Top 10 performers of 2021 Fall Stars Game

November 14th, 2021

The Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game is meant to be a prospect showcase, and the 2021 edition did not disappoint.

The East defeated the West, 6-5, Saturday night at Salt River Fields in a matchup that featured 33 position players and 20 pitchers (including a pair that appeared in a traditionally unnecessary bottom of the ninth inning). Here are 10 of the biggest standouts from this year’s Fall Stars Game:

1. JJ Bleday, OF, Marlins (No. 5, MLB No. 71): The 2019 first-rounder has enjoyed a much-improved Fall League and carried that to Saturday's showcase. The left-handed slugger crushed the first homer of the night at 102.7 mph exit velocity and 417 feet (the game's longest batted ball) in the first inning to get things going for the East. He added another hard-hit single in the fifth frame, making him one of only two players on the night with multiple hits. The 2021 Fall Stars Game MVP entered the night hitting .329/.447/.600 with five homers in 21 games with Mesa -- a huge boost from his .212/.323/.373 line during the regular season at Double-A Jacksonville.

2. Hunter Bishop, OF, Giants (No. 6): The 2019 first-rounder's right shoulder is doing just fine. Bishop was limited to only 16 games during the summer due to those injury concerns and was sent to the Fall League to make up for that lost time. He made the most of the opportunity Saturday on one of the biggest stages of the autumn. The left-handed slugger clocked a 93.8 mph fastball from Dodgers right-hander Landon Knack and struck it at 107.1 mph (the third-highest exit velocity of the night and highest on an actual hit). The result: a 412-foot homer. It was Bishop's only hit of the night, but it was certainly notable considering he had been homerless in 46 AFL plate appearances before the blast.

3. Juan Yepez, 1B/OF, Cardinals (No. 26): Yepez was the only other hitter besides Bleday to pick up multiple hits in a losing West effort. What's more, both of his knocks were doubles, making him the only Fall Star with more than one extra-base hit on the night. He also added a sacrifice fly in the first inning and came around to score in the sixth. Yepez is building on a breakout season at Double-A and Triple-A that helped vault him to the Cardinals' Wild Card Game roster before he officially made his Major League debut. He is hitting .306/.391/.681 with seven homers and six doubles through 19 games for Glendale.

4. Owen White, RHP, Rangers (No. 28): The bullpen was a revolving door Saturday night, limiting how many opportunities pitchers had to stand out at Salt River. White, who has been the Fall League's most effective pitcher this fall, was the Fall Stars Game's most efficient hurler here. The Texas right-hander needed only nine pitches to work a perfect second inning for the West. He threw eight of those nine pitches for strikes and got three swings-and-misses, including two on a strikeout of Andy Weber. White averaged 94.1 mph on his heater and mixed in three curveballs and two sliders. Not a completely unexpected performance for a pitcher who entered the day with a 1.16 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 23 strikeouts through five starts (23 1/3 innings) in the AFL.

5. Brett Baty, 3B, Mets (No. 2, MLB No. 45): Like hard-hit balls? Baty was your hitter Saturday night. The left-handed slugger put three balls in play. All three registered exit velocities of 100 mph or more. No one else had more than one such batted ball. Of course, exit velo isn't everything; only one of those screamers fell in for a hit (a 386-foot double the other way to left-center in the fifth). But the Statcast data spoke well to Baty's capabilities to marry quality contact with plenty of power that plays all over the park.

6. Nathan Eaton, OF, Royals (not ranked among Top 30): Eaton was already a hot bat with good speed coming into Saturday, and he married both concepts well in one at-bat in the sixth inning. Batting from the right side, the Kansas City outfielder shot a ball at 99.1 mph and 379 feet into the gap in right-center for a two-run triple. He almost picked up another extra-base hit in the eighth when a 98 mph batted ball died right at the warning track in left, 382 feet away from home. Eaton is hitting .333/.380/.485 with seven extra-base hits and four steals over 16 games for Surprise this fall.

7. Ji-hwan Bae, OF/2B, Pirates (No. 22): Those who love speed found a lot to like in Bae. The Pirates prospect didn't leave the infield with either batted ball Saturday, but he reached both times (once on an error, another on a single) thanks to his 70-grade wheels. He also added a stolen base for the West's only theft of the night. Bae registered Sprint Speeds of 30.4 ft/sec on the single, 28.8 ft/sec on the reach-on-error and 28.7 ft/sec on the steal -- three of the top four sprints measured Saturday. Average is 27, and elite is considered anything at 30 or above. That type of speed will be what makes Bae a piece of the Pirates' budding youth movement.

8. Bryson Stott, SS, Phillies (No. 2, MLB No. 97): The 2019 14th overall pick has been one of the most consistent performers this Fall League, and he set the bar for all hitters early on Saturday. His roped double in the game's third at-bat plated Lars Nootbaar for the evening's first run. The ball came off Stott's bat at 104.8 mph, making it the second-hardest-struck ball to fall in for a hit during the Fall Stars Game. That's nothing new for the UNLV product this fall. Stott is hitting .320/.450/.493 with eight extra-base hits and 20 walks in 21 games for Peoria.

9. Triston Casas, 1B, Red Sox (No. 2, MLB No. 18): Boston fans watched Saturday's exhibition closely to see their potential first baseman of the future. They did not come away disappointed. Casas roped a 97 mph ball down the right-field line in the first inning that ended up scurrying under the fence for a ground-rule double. The ball would have likely scored a hustling Gabriel Moreno had it stayed in the park. Casas grounded out in his other two at-bats, but the two-bagger -- one of the East's four extra-base hits on the night -- was illustrative of the left-handed slugger's ability to make hard contact.

10. Elijah Dunham, OF, Yankees (No. 24)/James Outman, OF, Dodgers (No. 27): Are we cheating here? OK, just a little. But it wouldn't be right to include a list of top Fall Stars performers and leave out the pair of West outfielders and their back-to-back defensive efforts. Dunham set the standard in the bottom of the third inning when he dove forward and went full extension to snag a potential single away from Bleday. One batter later, Outman lived up to his name and made a headfirst grab of his own in center. The Los Angeles prospect's glovework came at the end of a 107.9 mph shot from Gabriel Moreno -- the hardest-hit ball of the entire game. Dodgers right-hander Bobby Miller hopefully had a few nice words for both in their help in getting him a perfect inning.