Here are 11 prospects to watch in the Fall League

September 28th, 2022

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The Arizona Fall League begins its 30th season on Monday, October 3, and I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of Jim Callis, who is heading to kick off our coverage of the league this year.

Typically, I’ve been the one to log the first leg of the trip, which includes conducting a video interview with a prospect from each organization (30 total) over the first couple of days. It’s a bit of a scramble, but I always enjoyed the chase, so to speak. I couldn’t go out of the gate this time because of the timing of the Jewish holidays -- L’Shanah Tovah or Happy New Year to those who celebrate -- and I’m sure Jim will get it done, as he always does.

That doesn’t mean I’m any less excited for the action to begin. Every year, we get to see so many of the prospects we talk about all the time in person. And so many more jump on the radar in the AFL. You’ll get tired of hearing this from us, but if you’re a baseball fan, you really should come check it out. It's great baseball, fantastic locations (playing games in the big league Spring Training ballparks in Salt River Fields (my favorite), Mesa, Scottsdale, Peoria, Glendale and Surprise), without the crowds you see in Spring Training.

With building anticipation, I’m picking a team, position-by-position, of players I can’t wait to see in person. I tried to not double-up on organizations:

C: Henry Davis, Pirates: He is the No. 1 overall pick from last year’s Draft, after all, and he was hurt when I went to Altoona earlier this year. I want to see him swing the bat and get a better sense of where his receiving is.

1B: Matt Mervis, Cubs: He’s hit across three levels, finishing in Triple-A, and his 36 homers put him in a tie for second currently. I want to see that power play in the hitting-friendly AFL.

2B: Nick Yorke, Red Sox: The surprise first-rounder had a big first full season in 2021, but injuries kept him from repeating that success this year, knocking him from our Top 100. I have a feeling he’s going to hit his way back on the list, starting with this fall.

3B: Zack Gelof, A’s: I oversee the A’s Top 30 and the organization has been raving about Gelof since they first saw him after signing him last year. An injury slowed him this year, but he has the chance to be a very special infielder.

SS: Jordan Lawlar, D-backs: He shook off last year’s shoulder injury and then some, playing his way to the Futures Game and Double-A at age 20 in his first full year of pro ball. He’s the top-ranked SS in the league this year.

OF: Jordan Walker, Cardinals: He’s the top-ranked player, period, in the Fall League, and was a guest on the Pipeline Podcast just last week. Can’t wait to see him swing the bat as he continues to adjust to life in the outfield.

OF: Robert Hassell III, Nationals: I last saw Hassell the summer before his senior year of high school as one of the best pure hitters in the PDP League. He’s continued to look like that type of hitter for the Padres and now the Nats courtesy of the Juan Soto trade.

OF: Zac Veen, Rockies: Same Draft class as Hassell, taken one pick later, Veen scuffled a bit when he got to Double-A, but also finished with more than 50 steals. I’m thinking he starts figuring out the upper levels in Arizona.

DH: Jasson Domínguez, Yankees: The Martian. Need I say more?

RHP: Kumar Rocker, Rangers: He’s been the talk of two straight Drafts and now we get to see his first pro action. This is the first step towards having the questions surrounding the big right-hander answered.

LHP: Carson Whisenhunt, Giants: Another 2022 Draft guy, Whisenhunt missed the college season when he was suspended after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug he said came from an over-the-counter supplement. If he returns to his 2021 form, he could be a second-round steal for the Giants