Arizona Fall League & AZ Instructional League
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE (AFL):
The Arizona Fall League (AFL) is an MLB developmental league (approximately equivalent to "AA") that operates in the Phoenix metropolitan area for six weeks after the MLB-affiliated minor leagues have concluded their seasons. It was founded in 1992, the "brain-child" of long-time MLB executive Roland Hemond. The AFL operated continuously for 27 seasons, until the 2020 season was canceled due to the CoViD-19 pandemic. Games are played in MLB Spring Training stadiums.
2023 AFL Opening Day will be on Monday, October 2nd, and the AFL regular season will conclude on Thursday, November 9th.
The 2023 AFL schedule will continue to feature a 30-game "regular season." Each AFL team will play a total of six games (three home / three road) against the other five AFL teams.
The 2023 AFL Championship Game will be played on Saturday, November 11th.
The six AFL teams wil play as one league (no divisions), with the second and third place teams playing a semi-final "play-in" game on Friday, November 10th, at Camelback Ranch, and then the winner of the "play in" game will face the first place team in the AFL Championship Game at Scottsdale Stadium the next day.
An All-Star Game known as the "Fall Stars Game" will be played on Saturday, November 5th, at Sloan Park in Mesa.
The Cubs (as well as the other 29 MLB clubs) usually assign some of their better prospects to the Arizona Fall League, and sometimes minor leaguers who are eligible for selection in the MLB Rule 5 Draft might be sent to the AFL to give them a chance to play their way onto the MLB 40-man roster. Others might be assigned because of missing significant time during the minor league regular season due to injury.
Here are the current (2023) AFL eligibility rules & restrictions.
1. There are six AFL teams, and each AFL team is affiliated with five MLB clubs. SEA & SD (Peoria Javelinas), KC & TEX (Surprise Saguaros), LAD & CHW (Glendale Desert Dogs), AZ & COL (Salt River Rafters), CUBS (Mesa Solar Sox), and SF (Scottsdale Scorpions) are the "host organizations" for the six AFL teams, but the affiliations of the other twenty MLB clubs can vary from year-to-year. (BAL, HOU, MIA, NYY, and OAK are the other four MLB organizations affiliated with the Mesa Solar Sox in 2023).
NOTE: MIA, OAK, TB, and NYY were the other four MLB organizations affiliated with the Solar Sox in 2022, BAL, MIA, OAK, and TOR were the other four MLB organizations affiliated with the Solar Sox in 2021. the AFL season was canceled due to CoViD in 2020, CLE, DET, LAA, and OAK were the other four MLB organizations affiliated with the Solar Sox in 2019, BOS, DET, LAA, and OAK were the other four MLB organizations affiliated with the Mesa Solar Sox in 2018, DET, HOU, OAK, and WAS were the other four MLB organizations affiliated with the Solar Sox in 2017, and BAL, CLE, MIA, and OAK were the other four MLB organizations affiliated with the Solar Sox in 2016.
2. Each MLB organization must assign a minimum of eight players (seven prior to 2023) under its control to its AFL affiliate, including five pitchers (formerly four) with preferably at least one pitcher capable of starting, and a minimum of three position players (specific positions needed to be filled by each organization TBD by a conference call "position draft" between the Player Development Directors of the five MLB organizations affiliated with that particular AFL team).
NOTE: LHP Bailey Horn, RHP Zac Leigh, LHP Riley Martin, RHP Sheldon Reed, 1B Matt Mervis, INF B. J. Murray, and OF Owen Caissie and OF Brennen Davis were the Cubs players assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox in 2022, RHP Danis Correa, RHP Ryan Jensen, RHP Caleb Kilian, LHP Brendon Little, INF Luis Vazquez, OF Nelson Velazquez and INF Andy Weber were the Cubs players assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox in 2021, the AFL was canceled due to CoViD in 2020, C Miguel Amaya, RHRP Scott Effross, LHRP Jordan Minch, INF Zack Short, RHSP Keegan Thompson, RHSP Erich Uelmen, and 1B-OF Jared Young were assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox in 2019, RHRP Bailey Clark, INF-OF Trent Giambrone, C-INF P. J. Higgins, SS Nico Hoerner, C Jhonny Pereda, LHSP Justin Steele, RHSP Erick Leal, LHRP Manuel Rondon, and OF D. J. Wilson were assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox in 2018, RHSP Adbert Alzolay, RHRP Pedro Araujo, INF David Bote, OF Charcer Burks, RHSP Alec Mills, C-1B Ian Rice, RHRP Jake Stinnett, and 3B-1B Jason Vosler were assigned to the Solar Sox in 2017 (RHSP Oscar de la Cruz was removed from the Solar Sox roster on 9/18 due to injury and was replaced by Alzolay), and C-1B Victor Caratini, RHRP James Farris, 2B-OF Ian Happ, LF Eloy Jimenez, RHRP Ryan McNeil, RHRP Steve Perakslis, and RHSP Duane Underwood Jr were assigned to the Solar Sox in 2016.
