I hadn't done anything with the Arizona Fall League so far. I thought that the fanposts you all were doing was handling the situation pretty well. But the AFL is a little over two weeks old now, so it's probably time for an update.
Just some few basic information to start. The Arizona Fall League is a post-season league for minor leaguers. mostly from AA and AAA teams. The six teams play in the Spring Training complexes in the Cactus League. The Cub prospects are on the Mesa Solar Sox, a team that is also stocked with players from the Angels, Red Sox, Marlins and Twins.
Generally, the AFL is considered a hitters league. Usually teams don't send their top pitching prospects to Arizona, preferring to let them rest their arms. This year the pitching is a little better, with hurlers such as the Yankees' Ian Kennedy, the Reds' Mike Leake, the Rangers' Tanner Schleppers, our Andrew Cashner and some guy who plays for the Nationals named Stephen Strasburg. Still, the league continues to favor offense by a large margin, so take that into account when looking at the stats.
Also, don't forget that the Mesa Solar Sox have 37 players from six teams (they've got one lone Blue Jay for some reason) on their roster. So if it doesn't seem like a Cub player is playing much or playing out of position, don't forget that other teams want to get their players into the game as well.
So having said that, the Cubs prospects are mostly having a strong Autumn down in the Valley of the Sun. I'll summarize all seven players' season after the jump.
Starlin Castro: 12 Games. 18-43 .419 AVE. 2 2B. 2 SB 3 BB 3 SO.
Castro is making it tough to determine who the top prospect in the Cubs system right now. He's turning the heads of a lot of scouts down in Arizona. Even more important, he's only made one error in Arizona after making a bucketload of them in the minors this past season. There is very little doubt now that he'll play SS in the majors one day soon. No, not this April. The only question is whether he'll develop either the power or the OBP skills to be an all-star.
Josh Vitters: 9 Games. 13-37 .351 AVE 3 2B. 2 BB 5 SO.
While Castro is showing some impressive talents in Mesa, Josh Vitters is showing that the wrist problems that hindered him in the second half of the season are behind him. He still isn't walking much, which is troubling, but he is there to work on his swing and testing his wrists. If Castro has passed him as the #1 prospect in the system, it's not because Vitters is disappointing anyone in Arizona.
Welington Castillo: 4 Games. 5-14 .357 AVE 1 HR. 2 BB 5 SO.
Castillo hasn't played much, but he's been fine when he gets into the game.
Andrew Cashner: 3 starts. 1-2 record 3.72 ERA. 9.2 IP 6 Hits. 3 BB 7 K.
Cashner has made three starts. In the first one, he got rocked for three runs in two innings, including a home run. In the second game, he allowed only one run in 3.2 innings and didn't walk anyone. In the third game this past Wednesday, Cashner threw four no-hit innings, walking two and striking out four. He reportedly hit a high of 96 mph on his fastball and was throwing a wicked slider. Someone is going to call Cashner the top prospect in the system this off-season, too.
James Russell: 5 Games 0-1 2.57 ERA. 7 IP 8 Hits. 2 BB 6 K
The lefty has been pitching out of the bullpen in the AFL and has been effective. After his first appearance when he gave up thre runs in two innings, he's thrown five shutout innings.
Blake Parker: 5 Games. 1-1 5.40 ERA. 5 IP 7 Hits. 2 BB 3 K
Parker's been going in the opposite direction of Russell, having started out the season strong but he's given up three runs total in his last two relief appearances. He gave up two solo home runs last Saturday in the one inning he pitched.
John Gaub: 5 Games. 1-1 14.40 ERA. 5 IP 10 Hits. 1 BB 8 K
Gaub is the one Cub having a really miserable AFL experience. He's given up at least one run in four of the five games he's pitched, including one game where he allowed four runs on four hits in his one inning. At least the strikeout-to-walk ratio is nice.
If anyone actually cares, the Mesa Solar Sox are 5-10, which is the worst record in the AFL. All I can say is that it's not the Cub players fault.