Team-by-team guide to Fall Stars Game

Detroit Tigers

Think of it as the Futures Game meets the All-Star Game.

The Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game will combine some of the game’s best prospects with some of the circuit’s top performers from the past few weeks. The annual prospect showcase will be held Saturday at 7 p.m. ET (5 p.m. local) at Salt River Fields and can be watched on MLB Network or streamed through and the MLB app.

Rosters were announced earlier this week, and to go even more in depth, the following is a team-by-team guide to the talent expected to play in Saturday’s Fall Stars Game:

Gabriel Moreno, C (No. 1, MLB No. 32): The 21-year-old backstop was one of the biggest breakouts of the 2021 season, showing off a plus hit tool and plenty of power at Double-A New Hampshire before a fractured thumb put him on the IL in June. He’s making up for lost time in the Fall League and looking every bit of the Top 50 prospect he’s become with plenty of exit velocity, a solid approach and good defensive skills. He could easily be an all-around standout for the East side come Saturday.

Spencer Horwitz, 1B/OF: Taken in the 24th round of the 2019 MLB Draft, Horwitz has been defined by his plate discipline in the early days of his pro career. He walked more times (70) than he struck out (66) and posted a .401 OBP in 105 games with High-A Vancouver during the regular season. Horwitz has continued that trend in the AFL (9/9 K/BB, .478 OBP). He won’t hit for as much power as your typical first baseman, but it is notable that he has swiped four bags in four attempts for Mesa.

Graham Spraker, RHP: This is Spraker’s second tour through the Fall League, and it couldn’t have gone much better. The 26-year-old right-hander, who transitioned to relief full-time this season, has yet to allow a run in nine appearances and has struck out 14 while walking two in 9 1/3 innings. Spraker throws in the mid-90s with a decent slider and used that arsenal to reach Triple-A in 2021.

Nick Vespi, LHP: The Orioles got Vespi back in 2015 out of junior college and the lefty reliever pitched his way from Double-A to Triple-A in 2021, missing a ton of bats but struggling with his command at times. He has shown a plus slider this fall which has helped him strike out 14 in 12 1/3 innings for Mesa.

Curtis Mead, 3B/1B (No. 14): Mead has hit everywhere he’s played in 2021, and that includes the Fall League, where he entered Thursday with a 17-game hitting streak for Scottsdale (that’s at least one hit in every game he’s played). Acquired in a trade with the Phillies in early 2020, Mead is now one of the most exciting bats in a deep Tampa Bay system. He produced a .321/.378/.533 line with 15 homers in 104 games at Low-A, High-A and Triple-A during the regular season.

Carlos Garcia, RHP: The 22-year-old right-hander has used mid-90s velocity, a slider and a changeup to strike out nearly a quarter (14 of 57) of the batters he has faced this fall. He worked as a reliever during the season at High-A Bowling Green, posting a 4.23 ERA and 1.23 WHIP with 63 strikeouts in 66 innings.

Triston Casas, 1B (No. 2/MLB No. 18): A first-round pick from a Florida high school in 2018, Casas has developed into one of the top power prospects in baseball. Also an advanced hitter and a quality defender at first base, he batted .284/.395/.484 with 13 homers in 77 Double-A games this year and took time off to play with the U.S. Olympic team.

Austin Wells, C (No. 6): One of the best all-around college hitters in the 2020 Draft, Wells went in the first round out of Arizona before batting .264/.390/.476 with 16 homers and as many steals in 103 games between Low-A and High-A during his pro debut. He has a quick left-handed swing, good pitch-recognition skills and a mature approach, and he might do even more damage at the plate if he winds up in the outfield rather than behind the plate.

Elijah Dunham, OF (No. 24): Perhaps the best prospect signed as a $20,000 nondrafted free agent after the five-round Draft in 2020, Dunham has a compact left-handed stroke, the bat speed and strength to hit for power, strike-zone discipline and average speed. The Indiana product hit .263/.362/.463 with 13 homers and 28 steals in 93 games between Low-A and High-A in his pro debut and is tied for the AFL lead with 10 steals.

Jose Tena, 2B/SS (No. 12): Tena has one of the best left-handed swings and some of the best bat-to-ball skills in the Cleveland system, and he’s showing those off by leading the AFL in hitting (.415) despite being one of the younger players (age 20) in the developmental circuit. Signed for $400,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2017, he also possesses solid speed and arm strength and batted .281/.331/.467 with 16 homers and 10 steals in 107 games while making his full-season debut in High-A.

