For nearly three decades, the Arizona Fall League has had a very simple mission: Help finish the development process by getting Minor League prospects ready for the big leagues. That process began again on Wednesday night as the 28th season of the AFL got underway with games in Glendale, Mesa and Salt River.
The start of the AFL season was moved up from its traditional October start to be in sync with the Minor League season and stay in line with player development plans for the 30 Major League teams that send top prospects to Arizona each fall. In addition to the earlier start date, the AFL will also welcome in Mexican League teams for two weeks, Sept. 24-Oct. 5. Regardless of when the games are played, history says that this year’s Fall League participants will quickly go on to become big leaguers, All-Stars and award winners.
Since the league was formed in 1992, it has produced more than 2,900 big leaguers, led by Hall of Famers Mike Piazza and Roy Halladay, not to mention likely future Cooperstown members like Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols. The league has produced 296 All-Stars, 19 league MVPs, six Cy Young Award winners, seven World Series MVPs and 30 Rookie of the Year award winners. There’s been at least one AFL alum named Rookie of the Year every year since 2014. That streak could continue in 2019 should Pete Alonso win NL ROY honors. The MVP total could grow as well, given that candidates like Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger cut their teeth in the AFL.
Each MLB organization sends six or more prospects to the Fall League, where they'll play regular-season games from Sept. 18 through Oct. 25 on six teams (Glendale Desert Dogs, Mesa Solar Sox, Peoria Javelinas, Salt River Rafters, Scottsdale Scorpions, Surprise Saguaros) at four Cactus League stadiums in Glendale (Camelback Ranch), Mesa (Sloan Park), Peoria (Peoria Sports Complex) and Salt River. The two division winners will stage a one-game playoff for the championship on Oct. 26 at Salt River Fields. The annual Fall Stars Game has become a huge part of the league, with that exhibition taking place on Oct. 12, also in Salt River.
There are currently 20 of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects slated to participate in this year’s Fall League season, led by No. 4 overall prospect Jo Adell, the Angels outfield prospect who will play for the Mesa Solar Sox, and No. 7 Royce Lewis, the Twins shortstop who will suit up for the Salt River Rafters. Here’s the complete list of Top 100 prospects in Arizona this fall:
Angels OF Jo Adell, OF, Mesa (No. 5)
Twins SS Royce Lewis, Salt River (No. 9)
Mariners OF Jarred Kelenic, Peoria (No. 14)
Astros RHP Forrest Whitley, Peoria (No. 17)
Giants C Joey Bart, Scottsdale (No. 20)
Mariners OF Julio Rodriguez, Peoria (No. 26)
Phillies 3B Alec Bohm, Scottsdale (No. 35)
Indians 3B Nolan Jones, Mesa (No. 38)
Rays 2B/SS Vidal Brujan Salt River (No. 40)
Giants OF Heliot Ramos, Scottsdale (No. 51)
Pirates SS Oneil Cruz, Peoria (No. 58)
Royals LHP Daniel Lynch, Surprise (No. 70)
Cubs C Miguel Amaya, Mesa (No. 91)
Padres C Luis Campusano, Peoria (No. 87)
Phillies RHP Spencer Howard, Scottsdale (No. 89)
Nationals SS Luis Garcia, Surprise (No. 92)
Mets SS Andres Gimenez, Scottsdale (No. 93)
Reds 3B Jonathan India, Glendale (No. 94)
Rays RHP Shane Baz, Salt River (No. 95)
D-backs 1B Seth Beer, Salt River (No. 97)
Sept. 18: Opening Day
Oct. 6: Military Appreciation Game, Scottsdale at Glendale, Camelback Ranch-Glendale, 12:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 11: Pride Night, Surprise at Scottsdale, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 9:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 12: Fall Stars Game, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 8 p.m. ET
Oct. 26: Championship Game, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 2 p.m. ET