Arizona Fall League 2017: Top 25 prospects

November 22nd, 2017

For the second straight year, the Arizona Fall League's most talented team won the championship. After posting a league-best 18-12 record during the regular season, the Peoria Javelinas started the developmental circuit's -- and maybe baseball's -- top prospect, as well as four first-round picks and one supplemental first-rounder in their title-game win over the Mesa Solar Sox.

Seven Javelinas made's Fall League Top 25 prospects list below, and several more came up during discussions with evaluators who scouted the league. Righty relievers Art Warren (Mariners) and Touki Toussaint (Braves) received support, as did catcher Alex Jackson (Braves) and first baseman Josh Naylor (Padres) to a lesser extent. Outfielders Jonathan Davis (Blue Jays) and Eric Filia (Mariners) also boosted their stock with strong falls, with Filia leading the AFL in batting (.408), on-base percentage (.483), OPS (1.088), hits (31) and shimmies at the plate (at least 89).

1. Ronald Acuna, OF, Peoria (Braves): After rocketing from Class A Advanced to Triple-A at age 19, while becoming one of just two Minor Leaguers to total 20 homers and 40 steals this season, Acuna won Fall League MVP honors and topped the circuit in runs (22), home runs (seven), extra-base hits (12) and total bases (53). He could have at least plus tools across the board, and the only real quibble is that he could stand to tighten his strike zone a bit.

2. Victor Robles, OF, Mesa (Nationals): He didn't make the same AFL impact as Acuna, in part because he missed the first two weeks while participating in the National League Division Series. The quickest player in the league, Robles has more hitting and defensive ability than Acuna, but can't match his power.

3. Francisco Mejia, 3B, Glendale (Indians): His hitting ability (he finished fourth in the batting race at .365) and cannon arm were evident as always, though he didn't show much power. Mejia looked rough defensively while trying to play third base for the first time, so it's unclear where the Indians will squeeze him into their big league lineup if not at catcher.

4. Mitch Keller, RHP, Glendale (Pirates): Keller had the best fastball package in the league, working at 93-96 mph and topping out at 98 with life down in the zone, and command to both sides of the plate. He also flashed a plus curveball and an effective changeup, and while both secondary pitches need more consistency, that didn't stop him from topping the Fall League in wins (four) and ERA among starters (1.52).

5. Luis Urias, 2B, Peoria (Padres): He lived up to his reputation, showing precocious feel for the barrel and the strike zone, while ranking first in strikeouts per plate appearance (14.0), second in walks (14) and third in on-base percentage (.443). He has enough arm and range to make most of the plays at shortstop, but probably fits best at second base in the long run.

6. Kyle Tucker, OF, Mesa (Astros): Some evaluators who hadn't seen Tucker previously were taken aback by his unconventional left-handed stroke, and he batted a soft .214 while also taking some circuitous routes in the outfield. But also remember that he's just 20 and has a track record of making much more contact than most players with his power potential.

7. Monte Harrison, OF, Salt River (Brewers): The best athlete in the 2014 Draft lost much of the next two years to injuries, then rebounded with a 20-20 season in 2017 and opened eyes in the AFL with five-tool potential that rivals that of Acuna and Robles. He tied for third with five homers, despite being a taxi squadder who played just twice a week. However, he still has to ease some swing-and-miss concerns.

8. Estevan Florial, OF, Scottsdale (Yankees): The second-youngest regular (age 19) in the Fall League behind Acuna, Florial similarly can impact the game in a multitude of ways. He's still raw and gets overly aggressive, but he has well above-average raw power and arm strength to go with plus speed.

9. Justus Sheffield, LHP, Scottsdale (Yankees): Some scouts preferred him to Keller among AFL pitchers. He's left-handed, owned the league's best slider and one of its best changeups, and his 92-96 mph fastball ain't bad either. He led Fall League starters with a 0.84 WHIP.

10. Albert Abreu, RHP, Scottsdale (Yankees): Then again, there are some evaluators who will argue that Sheffield wasn't even the best Yankees mound prospect in Arizona. At his best, Abreu can demonstrate command of three quality pitches in a 92-98 mph fastball, hard curveball and fading changeup.

11. Yusniel Diaz, OF, Glendale (Dodgers): He could have solid tools across the board with the exception of his power, which is merely decent.

12. Michael Chavis, 3B/1B, Peoria (Red Sox): He showcased some of the best power in the Fall League, along with an improved approach, and spent time learning first base because Rafael Devers has taken over third base in Boston.

13. Max Fried, LHP, Peoria (Braves): He controlled his impressive arsenal -- one of the AFL's best curveballs and a 92-96 mph fastball -- better than he did during a rough regular season, leading the league in strikeouts (32 in 26 innings) and opponent average among starters (.163).

14. Sean Murphy, C, Mesa (Athletics): His throwing, receiving and blocking are already Major League-caliber, and while he may not hit for a high average, he should have at least 15-homer power.

15. Thairo Estrada, SS, Scottsdale (Yankees): Though he gets overshadowed in a deep Yankees system, he has the range and arm to play anywhere in the infield and the bat and speed to be useful offensively.

16. Sheldon Neuse, 3B, Mesa (Athletics): He made consistent hard contact, translating his power into league-leading totals in doubles (seven) and RBIs (23), and also was the best defender among the five third basemen on this list.

17. Austin Riley, 3B, Peoria (Braves): Another power-hitting third baseman, Riley topped the Fall League in slugging (.657) and placed second in homers (six), though his plate discipline and defense need further refinement.

18. T.J. Zeuch, RHP, Peoria (Blue Jays): He looked like a future mid-rotation starter, repeating his delivery better than most 6-foot-7 pitchers and pounding the bottom of the strike zone with a 92-96 mph fastball with late run and sink.

19. Lucas Erceg, 3B, Salt River (Brewers): While his performance ran hot and cold both in Class A Advanced and in Arizona, Erceg has the pop, strong arm and defensive actions to profile well at the hot corner.

20. Will Smith, C, Glendale (Dodgers): Sure it's a small sample size, but Smith hit much better in the AFL (.371/.452/.565) than he has in the Minors (.238/.357/.393) and displayed athleticism and a strong arm behind the plate.

21. Bobby Bradley, 1B, Glendale (Indians): Despite hitting just .230 and finishing one shy of the strikeout lead with 32 in 77 plate appearances, Bradley still stood out to scouts with his left-handed power.

22. Andres Munoz, RHP, Peoria (Padres): The Fall League's youngest player (age 18) also had some of its nastiest stuff with a fastball that hit 102 mph and an mid- to upper-80s slider that took a sharp left turn at the plate.

23. Cody Carroll, RHP, Scottsdale (Yankees): Like Munoz a potential closer, Carroll topped the Fall League with four saves while working with a 96-98 mph fastball and often-plus slider. Righties went 0-for-19 and the league as a whole batted .056/.122/.083 against him.

24. Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Surprise (Cardinals): He catches more barrels than a guy with an upper-90s fastball, mid-80s slider and tumbling changeup should, which may be a sign that he should move from starter to late-inning reliever.

25. Nicky Lopez, SS, Surprise (Royals): His defensive prowess and plus arm at shortstop were no surprise and he boosted his stock with his ability to handle the bat, ranking first in hits (31) and second in hitting (.383).