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The Next Big Leaguers: From AFL to MLB

A team-by-team look at future key contributors who starred in the 2016 Arizona Fall League
November 28, 2016

The Arizona Fall League always is loaded with talent, and it was stronger than usual in 2016. In the initial installment of's "The Next Big Leaguers," which premieres Tuesday, we focused on five prospects: Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger, Twins shortstop Nick Gordon, Cubs outfielder Eloy Jimenez, Red Sox

The Arizona Fall League always is loaded with talent, and it was stronger than usual in 2016. In the initial installment of's "The Next Big Leaguers," which premieres Tuesday, we focused on five prospects: Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger, Twins shortstop Nick Gordon, Cubs outfielder Eloy Jimenez, Red Sox infielder Yoán Moncada and Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres.
We could have spotlighted many more promising prospects if not limited by time constraints, and below we'll do exactly that.
The Next Big Leaguers: Bellinger, Gordon, Jimenez, Moncada and Torres
Here are "The Next Big Leaguers" for all 30 organizations, selected from their AFL contingents:
Arizona: Jared Miller, LHP: Part of Vanderbilt's 2014 College World Series team, Miller was the most untouchable pitcher in the Fall League. Working with a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider, both of which feature high spin rates, he gave up no runs, six hits and four walks while striking out 30 in 18 1/3 innings.
Atlanta: Travis Demeritte, 2B/3B: His power made him a Rangers first-round pick in 2013, and Demeritte did lead the AFL in total bases (48) and triples (four). He also displayed more athleticism and defensive ability than expected.
Baltimore: Tanner Scott, LHP: Few left-handers can match the velocity Scott gets on his fastball (upper 90s to 102 mph) and slider (upper 80s to 92). If he can learn to harness his stuff, he can be a late-inning bullpen weapon.
Boston: Yoan Moncada, 2B/3B: He may have struggled in his first brief taste of the big leagues and gotten hurt after a week in the Fall League, but he's living up to all those "Robinson Canó with more speed" comparisons.

Chicago (AL): Zack Collins, C: If he can develop into an acceptable catcher, the 10th overall pick in the 2016 Draft could be an All-Star. If not, Collins still has the power and on-base skills to get the job done at first base.
Chicago (NL): Eloy Jimenez, OF: As if the Cubs needed another gifted young hitter, here comes a guy with classic right-field tools who starred at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and won the low Class A Midwest League MVP award -- at age 19.
Cincinnati: Zach Vincej, SS: Fairly anonymous outside of winning a Rawlings Minor League Gold Glove, Vincej made a name for himself with his all-around play in Arizona. He chased the AFL triple crown and topped the league in extra-base hits (13), total bases (48) and slugging percentage (.676).
Cleveland: Bradley Zimmer, OF: Few Fall Leaguers could match the all-around tools of Zimmer, who has 20-20 potential, center-field range and a right-field arm. He still needs to make more consistent contact to reach his ceiling, but he led the league in runs (25) and walks (19), while ranking among the leaders in most offensive categories.

Colorado: Ryan McMahon, 3B/1B: He's blocked by Nolan Arenado at the hot corner, so McMahon is trying to find a second home at first base. After succeeding in the lower levels of the Minors, he struggled in Double-A in 2016, but he has a feel for hitting and power to put up nice numbers at Coors Field.
Detroit: JaCoby Jones, OF: The Cameron Maybin trade opens up the Tigers' center-field job. While Jones still has to win it in Spring Training and demonstrate the consistency to hold onto it, his pure tools may be the best among Detroit farmhands.
Houston: Francis Martes, RHP: The Astros have been looking for power-arm starters and they have one in Martes, who was an unknown when they stole him from the Marlins as the third prospect in the Jarred Cosart trade. With a mid-90s fastball and low-80s slider, he'll be ready as soon as he refines his changeup and command.
Kansas City: Josh Staumont, RHP: After leading the Minors in strikeout rate (12.2 per nine innings), Staumont topped AFL starters in that category (11.3) and opponent average (.179). He has reached 102 mph with his fastball and can back it up with a hard curveball, though he'll probably wind up in the bullpen if he can't learn to throw more strikes.
Los Angeles (AL): Taylor Ward, C: Though Ward was a surprise first-round pick in 2015, he could be the Angels' catcher of the future. He has one of the stronger arms in the Minors, as well as some raw power that began to translate into production in the second half of 2016.
Los Angeles (NL): Cody Bellinger, 1B/OF: Baseball's best first-base prospect offers impressive power and glovework, not to mention the ability to make adjustments and the athleticism to play all over the outfield -- which will come in handy with Adrián González signed for two more years.

