The Chicago Cubs honored four Tennessee Smokies players, including right-handed pitchers Zach Cates, C.J. Edwards and Ivan Pineyro, as well as shortstop Addison Russell, with invitations to represent the club in the prestigious Arizona Fall League following the 2014 regular season.
Russell, who was rated by Baseball America as the No. 14 overall prospect in baseball, was acquired by the Cubs in a July 5 trade from the Oakland Athletics as part of a deal that sent former Smokies right-hander Jeff Samardzija to Oakland. In 45 contests with Tennessee, the 20-year-old Russell has posted a .301 average adding 12 homers and 35 RBI, with those 12 long balls, the most of any Southern League player dating back to his first game with the Smokies on July 6.
The 22-year-old Edwards came into the 2014 campaign as the top Cubs pitching prospect per Baseball America, as well as the No. 38 overall prospect in the game adding 45 strikeouts while opposing hitters have accumulated a meager .170 batting average. The South Carolina native was acquired by Chicago last year via a trade with the Texas Rangers, who selected Edwards in the 48th round of the 2011 MLB Draft.
Like Edwards, Pineyro missed a majority of this season due to injury, recording an 0-3 mark and 5.44 ERA in ten outings with Tennessee. Tabbed the No. 21 Cubs farmhand by Baseball America at the beginning of the year, the native of the Dominican Republic was acquired by Chicago via a trade with the Washington Nationals last season.
Over 22 relief appearances for Tennessee, the right-handed throwing Cates has tallied a 2-1 record and 6.23 ERA after being promoted from High-A Daytona on June 5. The Arkansas native was acquired by the Cubs in a January 6, 2012 trade from the San Diego Padres that sent former Smokies right-hander Andrew Cashner to San Diego.
The four players will join the Mesa Solar Sox roster, along with other top prospects from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals. The season begins on October 7, and runs through November 15, with the league’s Fall Stars Game held on November 1.