Richie Palacios, OF (No. 14): Part of a family that already includes two big leaguers in his uncle Rey and brother Josh, Palacios has the tools (hitting ability, plus speed, baserunning instincts) to join them in the near future. Drafted in the third round out of Towson in 2018, he hit .297/.404/.471 with seven homers and 20 steals in 103 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

Seuly Matias, OF: Matias could break Salt River’s Statcast data Saturday with some monster exit velocities, home run distances and throws from the outfield. He could also strike out in every plate appearance he makes in the showcase. Thus is the boom-or-bust Matias Experience. Matias, who is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for a third time this offseason, hit .213/.309/.511 with 18 homers and 36.4 percent K rate in 64 games (mostly at High-A and Double-A) during the regular season.

Nathan Eaton, OF: The 2018 21st-rounder has taken advantage of his AFL opportunity and ranks sixth in the league with a .345 average through 14 games for Surprise. That’s a solid bounceback performance after Eaton hit just .243/.344/.371 over 70 games with High-A Quad Cities over the summer. The VMI product is a basestealing threat with 23 steals during the season and four more in the fall.

Garrett Hill, RHP: The 2018 26th-rounder is coming off an effective but truncated season in which he posted a 2.74 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings at High-A and Double-A. He’s shown little issue carrying that to the AFL, where he sports a 1.98 ERA and 21 K’s in 13 2/3 frames. Hill tops out in the mid 90s with his velocity and might have the best changeup in this year’s Fall Stars Game with a low-80s offering.

Cody Laweryson, RHP: The University of Maine product didn’t make his 2021 debut — his first real season after being taken in the 2019 Draft — until June, but was very effective as a starter, striking out 11.2 per nine in High-A. He’s used his sinker, breaking ball and changeup almost exclusively in a relief role in the AFL.

Caleb Freeman, RHP (No. 21): Freeman has improved his strike-throwing ability since signing as a 15th-rounder from Texas Tech in 2019, and he posted a 3.27 ERA with 55 strikeouts in 44 innings between High-A and Double-A in his first full pro season. His four-seam fastball can reach 98 mph and he backs it up with a solid curveball and average slider.

Coleman Crow, RHP: An over-slot signing as a high schooler late in the 2019 Draft, the 20-year-old right-hander had a solid full-season debut in Low-A in 2021, showing a two- and four-seam fastball, spinning a very good slider and even showing a decent changeup with depth while striking out nearly a batter per inning. The youngest pitcher in the AFL, he’s shown better command in the league, with a 17/2 K/BB ratio in 13 innings.

Joe Record, RHP: After the Twins made him a 28th-round pick out of UC Santa Barbara in 2017, Record didn’t make his pro debut until 2019 because of Tommy John surgery and a knee injury and went to the Astros as a Minor League Rule 5 pick last December. Armed with a four-seam fastball that hits 97 mph and a pair of hard breaking pitches, he logged a 3.36 ERA with a .203 opponent average and 53 strikeouts in 61 2/3 Double-A innings.

Logan Davidson, SS (No. 12): The A’s first-round pick in 2019 out of Clemson was pushed aggressively up to Double-A to start his first full season in 2021 and he struggled offensively, striking out in just over 30 percent of his plate appearances. He did show incredible durability, playing every game for Midland while trying out a new position, third base, for size, something that’s continued this fall.

Zach DeLoach, OF (No. 6): Taken in the second round of the 2020 Draft by the Mariners, DeLoach stood out with how well he fit in during his time at the alternate site after he signed. He carried that over to a strong official pro debut this year, with a .313/.400/.530 line over 58 games in High-A to earn a promotion to Double-A, where he struggled for the first time. He can be streaky, but there’s offensive potential and the ability to drive the ball.

Ezequiel Duran, 3B/SS (No. 7): The Rangers acquired four prospects in the Joey Gallo/Joely Rodríguez trade with the Yankees in July, and some scouts believe that Duran is the best of that group. He combines solid power and speed and batted .267/.342/.486 with 19 homers and as many steals in 105 games in High-A.

Owen White, RHP (No. 28): White has been the AFL’s best pitcher this fall and tops the developmental circuit in wins (four), ERA (1.16), innings (23 1/3), WHIP (0.94) and opponent average (.143). A second-round pick from a South Carolina high school in 2018, he had Tommy John surgery the following May and didn’t make his pro debut until nearly three years after he signed. His 91-96 mph fastball, curveball, slider and changeup all have the potential to be solid or better, and he rode them to a 3.24 ERA, .205 opponent average and 54/12 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings in Low-A.

Victor Vodnik, RHP (No. 20): Vodnik missed a lot of time in 2021, amassing just 33 2/3 IP with a move to Double-A. He was up-and-down when he was on the mound, though he struck out 11 per nine (and walked 5.9) and his fastball-slider combination might work best in shorter stints out of the bullpen when all is said and done.

JJ Bleday, OF (No. 5/MLB No. 71): Bleday is hitting .329/.430/.620 in the Fall League after a rough regular season that saw him bat .212/.323/.373 with 12 homers in 110 Double-A games. The Marlins project the fourth overall pick in the 2019 Draft out of Vanderbilt to hit for both average and power, and he also has a strong arm and plays solid defense in right field.

