A Closer Look At The AFL's Fall Stars Game Rosters
The Arizona Fall League on Tuesday announced the rosters for its annual Fall Stars Game, which will be held on Oct. 12 at Salt River Fields. Last year's version featured breakout performances from Blue Jays righthander Nate Pearson, who ran his fastball up to 104 mph, and Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, who clobbered Pearson's fastball for a long home run.
This year's version has the potential for plenty more highlights, thanks to a set of rosters highlighted by 10 of Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects, including Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez, Angels outfielder Jo Adell, Giants catcher Joey Bart and infielders Royce Lewis (Twins), Andres Gimenez (Mets) and Alec Bohm (Phillies).
Before the gates open, let's take a look at the prospects who have the potential to make themselves household names on Saturday night.
The Stars: Joey Bart, who finished the season as BA's No. 15 prospect, has torn up the AFL. The 2018 No. 2 overall pick boasted a league-best 1.290 OPS through 10 games with Scottsdale. His four home runs are second in the league behind Mesa's Greg Deichmann (Athletics), who will also be playing in the Fall Stars Game. Unfortunately, Bart took a pitch off his hand on Tuesday night and had to leave the game, which could put his status for Saturday in doubt.
After an inconsistent year between high Class A Fort Myers and Double-A Pensacola, Royce Lewis has torn the cover off the ball in the AFL. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, who checks in at No. 21 on the Top 100, finished Tuesday's action with a .375 average that placed him among the league's leaders. That average has come with six doubles and three home runs, suggesting that his contact has been particularly loud. He's also moved around the diamond and has even gotten a few looks in center field.
Julio Rodriguez's stock got arguably the biggest boost of any player in the minor leagues this season. A toolsy but untested prospect entering the year, the 18-year-old Mariners jewel marauded the competition in the low Class A South Atlantic League, where he ranked as the circuit's second-best prospect, then wowed evaluators in a 17-game stretch with high Class A Modesto. His ceiling is as high as any prospect in the AFL.
Alec Bohm, too, has lived up to his billing in the desert. The Phillies' 2018 first-round pick started the year at low Class A Lakewood then bullied his way through the Florida State League, where he ranked as the No. 2 prospect, and then again to the Eastern League. Gifted with the tools to become a classic corner-infield masher, Bohm's .390 average places him third in the AFL through games of Oct. 8.
Jo Adell finished the season ranked No. 2 on BA's Top 100, behind only Rays wunderkind Wander Franco. Adell has all the earmarks of a potential superstar to nestle next to Mike Trout in the Angels' outfield. He projects to have double-plus power as well as a throwing arm and speed that each could rate as plus tools. None of his tools projects to be worse than a 55 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. He's currently on a nine-game on-base streak, during which he's gone a scalding 16-for-34 with a pair of home runs.
After a rough year at high Class A and Double-A, Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa has started to show signs of the promise the Marlins bet big on last offseason when they signed him to a $5 million deal. The 23-year-old is 11-for-31 in the AFL and has struck out just three times. If the rust is beginning to come off in the AFL, then 2020 could be the coming-out party that was expected for Mesa in 2019.
Under The Radar: Rays outfielder Josh Lowe, the brother of current Tampa Bay first baseman Nate Lowe, has always had tools. He's a skilled defender with the potential for power and speed but had rarely put everything together at once. In the second half of his season at Double-A Montgomery, however, it appeared the 21-year-old had begun to turn a corner. He hit .288/.375/.468 in that 61-game span. He's continued to find success in the AFL, where he's collected hits in 14 of his first 40 at-bats.
Royals outfielder Kyle Isbel has all the characteristics of a player who can hit at the top or bottom of a batting order, but his season was sliced in half due to injury before he ultimately returned late in the year to help high Class A Wilmington capture the Carolina League crown. He's gone 15-for-45 for Surprise, including four doubles and three stolen bases.
Braves outfielder Trey Harris received little publicity coming into the 2019 season, but he moved from low Class A Rome to Double-A Mississippi in his first full year as a pro. The Missouri product hit .323/.389/.498 overall, including 26 doubles and 14 home runs. He's continued to cook in the AFL, where he's hit two more home runs in 10 games with Scottsdale.
D-backs infielder Geraldo Perdomo and the Rays' Vidal Brujan should make for an exciting combination up the middle for the East team. The duo combined for 218 hits and 74 stolen bases in 2019 and have each started their AFL campaigns with strong numbers.
Heat Check: It's unlikely that someone will match Pearson's 104 mph missile, but the best candidate is Tampa Bay's Shane Baz. Acquired as the third piece of the deal that sent Chris Archer to Pittsburgh and also brought Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow to the Rays, Baz has sat in the upper 90s this fall and is a prime candidate to bring a little extra sizzle to the proceedings on Saturday night.
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|Victor Victor Mesa||OF||MIA|
|Brett de Geus||RHP||LAD|