Legends of the Fall: Top prospects play for title
Scottsdale, Surprise each seek third AFL title in contest packed with top prospects
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Most Arizona Fall League players have endured the longest baseball season of their lives. They're in their ninth month of playing games, dating back to exhibition contests in March.
But those involved in Saturday's AFL championship game between the Scottsdale Scorpions and Surprise Saguaros are glad to have one more game before they get some time off.
"I love it," Scottsdale first baseman Sam Travis (Red Sox) said. "We got cold this week, lost four games in a row. But we're rolling again, we've got the bats rolling again, pitchers are keeping us in games. I couldn't be happier to be in it. Let's go win it."
"We're really excited," said Surprise outfielder Bubba Starling (Royals), a member of the Peoria Javelinas club that lost 14-7 to the Salt River Rafters in the 2014 title game. "We have a great team and I think all of us are looking forward to going out there and playing in the championship. And of course, it's going to be on the MLB Network, so we're all excited about that."
MLB Network and MLB.com will broadcast the game live, starting at 3 p.m. ET. Paul Severino will handle the play-by-play duties, with Joe Magrane providing color commentary and MLBPipeline.com's Jim Callis analyzing the prospects.
The Saguaros, who seek their first championship since 2013 and third overall, finished with the Fall League's best record at 19-11. They boast the league's highest-scoring offense (5.81 runs per game), powered by leading MVP candidate Gary Sanchez (Yankees). Sanchez topped the AFL in homers (seven), RBIs (21), extra-base hits (14), total bases (55) and catcher caught stealing percentage (.615).
Other offensive standouts on Surprise include third baseman Patrick Wisdom (Cardinals), who tied Sanchez for the RBI lead; DH Jurickson Profar (Rangers), who ranked third with 20 RBIs; and infielder Aledmys Diaz (Cardinals), who finished third in the Fall League with a team-high .987 OPS.
The Scorpions (18-12) also are gunning for their third title, which would be their first since 2010. They had the AFL's second-best offense (5.43 runs per game) and placed three hitters among the league's top 10 in OPS: Giants outfielder Mac Williamson (.935), Travis (.900) and Giants shortstop Christian Arroyo (.848). Outfielder Adam Brett Walker II (Twins) tied for second in the league in homers (five) and finished fourth in RBIs (18).
Scottsdale (3.25) and Surprise (3.72) also finished 1-2 in the Fall League in ERA. The expected starters for the championship game are Scorpions left-hander Taylor Rogers (Twins) and Saguaros right-hander Sam Wolff (Rangers). Rogers has a 2-2 record with a 2.88 ERA in six starts and had the league's third-best batting average against (.189), while Wolff is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in six starts.
Below is a complete list of players on the active rosters who rank among MLBPipeline.com's Top 30 Prospects in their organization:
SS Christian Arroyo (No. 2, Giants)
2B/3B Carlos Asuaje (No. 19, Padres)
RHP Ray Black (No. 19, Giants)
RHP Nick Burdi (No. 12, Twins)
3B Yandy Diaz (No. 28, Indians)
OF Clint Frazier (No. 2, Indians)
OF Mike Gerber (No. 17, Tigers)
RHP Austin Kubitza (No. 8, Tigers)
LHP Adalberto Mejia (No. 12, Giants)
RHP Adam Ravenelle (No. 23, Tigers)
RHP Jake Reed (No. 17, Twins)
LHP Taylor Rogers (No. 13, Twins)
2B/OF Austin Slater (No. 18, Giants)
1B Sam Travis (No. 9, Red Sox)
C Stuart Turner (No. 18, Twins)
OF Adam Brett Walker II (No. 10, Twins)
OF Mac Williamson (No. 13, Giants)
RHP Domingo Acevedo (No. 27, Yankees)
OF Jairo Beras (No. 22, Rangers)
LHP Ian Clarkin (No. 7, Yankees)
OF Dustin Fowler (No. 18, Yankees)
1B Ronald Guzman (No. 23, Rangers)
LHP Josh Hader (No. 14, Brewers)
RHP Adrian Houser (No. 28, Brewers)
C Mike Ohlman (No. 27, Cardinals)
RHP Luis Ortiz (No. 5, Rangers)
SS Yadiel Rivera (No. 18, Brewers)
C Gary Sanchez (No. 5, Yankees)
OF Bubba Starling (No. 5, Royals)
OF Charlie Tilson (No. 7, Cardinals)
SS/2B Tyler Wade (No. 9, Yankees)
RHP Luke Weaver (No. 8, Cardinals)
3B Patrick Wisdom (No. 12, Cardinals)