The rosters for the Arizona Fall League were announced this afternoon and seven Cubs minor-league players will continue playing into November this year, highlighted by the Cubs top two prospects, second baseman Ian Happ and left fielder Eloy Jimenez.
The Cubs prospects play on the Mesa Solar Sox along with prospects from the Blue Jays, Athletics, Marlins and Indians. The seven players who were selected to the team include four pitchers and three position players.
The Cubs prospects on Mesa are:
RHP James Farris
RHP Ryan McNeil
RHP Stephen Perakslis
RHP Duane Underwood Jr.
C Victor Caratini
2B Ian Happ
OF Eloy Jimenez
Jimenez is coming off a terrific season with the South Bend Cubs where he was named Midwest League Prospect and Player of the Year. It's also a challenging assignment for someone who has never played above low-A, since most players in the AFL have Double-A or Triple-A experience.
Happ, the Cubs number one draft pick in 2015, posted a .271/.365/.447 line between High-A Myrtle Beach and Double-A Tennessee. Most importantly, he successfully made the transition from the outfield to second base. But while he did improve greatly on defense over the course of the season, he could no doubt use more reps at the position if he's looking at a callup to the majors in 2017.
Caratini is another player who had a successful season at the bat in Tennessee, hitting .294/.378/.409. Caratini is also learning a new position, as he only started catching in 2014. Again, he's not bad back there, but he could use more experience.
Underwood was a top-ten Cubs prospect coming into the season, but he missed a large chunk of the year with various injuries. None of the injuries were serious, but they did limit him to 68 innings this summer.
McNeil had a strong season as the closer for Myrtle Beach this year. He posted a 2.44 ERA and struck out over a batter an inning while saving 21 games. He's Rule 5 eligible this winter, so this is his opportunity to show he's worth a spot of the 40-man roster.
Farris spent half the season in Myrtle Beach and half in Tennessee. Between the two stops, he saved 12 games in 15 attempts and had a 2.71 ERA. Farris struck out 72 and walked just 17 in 63 innings.
Perakslis pitched for both Triple-A Iowa and Tennessee and had a 3.66 ERA in 31 appearances, including six starts. He's also Rule 5 eligible this winter, so he's looking to justify a 40-man spot as well.
Joining these seven Cubs is pitching coach Brian Lawrence, who served in the same position for the Eugene Emeralds this past season.
The Arizona Fall League starts on October 11 and finishes with a championship game on November 19.