Cubs announce Arizona Fall League players

Bryant

Kris Bryant, the Cubs top pick in the 2013 draft, will take part in the Arizona Fall League. (Photo by Stephen Green)

Though the minor league season coincides with the MLB schedule, it’s an after-season minor league showcase that generally gets scouting departments and prospect followers especially excited.

Since 1992, the Arizona Fall League has taken top prospects from each organization and pitted them against one another in a one-month season. Generally, the seven prospects selected from each team have just finished Triple-A or Double-A and are widely thought of as knocking on the major league door.

This season, the Cubs’ prospects will be representing the Mesa Solar Sox, along with prospects from the Angels, Athletics, Nationals and Tigers. While each of those teams have their own respective stars, many of the most exciting names on the Solar Sox roster are members of the Cubs organization. Five of the Cubs’ top six prospects (according to MLB.com) are headed to Mesa, and four of those rank in the top 40 in all of baseball.

Below is a breakdown of the eight prospects (Albert Almora will serve as a member of the taxi squad, playing solely on Wednesdays and Saturdays), as well as how they’ve fared in 2013.

Albert Almora, OF – The 2012 first-round pick has been solid when healthy for Class-A Kane County this year, accumulating a .329/.376/.466 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 249 at-bats. The Cubs’ No. 2 prospect (No. 23 in MLB) will only play occasionally, as he’s dealing with groin issues.

Javier Baez, SS – The 2013 season has been a breakout one for the already highly regarded Baez. The Cubs’ top prospect (No. 9 in MLB) has successfully made the jump from High-A to Double-A, totaling 35 homers, 33 doubles, 20 stolen bases and 105 driven in between the two levels.

Dallas Beeler, RHP – Beeler got off to a fast start for Double-A Tennessee, going 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA by mid-May. But a tendon tear in his middle finger landed the 6-foot-5 prospect on the DL. The AFL will give him a chance to log more innings before 2013 winds down.

Kris Bryant, 3B – The organization’s No. 4 prospect (No. 37 in MLB) had a rough first week, but has impressed ever since. The No. 2 pick in this year’s draft has totaled a .349/.395/.670 line with seven homers and 27 RBI in 109 at-bats while splitting time between rookie ball, Short-Season Boise and High-A Daytona.

Matt Loosen, RHP – Loosen struggled in Double-A at the outset of the season and was sent down. But a strong two-month stint in High-A, where he tossed a no-hitter, brought the 24-year-old back to the Smokies. This year, the right-hander is 7-5 with a 4.34 ERA and has struck out 8.6 batters per nine.

Armando Rivero, RHP – Rivero signed a $3.1 million bonus with the Cubs in March 2013 after coming over from Cuba. In 27.2 innings, the reliever has entered 18 games and posted a 4.23 ERA for Kane County, Daytona and Tennessee. He has also struck out 14 batters per nine innings in his first season in the U.S.

Jorge Soler, OF – Soler is another elite prospect who has dealt with a handful of injuries in 2013. Though a stress fracture in his shin shut down the No. 3 prospect in the organization (No. 27 in MLB), he finished a half season in Daytona with a .281/.343/.467 line, eight home runs and 35 RBI.

Arodys Vizcaino, RHP – Tommy John surgery in March 2012 has kept the former elite prospect from pitching since 2011 in Atlanta. Vizcaino, the centerpiece of the 2012 Paul Maholm deal, will hopefully get some work in Arizona, as many project him to be with the major league club in 2014.

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