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Nico Hoerner, Miguel Amaya lead Cubs minor leaguers in Arizona Fall League

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The preliminary rosters for the AFL were announced and the Cubs are sending two of their top prospects.

Nico Hoerner
Nico Hoerner
Tennessee Smokies

The preliminary rosters for the Arizona Fall League were announced this afternoon and the Cubs will be sending their top two position player prospects to the Mesa Solar Sox this autumn.

Both shortstop Nico Hoerner and catcher Miguel Amaya will join the team in Mesa next month. First baseman Jared Young is the third Cubs’ position player on the Solar Sox. Three Cubs’ pitching prospects, right-handers Erich Uelmen and Keegan Thompson along with left-hander Jordan Minch, will make up part of the Solar Sox pitching staff.

Teams are required to send seven players to their AFL team, so at least one more player will be added at a later date.

Hoerner, the Cubs’ consensus top prospect, has played the entire season for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies, with the exception of a short rehab stint in Mesa. Hoerner missed two months of the season after suffering a broken hand after getting hit by a pitch, so sending him to the AFL for the second-straight year is again a chance for him to get in more at-bats. For Tennessee this year, Hoerner has hit .281/.343/.406 in 66 games. Hoerner was the Cubs’ first-round pick in 2018.

Amaya, who is the consensus number-two prospect in the Cubs’ system, is a 20-year-old Panamanian who spent the entire season at High-A Myrtle Beach where he hit .240/.359/.411 with 11 home runs in 97 games. But even more than his bat, Amaya is praised for his defensive skills behind the plate and his ability to work with a pitching staff.

Young struggled badly for Double-A Tennessee this year, hitting just .236/.297/.319 with only five home runs. This is just one year after Young hit .300 with 16 home runs in 2018 at South Bend and Myrtle Beach, a line that got him listed on a few top Cubs’ prospects lists this past winter.

Uelmen’s season got off to a strong start in Myrtle Beach where he went 5-3 with a 3.05 ERA over 11 starts. That earned him a promotion to Tennessee, where he’s had some trouble adapting. His ERA is currently 6.84 over five starts in Double-A. The AFL will give him more opportunities to adapt to higher-quality hitting in a challenging environment.

Thompson was a well-regarded pitching prospect this past winter, but after just one start for Double-A Tennessee in April, Thompson was placed on the injured list and didn’t throw again in a game until just this past week. He’ll be looking to make up for lost time.

The left-handed reliever Minch, a 35th-round pick in 2014, has pitched the entire season for Tennessee where he’s posted a line of 5-5 with a 4.77 ERA and three saves. Minch is solid against left-handers, but will be looking to improve his results against right-handed hitting in order to advance in the system.

The Mesa Solar Sox play their home games at Sloan Park, the Spring Training home of the Cubs. The Solar Sox are made up of players from the Angels, Athletics, Indians and Tigers in addition to the Cubs. The Tigers are sending RHP Alex Lange and INF Isaac Paredes, both former Cubs farmhands sent to Detroit in deals over the past few seasons.

The Angels are sending outfielder Jo Adell, one of the top prospects in the game, to the Solar Sox this fall.

There’s been a change in the schedule for the AFL this year as it will start almost immediately after the end of the minor league playoffs. Opening Day for the AFL will be on September 18 this year, much earlier than previous seasons. The Championship game will be held on October 26.