The Cubs officially re-upped their contract with the Short-season A Boise Hawks for two more years, but have yet to reach an agreement for an affiliation at the Low-A or Advanced-A levels, though it is widely speculated that the Cubs will end their affiliation with the Peoria Chiefs to sign a deal with the Kane County Cougars and re-sign the Daytona Cubs. The Cubs have existing agreements for the next two years with the Tennessee Smokies and through 2016 with the Iowa Cubs.
The Cubs released their Arizona Instructional League roster this week, after Javier Baez and Matthew Szczur were among those named to the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. The AIL is a lower-level and unofficial counterpart of the AFL. Among the notable players on the squad are pitchers Paul Blackburn, Gerardo Concepcion, Pierce Johnson, Dillon Maples, Juan Carlos Paniagua, Duane Underwood and Ben Wells; catcher Jason Marra; infielders Arismendy Alcantara, Gioskar Amaya, Jeimer Candelario, Marco Hernandez and Daniel Vogelbach; and outfielders Albert Almora, Yasiel Balaguert, Shawon Dunston, Jr., Trevor Gretzky and Jorge Soler.
As far as call-ups are concerned, Jaye Chapman has caught the eyes of many, including manager Dale Sveum. You may recall that Chapman was the throw-in acquired in the Maholm-Johnson trade that also brought in top pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino from Atlanta. Dave Sappelt took some heat from Sveum after an aggressive run to third that resulted in an out before Castro reached home (though the media had already seemed to pin it on Castro), but has otherwise impressed with the bat in limited action. Meanwhile, Brett Jackson seems poised to be the Cubs 2012 Opening Day Center Fielder, Anthony Rizzo hit his first career grand slam as part of his first career multi-homer game, and Starlin Castro has been quietly putting together a good month, solidifying his numbers, though he would be very hard-pressed to approach his previous season’s numbers in just sixteen games.