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Top prospects take aim in AFL Hitting Challenge

Fifth annual Fall League event is unique twist on home run derby
MLB.com

The Arizona Fall League season is underway, and many of the game's up-and-coming prospects will participate in the league's fifth annual Bowman Hitting Challenge tonight at 9:35 ET/6:35 MT at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona.

Young sluggers from nearly every MLB organization will compete in a unique twist on the conventional home run derby, earning points for not only sending the ball over the fence but also for hitting targets around the field. Each team's representative will put down four targeted bunts before getting two minutes in a batting-practice setting to spray baseballs all over the park.

The Arizona Fall League season is underway, and many of the game's up-and-coming prospects will participate in the league's fifth annual Bowman Hitting Challenge tonight at 9:35 ET/6:35 MT at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona.

Young sluggers from nearly every MLB organization will compete in a unique twist on the conventional home run derby, earning points for not only sending the ball over the fence but also for hitting targets around the field. Each team's representative will put down four targeted bunts before getting two minutes in a batting-practice setting to spray baseballs all over the park.

Past AFL Hitting Challenge winners

This year, 20 of the 27 participants hold spots on their team's Top 30 Prospects lists. Additionally, three rank among the Top 100 prospects in all of Major League Baseball: the Indians' Francisco Mejia (No. 13 overall), the Brewers' Corey Ray (No. 58) and the Red Sox's Michael Chavis (No. 92).

Many past participants in the Bowman Hitting Challenge have gone on to excel in the Major Leagues. That includes last year's champion, Bradley Zimmer, who broke out as a rookie center fielder with the Indians this season. Zimmer won the event with 2,350 points, and he hit four home runs during his two-minute round.

Corey Seager, the Dodgers' All-Star shortstop who is about to play in his first World Series, is a former Bowman Hitting Challenge participant, as is Yankees Baby Bomber catcher Gary Sanchez. Several members of the 2016 World Series champion Cubs have participated -- catcher Willson Contreras, shortstop Addison Russell and outfielder Albert Almora Jr. So have such rising stars as the Twins' Byron Buxton, the White Sox's Yoan Moncada and the Cardinals' Stephen Piscotty.

Video: Moncada hits at AFL Bowman Hitting Challenge

Here's a complete list of the participants in the order that they'll be hitting along with their club prospect rank where applicable:

SURPRISE
Cardinals: Oscar Mercado (No. 18)
Rangers: Yanio Perez (No. 11)
Rays: Kevin Padlo (No. 28)
Royals: Nicky Lopez (No. 11)
Twins: Chris Paul
Thrower: Jobel Jimenez (STL)

PEORIA
Blue Jays: Lourdes Gurriel
Braves: None
Mariners: Joe DeCarlo
Padres: Josh Naylor (No. 10)
Red Sox: Michael Chavis (No. 2/MLB No. 92)
Thrower: Corey Hart (TOR)

GLENDALE
Dodgers: DJ Peters (No. 17)
Indians: Francisco Mejia (No. 1/MLB No. 13)
Phillies: Cornelius Randolph (No. 12)
Pirates: Logan Hill
White Sox: Seby Zavala
Thrower: Shawn Williams (PHI)

SCOTTSDALE
Angels: Matt Thaiss (No. 3)
Giants: Steven Duggar (No. 7)
Mets: Tomas Nido (No. 9)
Reds: Blake Trahan (No. 27)
Yankees: Thairo Estrada (No. 17)
Thrower: Travis Dawkins (CIN)

SALT RIVER
Brewers: Corey Ray (No. 2/MLB No. 58)
D-backs: Victor Reyes (No. 19)
Orioles: Anthony Santander (No. 9)
Marlins: Braxton Lee
Rockies: Brian Mundell (No. 14)
Thrower: JR House (ARI)

MESA
Astros: None
A's: Sheldon Neuse (No. 14)
Cubs: None
Nationals: Daniel Johnson (No. 10)
Tigers: A.J. Simcox
Thrower: Jacob Cruz (CHC)

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.