 after defecting from Cuba and is one of the top prospects in all of baseball. He has above average power potential, and is a prototypical right fielder with his plus arm strength. Soler was selected to participate in the Futures Game but did not compete due to his injury. I was pleasantly surprised with his contact rate this season and his approach at the plate. I would expect Soler to start the year in Double-A with a possible call-up in September next year. Soler hit .288 in only 55 games for the Daytona Cubs. He added 8 HR and 35 RBI, while posting a .343 OBP. In 210 ABs Soler only struck out 38 times.
Well, a lot has changed since the Arizona Fall League Rosters were announced on August 27th. Javier Baez is no longer on the roster because of both physical and mental exhaustion after a long season in which he hit .282, 37 HR, 111 RBI in 130 games. Baez played in last years Arizona Fall League, so he didn’t have much of an off-season last year. Arodys Vizcaino was also replaced on the roster, so the Cubs staff can keep a closer look on his rehabilitation from Tommy John Surgery in the Instructional League. Replacing Baez and Vizcaino are IF Wes Darvill and P Lendy Castillo.
For a recap of the Roster and Overview of the League take a look at my prior blog post: http://chicagocubsprospects.mlblogs.com/2013/08/27/arizona-fall-league-rosters-announced/
With the AFL Opening Day on Tuesday, I’m going to preview each player representing the Cubs on the Mesa Solar Sox roster. I’ll begin with the Pitchers:
Dallas Beeler: A 41st round draft pick in 2010 is on the roster to give the Cubs a last look to see if he should be added to the 40 man roster. Beeler will be Rule V Draft eligible for the first time this off-season. The 24-year old RH Pitcher has spent the last 2 season with the Double-A, Tennessee Smokies. Due to an injury this year he was limited to only 54.2 IP, in 9 starts. He ended with a 4-2 record with a 3.13 ERA. Beeler struck out 35 batters while walking 19, hitters hit .214 off of him. Beeler has an injury history and in 2010 he had Tommy John Surgery. After the 2011 season he was ranked as the Cubs #12 prospect according to Baseball America and also had the best control in the organization. In 2012 his stock declined after posting a 2-6 record with a 4.24 ERA. He also gave up 166 hits in 136 innings. Beeler is a big guy who stands at 6’5 and weighs in at 205, and could help the Cubs out of the bullpen in the future.
Lendy Castillo: Was selected in the Rule V Draft in 2011 from the Philadelphia Phillies. This was only his 4th year pitching as he is a converted infielder after 3 seasons in the Phillies organization. Castillo had a rough major league season in which he posted a 7.88 ERA, giving up 24 hits, in 16 IP. He struck out 13 batters and walked 12 out of the bullpen. This year the lanky RH pitcher split time between the Low-A Kane County Cougars and Single-A Advanced Daytona Cubs. The 24-year old was 4-5 with a 5.87 ERA in 84.1 IP, giving up 99 H, 76 Ks, 39 BBs. Castillo started 5 games this year for Kane County but he projects more as a reliever in the future. He is still young especially considering he has only pitched for 4 years, the AFL will give the Cubs a good look and Castillo along with helping him develop as a pitcher against some top prospects in the league.
Matt Loosen: A 23rd round draft pick in 2010 was the FSL pitcher of the week twice this year after throwing a no hitter for the Daytona Cubs. Loosen is eligible for the Rule V Draft and the AFL stands as a testing ground to see if he deserves protection on the 40 man roster. Loosen who is 24 and stands at 6’2 205, is a RH pitcher who had a strange season in 2013. Loosen dominated the FSL to the tune of a 5-2 record and a 1.83 ERA. Loosen has 2 Complete Game Shutouts in his 9 starts and struck out 56 batters in 54 IP and only allowing 17 walks. Loosen had trouble though in Double-A with the Tennessee Smokies where he was 3-3 with a 6.14 ERA. He struck out 60 batters in 66 IP, but showed control issues by walking 48 batters. His line between the 2 teams was: 8-5, 4.28 ERA, 120 IP, 95 H, 116 K, 65 BB. Baseball America projects him as having a #4 starter ceiling. I am looking forward to see how his stuff plays in the AFL after having success in the FSL and struggling in the Southern League.
Armando Rivero: The Cubs Signed Rivero to a $3.1 M signing bonus earlier this year after he defected from Cuba. The 25 year old made it all the way to Double-A Tennessee this year. The AFL will serve as more time for Rivero to develop because he only threw 30.1 innings this year. Rivero split time between the Kane County Cougars, Daytona Cubs, and Tennessee Smokies this year. He made 20 appearances out of the bullpen and posted a 4.15 ERA. He struck out 45 batters in those 30 IP while walking 12! Rivero projects to help out the bullpen in 2014 and his $3.1 M signing bonus shows what the Cubs think of him, that is a lot of money for an international prospect. Since he was signed as a 25 year old he wasn’t subject to the international spending limits.