Kevin Alcantara – Picture by Todd Johnson
The Cubs normally have a variety of reasons for which they send a prospect to the Arizona Fall League. Sometimes they send hitters to work on a new stances or approaches, sometimes they work on learning a new position, a lot of times they make up for missed time. The latter is true for pitchers as well who often can work on a new pitch or a new grip or transition to a different role. For this fall, the top reasons some guys might head to Arizona to play are to get a taste of the experience of playing against elite competition and to get a leg up for 2024. That leg up can take two forms, one for the major leagues and one for the next level.
The Cubs can send seven players for the regular roster and one for the taxi squad and that player plays once a week. Here are the eight players and a few extras the Cubs could, or should, probably send to Mesa to play for six weeks in October and November.
1. PCA – The odds of him being on the opening day roster to start 2024 dropped precipitously in the month of July as the Cubs did not promote him to Iowa right away. Many people did not understand why considering the first half he had and the skills he flashed. Now, he is finally in Iowa for the next two months. Still, the AFL could help propel his development playing against elite competition.
2. Kevin Alcántara – I could see him out in Arizona getting a leg up for next year. He did get off to a rough start in 2023 due to poor swing decisions. But he rectified that in June and July and then had a knee contusion caused him to miss some time. Still, it would be nice if he had a little foresight into what he might be seeing next year at AA.
3. Moises Ballesteros – I see him continuing to work on his catching skills, but more as a taxi squad guy where he only plays once a week as he continues to work on his defense, which is much improved this year.
4. Zac Leigh could make a return trip to Arizona. He was there last year and then missed the first two months of this year. That would be a good way for him to make up for lost time and gain some innings to strengthen his arm. I am still surprised he is not at Iowa.
5. Sheldon Reed – This kind of comes out of nowhere but Sheldon has really good stuff. He has an upper 90s fastball and a nasty slider. To help get them ready for AA, I think it would be fun for him to get a taste of some of the competition he might be facing at the next level.
6. Cole Roederer – I think you keep the “Cole train” rolling. It would be easy for the Cubs to say hang your cleats up and let’s work on your off-season hitting program and call it a good year. But there’s more development to go to get him ready for AAA. A stint in Arizona could do wonders for his confidence and set him up for even more success. Sending him could say that the Cubs believe in him and he’s a valuable piece of their organization going forward.
7. I hemmed and hawed about sending starting pitching to Arizona. Most of them have pitched a full season, but if Derek Casey gets through the next six weeks of rehab and is healthy, he should probably go make up for some last time. Maybe he gets in another 20 innings over six weeks, Just something to give him a little leg up heading into 2024.
8. James Triantos – The Cubs will want Triantos to continue to work on his defense as well as his hitting.
Drew Gray – I wasn’t sure I should put him on the list because it would be a huge step up in competition for him. Even if he only pitched an inning or two a week, it might be good for him just to get a little sneak peek of what he is in for as he moves up the ladder.
Matt Shaw and Josh Rivera – These two guys have talent oozing out their pores. It’s a longshot they go, but it would be a lot of fun.
Drop the names you would love to see the Cubs send to Arizona in the comment section below