The Cream of the Crop: The Stars from the 2019 Arizona Fall League

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The Arizona Fall League was introduced in 1992, giving teams and fans alike the ability to see prospects that weren’t noticed for their season. It also gave scouts and player personnel an idea of what these players could do, what extra tools they have and how they’ve grown or declined across the season. Players like Pete Alonso, Vladamir Guerrero Jr., Mike Trout, Ryan Howard and Kris Bryant all attended this league. The teams are separated into groups of five and have unique names that fit the Arizona theme.

The teams are:

  • Glendale Desert Dogs (Whitesox, Cardinals, Dodgers, Brewers, Reds)
  • Peoria Javelinas (Padres, Mariners, Red Sox, Astros, Pirates)
  • Surprise Saguaros (Orioles, Royals,Yankees,Rangers, Nationals)
  • Mesa Solar Sox (Cubs,Indians,Tigers,Angels,Athletics)
  • Salt River Rafters (Diamondbacks, Rockies, Marlins, Twins, Rays)
  • Scottsdale Scorpions (Braves, Mets, Phillies, Giants, Blue Jays)

Every year there seems to be a new prospect that everyone won’t shut up about because of the fall league. In 2017 it was Ronald Acuna Jr., in 2018 it was Pete Alonso and in 2019 it’s probably Royce Lewis or Forrest Whitley. If you don’t know who these two guys are I’ll explain in just a bit. 

Here’s some of the stars from the 2019 Arizona Fall League, this is based off of stats and overall tools that the player poses.

Royce Lewis (Salt River Rafters):Number nine on the top 100 list,number one in the Twins top 30 and  drafted first overall in 2017, this 20-year-old shortstop was the MVP of the Arizona Fall League and he deserved it. Lewis, in 22 games, hit .353/.411/.565 with a .976 OPS with three home runs. He has tons of speed to go with a quick bat. Also, he has plenty of pop in that bat and has a tremendous arm. His stance is quiet in terms of movement, yet he generates so much power with a big leg kick that he has. One thing with Lewis that is worrisome is the way he adjusts with that leg kick of his and how well his timing will be moving forward when he faces harder and better pitching. Overall, the Twins found themselves a gem in Lewis, as he has all the tools to become one of the better shortstops in the game. We’ll just have to see how he progresses through the Twins system. 

Jared Oliva (Peoria Javelinas):Oliva is an outfielder and is the 11th best prospect in the top 30 for the Pirates. This 23-year-old had a great Arizona fall league. In 26 games, Oliva hit .312/.413/.473 with an .886 OPS.  Drafted 208th overall in 2017, he has a quick compact swing and some power in his bat. He has great on-base skills — in 2019 he had a .352 OBP. Oliva has tons of speed much like Lewis. Since 2017, Oliva has had 84 stolen bases. Oliva makes loud contact and is consistent with a line drive approach. Plus, he hits well to all fields. He does have a tendency of getting out on his front foot, this causes a decrease in balance and power. Oliva’s contact and speed can be lethal. Ge’s already showing how great of a pick he was at 208th overall and he will get better as time goes on.

Forrest Whitley (Peoria Javelinas): Whitley, at22 years old, is the number one prospect in the Astros farm system. In six games, Whitley went 3-2 with a 2.88 ERA and led all AFL pitchers with 32 strikeouts. He had an 11.52 K/9 and a 1.24 WHIP. When you talk about great stuff, you gotta mention Whitley. He has a fastball that touches 100 mph, he also has a curveball, changeup, slider and cutter — all plus pitches. He’s tall and is extremely athletic, has great potential to be a number one or two starter and certainly has the stuff for it. I was actually able to see him in person, he was impressive going 4.2 Innings with no runs and six strikeouts, His high was 98 and his low was 80. He has smooth mechanics and has a consistent arm speed and creates tons of power with his lower half. He loses command at times and that can lead to how he performs at the major league level. Depending on the spring Whitley has in 2020, he could be a major contributor to the Astros either in the bullpen or the rotation his stuff plays well in both.