3. An MLB organization can assign additional position-players to its AFL team's "Taxi Squad." Players assigned to an AFL team's "Taxi Squad" can play in no more than two games per week (it used to be Wednesday and Saturday games only, but now it's just no more than two games per week regardless of the day), but a player can be transferred from the Taxi Squad to the 35-man Active Roster to replace an injured or inactive player.
NOTE: INF B. J. Murray was assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox Taxi Squad in 2022, INF-OF Trent Giambrone and C Jhonny Pereda were assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox Taxi Squad in 2018, C-1B Ian Rice was assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox Taxi Squad in 2017 and he replaced David Bote on the MSS Active Roster with about two weeks left in the AFL season after Bote left the team to attend to a personal matter, and while the Cubs initially did not assign any players to the Solar Sox Taxi Squad in 2016, OF-DH Kyle Schwarber was briefly assigned to the MSS Taxi Squad 10/22-10/25 while preparing to play in the World Series.
4. A player can be selected to play in the AFL more than once.
5. All MLB and minor league players under the control of an MLB organization are now eligible to play in the AFL.
NOTE: Prior to 2019, an MLB player (including players selected in a preceding Rule 5 Draft) with less than one year (1+000) MLB Service Time accrued (not including time spent on an Injured List) as of September 1st and players who were on the Active List, Injured List, or Temporarily Inactive List of an MLB minor league affiliate (regardless of classification) on August 15th were eligible, international players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, and/or Australia were eligible only if the player was not on the reserve list of a Winter League club from the player's home country, and a player who was on a minor league or MLB Injured List at the close of the regular season was eligible to play in the AFL as long as the player had been reinstated, but there could be no special limits or restrictions placed on the player's playing time (other than the automatic restrictions imposed on a player assigned to an AFL team's "Taxi Squad").
6. A player must be invited by his MLB organization to participate in the AFL and then the player must accept the invitation before he can be assigned an AFL team.
7. A player on an MLB or minor league injured list of an MLB or minor league club that is still in the process of playing regular season or post-season games must be reinstated before he can be assigned to the AFL.
NOTE: OF-DH Kyle Schwarber was added to the 2016 Mesa Solar Sox Taxi Squad on 10/22 only after being reinstated from the Cubs MLB 60-day DL (so therefore it was NOT considered a "rehab assignment"), and he played in two AFL games before re-joining the Cubs for the World Series on 10/25.
8. A player on the Restricted List, Military List, Disqualified List, Ineligible List, or Voluntary Retired List is not eligible to participate in the AFL.
9. All players assigned to an AFL team receive the same salary and the salaries are paid out of a special fund managed by MLB.
10. Only players who are under control of an MLB organization are eligible to play in the AFL. A free-agent (unsigned player) is not eligible to play in the AFL.
Each MLB organization provides either the manager, a pitching coach, a hitting coach, or a bench coach to its affiliated AFL club (assignments rotate every year). The Cubs are providing the bench coach to their AFL club in 2022.
CUBS ASSIGNED TO MESA SOLAR SOX in 2023 (updated 10-2-2023):
Kevin Alcantara, OF
Christian Franklin, OF - replaced OF Alexander Canario 10/2
Nick Hull, RHP
Adam Laskey, LHP
Jose Romero, RHP
Tyler Santana, RHP
James Triantos, INF
Carter Trice, C (ex-INF) - added to Taxi Squad 10/2
Dan Puente (Hitting Coach)
ARIZONA INSTRUCTIONAL LEAGUE (AZIL):
The Arizona Instructional League (known informally as "Instructs") has been in continuous existence for well over 60 years.
This year, Cubs AZ Instructs will begin on August 29th and conclude on October 7th.
Typically, clubs will only assign players with experience below the AA level to Instructs, although occasionally an older player will be assigned to work on one particular phase of his game or to rehab from an injury.
Clubs with Spring Training homes in Arizona are not required to operate a team in the AZIL, and MLB clubs that do operate an "instructs" team are not required to schedule games against teams from other organizations.
2023 CUBS ARIZONA INSTRUCTIONAL LEAGUE ROSTER
LAST UPDATED: 9-12-2023
* bats or throws left
# bats both
NOTE: Not all players have reported
* Daniel Brown
Raino Coran (ex-OF)
* Carlos Garcia
Shane Marshall (ex-C)
* Branden Noriega
Luis A, Reyes
* Chase Watkins
* Jairo Diaz
Frank Hernandez (ex-OF)
* Wally Soto
Carter Trice (ex-INF)
* Jose Escobar
* Yahil Melendez
* Jefferson Encarnacion
* Zyhir Hope
Dai Dai Otaka