Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Fall League unveils Top Prospects Team

MLB.com

The Peoria Javelinas, led by league MVP Ronald Acuna, captured the Arizona Fall League championship with an 8-2 win over Mesa on November 18. While the league officially came to a close that day, there has been plenty of coverage since.

The MLBPipeline.com staff has announced its All-AFL team, broken down the circuit's top 25 prospects, and analyzed some breakout prospects as well.

The Peoria Javelinas, led by league MVP Ronald Acuna, captured the Arizona Fall League championship with an 8-2 win over Mesa on November 18. While the league officially came to a close that day, there has been plenty of coverage since.

The MLBPipeline.com staff has announced its All-AFL team, broken down the circuit's top 25 prospects, and analyzed some breakout prospects as well.

All of that has paved the way for the unveiling of the Arizona Fall's League's official Top Prospects Team, which was announced Monday.

The team, selected by Fall League managers and coaches, honors 23 players from 16 organizations and includes six Top 100 Prospects.

Catchers

Will Smith, Glendale, Dodgers' No. 8 prospect

Smith, who recorded a hit in nine of his final 10 games, finished third in the league in hitting with a .371 average through 18 games.

Alex Jackson, Peoria, Braves' No. 15 prospect

Jackson's bounceback season continued with a strong showing in the AFL. Jackson slugged .513 through 20 games and finished with five homers, which tied him for third place in the league.

Video: Braves' Alex Jackson delivers in Fall League victory

First base

Billy McKinney, Scottsdale, Yankees' No. 23 prospect

McKinney, an outfielder, used the AFL experience to increase his versatility and learn a new position. While he hadn't played first base since high school, McKinney held his own with the glove. Offensively, he hit .279 and finished second in the league with 20 RBI through 19 games.

Josh Naylor, Peoria, Padres' No. 10 prospect

After hitting .280 through 114 games in the regular season, Naylor continued to hit well in Arizona. The Padres' prospect slashed .304/.337/.494 with three homers and a pair of stolen bases.

Second base

David Bote, Mesa, Cubs

Bote got off to a fast start, winning the league's Player of the Week honors in week one. He finished the season on a four-game hitting streak and slashed .333/.395/.536.

Steve Wilkerson, Salt River, Orioles

While he only hit one ball out of the park, Wilkerson showed off a bit of extra-base pop with nine extra-base hits in 23 games. The Orioles' prospect, who finished with a .317 average, hit five triples after failing to hit even one during the regular season.

Shortstop

Nicky Lopez, Surprise, Royals' No. 11 prospect

Lopez made his fair share of impressive defensive plays in Arizona, but also showed an impressive ability to handle the bat. Lopez hit .383 over 20 games and flashed a bit of power with a grand slam in the Military Appreciation Game.

Video: PEO@SUR: Lopez crushes a grand slam for the lead

Thairo Estrada, Scottsdale, Yankees' No. 17 prospect

Estrada collected a hit in eight of his last nine games, boosting his AFL average to .342. After stealing eight bases (and being caught 11 times) over 122 games during the regular season, Estrada was more successful in the AFL as he stole three bases in four attempts.

Third base

Austin Riley, Peoria, Braves' No. 9 prospect

Riley finished second in the league with six homers and drove in 18 runs in 17 games. He did strike out 21 times in 70 at-bats, but still managed to hit .300/.364/.657.

Sheldon Neuse, Mesa, Athletics' No. 14 prospect

Neuse, who led the league with 23 RBI, constantly came up with big hits for Mesa. Neuse hit .314 over 22 games and had multiple hits in five of his final six regular-season games, including each of the last four.

Outfield

Ronald Acuna, Peoria, Braves' No. 1 prospect (MLB No. 6)

The league MVP hit .325/.414/.639 and led the league with seven homers in 23 games. Acuna also led the league in runs (22), extra-base hits (12) and total bases (53) while finishing the regular season on a five-game hitting streak.

Victor Robles, Mesa, Nationals' No. 1 prospect (MLB No. 3)

Robles got out to Arizona late as he was on the Nationals' playoff roster when the AFL began, but he certainly made up for lost time. Robles, who won the Fall Stars Game MVP Award hit three homers and stole seven bases in his 13 games with the Solar Sox.

Braxton Lee, Salt River, Marlins

Lee put forth five multihit efforts in his final 10 games and finished with a .347 average. The outfielder stole eight bases in 10 attempts and made some nice plays in the outfield as well.

Tweet from @wboor: #Marlins OF Braxton Lee with a strong throw to the plate to keep the game scoreless. pic.twitter.com/gkzu1Kb5V2

Estevan Florial, Scottsdale, Yankees' No. 3 prospect (MLB No. 79)

At 20-years-old Florial was one of the younger players in the AFL. The Yankees' prospect struck out 29 times in 70 at-bats and finished the AFL in a bit of a funk, but did post a .286/.383/.414 slash line.

Yanio Perez, Surprise, Rangers' No. 11 prospect

Perez finished the AFL on a six-game hitting streak that lifted his average just over the .300 mark to .301. The Rangers' prospect hit two homers and drove in nine runs over 21 games.

Steven Duggar, Scottsdale, Giants' No. 7 prospect

Duggar finished with just a .263 average, but racked up the hits over final 10 games as he went 13-for-40 (.325) with five multihit games. The outfielder hit all three of his homers over the final 10 games and also collected five of his seven total RBIs.

Designated hitter

Eric Filia, Peoria, Mariners' No. 21 prospect

Throughout the AFL season all Filia did was hit. The Mariners' prospect won the league batting title as he hit .408 in 22 games. Filia finished the AFL regular season on a six-game hitting streak that included four multihit efforts. The outfielder was also honored with the league's sportsmanship award.

Francisco Mejia, Glendale, Indians' No. 1 prospect (MLB No. 14)

There are very few questions about Mejia's ability to hit and he showed why as he hit .365 for Glendale. Mejia, a catcher, was primarily sent to the AFL to work on his defense and learn how to play third base.

Starting pitchers

Justus Sheffield, Scottsdale, Yankees' No. 4 prospect (MLB No. 80)

Sheffield's numbers may not be as impressive as some of the other pitcher's on this list, but his stuff certainly made an impression on those that saw him pitch in Arizona. Sheffield had a 3.10 ERA through five starts and racked up 22 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings.

Max Fried, Peoria, Braves' No. 8 prospect

Fried got off to a strong start as he struck out seven over three scoreless frames in his first start with Peoria and carried that momentum throughout the AFL season. The lefty gave up one earned run or fewer in five of his six starts and finished with 32 strikeouts over 26 innings.

Mitch Keller, Glendale, Pirates' No. 2 prospect (MLB No. 19)

Keller had a perfect 4-0 record and a 1.52 ERA through six AFL starts. The right-hander yielded two earned runs or fewer in each of his starts, including a trio of scoreless outings.

Relief pitchers

Andres Munoz, Peoria, Padres

Munoz put plenty of zeros on the board for the Javelinas as he held opponents scoreless in eight of his nine appearances. Munoz gave up one earned run in 8 2/3 innings and had a 1.38 batting average against.

J.D. Hammer, Glendale, Phillies' No. 30 prospect

Hammer was one of the most dominant relievers in the AFL as he posted a 0.66 ERA through 10 appearances. The right-hander gave up one run and struck out 11 in 13 2/3 innings.

William Boor is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.