Top 10 standouts from the AFL's Fall Stars Game
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The best prospects in the Arizona Fall League's Fall Stars Game did exactly what they were supposed to do.
Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. gave a glimpse of why he's the best young hitter some scouts have ever seen. Astros right-hander Forrest Whitley demonstrated why he's the top pitching prospect in the game. Mets first baseman Peter Alonso, who led the Minors with 36 homers during the regular season, crushed a ball over the center-field fence to open the scoring.
:: 2018 Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game ::
Guerrero has generated as much attention as any player in the 27-season history of the Fall League, with the exception of novelty acts Michael Jordan and Tim Tebow. He didn't disappoint in his West Division's 7-6 win over the East on Saturday night.
In his first plate appearance, a highly anticipated showdown against Whitley, Guerrero showed off his uncanny plate discipline by refusing to chase a couple of borderline pitches and coaxing a full-count walk. But the consensus best prospect in baseball really excited the Surprise Stadium crowd of 6,883 with his third trip to the plate, when he smoked an 82-mph breaking ball from Astros right-hander Trent Thornton off the left-field fence for a double.
The exit velocity on Guerrero's double was recorded at 117 mph, according to Trackman. To put that in perspective, since Statcast™ began recording data in 2015, only 15 big leaguers have gotten hits with an exit velo of 117 mph or greater.
Besides Guerrero, here are 10 more Fall Stars who made a lasting impression.
Melvin Adon, RHP, Giants: Adon surrendered hits to the first two batters he faced before striking out Guerrero looking with an 89-mph slider to end the sixth inning. He needed just four pitches to record two more outs in the seventh, both on 102-mph fastballs.
Peter Alonso, 1B, Mets: Alonso took a 103-mph fastball from Blue Jays right-hander Nate Pearson and sent it back out at 110 mph, driving it just to the right of the 400-foot sign in right-center in the first inning. The hardest pitch ever hit for a home run and recorded by Statcast™ was 102.8 mph, with Rafael Devers victimizing Albertin Chapman in August 2017. Alonso later drew a pair of walks and made a diving play to rob Blue Jays outfielder Cavan Biggio of extra bases in the fifth, though Alonso's inability to scoop a low throw from Mets shortstop Andres Gimenez led to the West's winning two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth.
Yu Chang, 2B, Indians: Chang solved Adon for a two-run triple in the sixth, driving the ball over defensive stalwart Daz Cameron (Tigers) in right field. He squared up a 98-mph fastball and produced an exit velocity of 110 mph.
Brett Hanewich, RHP, Angels: The most obscure prospect on this list, Hanewich is a 2017 ninth-rounder out of Stanford who has a live arm but also a delivery that can get away from him at times. He struck out the side in the eight with 15 pitches, topping out at 100 mph and reaching 87 mph with his slider.
Darwinzon Hernandez, LHP, Red Sox: Hernandez replaced Adon in the seventh and abused eventual MVP Buddy Reed (Padres) with three pitches -- 98-mph fastball fouled off, 98-mph fastball fouled off, 82-mph back-foot slider for swinging strike three.
Austin Listi, OF, Phillies: Listi seemed to have locked up Fall Stars Game MVP honors with a three-run homer in the eighth off a hanging 87-mph breaking ball from Rangers right-hander DeMarcus Evans, who led Minor League relievers in strikeout rate (16.6 per nine innings) during the regular season. Listi's blast had a 101-mph exit velocity and gave him a game-high four RBIs after he previously grounded in a run in the sixth.
Nate Pearson, RHP, Blue Jays: Aside from Alonso's home run, Pearson was untouchable. He reached 104 mph with his fastball and didn't throw a heater under 101 mph in his one inning of work. He whiffed Diamondbacks catcher Daulton Varsho on a 103-mph fastball and Marlins center fielder Monte Harrison on a 93-mph cutter.
Buddy Reed, CF, Padres: While Reed didn't look good while striking out against Astros right-hander Trent Thornton and Hernandez in his first two at-bats, he came through when it counted. He battled nasty Rockies sidearmer Justin Lawrence to full count, then took a 98-mph sinker off the wall in left-center for the game-tying triple.
Meibrys Viloria, C, Royals: Viloria struck out on a bad swing in his first at-bat against Thornton, then recovered to single off a 98-mph fastball from Hernandez in the eighth and deliver the game-winning hit with a liner to the right-center gap off a 96-mph sinker from Lawrence. He also threw out Cameron and Cubs third baseman Nico Hoerner with strong accurate throws, and he punctuated his walkoff single with an 80-grade bat flip.
Forrest Whitley, RHP, Astros: Whitley walked two batters but didn't give up a hit in two scoreless innings. He started the bottom of the first by shattering Rays shortstop Lucius Fox's bat on a 98-mph fastball for a groundout and ended the inning by fanning Biggio on a similarly 97-mph heater. In the second, he threw the game's best changeup during an at-bat by Braves center fielder Cristian Pache before getting him to ground out on a 97-mph fastball.