Chicago Cubs Name 7 Prospects for Arizona Fall League

Chicago Cubs Name 7 Prospects for Arizona Fall League
Russell rounds the bases (Photo credit: Roger Hoover/Tennessee Smokies)

Tuesday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs announced that seven of their prospects would be participating in the Arizona Fall League for the Mesa Solar Sox. Recently acquired from Oakland, shortstop Addison Russell will be joined by slugging first baseman Dan Vogelbach, and speedy outfielder Jacob Hannemann. The Cubs top pitching prospect C.J. Edwards will headline the list of pitchers, followed by Zach Cates (acquired with Anthony Rizzo from San Diego), Ivan Pineyro, and Cuban signee Gerardo Concepcion.

Last year the Cubs sent the 2013 No. 2 pick Kris Bryant to Arizona, along with fellow top prospects Jorge Soler and Albert Almora, as well as infielder Wes Darvill, and pitchers Lendy Castillo, Dallas Beeler, Armando Rivero, and Matt Loosen. Last year, Bryant dominated the AFL, earning himself MVP honors. Expect to see Addison Russell in the thick of the AFL MVP race, competing with Byron Buxton (MIN), Corey Seager (LAD), Josh Bell (PIT), Archie Bradley (ARI), and Tyler Glasnow (PIT) to name a few.

Here’s a quick overview of each of the prospects the Cubs will be sending.

*All stats are via Baseball Reference or MLB Farm

Addison Russell, SS

2014: Double-A Tennessee

Since joining Double-A Tennessee in early July, Russell is hitting .297/.339/.560, to go along with a .889 OPS. Over his 175 AB at Tennessee, Russell has 12 homers and 35 RBI. And while maintaining a decent K% of 15.2% over the past 10 games, Russell has seen his walk rate drop dramatically since joining Tennessee. Nevertheless, Russell’s power combined with his premium defense at shortstop place him inside every MLB Top-10 Prospect list this year. Hopefully his time in the AFL this year will speed up his ETA; expect to see Russell make his splash following the 2015 All-Star break.

Daniel Vogelbach, 1B/DH

2014: High-A Daytona

Vogelbach has steadily improved since his rugged start to the ’14 season. He is now four homers away from matching his total from last year (15 this year, 19 combined last year between A and A+). Meanwhile, he has managed to keep his BB% and K% right about where they are for his minor league career: 11.8% and 16.0% respectively on 2014.  Although his power numbers have been somewhat subpar, he’s continued to show that he isn’t just a slugger, as he’s managed to keep his batting average at a respectable number (.266 in 2014). The AFL should give Vogelbach a chance to keep himself in shape, while also providing an opportunity to work on his defense at first base.

Jacob Hannemann, OF

2014: Low-A Kane County, High-A Daytona

One of the more under-the-radar Cubs prospects this year has been Jacob Hannemann, the Cubs 2013 3rd-rounder. His slash line won’t turn too many heads .254/.321/.377, but his 32 stolen bases on just 4 CS provide an interesting aspect to the Cubs system. The Cubs, for the most part, lack that speedster who can manage to get on-base at an above-average clip. And while he has his faults, he is a sleeper whom the Cubs are certainly keeping an eye on, and seem to think that he’d benefit from seeing extra action.

C.J. Edwards, RHP

2014: (AZL Cubs – rehab), Double-A Tennessee

Edwards spent a significant amount of the year on the DL this season, yet he has been fantastic when healthy. Upon rejoining the Smokies, Edwards has thrown 23.1 innings and has allowed just five earned runs on 12 hits. Moreover, Edwards has allowed just one homer this year while having pitched 49.2 innings. The AFL seems like a great place for Edwards to extend his season and hopefully shed some time on his developmental clock which was slowed by his injury.

Zach Cates, RHP

2014: High-A Daytona, Double-A Tennessee

Zach Cates was originally a starting pitcher, but like many pitchers who fail, he became a reliever just this year with Daytona. He had a 2.08 ERA over 26 IP with Daytona before getting called up to Tennessee, where he has thrown 26 innings work and has allowed 21 hits. However, Cates has walked 22 men, leading to an astonishing 7.6 BB/9, the main reason his 21 hits allowed have led to him giving up 18 earned runs (6.23 ERA). Apparently Theo and Co. wants to see more of Cates following the 2014 season. This could be a final look for Cates.

Ivan Pineyro, RHP

2014: (AZL Cubs – rehab), Double-A Tennessee

Pineyro, like Edwards started out his 2014 season fairly well before falling victim to a right forearm strain in early May. Upon his activation, he has faced more of a challenge than Edwards. In 9.2 IP over 3 starts he has allowed 13 ER, and hasn’t managed to get through five full innings since his return. Overall, he sports a 5.44 ERA on 2014, and has allowed a 51 hits in 44.1 IP. There is no doubting that Pineyro has the stuff to be a solid 3 or 4 starter in the Cubs rotation, he just needs the consistency to get there. The AFL should help Pineyro get back on track and help him regain lost time.

Gerardo Concepcion, LHP

2014:  Low-A Kane County, High-A Daytona

Like fellow former starter Cates, Concepcion was relegated to the pen following a more than troubling start to his professional career as a starting pitcher. The Cubs paid more than $7 million for Concepcion back in 2012, as he was considered a hot commodity coming out of Cuba (a LH SP). While the Cubs haven’t yet revealed whether or not Concepcion will continue to relieve in the AFL or be stretched out as a starter, one could expect that they might experiment a bit with the 22-year-old; it’s not very often that teams pay $7 million for a lefty relief prospect (leave Aroldis Chapman out of this!). Nevertheless, his time as a reliever has earned him a promotion to Daytona, where he’s allowed just 2 ER in 14 relief innings. If Concepcion can figure it out then the Cubs have a real prize on their hands; if not, then they have an above-average reliever.

Let’s see if the Cubs best prospect in the AFL this year, Russell, can rise to the standards of those before him – ahem, Mr. Bryant.

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    I'm really interested in seeing more of Hanneman. There is so much emphasis put on the guys like Soler, Bryant and Almora in the Cubs outfield but I think this is a guy who can be a piece of the team in the future.

  • Hanneman is definitely someone worth watching. Despite being raw he really started to figure out Kane County, hopefully that trend continues.

  • Vogelbach will need to have lots of attention this off season to learn first base if Rizzo has to have back surgery and miss time next year.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    It looks like Rizzo is on the mend. In the case that something does need surgery to correct, Olt would likely be the one manning first, and not Vogelbach, who is still far off.

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