Baseball's finishing school reopens Wednesday after a one-year hiatus. After having its 2020 season cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arizona Fall League returns for its 29th season with its traditional October/November schedule.
The brainchild of legendary executive Roland Hemond, the AFL has sent more than 3,000 players to the big leagues since its inception in 1992. Roughly 60 percent of all Fall Leaguers have reached the Majors, including Hall of Famers Roy Halladay, Derek Jeter and Mike Piazza and current stars such as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer and Mike Trout. The league has produced 321 All-Stars, 21 MVPs, six Cy Young Award winners and 32 Rookies of the Year.
Every organization has sent at least seven prospects to the AFL, where they'll play a 30-game regular season from Oct. 13 through Nov. 19 at six Cactus League stadiums. The franchises and their big league feeder clubs: Glendale Desert Dogs (Angels, Astros, Cardinals, Dodgers, White Sox), Mesa Solar Sox (Athletics, Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Orioles), Peoria Javelinas (Braves, Mariners, Padres, Phillies, Pirates), Salt River Rafters (Brewers, Diamondbacks, Mets, Rockies, Tigers), Scottsdale Scorpions (Giants, Indians, Rays, Red Sox, Twins) and Surprise Saguaros (Nationals, Reds, Rangers, Royals, Yankees).
The two division winners will meet in a one-game playoff for the league title, which will be broadcast live on MLB Network on Nov. 20. MLB Network will also televise the Fall Stars Game, featuring the league's top performers, on Nov. 13.
As usual, the AFL rosters are bursting with talent, starting with three of the top six prospects on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list in Salt River corner infielder Spencer Torkelson (Tigers), Scottsdale shortstop Marco Luciano (Giants) and Peoria shortstop C.J. Abrams (Padres). All told, 16 Top 100 Prospects and 104 players ranked on our organization Top 30s will play in Arizona.
For complete coverage of the AFL, visit the official league site at www.mlb.com/afl.
Top 100 Prospects in the Fall League:
Spencer Torkelson, 1B/3B, Salt River (Tigers, No. 4 on Top 100)
Marco Luciano, SS, Scottsdale (Giants, No. 5)
C.J. Abrams, SS, Peoria (Padres, No. 6)
Triston Casas, 1B, Scottsdale (Red Sox, No. 18)
Nolan Gorman, 2B/3B, Glendale (Cardinals, No. 24)
Gabriel Moreno, C, Mesa (Blue Jays, No. 32)
Brett Baty, 3B/OF, Salt River (Mets, No. 45)
MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Peoria (Padres, No. 56)
Nick Gonzales, 2B, Peoria (Pirates, No. 62)
Asa Lacy, LHP, Surprise (Royals, No. 66)
Shea Langeliers, C, Peoria (Braves, No. 69)
J.J. Bleday, OF, Mesa (Marlins, No. 71)
Bobby Miller, RHP, Glendale (Dodgers, No. 78)
Justin Foscue, 2B, Surprise (Rangers, No. 83)
Sam Huff, C/1B, Surprise (Rangers, No. 91)
Bryson Stott, SS, Peoria (Phillies, No. 97)
Tigers No. 2 prospect (No. 7 overall) Riley Greene was also scheduled to play for Salt River, but he was removed from the roster after suffering a concussion during the final weekend of the regular season.
Besides aiding in the development of players, managers, coaches and umpires, the AFL also has served as a testing ground for potential rule changes. It once again will use a pitch clock (15 seconds) and an automated strike zone (for games at Salt River). New Fall League rules for this season, all of which have been tested at various levels of the Minors, include larger bases, limited pickoff attempts (two per plate appearance, with a balk called on the third unless the runner is caught or advances), restrictions on defensive positioning (there must be two infielders on the dirt on either side of second base) and the use of PitchCom (a communication device for pitchers and catchers that uses bone conduction).
Opening Day Probable Starters:
Peoria (MacKenzie Gore, Padres) at Salt River (Slade Cecconi, Diamondbacks), 3:35 p.m. ET
Surprise (Asa Lacy, Royals) at Mesa (Evan Fitterer, Marlins), 3:35 p.m. ET
Glendale (Johan Dominguez, White Sox) at Scottsdale (Connor Seabold, Red Sox), 9:35 p.m. ET
Dates To Remember
Oct. 13: Opening Day
Nov. 13: Fall Stars Game, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 7 p.m. ET
Nov. 20: Championship Game, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 7 p.m. ET