5:18 PM UTC
It’s about to heat up in the desert.
The Arizona Fall League begins play on Oct. 3 with six weeks of prospect-filled action around the Valley of the Sun to follow. Rosters for all six teams were announced Friday and are loaded with some of the best talent the Minor Leagues has to offer.
Sixteen of MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects are included on those rosters, including four of the Top 20. Cardinals outfielder Jordan Walker (No. 6) and D-backs shortstop Jordan Lawlar (No. 13) will team up for Salt River, while Reds shortstop Noelvi Marte (No. 18) suits up for Glendale and Pirates catcher Henry Davis (No. 20) for Surprise.
Here are all 16 Top 100 representatives:6. Jordan Walker, OF, Cardinals (Salt River)13. Jordan Lawlar, SS, D-backs (Salt River)18. Noelvi Marte, SS, Reds (Glendale)20. Henry Davis, C, Pirates (Surprise)23. Robert Hassell III, OF, Nationals (Peoria)24. Zac Veen, OF, Rockies (Salt River)42. Jasson Dom?nguez, OF, Yankees (Mesa)47. Quinn Priester, RHP, Pirates (Surprise)51. Brennen Davis, OF, Cubs (Mesa)54. Masyn Winn, SS, Cardinals (Salt River)69. Andy Pages, OF, Dodgers (Glendale)76. Matt McLain, SS, Reds (Glendale)87. Jackson Merrill, SS, Padres (Peoria)95. Tink Hence, RHP, Cardinals (Salt River)97. Nick Gonzales, 2B, Pirates (Surprise)98. Zack Gelof, 3B, Athletics (Mesa)
The Fall League incorporates six teams every year with five Major League farm systems filling those rosters with talent. The AFL/MLB affiliates are as follows for the 2022 campaign:
Glendale: Brewers, Dodgers, Reds, Twins, White SoxMesa: Athletics, Cubs, Marlins, Rays, YankeesPeoria: Guardians, Mariners, Mets, Nationals, PadresSalt River: Blue Jays, Cardinals, D-backs, Rockies, TigersScottsdale: Angels, Braves, Giants, Orioles, Red SoxSurprise: Astros, Phillies, Pirates, Rangers, Royals
The annual Fall Stars Game will take place Nov. 6 at Sloan Park and will be aired live on MLB Network at 7 p.m. ET/5 p.m. MT. The inaugural AFL Home Run Derby will be held one day earlier. The AFL Championship Game will also be broadcast on MLB Network from Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. ET/5 p.m. MT. In another new event for 2022, the Fall League will hold a Chase Field Tripleheader featuring all six teams playing at the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Oct. 15.
The pitch timer coming to the Major Leagues in 2023 (15 seconds with bases empty, 20 seconds with runners on) will be implemented during this year’s Fall League campaign, as will the larger bases and restrictions on defensive positioning (minimum four infielders on the dirt, two on each side of second base).
The AFL will also use the Automatic Ball-Strike System (ABS) Challenge at Salt River and Chase Field games. Batters, pitchers and catchers can challenge a ball or strike call immediately, and the call will be determined by the ABS system. Each side has three challenges per game, and a successful challenge is returned to the club. These challenges were used in the Florida State League during the 2022 regular season.
The initial Fall League rosters are below, broken down by each of the 30 farm systems. Roster changes could still be made before Opening Day and throughout the AFL season.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
The Toronto contingent should give the Rafters some heft on the dirt this autumn. Barger, a sixth-round pick in 2018, has enjoyed a breakout season at High-A and Double-A where improved swing decisions have helped him tap into above-average power more regularly. Morris, who has been on the injured list since early August, got off to a rough start at Triple-A Buffalo but still showed a good enough approach to walk as much as he struck out at the Minors’ top level. Keep an eye on Danner. The catcher-turned-pitcher can touch the upper-90s and show off an above-average slider but was limited to four Double-A appearances with a lat injury.
It’s been one of the best feel-good stories of the 2022 season seeing Kjerstad, the O’s top pick in the 2020 Draft, in action for the first time after myocarditis kept him from playing at all in 2021. He hit his way from Single- to High-A this year and the AFL can hopefully help him get ready for the upper levels. A star in the Cuban National Series, Prieto defected in 2021 and signed for $650,000 in January of this year. The 23-year-old infielder raked in High-A (1.000 OPS in 25 games) and hasn’t hit as well in Double-A, while seeing time at three infield spots.
