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Top prospects face off in Arizona Fall League title game

MLB.com

PHOENIX -- You'll always remember where you first saw them. The Arizona Fall League has served as an incubation field for some of the best young players in the Major Leagues, and the next generation of prospects will have a chance to introduce themselves to a national audience in today's title game.

The Peoria Javelinas face the Salt River Rafters at Scottsdale Stadium live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 3 p.m. ET.

PHOENIX -- You'll always remember where you first saw them. The Arizona Fall League has served as an incubation field for some of the best young players in the Major Leagues, and the next generation of prospects will have a chance to introduce themselves to a national audience in today's title game.

The Peoria Javelinas face the Salt River Rafters at Scottsdale Stadium live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 3 p.m. ET.

Peoria shortstop Raul Adalberto Mondesi, son and namesake of former big league All-Star Raul Mondesi, will headline the players on the field today. Mondesi is ranked as the Royals' top prospect and as the No. 38 prospect in baseball according to MLBPipeline.com. And he'll hardly be alone. Mondesi is one of five Top 100 Prospects on the two teams and one of 25 players who are ranked among their teams' Top 20 prospects.

The pitching matchup is an interesting one, as the Royals' No. 5 prospect Miguel Almonte is slated to start for Peoria, while New Jersey native Anthony DeSclafani, the Marlins' No. 3 prospect, gets the ball for Salt River.

Almonte is ranked No. 87 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list.

Both pitchers have staked their claim as ones to watch in the next few years. Almonte, 21, was nearly two years younger than the average arm in the Class A Carolina League this season, where he pitched to a 6-8 record and a 4.49 ERA. DeSclafani, meanwhile, was acquired by the Marlins prior to the 2013 campaign in the monster trade that sent Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and company to Toronto.

The right-hander made it to the Majors this season, and he went 2-2 with a 6.27 ERA for Miami. DeSclafani, 24 years old, also pitched in Double-A and in Triple-A this season.

Playing behind Almonte for Peoria today will be Mondesi and two other well-regarded Royals prospects -- center fielder Bubba Starling and third baseman Hunter Dozier, the club's first-round picks in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Dozier is the Royals' No. 4 prospect and No. 86 overall, while Starling is ranked No. 13 for K.C.

Catcher Peter O'Brien, the D-backs' No. 7 prospect, will catch DeSclafani in the championship game. O'Brien was drafted by the Yankees and reached Double-A before being traded to Arizona for utilityman Martin Prado. He finished third in the Fall League in homers (five) and fourth in OPS (.904).

Salt River also boasts the runner-up for the league's batting title. Outfielder Eddie Rosario, the Twins' No. 10 prospect and former fourth-round draftee, finished the AFL season hitting .330/.345/.410 in 24 games. He trailed only Jesse Winker, the Reds' top hitting prospect, who won the title with a .338 average.

Salt River and Peoria both have star-studded rosters and finished first and second in the Fall League in both ERA and WHIP, neutralizing a hitter-friendly league that averaged 9.65 runs per game.

Two of baseball's top-ranked pitching prospects will watch from the Salt River dugout today. Arizona's Archie Bradley (No. 9 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 list) and Houston's Mark Appel (No. 41) pitched for the Rafters on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

The Javelinas have prospects from the Braves, Indians, Royals, Cardinals and Rays this year, and they've won the Arizona Fall League championship on five previous occasions.

Salt River, meanwhile, has only won once and lost to Peoria in the 2012 title game. This year, the Rafters consist of prospects from the D-backs, Rockies, Astros, Marlins and Twins.

The two highest-ranked prospects in the Fall League this year -- Minnesota's Byron Buxton and Cleveland's Francisco Lindor -- would also be facing off in the title game, but Buxton was sidelined by a finger injury, and Lindor recently left to play for Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Games.

And that's only the tip of the Arizona Fall League's depth of talent. The league's midseason Fall Stars Game contained an impressive 14 members of the MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 prospects.

Several of these players have already earned headlines as top draftees and as potential standouts for their respective organizations, and today's game gives them a stage to state their cases.

Peoria's top prospects
Right-hander Miguel Almonte (Royals' No. 5)
Right-hander Dylan Baker (Indians' No. 15)
Third baseman Hunter Dozier (Royals' No. 4)
Right-hander Tyrell Jenkins (Cardinals' No. 14)
Shortstop Raul Mondesi (Royals' No. 1)
Right-hander Aaron Northcraft (Braves' No. 14)
Catcher Justin O'Conner (Rays' No. 14)
Left-hander Sam Selman (Royals' No. 14)
Outfielder Bubba Starling (Royals' No. 13)
Right-hander Sam Tuivailala (Cardinals' No. 13)
Second baseman Breyvic Valera (Cardinals' No. 20)
First baseman Jacob Wilson (Cardinals' No. 19)
Catcher Tony Wolters (Indians' No. 18)
Outfielder Kyle Wren (Brewers' No. 12)

Salt River's top prospects
Right-hander Mark Appel (Astros' No. 2)
Right-hander Archie Bradley (D-backs' No. 1)
Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (Marlins' No. 3)
Third baseman Brandon Drury (D-backs' No. 6)
Outfielder Max Kepler (Twins' No. 19)
Catcher Peter O'Brien (D-backs' No. 7)
Outfielder Eddie Rosario (Twins' No. 10)
Third baseman Rio Ruiz (Astros' No. 9)
Right-hander Jimmie Sherfy (D-backs' No. 17)
Shortstop Trevor Story (Rockies' No. 11)
Right-hander Vincent Velasquez (Astros' No. 8)

Teddy Cahill and Spencer Fordin are reporters for MLB.com. Follow Teddy on Twitter at @tedcahill.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.