“Fall Stars” Game Showcases Baseball’s Best Young Talent
After the World Series concludes and the offseason blues begin to set in for baseball fans, Astros fans excluded this year I would imagine, many of us turn our attention to the final weeks of the Arizona Fall League. For those of us that love watching baseball’s next generation develop, the Arizona Fall League is the highlight of the baseball offseason, with the annual “Fall Stars” game being the premiere event.
Last night 72 of baseball’s most promising up and comers, representing all 30 major league clubs, gathered in Salt Rivers Field at Talking Stick to take part in the 2017 edition of the Fall Stars game. Both rosters were loaded with notable names. Click here to the view the East roster and here to view the West roster.
The game itself was an exciting one with top young hitters squaring off with perhaps the best competition they have faced in their pro careers up until this point. We saw one of the most anticipated matchups of the evening to lead off the game when Atlanta Braves top prospect Ronald Acuna stepped into the box to face New York Yankees pitching prospect Justus Sheffield. Acuna won the battle with a single but was eventually caught trying to steal second base.
Sheffield would toss the second inning for the East team and he surrendered a lead off triple to San Diego Padres prospect, Josh Naylor, just one pitch after committing a pitch clock violation. Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Yusniel Diaz would drive in Naylor later in the inning with an RBI single for the West’s first run of the game. That was the only damage done on Sheffield’s watch as he left after the second inning. The most interesting note from Sheffield’s outing is that he was guilty of two pitch clock violations in the second frame.
Pittsburgh Pirates farm hand Mitch Keller got the start on the mound for the West and he too put together a solid two inning outing. He issued a walk to Nationals top prospect Victor Robles to lead off the first and Robles would eventually come around to score on a Ryan Mountcastle groundout, but outside of that, Keller impressed.
We stayed tied 1-1 through the third and fourth innings as the pitching was hard to handle. Every guy that trotted out to the mound was tossing heat and stifling the opposing lineups. One pitcher that stood out in particular was Baltimore Orioles prospect Tanner Scott. Scott threw two shutout innings while allowing just one hit and striking out four. He has a high 90’s fastball that can touch triple digits with a nice slider that is effective against both lefites and righties.
We saw the scoring return in the top of the fifth when another Padres prospect, Luis Urias, who also had a great night defensively, took Chicago Cubs pitcher Adbert Alzolay deep to left center for a solo homer. Alzolay would have some trouble with his control and issue two walks in the inning, but managed to escape without any more runs coming across.
The pitching continued to be the story of the night as we entered the bottom of the eighth with the score still at 2-1. Cleveland Indians pitcher Argenis Angulo came in to replace Braves pitcher Touki Toussaint in hopes of getting the save. Angulo would get one out before allowing a double, a single, and issuing a walk. With the score now tied at 2-2, Tyler Jay of the Minnesota Twins organization came into try and keep the score knotted. Oakland A’s prospect Sheldon Neuse was the first hitter he faced and Neuse would break the tie with a single to drive in Robles. One more run would score on a sac fly before the inning finally ended. Angulo was charged with all three runs.
The late inning comeback was all the East needed as San Francisco Giants pitcher, Tyler Cyr, came in for the top of the ninth and got the opposition to go three up and three down while earning the save.
Victor Robles was named the MVP of the 2017 Fall Stars game. Robles singled home the game tying run in the bottom of the eighth. He also walked in the first inning and had a stolen base. All six teams will take Sunday off before resuming play on Monday afternoon.