Tampa Bay has a knack for getting the most out of a player’s tools, and Auer is certainly loaded up in that regard. The 2021 fifth-rounder is a plus runner with a cannon of an arm from the outfield, and he showed enough bat to hit .290/.372/.487 over 115 games at two A-ball levels in his first full season. Gaston has thrown hard — he’ll tickle triple-digits on occasion — since signing for $2.61 million in November 2018. He transitioned to a full-time relief role at Single-A Charleston and matched strikeouts (77) with a heavy dose of walks (56) in 54 2/3 innings.
After a spectacular .325/.412/.516 pro debut between two Class A stops in 2021, Yorke slumped to .231/.303/.365 in High-A this year while dealing with toe and wrist injuries. Ward regained his plus slider and reached Double-A this summer while coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2021 and could factor into Boston’s pitching plans next season. Kavadas is a slugger who ranks fifth in the Minors with 101 walks and has hit .286/.450/.562 with 26 homers while advancing to Double-A in his first full year as a pro.
One of the most hyped international prospects ever, Dom?nguez already has played in two SiriusXM All-Star Futures Games as a teenager and has the upside of solid or better tools across the board. Mendez is the most intriguing of these Yankees pitching prospects, missing bats with a 92-95 mph fastball with riding action and flashing a promising mid-80s splitter.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Guardians (Peoria): Angel Martinez, SS/2B (No. 12); David Fry, 3B/1B/C; Mason Hickman, RHP; Connor Kokx, OF; Cade Smith, RHP; Lenny Torres, RHP
The son of former big league catcher Sandy Martinez, Angel is a precocious 20-year-old switch-hitter who has batted .282/.381/.480 with 40 extra-base hits and 12 steals in 98 games between High-A and Double-A. Once ranked as one of the Guardians’ top pitching prospects, Torres is trying to recapture a fastball that touched 98 mph and a slider that showed flashes of becoming a plus pitch before he had Tommy John surgery in May 2019.
Gentry missed much of last season with knee issues but has been a breakout star in the KC system this time around with a slash line above the golden .300/.400/.500 standard at High-A and Double-A. A productive AFL could be a massive cherry on his 2022 sundae. Sikkema and Taylor were Trade Deadline acquisitions in deals involving Andrew Benintendi and Whit Merrifield, respectively, so a few extra weeks in Arizona will give the Royals lengthier looks at their newest prospects.
It’s a Top-30-heavy group with five different representatives heading to Talking Stick for Detroit. Tigers fans will already know Wentz from his recent Major League experience, though he will be making up for time lost to shoulder issues with additional innings in Arizona. Keith was hitting .301/.370/.544 in 48 games at High-A West Michigan before suffering a shoulder injury in early June. He may have some rust to knock off in Arizona, but his above-average hit tool could ease the transition. Meadows will carry some momentum with him, having hit .305/.381/.524 in 82 Double-A games since June 1.
The one-time No. 5 overall pick of the Blue Jays who was sent to the Twins as part of the 2021 Trade Deadline deal for Jos? Berr?os, Martin has struggled to gain traction as a prospect offensively, making tons of contact, but without much impact. He also missed a chunk of this season with a wrist injury, so he’s both making up for lost time and trying to get on track. Julien is finishing up an outstanding season with Double-A Wichita, with an OPS over .900, a ton of walks, decent power and even some stolen bases.
White Sox (Glendale): Adam Hackenberg, C (No. 30); Moises Castillo, SS/2B; Declan Cronin, RHP; Sammy Peralta, LHP; Lane Ramsey, RHP; Chase Solesky, RHP; Terrell Tatum, OF
One of the better defensive catchers in the White Sox system, Hackenberg also owns solid raw power but needs more consistency a the plate after batting .221/.316/.324 between High-A and Double-A in his first full pro season. Armed with a low-90s fastball and a low-80s breaking ball, Peralta logged a 3.70 ERA with 68 strikeouts in 56 Double-A innings.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
The Angels took Blakely from the Detroit high school area ranks in the fourth round of the 2020 Draft and went over-slot to sign him. He’s made a very nice step forward with a move to full-season ball, though he’s missed a lot of the season due to injury. While Paris, the club’s 2019 second-round pick, didn’t put up great numbers in High-A this year (.229/.345/.387), he has finished the season swinging the bat well up in Double-A before heading to the AFL. He needs to continue working on his approach, but does have an intriguing power-speed combination.
Astros (Surprise): J.C. Correa, C/2B/3B; Colton Gordon, LHP; Rhett Kouba, RHP; Matt Ruppenthal, RHP; Scott Schreiber, 1B/OF; Jonathan Sprinkle, RHP; Will Wagner, INF
Schreiber has some of the best raw power in the Astros system, though he has played just 20 games this season following back surgery in the spring. The son of former Houston closer Billy Wagner, Will stands out more for his feel for the game than his tools and has hit .259/.375/.392 between High-A and Double-A.
