Instructional League Roster reveals some interesting plans

One of the more interesting, yet unknown events of the offseason is the Arizona Instructional League.  As the name implies, there’s a lot of coaching and development that goes on here.  If you ever get a chance to go to AZ, you can learn a lot about players here by how they perform in drills and when their individual skills are isolated.

The players here are generally lower level minor league prospects, yet usually higher than the DSL/VSL level.  There are some interesting exceptions here and we also get to learn the names of the catching conversion projects the Cubs had talked about last month.

Thanks as always to AZ Phil of the Cub Reporter, who has the preliminary roster, which is subject to change.

2013 Cubs Arizona Instructional League (AZIL) roster 

* bats or throws left
# bats both


Jose Arias
Paul Blackburn
Johermyn Chavez (ex-OF)
Trevor Clifton
C. J. Edwards
Scott Frazier
David Garner
Zach Godley
Trevor Graham
* Tyler Ihrig
Trey Lang
Erick Leal
Dillon Maples
Jefferson Mejia
Juan Carlos Paniagua
Brad Renner
Jose Rosario
Tyler Skulina
Daury Torrez
Jen-Ho Tseng
Duane Underwood
Michael Wagner
* Sam Wilson

Names of Interest:  Other than the top prospects, the names that stand out are recent IFA signings Jen-Ho Tseng and Jefferson Mejia.  Both are slightly older and more advanced than your average IFA signing.  I’ve heard raves about Tseng from a few people about his maturity and I think he has a shot to start as high as Boise.

I also find it interesting that a pitcher as advanced as C.J. Edwards is there.  He may start as high as AA.  Do the Cubs want to put some finishing touches in hopes that he can get a head start toward AA?  Is he mostly there to “rehab” as the Cubs attempt to put some weight on him to increase his stamina?



Tyler Alamo
Cael Brockmeyer
Ben Carhart (ex-3B)
# Erick Castillo
* Jordan Hankins (ex-3B)
# Mark Malave (ex-3B)
* Alberto Mineo
Giuseppe Papaccio (ex-INF)
# Wilfredo Petit
Will Remillard

Names of Interest:  We finally get to hear who the catcher conversions are and they are: Ben Carhart (Daytona), Guiseppe Papaccio (Kane County), Jordan Hankins (Boise),  and Mark Malave (AZ Rookie).   Carhart has a strong arm and a smaller build.  He’s a smart player with good instincts.  His bat should play better at catcher than at 3B.  Papaccio also showed good instincts, quick feet, and a strong arm while playing the infield at Kane County.  I think all those traits will serve him well.  Hankins has done some catching already and should make a smooth transition to the position.  Malave was actually signed as a catcher but immediately moved off from this front office, which was a surprise to me because the people I talked to thought he had the skills to stick there.  He has a strong arm and he moves well — and his doubles power bat and good approach should play well at catcher.  It immediately raises the prospect status of all 4 players.


Gioskar Amaya (2B)
# Jeimer Candelario (3B)
# Frandy de la Rosa (SS-2B)
Kelvin Freeman (1B)
Jesse Hodges (3B)
* Danny Lockhart (2B-SS-3B)
Carlos Penalver (SS)
Gleyber Torres (SS)

Names of Interest:

Frandy De La Rosa was the Cubs major IFA signing last year but didn’t get a lot of time in the DSL.  The Cubs may feel he’s ready to get a look at the AZ Rookie League.  He was thought to have an advanced bat.  Gleyber Torres is also an interesting name here.  One of two big signings, Torres is considered the more polished of the two.  Both Torres and Eloy Jimenez are advanced enough that they are expected to start their careers state side, but it’s interesting that Torres will be in AZ but Jimenez’s name is not on the roster. Ben Badler and J.J. Cooper wrote about the Cubs star signings here.  They say both will be top 30 prospects (in the 11-30 range) and both should skip the DSL/VSL.


Jeffrey Baez
Yasiel Balaguert
Charcer Burks
* Rashad Crawford
* Shawon Dunston Jr
* Jose Dore
# Kevin Encarnacion
Trey Martin

Names of Interest:  There’s all kinds of speed and athleticism in this group  I don’t know if a particular name stands out, but it will be interesting to see which of these outfielders makes the jump to full-season ball.


