Jim Callis
Since the Arizona Fall League created the Fall Stars Game in 2006, many of baseball's best prospects have used the showcase as a preview of coming attractions. In recent years, Pete Alonso homered off a 103-mph fastball, Ronald Acuña Jr. dazzled with his five-tool potential and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. smoked a double clocked at 117 mph.
This Saturday at 7 p.m. ET — the game will be broadcast live on MLB Network and simulcast on MLB.com and the MLB app — the Fall Stars Game once again will feature an array of dazzling tools. Here are the best of the best:
Best hitter: Nick Gonzales, 2B, Pirates
Gonzales led NCAA Division I in hitting in 2019 (.432) and homers in 2020 (12 in 16 games), sandwiched around a Cape Cod League MVP performance that almost included another batting title (at .351, he finished two points behind Peoria Javelinas teammate Zach DeLoach). His bat-to-ball skills, quick right-handed stroke and plate discipline translated into a .302/.385/.565 line with 18 homers in 80 High-A games during his pro debut. And he's continuing to rake in the Fall League, where his .381 batting average ranks third.
Others considered: Brett Baty, 3B, Mets; Triston Casas, 1B, Red Sox; Gabriel Moreno, C, Blue Jays; Richie Palacios, OF, Indians; Bryson Stott, SS, Phillies; Jose Tena, 2B, Indians; Austin Wells, C, Yankees.
Complete AFL coverage | Fall Stars Game rosters
Best power: Triston Casas, 1B, Red Sox
Casas spent part of his summer playing for Team USA at an Olympic qualifier and the Olympics, and head coach Mike Scioscia told Baseball America that the 21-year-old had the biggest bat and most upside on his veteran-laden roster. Not only is the 6-foot-4, 252-pounder loaded with bat speed, strength and leverage, but he also has the ability to make consistent contact and do damage. He has 34 homers in 208 pro games while consistently facing older competition, and hit .471 slugging percentage and one homer in 18 AFL games belie his future production.
Others considered: Brett Baty, 3B, Mets; Hunter Bishop, OF, Giants; Ezequiel Duran, 3B/SS, Rangers; Austin Wells, C, Yankees.
Fastest runner: Ji-Hwan Bae, OF, Pirates
Bae has used his plus-plus speed to steal 61 bases in 206 pro games and ranks second in the Fall League with seven swipes in 17 contests while batting .269/.370/.388. His quickness also enhances his on-base ability and his range in center field as well as the middle infield.
Others considered: Hunter Bishop, OF, Giants; Nathan Eaton, 3B, Royals; James Outman, OF, Dodgers; Richie Palacios, OF, Indians.
Best arm: Seuly Matias, OF, Royals
Both Matias' raw power and his arm earn 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale from some evaluators. He has recorded 33 assists in 281 Minor League games in the outfield and two in 18 games in right field in the AFL, where he's tied for third with six homers.
Others considered: J.J. Bleday, OF, Marlins; Nathan Eaton, 3B, Royals; Andy Weber, INF, Cubs.
Best defender: James Outman, OF, Dodgers
The Dodgers drafted Outman in the seventh round in 2018 more for his athleticism than his production at Sacramento State. His plus speed and arm strength combined with his instincts make him a quality center fielder, and he showed what he can do by homering and making three nifty plays in one Fall League game. He's batting .349/.444/.679 with three homers in 16 games with the Glendale Desert Dogs.
Others considered: Patrick Bailey, C, Giants; Triston Casas, 1B, Red Sox; Logan O'Hoppe, C, Phillies; Andy Weber, INF, Cubs.
Best fastball: Abner Uribe, RHP, Brewers
Uribe unquestionably has the hardest heater in the AFL, having reached 103 mph during the regular season and 101 mph with the Salt River Rafters, for whom he has sat at 98-99. He doesn't always know where his fastball is going, but he can make hitters look bad with it and a cutter/slider that climbs into the 90s. He has a 9.00 ERA with 16 strikeouts in eight innings in Arizona.
Others considered: Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers; Gregory Santos, RHP, Giants; Victor Vodnik, RHP, Braves.
Best curveball: Zack Thompson, LHP, Cardinals
Thompson got rocked for a 7.06 ERA in Triple-A this year, but in the Fall League, he has rediscovered the stuff that made him the 19th overall pick in the 2019 Draft. That includes a plus curveball in the mid-70s that he can land for strikes or get hitters to chase. His 1.76 ERA ranks third among AFL pitchers with a minimum of 15 innings and he has 18 whiffs in 15 1/3 frames.
Others considered: Damon Jones, LHP, Phillies; Owen White, RHP, Rangers.
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Best slider: Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers
Miller has one of the better all-around repertoires in the Fall League, including a mid-80s slider that qualifies as a wipeout pitch at its best. His fastball approaches 100 mph, his power curveball has its moments and his changeup shows flashes of becoming a plus pitch as well. Oddly enough, he sports a 9.90 ERA with 10 strikeouts in 10 innings with Glendale.
Others considered: Gregory Santos, RHP, Giants; Nick Vespi, LHP, Orioles.
Best changeup: Garrett Hill, RHP, Tigers
Hill is more about deception than power, an approach he has ridden to a 2.54 ERA in three pro seasons and a 1.98 mark with 21 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings in the AFL. He consistently fools hitters with his changeup, which sits in the low 80s and combines fade and depth.
Others considered: Coleman Crow, RHP, Angels, Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers.
Best control: Landon Knack, RHP, Dodgers
Knack topped NCAA Division I with a 51/1 K/BB ratio in 25 innings in 2020, capping a college career in which he averaged just 1.3 walks per nine innings. In his pro debut this year, he continued to repeat his mechanics with ease while fanning 82 and walking just eight in 62 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A. He hasn't been at his sharpest in the Fall League, but he still has posted a 3.68 ERA and 16/5 K/BB ratio in 15 1/3 frames.
Others considered: Cole Henry, RHP, Nationals; Caleb Kilian, RHP, Cubs; Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers.

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