Miami: Brian Anderson, 3B: After hitting just 11 homers during the regular season, Anderson led the AFL with five and added another in the championship game. His power wasn't a fluke either, as he generated some of the best backspin in the league.
Milwaukee: Isan Diaz, 2B/SS: Diaz has uncommon power for a middle infielder, which he showcased by pacing the Midwest League with 20 homers as a 20-year-old. His average arm and quickness fit better on the right side of the infield, and his bat will profile just fine there.
Minnesota: Nick Gordon, SS: Though he might not have a plus tool, Gordon contributes in all phases of the game and has developed keen baseball instincts from growing up around the game.

New York (AL): Gleyber Torres, SS/2B: The key to the Aroldis Chapman trade for the Yankees, the 19-year-old Torres became the youngest MVP and batting champion (.403) in Fall League history. He's also a better defender than previously recognized and can stay at shortstop.

New York (NL): Gavin Cecchini, SS: Cecchini's scouting report is similar to Gordon's, albeit with a little less pop and defensive consistency. With Asdrúbal Cabrera in New York and stud prospect Amed Rosario on the way, Cecchini might be more utilityman than starter if he sticks with the Mets.
Oakland: Frankie Montas, RHP: Scouts are still split on whether he should be developed as a starter or expedited as a reliever, but no one disputed how good his stuff was in Arizona. After missing much of the regular season with rib issues, he worked with a high-90s fastball and a high-80s slider throughout the fall, while also displaying better command and conditioning than ever.
Philadelphia: Scott Kingery, 2B: While Kingery seemed to press at the plate at times in the AFL, he also showed some of the best speed in the league as well as some gap power and leadoff potential. He's a steady if unspectacular defender.
Pittsburgh: Edgar Santana, RHP: With the help of a mid-90s fastball and hard slider, Santana didn't allow a run while posting an 18/2 K/BB ratio in 13 2/3 innings. After jumping from high Class A to Triple-A in 2016, he should make his big league debut next year.
St. Louis: Carson Kelly, C: Kelly can make a case for being the best catching prospect in baseball. A quality defender, despite moving behind the plate just three years ago, he also has the gap power and patience to help offensively.
San Diego: Michael Gettys, OF: After making offensive strides in high Class A this year, Gettys regressed in the Fall League, where he had the lowest batting average (.157) and most strikeouts (30). His tools remain enthralling, however, as his raw power, speed, center-field defense and arm strength all grade as well above average.

San Francisco: Chris Stratton, RHP: Stratton's stuff has slipped since the Giants made him a first-round choice in 2012, but he has learned to survive with a four-pitch mix, highlighted by a low-90s fastball and low-80s slider. He could sneak into the Giants' rotation or help in middle relief next year.
Seattle: Tyler O'Neill, OF: The Double-A Southern League's regular-season and playoff MVP this year at age 21, O'Neill is best known for his power after slamming 56 homers in the last two seasons. He's becoming a more well-rounded player, with his plate discipline and right-field defense improving significantly in the last 12 months.
Tampa Bay: Brent Honeywell, RHP: Honeywell currently is the foremost practitioner of the screwball, which overshadows the fact that he also possesses a fastball that parked at 95 mph in the AFL and a nifty changeup. He's polished too and is on the verge of helping the Rays.

Texas: Andy Ibanez, 2B: The youngest player (age 19) on Cuba's 2013 World Baseball Classic squad, Ibanez reached Double-A in his first year as a pro. He makes consistent hard contact, hitting for average with gap power, and has drawn parallels to Howie Kendrick.
Toronto: Anthony Alford, OF: Alford took most of three years off from baseball to play quarterback at Southern Mississippi and defensive back at Mississippi, but he shook off the rust almost instantly after coming back to the diamond in 2015. He has bat-to-ball skills, some raw power, well above-average speed and the range and arm strength to play anywhere in the outfield.
Washington: Andrew Stevenson, OF: Stevenson's reputation as an outstanding center fielder preceded him to Arizona, where he opened eyes with his bat. He topped the AFL in hits (30), finished second in batting (.353), was one of the faster runners and flashed more gap power than he had in the past.

Jim Callis is a reporter for Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter.