Prepping for the Arizona Fall League
The month-long Arizona Fall League kicks off tomorrow night, pitting some of minor league baseball’s top young talent against each other through Nov. 15. Seven members of the Cubs organization will take part in the league with the Mesa Solar Sox. When the teams were announced in late August, Vine Line broke down the Cubs representatives. The Solar Sox will also include prospects from the Astros, Dodgers, Orioles and Tigers. Below is a list of the pitchers and position players, as well as how they fared during the 2012 season.
Pitchers: Astros prospect Jarred Cosart is the most highly touted arm on Mesa’s staff. Ranked the 76th-best prospect in baseball by MLB.com, the 38th-round draft pick has a fastball that can reach the high-90s with a solid curve and the beginnings of a great change-up. Fellow Houston farmhand Nick Tropeano had a solid 2012, posting a 3.02 ERA over 158 innings. The righty features a plus change-up, complemented by a nice fastball and slider. Orioles lefty Mike Belfiore made the transition to the bullpen in 2011, maximizing his strong fastball/change-up combination. The lone arm to see the majors this year was Tigers righty Luke Putkonen, who is from the Chicago suburb of Winfield. The 6-6, 210-pounder pitched in 12 games out of the Detroit bullpen, striking out 10 in 16 innings and posting a 3.94 ERA.
Catchers: Tigers farmhand James McCann headlines the trio of catchers playing for Mesa. A solid leader, McCann recorded 22 doubles this season and has a decent arm. He also recorded five stolen bases, which is nothing to scoff at for a catcher.
Infielders: The strength of the Solar Sox comes from the infield corps, which includes top Cubs prospect Javier Baez. It will be interesting to see where Tigers prospect Nick Castellanos sees time. With Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera locked in at third for the Tigers, the top third base prospect in baseball saw a lot of time in the outfield this season. Astros first baseman John Singleton is a smooth-swinging lefty who hits for average and power, as evidenced by his 21 homers and 27 doubles in 2012. Singleton, seen as baseball’s top first base prospect, also has a solid glove.
Outfielders: There will be a lot of eyes on Dodgers prospect Yasiel Puig this fall. In June, the Dodgers front office paid $42 million over seven years for the 21-year-old Cuban defector. Known for his raw power, Puig often draws comparisons to Cubs prospect Jorge Soler. Free-swinging Astros prospect George Springer still managed to hit .302 and draw 62 walks in 2012, while hitting 24 home runs and driving in 87. The five-tool prospect also stole 32 bases.