The A’s are sending seven Top 30 players to Arizona (and Guldberg has been on the list in the past), led by Gelof, their second-round pick in 2021, who made a very strong jump up to Double-A for his first full year while showing an ability to play both third and second base. Both Ginn and Cusick are trade acquisitions worth watching. The A’s got Ginn from the Mets in the Chris Bassitt trade this past March. He had Tommy John surgery in his Draft year in 2020 and has missed a large amount of this season with forearm issues. Cusick came from the Braves in the Matt Olson trade and is making up for lost innings because of an oblique strain.
Macko’s passport is almost as interesting as his stuff. The lefty was born in Slovakia (he’d be the first Major Leaguer from the country if he makes it), grew up in Ireland and graduated high school in Alberta, Canada. He’s also a lefty who can touch the upper 90s with his fastball, but has missed a lot of development time with shoulder tenderness in 2021 and a torn meniscus this year. The Mariners are excited about Woo’s potential. A sixth-rounder in 2021 who had Tommy John surgery that spring, he’s come back and already pitched his way to High-A with an interesting three-pitch mix.
The No. 3 overall pick and one of the highest draft choices ever to make his pro debut in the AFL, Rocker can push his fastball to 99 mph and destroy hitters with a wipeout slider in the mid-80s. Acu?a isn’t as explosive as his older brother Ronald but exhibits solid raw power and speed while playing a quality shortstop. Zavala has advanced bat-to-ball skills and hit .283/.428/.462 with 16 homers and 14 steals between High-A and Double-A.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Malloy, the Braves’ sixth-round pick in 2021, has made a huge jump up the Braves’ Top 30 with a very strong first full season of pro ball. He hit his way from High-A to Double-A, showing incredible patience (a walk rate well over 15 percent) and some extra-base thump. Conley was taken two rounds earlier in the 2021 Draft and has played mostly shortstop for Single-A Augusta and High-A Rome. The switch-hitter has grown into some pop, but his speed is his best tool, one that has him with more than 35 steals this year.
The second-youngest player on an AFL roster, Salas is advanced for a 19-year-old and has five-tool upside. A supplemental first-round pick out of a New York high school in 2021, Mack has the chance to hit for average and power and also displays athleticism and a strong arm behind the plate. Mesa Jr. stands out with his bat-to-ball skills and overall baseball savvy.
Vasil was our highest climber on the Mets’ midseason Top 30 after showing improved velocity from his University of Virginia days. The 2021 eighth-rounder missed some time with forearm tightness but finished with 85 strikeouts in 71 1/3 innings, mostly at Single-A and High-A. Hartwig’s climb from an undrafted right-hander in 2021 to the Fall League is a fun one; his plus slider could be an impressive weapon in Arizona. Consuegra has plus raw power and an even better outfield arm, but strikeout concerns blunt his offensive potential.
Hassell extends his Nationals introduction after the 21-year-old outfielder was the headlining prospect included in the Juan Soto/Josh Bell Trade Deadline blockbuster. Despite having just reached Double-A, the left-handed slugger brings one of the most advanced hit tools of this year’s AFL crop. Antuna just reached Double-A himself at the tail end of his second 40-man season and will look to prove he still belongs on that roster. The 22-year-old switch-hitter shows promising bat speed from both sides but has hit just .154 in 22 games with Harrisburg. Baker was a SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game participant and is the son of Astros manager Dusty Baker.
A truly dynamic center fielder whose speed has allowed him to top 60 steals in 2022, Rojas makes a ton of contact, but has a tendency to be too over-aggressive at the plate as a result. He’ll keep working on his approach and trying to drive the ball more this fall. A move to the bullpen has allowed Morales to touch the big leagues, but he’s struggled there and in Triple-A. He does have swing-and-miss stuff with a fastball that touches the upper 90s and a plus upper-80s slider.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Black entered pro ball with a reputation as a plus hitter and was meeting expectations with a .406 OBP and 44/45 K/BB ratio in 64 games at High-A Wisconsin before suffering a left scapula fracture in July. If he’s healthy, his combination of approach and versatility could be very useful to the Desert Dogs. Quero missed some time with his own right shoulder injury but enjoyed a .286/.342/.439 line in 95 games during his first jump to full-season ball at Single-A Carolina. Though he’s a solid hitter, the 19-year-old might be even better defensively behind the plate and will get a big assignment working with an AFL staff.