Seth Beer (Salt River Rafters): Beer was drafted by the Astros 28th overall in 2018. He’s now famous for being one of four players traded for Zack Grienke at the 2019 trade deadline. He is the number four overall prospect for the D-backs and this Arizona Fall league, Beer hit .315/.375/.452 with one homerun and an .827 OPS. Beer, at 23 years old, has a slightly open stance and a double toe tap, very reminiscent of Brian Mccann, in fact they’re a carbon copy of one another in terms of their batting stance. Beer can hit to all fields nicely and has great gap to gap power. He gets on-base with his career .388 OBP and has a high career OPS of .897. He mainly was a DH this AFL, but at times played some first. His plate vision is incredible and he really tracks the ball all the way til’ contact. Beer’s versatility is great as he can play the outfield and first base, while also being a DH some games. The D-backs have something amazing happening with their revamped farm system and Beer isn’t that far out from contributing at the major league level.

Brandon Marsh (Mesa Solar Sox): This 21-year-old center fielder was drafted 60th overall by the Angels in the 2016 MLB draft.Hes the Angels number two prospect in their system. This Arizona fall league, he hit .328/.387/.522 with two home runs and a .909 OPS. Marsh has an open stance and an excellent load. He has tons of speed and when he hits the ball, they go a long way. He has a tendency to strikeout a lot, as in his career so far, he’s struck out 293 times in 1,061 at-bats. However, he’s young and will gain experience and already has a pretty good understanding of the strike zone. His OBP and OPS are both very promising to see as he ages and gets to facing harder pitching. This is just one of the Angels prospects I will be talking about in this article.

Jahmai Jones (Mesa Solar Sox): This 22-year-old second baseman was drafted 70th overall in 2015.  He is currently the sixth best prospect in the Angels organization. Jones hit .302/.377/.509 with two home runs and a .886 OPS, this year in the Arizona Fall League. Jones, has a closed stance with low hands, which makes it easier for him to get to the inside pitch. He is a contact-speed type of player and he really showed it off when he had a 22-game hit streak in 2017 and 96 stolen bases since he started in 2016. 

Jo Adell (Mesa Solar Sox): This 20-year-old outfielder was drafted 10th overall by the Angels in the 2017 draft. Adell, is the number one prospect in the Angels farm and number five in the top 100. This fall, Adell hit .273/.351/.444 with three home runs and a .796 OPS. He has a short compact swing with tons of power. He has an open stance with a small leg kick. He uses his lower-half really well and has some speed to go with it. In fact, Adell has an opportunity to contribute with the Angels in 2020 as they are leaning towards declining Kole Calhoun’s option. Adell’s bat will play very well in Angels Stadium, especially with his ability to pull the ball and his ability to make consistently hard contact. The Angels will have Mike Trout and Jo Adell in the same outfield, that has an opportunity to be one of the best outfields in baseball regardless of who your third outfielder is. 

Andres Gimenez (Scottsdale Scorpions): This 21-year-old shortstop was signed out of Venezuela for 1.2 million dollars back on July 2, 2015. He won the batting title this fall after posting a slashline of .371/.413/.586 with two home runs and a .999 OPS. Gimenez is an all around great player, from his athleticism and defense to his bat speed and offense, Gimenez has it all. He has a Juan Soto like load and really uses his hips to his advantage to create torque and power, he also keeps his hands inside the ball really well. On defense, he’s a soft handed fielder with a tremendous arm. He also has great speed to top everything off, as he has 93 stolen bases since 2016. The Mets already have Pete Aloso and Jeff Mcneil, adding Gimenez not only makes them younger, but makes them that much more talented with the tools he possesses. 

Alec Bohm (Scottsdale Scorpions): This third baseman was drafted third overall in 2018. He’s the number one prospect in the phillies farm system. Bohm this fall hit, .361/.397/.528 with two home runs and a .925 OPS. Bohm, is tall and athletic and has a consistent line drive approach. His main problem is his defense as he’s consistent with the bat but not so much on defense. He has a quiet stance in terms of movement and also a small leg kick to go with to generate his power stroke. He doesn’t have a ton of speed but makes up for it with his hitting ability. Bohm has incredible potential, if he gets his defensive issues in check, he’ll be a weapon for the Phillies for years to come. Phillies fans take notice on this 23-year-old, you’re going to be hearing a lot more about him in the future. 

Kyle Isbel (Surprise Saguaros): Isbel, 22 years of age was drafted 94th overall in 2018, all together this fall he hit .315/.429/.438 with one home run and a .867 OPS. He’s the 8th best prospect in the Royals system. Isbel hit .315/.429/.438 with one home run and a .867 OPS. He has an open stance and a load similar to Paul Dejong, he’s a great pull hitter and most of his power is to his pull side. He has great bat to ball skills and will always be a high on-base player. Besides 2019, which is an outlier in terms of his stats, before 2019 he never had an OBP less than .340 and in 2019 he had a .296 OBP between two teams. After a down 2019, his expectations for next year are lower than normal, but his time at the Arizona Fall League shows that his tools are legit.