Brandon Hyde

Tim Cossins (Catching)
Jose Flores (Infield/Bunting)
Anthony Iapoce (Hitting)
Derek Johnson (Pitching)
Carmelo Martinez (Assistant Hitting)
Lee Tinsley (Outfield/Baserunning)

Jimmy Gonzalez
Gary Van Tol

Filed under: prospects


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  • John

    Is Hanneman still recovering from his injury or as he already been assigned for winter duty?

  • In reply to Good Captain:

    I imagine that's still being decided. It's the preliminary roster, so maybe that will change. I was surprised not to see him too. He's not advanced enough for winter ball.

  • Yeah, confused why more advanced prospects like Edwards, Blackburn and Candelario are in AZIL. Edwards in particular, the guy has a lot of IP on his arm this year, why would they put more on him in Arizona? Seems like a bad idea.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    I feel like Edwards is there more to learn than actually play. He's got enough development left that having that time in the Instructional League to work with Derek Johnson one-on-one will have a lot of benefits.

  • Great news about all these players. If known...when, where, how long, how much, etc for this league? And can the public view these up-close instructions or is it closed?

  • In reply to Buzz:

    You can definitely go. It's one of my favorite things to watch in baseball.

  • Is this going to be at the new facilities or Ho-Ho?

    With only a few games to go, it looks like the Cubs should get a no worse than top 5 pick and as high as 3rd pick in next years draft. I see the White Sox as the only possible team that may draft Turner. Lets hope he falls to us or Beede would be my 2 choices at this point.

  • In reply to Buzz:

    Instructs are at Fitch Park, which is just down the street from Ho Ho Kam. I believe they don't start the new facilities until the spring.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Ok great. Let us know if you are going to make a trip there and I will try to do the same. I have learned a lot in the past 6 months from everyone's columns and comments here and a trip out would only enhance that.

  • In reply to Buzz:

    Cool. If I go, it'll probably be toward the end this year, which would be early November.

  • I feel like Papaccio probably won't be a starter, but let's be honest, guys that can both catch and play shortstop at least at a league-average level aren't very common. While Malave has the potential to be an impact starter, Papaccio can be a very interesting piece down the line.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Guiseppe Papaccio, really? That name is all kinds of win, lulz....I think I would have voted for him over Sicnarf Loopstok and the awesome Jose Jose. Just typing that makes me laugh....

  • John, I'm planning on going to see some AFL games in November. The fall stars game is November 2nd. I'm planning on being there for that.

    In the AFL, the players play on a fairly set schedule, right? So you should be able to go to a game knowing whether Almora and/or Baez will be playing. Do you know how that schedule breaks down? Don't certain prospects get placed on a taxi squad-like thing and only play certain nights? Like Sunday and Tuesday only or whatever?

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Just checked, taxi squad players play on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The AFL website lists every team's roster but doesn't specify who is on the taxi squad. Do you know how to find that?

    The Mesa roster is filled with exciting prospects and not just Cubs. The Cubs by far have the best group including Baez, Bryant, Soler, Almora, Vizcaino and Rivero, but we'll also be able to watch guys like Addison Russell, Taylor Lindsey, Devon Travis, R.J. Alvarez and Corey Knebel.

    I can't wait...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    According to BA, Almora is the only Cub on the taxi squad. Ain't Google grand?

    I don't think there has ever been a better year for a Cubs prospect follower to watch some AFL games...

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Went to be late last night, just getting up. Taxi squad plays Wednesday and Saturday. Almora is their taxi squad guy this year. Other guys will play fairly regularly. though I didnt' know when they were playing. we just went to the games :)

  • fb_avatar

    Blackburn and Underwood make sense to me, neither threw alot of innings this year, and both have command issues to work out.

    I'm with you John, surprised to see CJ Edwards. He tossed 116 innings already this year, after just 67 last year, and has durability concerns as it is. Must be something they are working on with him.

  • CJ Edwards appearance doesn't concern me. They're not going to risk injury to a prized prospect by over using him. He's probably there for a combination of 1) getting fully acclimated into the "Cubs Way". That becomes more important if they plan on fast tracking him through AA/AAA. 2). Establish his off-season routine, diet, exercise, etc. 3). get some one on one instruction from D.J. 4). Add muscle & increase stamina, etc.

