Ranking the top 25 prospects from the Arizona Fall League
The 23rd edition of the Arizona Fall League wrapped up with Salt River's win in the championship game over Peoria on Saturday. Once again, the AFL was jam packed with elite-level prospects.
That made putting together a top prospects list fairly easy. There were so many good players, it was decided to expand the list to a top 25, up from the typical 20. The list was compiled by Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo and Teddy Cahill, along with feedback from a number of scouts who covered the league this fall. This list is more about long-term potential, but AFL performances were certainly taken into account.
1. Byron Buxton, OF, Twins (Salt River)
For the second straight year, Buxton got hurt in the AFL, this time breaking his left middle finger while diving for a ball in the outfield. But for the second straight year, Buxton still showed the five-tool package that leads scouts to believe he's the best prospect in baseball and the second coming of Mike Trout.
2. Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians (Peoria)
Lindor is ready to play shortstop defensively in the big leagues. He continued to show some developing power as a switch-hitter who's close to being ready to help in Cleveland.
3. Addison Russell, SS, Cubs (Mesa)
Russell didn't tear up the AFL before departing at midseason, though he did homer twice in his final three games. He has a higher offensive ceiling than Lindor, and while he's not as gifted defensively, Russell will be able to stay at shortstop.
4. Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (Glendale)
A year ago, Seager scuffled in the AFL, but he hit much better in 2014, leading the AFL in doubles (not surprising since he led the Minors in doubles during the regular season). Seager has the chance to be an impact hitter, even if he has to move off shortstop.
5. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates (Scottsdale)
The first pitcher on this list, Glasnow didn't overpower hitters as much as usual because Pittsburgh had him focus on upgrading his curveball. Glasnow's explosive mid-90s fastball still generated plenty of swings and misses, and he fanned 20 in 19 1/3 innings.
6. Jesse Winker, OF, Reds (Surprise)
The guy can simply flat-out hit. Winker won the AFL batting title as well as topping the league in OPS. Winker's bat should get him to the big leagues fairly quickly as a left fielder with the ability to get on base, hit for average and hit for enough power.
7. Mark Appel, RHP, Astros (Salt River)
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 Draft built on the momentum he began to generate in Double-A at the end of the season, topping the league in fewest baserunners per nine innings (8.7) and finishing second in strikeouts (24 in 31 frames) and opponent batting average (.167). Appel repeatedly worked in the mid-90s with his fastball and in the mid-80s with his slider, while also flashing a promising changeup.
8. Archie Bradley, RHP, D-backs (Salt River)
The numbers weren't pretty, but the good news is Bradley's stuff was starting to come back to his old form following an injury-interrupted regular season. He added a slider to his repertoire, which should help him moving forward.
9. Dalton Pompey, OF, Blue Jays (Mesa)
Pompey helped his cause in taking over Toronto's center-field job by displaying a broad base of tools in Arizona. Pompey is a switch-hitter with on-base skills, solid gap power and the speed to steal bases and run down balls in the gaps.
10: C.J. Edwards, RHP, Cubs (Mesa)
Edwards was making up for lost innings, coming back from shoulder inflammation. The slight right-hander threw well, showing one of the best breaking balls in the Fall League.
11. Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres (Surprise)
Renfroe has prototypical right-field tools, with big power, a strong arm and good speed and athleticism for a 6-foot-1, 200-pounder. Renfroe hit six homers to share the AFL lead with Greg Bird, added another in the Fall Stars Game and topped the league in extra-base hits (16), total bases (58) and slugging (.569).
12. Raul Mondesi, SS, Royals (Peoria)
Mondesi's placement here is more about upside and ceiling. Still just a teenager, he has tremendous tools on both sides of the ball, but he needs to continue to refine them in order to allow his production to catch up with his potential.
13. Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees (Scottsdale)
Some scouts prefer Judge to Renfroe, a fellow 2013 first-round Draft pick, because Judge has a better approach at the plate. The most physically imposing player in the league at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds -- and Judge's listed weight may be conservative -- he offers huge raw power, patience and arm strength.
14. Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox (Glendale)
Raw tools wise, Anderson might be the best of the many shortstops on this list. Anderson even put up decent numbers, though he'll need to cut down on the K's. Even if he has to move off of shortstop, he has the tools to play center.
15. Daniel Robertson, SS, Athletics (Mesa)
One of the better pure hitters in the league, Robertson contended for the batting title before slumping late. Robertson should have at least average power as he gets stronger and turns on more pitches, and while he may not have the quickness to stay at shortstop, he has good hands and instincts and would profile well at second or third base.
16. Josh Bell, 1B, Pirates (Scottsdale)
The numbers weren't particularly good, though Bell still showed a good approach at the plate and drew a ton of walks. Bell also was learning a new position, something that will take time, but he should succeed at first base with more reps.
17. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals (Peoria)
The AFL showcased the best and worst of Zimmer, who had the best outing of the fall with 11 strikeouts in five scoreless innings against Glendale on Oct. 13 but pitched just one more inning before leaving to have exploratory shoulder surgery.
18. Matt Olson, 1B, Athletics (Mesa)
Though he was shut down early in a precautionary move following an infield collision, Olson's pop that allowed him to hit 37 homers during the regular season was on full display. So was his plate discipline, and that, combined with his power, should help him fit the profile of a run-producing first baseman in the near future.
19. Greg Bird, 1B, Yankees (Scottsdale)
The league MVP provided the most memorable moment of the AFL season when he concluded a nine-pitch at-bat by launching a 450-foot homer off Reds first-rounder Nick Howard in the Fall Stars Game. Bird has impressive patience and power, and he led the league in homers (six) and runs (21) while ranking second in hits (31), RBIs (21) and total bases (55).
20. Justin O'Conner, C, Rays (Peoria)
O'Conner received universal praise for his absolute cannon of an arm from behind the plate, and he takes great pride in his defense. Perhaps more intriguing is how well he swung the bat, cutting down his strikeouts considerably and even hitting two homers in the championship game.
21. Miguel Almonte, RHP, Royals (Peoria)
Almonte made progress with his inconsistent curveball, throwing it with more power and getting more swings and misses than usual. Almonte maintained his 92-97 mph fastball and quality changeup, and he could move quickly if his curve is for real.
22. Trea Turner, SS, Padres (Surprise)
As a taxi squad player, Turner only played twice a week, but he still managed to show off his plus speed on the basepaths. Turner also showed he can hit more advanced pitching than he'd previously seen, and he has the tools to stick at shortstop.
23. Roman Quinn, OF, Phillies (Scottsdale)
The league's fastest player paced the AFL in steals (14) and finished second in runs (19) and fourth in walks (16). Quinn also looked good in center field in his first season playing the position after moving from shortstop.
24. Eddie Rosario, OF, Twins (Salt River)
Narrowly missing out on the batting title, Rosario helped put a suspension-shortened year behind him. Rosario can definitely hit for average and he used what speed he has well. The question still remains where he profiles best defensively, though scouts often say, "If you can hit, they'll find a place for you."
25. D.J. Peterson, 3B, Mariners (Surprise)
Despite Peterson's .190/.290/.288 performance, scouts aren't worried about his bat, and they expect him to produce for both power and average. Peterson doesn't have the defensive chops for third base, however, and Kyle Seager's presence in Seattle is another reason Peterson will wind up at first base.