The 31st rendition of the Arizona Fall League has come to a close, and it comes as no surprise that baseball’s best prospects shined in the desert-based circuit. The Fall League has annually given the Joe Black MVP Award to the top performer, and the Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award has been a staple since 2004. In 2021, the league added more precious metal to the list, so this is the third straight year awards are handed out to the pitcher, offensive player, reliever, breakout and defensive players of the AFL season.
Here are all of the 2023 winners:
MVP: Jakob Marsee, OF, Padres
Last year’s sixth-round Draft selection by San Diego played his way to Double-A San Antonio at the end of the regular season where he enjoyed immediate success and kept that momentum rolling into the desert. Marsee finished a top-five leader in 13 different categories while primarily batting out of the leadoff spot for the Javelinas. Most notably, the 12th-ranked Padres prospect paced the circuit in runs (25), hits (36), doubles (12) and OPS (1.215), finished second with 21 walks and his 16 stolen bases were third most in the league. More »
Offensive Player of the Year: James Triantos, 2B, Cubs
The ninth-ranked Cubs prospect hit just four home runs over 83 games during the regular season after missing the first month of action with a torn right meniscus, but something clicked when he arrived in Arizona. Just name an offensive category, and the 20-year-old finished at or near the top of the leaderboard. Triantos slashed .417/.495/.679 for a 1.174 OPS over 22 games for the Solar Sox. He led the circuit with five triples, mashed three home runs and finished with 15 RBIs, 18 runs scored and went 9-for-10 in stolen base attempts. More »
Breakout Player of the Year: Oliver Dunn, 2B, Phillies
The 26-year-old, who was a Minor League Rule 5 pick in 2022 taken from the Yankees, led the Phillies' organization with his 148 wRC+ during the regular season for Double-A Reading. He proved that was no fluke this fall as he comfortably handled three infield positions, finished perfect in stolen base attempts – going 12-for-12 – and ranked second in triples (4), fourth in OPS (1.071), and fifth in average (.342).
Defensive Player of the Year: Ryan Bliss, 2B, Mariners
Coming off a season where Bliss was one of three players to reach the 20-50 plateau, the No. 14 Mariners prospect used his opportunity in the desert to flash the leather. Playing exclusively at second for the Javelinas, Bliss was nearly perfect in the field, committing just one error over his first 18 games (66 total chances), good for a .985 fielding percentage while racking up 10 steals. The Auburn product even got the start for the AL squad in the Fall Stars Game and played four clean innings at second base. He also played a big part in the Javelina’s epic comeback in the Championship play-in game on Friday, connecting on a grand slam to kick-start the rally.
Pitcher of the Year: Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Blue Jays
Toronto’s top prospect (MLB No. 31) was limited to 44 frames this year as he battled shoulder and biceps issues. But the southpaw appeared to be back to form as he routinely hit 96-97 mph with his fastball. Tiedemann whiffed 23 over 18 innings for Surprise while sporting a 2.50 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and a .190 average against in four starts. His performance also earned him a Fall Stars Game roster selection. More »
Reliever of the Year: Emiliano Teodo, RHP, Rangers
The 22-year-old wrapped up the season as arguably the most dominant pitcher in the Fall League. Armed with a fastball that regularly reached triple digits and a power breaking ball that can climb into the 90s, Texas’ 22nd-ranked prospect led the circuit with five saves and did not allow a run over eight appearances (11 innings), scattering three hits and a trio of walks while fanning 19 and posting a ridiculous 0.55 WHIP.
Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award: Michael Trautwein, C, Reds
The Stenson Sportsmanship Award was created in 2004 to honor the memory of former player Dernell Stenson, who was killed in 2003 in Arizona during the AFL season. The sportsmanship award is presented annually to the player who best exemplifies unselfishness, hard work and leadership. So it’s no surprise that this year’s recipient is Cincinnati's 13th-rounder out of Northwestern from the 2021 Draft. After splitting time between catcher and outfield during the season, Trautwein dedicated himself to improving his craft behind the dish for the Saguaros, not only refining his receiving skills and overall defense, but he also showcased his improved offense during the Fall Stars Game where he doubled, stole a base and scored for the NL squad.