With the Arizona Fall League kicking off in just a couple of weeks, there’s no better time to get familiar with some of the up-and-coming stars headed for the desert. The AFL is typically a hitters’ league and the list of prospects that follows this reflects that. It’s quite the collection of bats, many of which will be on showcase at the Rising Stars Game, played across the freeway from the Talking Stick Resort Casino, which is considered to be one of the top land based casinos in US.
Without further delay, here's a quick look at some of the more interesting guys in this year's crop.
Billy Hamilton is the most exciting player in the league and if you’re in Arizona, you can’t miss this guy. He’s the fastest player in professional baseball and he should reach the bigs sometime next season. It’s going to be interesting to see how he performs in the outfield.
Mike Zunino has been spectacular this season after being drafted in the first round out of Florida. A strong showing here could lead him to the starting job for Seattle next season.
Mesa Solar Sox
The guy to see on this team is Dodgers' Cuban signee Yasiel Puig. Few scouts have had a chance to examine the 6-foot-3, 215 pounder. Puig has shown serious power in his limited action in the states and could start next season in Double-A. Cubs fans also have to be excited about Javier Baez, the first rounder whose bat has shown serious promise. Nick Castellanos wowed many in the Futures Game and he too should be pushing for an opening day roster spot.
Phoenix Desert Dogs
Johnny Hellweg is a monster at 6-foot-9 who joined Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke deal. He’s a high-upside guy who should be one of the more exciting pitchers in the AFL this season. Christian Yelich brings one of the prettier swings in the minor leagues to Arizona.
While this roster doesn’t boast the Mike Trout and Bryce Harper duo from 2011, Dellin Betances, Ronnie Rodriguez and Gary Brown are all interesting prospects. Betances’ stock has taken a major hit and he’ll look to salvage something positive from the 2012. Rodriguez has shown excellent power for a shortstop and will also be exciting to see. Brown, like Betances, had a rough 2012 and has work to do to reestablish himself as the center fielder of the future for the Giants.
Kolten Wong is the second baseman of the future for St. Louis and he’s one to watch. Bryce Brentz should be the next young outfielder in line for Boston and needs to cut down on his strikeouts.
Salt River Rafters
The AFL is great for making up for lost time and nobody needs to do that more than Nationals 3B prospect Anthony Rendon. Rendon, one of the top bats left in the minors, was terrible his brief time on the field this year, but his ultimate promise lies in his health. Jake Marisnick faltered at Double-A in 2012 but is still just 21 and is at a crossroads.
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