    Hopefully, they can fix those rusty parts with Juan Carlos Paniagua. Him and Jose Arias (given their ages &stuff) are the two names on this list that we could see join that first wave of pitching at the upper minors with P.J., C.J., etc.

    Carhart is an intriguing conversion. I actually called two of his college games at Stetson, though I don't remember him. His #'s weren't great in Daytona, but like you said, moving to catcher takes the pressure off his bat. Plus, didn't he skip the lower minors? I don't think he's too small, assuming MiLB stats are correct. They list him at 5'10" and 200lbs. He could probably still add a few pounds of muscle. Wouldn't want to see him try to block Fielder off the plate though. lol This change is good for him, but he had practically no shot at Wrigley as a corner IF.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I do agree that I'm not concerned about Edwards being there; it's just interesting. This FO is very aware of risks of overworking pitchers; it's a market inefficiency. And of course, Cubs of all teams should be aware of the pitfalls of tiring out young arms.....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    That would be a market risk, not a market inefficiency.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Couldn't agree more with your points on why C.J. is there. Especially #2 and #4. At around 165 pounds, his next step next season should be building muscle mass to go later into games, as well as keep his fastball mph the same throughout his starts. I expect him to be on a similar regimen as Paul Blackburn was last year. While he most likely went five innings a start because the FO wanted to keep his innings down, the way he pitched this year shows that he has the ability to go deep into the game every time he takes the mound.

  • In reply to Bobby1005:

    That's pretty much along the lines I'm thinking as well. Blackburn is a good comparison.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I like Carhart. He can hit. Went from AZ Rookie to Daytona last year and held his own, though he is age appropriate for that league, having played all 4 years at Stetson.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Let's hope they can convince Paniagua to remain in the country this offseason to avoid a repeat of his visa difficulties. Maybe get his family up here.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    If I'm employed by the Cubs in any capacity, I take his work Visa & Passport and lock it in Theo's office.... I think, with a full offseason of work and ST stateside, we will see completely different pitcher/results from him & Arias next year, ala Rivero this year.....

  • fb_avatar

    John, how exactly does the instructional league work? Do you play other teams? Are there looser game rules for developmental reasons? (Like unlimited switching of players, etc)? Or is it mostly tons of intrasquad? Or drills? Just curious, not really familiar much with instructs. And I also assume that the stats are meaningless.

  • quote from AZ Phil on eloy
    "Baseball America's top-rated 2013 international prospect (16-year old Dominican OF Eloy Jimenez) was signed by the Cubs in August ("Signed for Future Service" - 2014 contract - $2.8M bonus), and he is presently scheduled to make his pro debut at Dominican Academy Instructs in October and (probably) his U. S. debut at either Minor League Camp or Extended Spring Training in Mesa in 2014"

  • In reply to Domnk S:

    Thanks. That makes sense.

  • John: Two names I was immediately looking for were Michael Jensen and Josh Conway. Is Conway still coming back from injury; and what is the status of Jensen-I was impressed when I saw him with Peoria in 2012?

  • In reply to Upstate NY Cubs Fan:

    I'm not sure what happened to Jensen to be honest. He was shut down at the end of 2012 and hasn't been heard from since. I agree -- he showed some promise and I was intrigued. Great old-fashioned big curveball

  • Seeing that we're going to have 3-4 players from this IFA pool playing stateside in 2014, it's easier to comprehend why they went "all in" the way they did. It's not inconceivable to think one or all of them could be playing in Daytona by the end of 2015, which would put them 1-2 years away from MLB consideration. That beats the heck out of the typical 6yr time frame from most IFA signings.

  • I am going to be out there Oct 3-7. I know the games dont start that early, but are there practices at Fitch at that time?

  • I'm excited to see how Jefferson Mejia works out. The video of him after the IFA signing was fantastic. Looks like a big guy that can deliver.

  • In reply to giamby:

    6'7" 225lbs and still growing!....

  • Maybe C.J. really isn't there as much for what he can learn but for what he can teach other guys. Being around a dude that has his kind of talent can't be bad for the younger guys at lower levels. I think it's great for everyone to have someone like him at instructs.

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