The end of the World Series doesn't mean the end of watching supremely talented players in action. The Arizona Fall League still has 2 1/2 weeks remaining in its season, and the highlight of the developmental circuit's schedule takes place on Saturday. The 13th annual Fall Stars Game features a
The end of the World Series doesn't mean the end of watching supremely talented players in action. The Arizona Fall League still has 2 1/2 weeks remaining in its season, and the highlight of the developmental circuit's schedule takes place on Saturday. The 13th annual Fall Stars Game features a dozen of MLB's Top 100 prospects, including the game's best overall prospect (Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) and best pitching prospect (Astros right-hander Forrest Whitley).
MLB Network and MLB.com will broadcast the game live at 5 p.m, local time (8 p.m. ET), with Scott Braun handling the play-by-play and former Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd and me providing analysis. MLB Network and MLB.com also will air the Military Appreciation Game between the Mesa Solar Sox and Salt River Rafters on Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. ET and the AFL championship game on Nov. 17 at 3 pm ET.
More teams are open to exploring trying to develop players as two-way talents than ever before. That said, whichever team signed Ohtani was going to have to allow him to both hit and pitch, or he wouldn't have come over from Japan. The Rays have let McKay (the No. 4 overall Draft pick in 2017) and Dodson (their second-rounder in 2018) play both ways, though both have had much more success on the mound in the early stages of their pro careers.
As a fan, I'm fascinated by the idea of players trying to do both. But I still think it's so difficult to succeed at either hitting or pitching, and as a result if I were running a team, I'd have my prospects trying to maximize their talents in one pursuit and not both. Playing both ways makes more sense to me for a role player but not a potential regular or star.
For more on this topic, peruse the video at the top of this Inbox.
While the Blue Jays are coming off consecutive fourth-place finishes, they have one of the best farm systems in baseball and a brighter future ahead. For the purposes of this question, I'll assume that Toronto will put its best team on the field at the end of 2019, something it didn't do this year when it kept Guerrero in the Minors for service-time reasons.
Here's that lineup:
C: Danny Jansen
1B: Justin Smoak
2B: Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
3B: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
SS: Bo Bichette
LF: Teoscar Hernandez
CF: Kevin Pillar
RF: Randal Grichuk
DH: Rowdy Tellez
SP: Aaron Sanchez
SP: Marcus Stroman
SP: Nate Pearson
SP: Ryan Borucki
SP: Sean Reid-Foley
SP: T.J. Zeuch
RP: Ken Giles
There never has been a Draft in which each of the top two selections concluded their careers without reaching the big leagues, but that could happen with Aiken and Kolek. Aiken had Tommy John surgery in March 2015, three months before the Indians picked him 17th overall, while Kolek had the same procedure in April 2016. Since then, neither pitcher has shown close to the stuff he had before having his elbow reconstructed.
Before they got hurt, Aiken had a 92-97 mph fastball and a pair of plus secondary pitches in his curveball and changeup, while Kolek regularly reached triple digits with his heater. Both now sit around 90 mph with diminished command, and the latter never was a strength of Kolek's. Cleveland had Aiken take the 2018 season off to focus on improving his mechanics, conditioning and mental outlook, and Kolek worked just 15 2/3 innings in Rookie and short-season ball.
There's no question that the Marlins' system has improved since Jeffrey Loria sold the franchise to Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter last October, but there's still a lot of work to be done before the team can contend again. Miami doesn't have a single player on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 and the system still doesn't rank among the top half in baseball.
The Marlins didn't get as much as they should have when they dealt Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna, and the Christian Yelich trade is looking shakier given the difficulties that Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison had making contact in 2018. Signing Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa was a nice move, though he too comes with questions about his bat.
Even if the consensus best 2019 Draft prospects, Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman and Texas high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., come off the board before Miami exercises the No. 4 choice, there should be plenty of attractive options. That decision could come down to Georgia high school shortstop C.J. Abrams versus California first baseman Andrew Vaughn. Other possibilities include Florida prep outfielder Riley Greene, Georgia high school right-hander Daniel Espino, Florida prep righty Brennan Malone and Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.