Brett Baty, 3B (No. 2, MLB No. 45): The left-handed masher possesses one of the best hit-power combinations in this year’s Fall League. For those toolsy reasons, viewers can overlook his more pedestrian AFL numbers (.250/.345/.375, one homer in 20 games). Even if he doesn’t rack up the hits Saturday, pay attention to Baty’s Statcast data. His max exit velocity in Salt River games is 110 mph, and eight of his 16 batted balls in that park have been considered hard hit (95+ mph).

Cole Henry, RHP (No. 7): Arizona isn’t where pitching goes to thrive, but Henry is certainly making the most of his time. The Washington hurler owns a 3.32 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .176 average-against and 30 strikeouts in 19 innings. His fastball-curveball-changeup arsenal has the Nationals internally excited, and after an elbow strain limited him to only 47 High-A innings during the season, he is showing what he is capable of when healthy with Surprise.

Bryson Stott, SS (No. 2//MLB No. 97): Pretty much wherever Stott, the Phillies’ first-round pick in 2019, has gone, he’s hit, from his career .947 OPS at UNLV to hitting his way to Triple-A in 2021. The Futures Gamer finished with a .299/.390/.486 line to go along with 16 homers and 10 steals while showing an ability to play a solid shortstop and getting experience at other spots on the infield.

Logan O’Hoppe, C (No. 11): A relative unknown as a 23rd-round pick in out of high school in 2018, O’Hoppe impressed enough to get an invite to the Phillies’ alternate site in 2020. He’s a solid receiver with pop, hitting 17 homers across three levels of the Minors. He’s just about knocking on the door, sure to use a strong AFL performance (.310/.455/.534 in 16 games) as a springboard.

Abner Uribe, RHP (No. 26): Enjoy elite velocity? Then you should hope Uribe faces at least a few batters Saturday. The 21-year-old right-hander has thrown 13 of the 14 fastest pitches measured at Salt River this Fall League season and topped out at 100.6 mph. He has blown by hitters with 16 strikeouts in eight innings, but as can be expected for hard-throwing youngsters, he has also walked 11 in that span. Uribe remains a work in progress for Milwaukee, but his stuff can be downright electric when it’s on.

Zack Thompson, LHP (No. 8): The Cardinals gave Thompson an aggressive assignment and pushed him up to Triple-A for his first full season. The 19th overall pick from the 2019 Draft struggled, posting a 7.06 ERA over 93 innings. However, the experience did teach Thompson what it takes to succeed against advanced hitters, and he’s made the necessary adjustments in the Arizona Fall League. The lefty has been dominant in Arizona, pitching to a 2.03 ERA with 15 strikeouts over 13 1/3 innings.

Juan Yepez, OF/1B (No. 26): Yepez broke out in 2021, putting together an extremely impressive campaign as he slashed .286/.383/.586 over 111 games and reached Triple-A for the first time. The 23-year-old also set a career high with 27 homers, more than doubling his previous best mark of 10, and made noticeable strides in the outfield as well. Yepez was rewarded with a spot on the Cardinals Wild Card roster and has continued to star in the Arizona Fall League. One of several Cardinals prospects to impress in Arizona, Yepez is among the league leaders in homers, RBIs and slugging percentage.

Lars Nootbaar, OF: Nootbaar made his Major League debut in late June and hit .239 over 58 games with the Cardinals. The 24-year-old is known more for his solid overall game, rather than one standout tool and was sent to the Fall League to get more reps against upper-level competition as he prepares to compete for a roster spot in 2022. Nootbaar is certainly making the most of those reps and has been one of the Fall League’s best players. Through 16 games he’s hit .306/.429/.677 with five homers and 12 RBIs.

Caleb Kilian, RHP (No. 14): Part of the Kris Bryant trade with the Giants in July, Kilian led the Minors with an 8.6 K/BB ratio this year while logging a 2.42 ERA, .205 opponent average and 112 strikeouts in 100 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A. A 2019 eighth-rounder from Texas Tech, he works primarily with a mid-90s fastball and solid cutter and is trying to revamp his curveball and changeup.

Nelson Velazquez, OF (No. 29): The top candidate for the AFL’s Joe Black MVP Award, Velazquez leads the league in slugging (.729), OPS (1.210), runs (22), hits (32), homers (eight) and extra-base hits (14). Taken in the fifth round from a Puerto Rican high school in 2017, he has plus raw power and arm strength and batted .270/.333/.496 with 20 homers and 17 steals in 103 games between High-A and Double-A

Andy Weber, SS: Weber stands out in the Cubs’ system with his defensive ability, versatility and high baseball IQ. A fifth-rounder out of Virginia in 2018, he hit .214/.302/.321 in 41 Double-A games, missing most of two months to toe injuries.