St. Louis is one of only two organizations sending three Top 100 prospects to this year’s Fall League. Walker solidified his place in the Top 10 with another strong offensive season, hitting for both average and power, and he’ll continue his move from third base to the outfield to get out of Nolan Arenado’s shadow at the hot corner. Winn’s 80-grade arm at short is already the stuff of legend, while his offensive improvements at High-A and Double-A pushed him into the Top 100 for the first time. Hence boasts three above-average pitches in his fastball, curve and change. He just needs more opportunities to show them off after topping out at four innings per start at Single-A. An aggressive assignment to Arizona will be a big test.
The MVP of the 2021 Futures Game, Davis missed much of this season following back surgery June 2 to correct a nest of blood vessels that was pushing against a nerve in his back and causing discomfort. He has some of the best all-around tools in the system, highlighted by well above-average raw power. Mervis should compete for Chicago’s first-base job next year after contending for the Minor League home run title (he currently ranks second with 33 and leads with 73 extra-base hits).
The Pirates are one of two teams sending three Top 100 players, with their last three first-round picks all going. Davis was the No. 1 pick in last year’s Draft and while he’s reached Double-A, he’s also missed a lot of time with wrist issues, so he’ll get more ABs as well as the chance to keep working on his receiving. Priester, their 2019 first-round pick, has pitched well, mostly in Double-A, but an oblique injury kept him off the mound until June. Gonzales (2020 first-rounder) was one of the best hitters in the AFL last year, but had a hard time getting going then missed a large chunk of the season with a heel injury.
The Reds have some depth up the middle in their organization and they’re sending two very talented middle infielders to Glendale. They got Marte from the Mariners in the Luis Castillo deal and after an uneven first half of the season, the 20-year old put up solid numbers, finishing a home run shy of joining the 20-20 club. McLain has had a bit of an up-and-down first full season after the Reds took him in the first round of the 2021 Draft. He made the jump all the way up to Double-A and even though he struggled with the aggressive assignment at times, he still has topped 15 homers and 25 steals with Chattanooga even while missing a month with a wrist injury.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
The Fall League will represent Lawlar’s fourth level of 2022. The 2021 sixth overall pick has already climbed from Single-A to Double-A in his first full season, showing off a well-rounded skillset at every stop, and he’ll get to continue to do so in his future home state. De Los Santos is actually the youngest player on an initial AFL roster, having just turned 19 in June. His impressive raw power could be some of the best in Arizona this fall, and with Statcast data available at Salt River home games, keep a close eye on some of his exit velocities.
Pages and Ramos are similarly tooled outfielders, with well above-average arm strength from the right side of the plate — they combined for 51 homers this season — and arm strength to match. Vivas is one of the better contact hitters in the Minors and batted .269/.3745/.401 in High-A. Sheehan can touch 99 mph with his fastball and has an advanced changeup, two weapons that allowed him to post a 2.83 ERA, .180 opponent average and 101 strikeouts in 63 2/3 innings in High-A.
Former Top 100 Prospect Matos is known for his bat-to-ball skills, solid speed and high baseball IQ, but he’s trying to get back on track after batting .211/.275/.344 in High-A. A second-round pick in July out of East Carolina, Whisenhunt had one of the best changeups in the 2022 Draft and sets it up with a 91-95 mph fastball. The Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series and the 13th overall pick in 2021, Bednar battled back issues and saw his stuff back up during his first full pro season. Sugastey is a contact hitter with well above-average arm strength behind the plate.
Merrill might have ranked higher in our midseason Top 100 update if not for wrist and hamstring injuries that limited him to 45 games at Single-A Lake Elsinore. He hit .325/.387/.487 in that span, and his AFL assignment is a sign of just how aggressive the Padres believe they can get with him. After a busy Trade Deadline season, the 2021 first-rounder has become the face of the San Diego farm. Mears is tooled-up with incredible power and surprising speed for his size at 6-foot-3, but a strikeout rate north of 40 percent will be more untenable the higher he climbs. He still might have some of the loudest contact in the Valley when he does put the bat on the ball this fall.
The No. 9 overall pick in the 2020 Draft, Veen hit well with High-A Spokane and went to the Futures Game. While the jump to Double-A in August has been tougher, Veen has stolen more than 50 bases and has double-digit home runs overall. Bernabel has hit all year, earning a bump up from Single-A Fresno (.317/.390/.504) to hit over .300 with High-A Spokane. There’s more power to come as he continues to learn to be more selective.