Julio Rodriguez (Peoria Javelinas): Rodriguez is 18 years old and already making waves among the prospect community. This outfielder was signed out of Venezuela for 1.5 million dollars in 2017. He’s currently the Mariners number two prospect, he is one of the more known prospects on this list. He showed why with a slash line of .288/.397/.365 with no home runs and a .762 OPS. His hitting ability is well beyond his age, and has some power to mix with his great contact skills. His swing is beautiful and he has a tremendous bat path (basically meaning that he keeps his bat in the zone for a longer period of time). He also doesn’t strike out as much as an 18-year-old player in Single-A would. As he matures he’ll learn the pitching at each level and become an even better threat to any pitcher. Him and Jarred Kelenic will patrol the outfield for years to come for the Mariners. 

Honorable Mentions:  

Jarren Duran (Peoria Javelinas): This 23-year-old outfielder is the Red Sox number four prospect, he was drafted 220th overall in 2018. Duran is one of my favorite prospects in any system. This fall, Duran hit .267/.337/.400 with one home run and a .737 OPS. He’s got a combination of speed and contact, he swings from the left side and like so many others on this list uses his lower half very well and can really hit well to the opposite field. Power will never be his calling but his speed makes up for it as he can move up any base safely to turn a single into a double or a double into a triple. His ability to get on base is incredible and he could be a legitimate lead off hitter going forward. He struggled a little bit at the double-a level this year, so the fall league was great to get his confidence and for people to see his potential.  

Galvin Sheets (Glendale Desert Dogs): Sheets, a 23-year-old first baseman was drafted 49th overall in 2017 and is the Whitesox 13th best prospect currently. This fall, sheets hit .250/.321/.319 with no home runs and a .640 OPS. Sheets turned the corner in 2019 blasting 16 home runs with a .759 OPS. He has a very aggressive uppercut like swing that produces load contact and fly balls. While lacking in speed, he still makes consistent contact with the ball but with his power will come loads of strikeouts. A power hitting prospect with a high OPS will go through. He’s an extreme pull hitter and most likely will need to adjust with the increase in shift usage, thats happening in the coming years. The White Sox already have the likes of Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez, adding another power bat especially someone like Sheets that’s still can get on-base at a good clip.

Sterling Sharp (Surprise Saguaros): A 24-year-old that the Nationals took at 664th overall in 2016, he is currently the Nationals number 13 overall prospect. In six games,  He was 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA and has 24 Ks in 24 innings pitched. Good for a 9.0 K/9. He is tall and lengthy and has a herky jerky delivery, he also hides the ball well and throws from a three quarters arm slot. His fastball is 90-92 with late movement to it making it really hard to square up, he also displays a nasty changeup that compliments his fastball really well and a slider. The Nationals could have another weapon on their pitching staff if everything progresses well for the 24 year old. Especially, if he possesses the stuff he showed this fall and builds off of this incredible fall.

Ashton Goudeau (Salt River Rafters): The oldest prospect, i’m going to talk about is 27 years of age and was drafted 823rd overall in 2012 by the Royals and was signed by the Rockies on November 2, 2018. This fall, Goudeau was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and had 18ks in 13 innings pitched, good for a 12.5 K/9.He has a mid 90s fastball that he throws from an overhand arm slot, a good curve and a decent change up, his fastball has some late life to it and his curve is more of a 12-6 curveball. His mechanics are smooth and he repeats them very well. Overall, the late blooming Goudeau’s stuff is really great for a back end of the bullpen type of role, the only challenge for Goudeau has to be the Coors affect and how the elevation will affect his pitches moving forward. 

I didn’t even get to talk about players like Victor Victor Mesa, Gerardo Perdomo, Daniel Lynch and Dakoyta Chalmers, among others. However, maybe a part two will be written for some of the other players I missed.

In the End…

 The Arizona Fall League shows prospect variety more than anything, as we had a player as old as 27 and a player as young as 18. You’ll never know who’s the next in line to be the breakout star and you never know who’s gonna show up next year to the Arizona Fall League and take the MLB by storm with their tools and abilities.

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