Nick Gonzales, 2B/SS (No. 4/MLB No. 62): Gonzales missed a bunch of his first full season with a broken pinky but was arguably the hottest hitter in the Minors in the second half of the 2021 season, finishing with a .302/.385/.565 line in High-A. He hasn’t stopped hitting this fall, with a 1.059 OPS, good for fifth in the AFL, through his first 17 games.

Ji-hwan Bae, OF/2B (No. 22): Bae hit (.323 average) and ran (33 steals) well in 2019, but missed a month of his Double-A season in 2021 with a Grade 1 MCL sprain. He did start driving the ball a bit more, with a .281/.360/.422 line and eight homers. He’s split time between center field and second base this fall and has shown his legs work just fine, going 7-for-8 in stolen-base attempts to place him third in the AFL.

Ivan Johnson, SS/2B(No. 16): Johnson missed a month and a half of the 2021 season due to injury, playing just 79 games, though the switch-hitter did still reach double-digits in homers and stolen bases. Thought to be a second baseman coming out of Chipola Junior College in 2019, he’s played a lot of shortstop as a pro, while seeing time at second and even third this fall while showing good power.

Shumpei Yoshikawa, RHP: Yoshikawa, 26, is making up for lost time in Arizona after spending a little more than two months on the injured list during the regular season. Yoshikawa spent the bulk of the season with High-A Hillsboro, where he pitched to a 6.20 ERA over just 20 1/3 innings. The right hander has struck out 11 over 12 2/3 innings for Salt River and has held opposing hitters to a .217 batting average.

Eguy Rosario, INF (No. 15): Rosario’s loudest tool is his plus arm, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that he’s moved to third base full-time in the Fall League after playing mostly up the middle during the season. His above-average speed should also be of use to the West team staff. Rosario entered Thursday with a .291/.371/.400 line in 15 games with Peoria.

Bobby Miller, RHP (No. 4/MLB No. 78): Miller has the best pure stuff among Fall League starters — a heavy fastball that can sit in the upper 90s, a sharp mid-80s slider, a developing low-80s curveball and a lively mid-80s changeup. Selected in the first round out of Louisville in 2020, he posted a 2.40 ERA, .192 opponent average and 70/13 K/BB ratio in 56 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A in his pro debut.

Landon Knack, RHP (No. 8): After topping NCAA Division I in strikeouts (51 in 25 innings) and K/BB ratio (51.0) during the shortened 2020 college season, Knack logged an 82/8 K/BB ratio along with a 3.18 ERA and .217 opponent average in 62 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A in his pro debut. A second-round pick out of East Tennessee State last year, he has pinpoint command of a 93-95 mph fastball that tops out at 98 and complements it with a solid slider and changeup and an average curveball.

James Outman, OF (No. 27): Outman features some of the best all-around tools in the Dodgers system, displaying plus raw power, speed and arm strength while playing a fine center field. The 2018 seventh-rounder from Sacramento State batted .266/.379/.490 with 18 homers and 23 steals in 104 games between High-A and Double-A.

Hunter Bishop, OF (No. 6): Bishop has been slowed by injuries since the Giants made him the 10th overall choice in 2019 out of Arizona State, and a right shoulder ailment limited him to 16 games this summer. An outstanding athlete who could have played college football as a wide receiver, he has the power and speed to become a 30-30 player and the quickness and instincts to play at least a solid center field.

Patrick Bailey, C (No. 8): A 2020 first-rounder from North Carolina State, Bailey hit .265/.366/.429 with nine homers in 82 games between Low-A and High-A during his pro debut. He’s a switch-hitter with power from both sides of the plate and has solid receiving skills and arm strength.

Gregory Santos, RHP (No. 24): Part of the Eduardo Nunez trade with the Red Sox in 2017, Santos made his big league debut this April but his regular season ended two months later with an 80-game suspension after he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He can overpower hitters with a fastball clocked at 97-100 mph and a slider that grades as plus-plus at its best.

R.J. Dabovich, RHP: Dabovich is a power reliever with a 92-98 mph four-seam fastball and a low-80s downer curveball. Drafted in 2020’s fourth round out of Arizona State, he earned 10 saves with a 2.78 ERA, .133 opponent average and 62 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings between High-A and Double-A in his pro debut.

Ryan Vilade, OF (No. 5): It was a full year for Vilade, one that included playing every day in Triple-A and making his big league debut, with a trip to the Futures Game at Coors Field mixed in. He’s shown an ability to make consistent hard contact throughout his career, with most believing more power is to come.

Reagan Todd, LHP: A left-handed reliever taken in 2018, Todd’s fastball is running up into the low-to-mid 90s with finish and he can throw it to both sides of the plate. He misses a ton of bats with his breaking ball as well with a chance to be added to the 40-man roster or be an intriguing Rule 5 candidate in December.

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