Willson Contreras has had a breakout season at age 23, playing for Double-A Tennessee. The catching prospect is hitting .326/.408/.475 with 32 doubles, eight home runs and 55 walks. I saw Contreras play a couple of years ago for Kane County and thought at the time he might be a decent backup-catcher prospect, as he appeared defensively solid. Now he's developed his bat and might turn into a real catching prospect.
The Cubs rewarded that performance with a trip to the Arizona Fall League, where many teams' top prospects play in October and November. (Of course, we hope we're paying attention to more important baseball this October.)
Seven other Cubs minor leaguers will also head to the AFL: catcher Cael Brockmeyer, infielder Jeimer Candelario, outfielder Mark Zagunis, and pitchers Pierce Johnson, Corey Black, David Garner and Rob Zastryzny. All have either been high draft picks, been obtained in big-league trades or had some time in major-league spring-training games. The organization obviously thinks highly of all of these prospects, though it should be mentioned that the AFL is generally a hitters' league and pitching prospects often don't do as well as hitting prospects.
Cubs AFL prospects play for the Mesa Solar Sox, whose home park is Sloan Park, the Cubs' spring-training park in Mesa. Managing the Solar Sox will be Mark Johnson, who's the Cubs' High-A manager at Myrtle Beach. Prospects from the Angels, Marlins, Rays and Athletics will complete the Solar Sox roster.
The AFL season begins Tuesday, October 13. Games are at 12:35 or 6:35 Arizona time (2:35 or 8:35 Central time). They play every day except Sundays. The Fall Stars Game, an All-Star game for the league, will be November 7; that game is usually televised on MLB Network, and the championship game, also televised, will be November 21.