Top 10 Offensive Performances from AFL Rising Stars Game
This past weekend, I traveled to Arizona—I’m actually still here and plan to scout at least one more game on Monday—to catch a few miscellaneous Arizona Fall League games as well as the spectacular Rising Stars Game.
The game, an annual staple of the AFL, featured not only many of the top prospects from league but also a host of the game’s top overall up-and-coming players.
Overall, the game exceeded my expectations and was highlighted by stellar performances from a variety of prospects—both at the plate and on the bump.
So, to kick off my coverage and scouting notes from the incredibly eventful weekend, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the top-10 offensive prospects from the games. Remember, this isn’t a ranking of the top prospects in attendance; rather, it’s a list of the most notable performances from the actual game.
10. Hak-Ju Lee, SS, Tampa Bay Rays
Game Stats: 1-for-3, RBI, 2 K
—Excellent defensive actions with a quick release at shortstop in pregame infield but wasn’t tested during the game.
—Struck out in first two at-bats with subpar bat speed and a shaky approach.
—Made noticeable adjustment in third at-bat when he barreled an RBI single up the middle off RHP Tony Zych (Cubs).
9. Chris Owings, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks
Game Stats: 1-for-2, R, SB, K
—Started at shortstop; made a nice play ranging in and up the middle on a slow chopper by Rymer Liriano; quick transfer and release with an above-average arm.
—Ripped a line-drive single to left field off RHP Mike Brady (Marlins); proceeded to steal second base and then score on an RBI single by Gary Brown.
8. Kaleb Cowart, 3B, Los Angeles Angels
Game Stats: 1-for-2, R, BB
—Made a spectacular catch on a foul pop-up off the bat of Hunter Morris; caught it while falling face-first into the stands down the left field line.
—Batting right handed: Cowart worked a walk against LHP James Paxton (Mariners).
—Left handed: turned on a mid-90s fastball from RHP Michael Tonkin (Twins) and singled through the right side past a diving Kolten Wong.
7. Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston Astros
Game Stats: 1-for-2, BB
—Has struggled against left-handed pitching over course of minor-league career but showed an impressive approach in two at-bats during the game.
—Singled through the left side of the infield on a fastball from LHP James Paxton (Mariners); did a nice job pulling his hands in rather than casting around the pitch and rolling over to right side.
—Coaxed a walk against LHP Chase Hutchingson (Mets).
6. Christian Yelich, OF, Miami Marlins
Game Stats: 1-for-2
—Put a good swing on a 95 mph fastball from RHP Vic Black (Pirates) but was jammed and grounded out to second base.
—Showed excellent bat control against an upper-90s fastball from RHP Trey Haley (Indians), driving the ball through the left side of the infield for a single.
5. Jonathan Schoop, 3B/SS, Baltimore Orioles
Game Stats: 0-for-2, R
—Loved his bat speed and direct bat path; played shortstop and made a few routine plays but his defensive actions suggest more of a future at third base.
—Reached on an error after smoking a line drive off the glove of shortstop Nick Ahmed (Braves)
—Flew out deep to the right field warning track in his second at-bat.
4. Nick Castellanos, OF, Detroit Tigers
Game Stats: 2-for-5
—Demonstrated his usual excellent bat control and level bat path with a pair of singles; just missed the ball in other at-bats.
—Singled to right center in first at-bat on a slider from RHP Kyle Gibson (Twins).
—Pulled in hands on a 94 mph fastball from LHP James Paxton (Mariners) to single through the left side of the infield.
3. Rymer Liriano, OF, San Diego Padres
Game Stats: 3-for-4, 2 2B, RBI, BB
—Physical specimen showed easy power and advanced approach at the plate; no problems with plus velocity.
—Roped a double to right center field on a 3-2 fastball against RHP Jarred Cosart (Astros); ability to drive the ball the other way appeared effortless.
—Record his second double of the game on a blooper down the right field line against RHP Tony Zych (Cubs).
—Singled back up the middle in the seventh inning against RHP Coty Woods (Rockies).
2. Billy Hamilton, OF, Cincinnati Reds
Game Stats: 1-for-3, 2 R, 2 SB, 2 BB, K
—Worked a six-pitch walk against RHP Jarred Cosart (Astros) to lead off the game; proceeded to steal second base and then third base via a well-executed delayed steal.
—Made an absolutely ridiculous diving catch on the left center field warning track to rob OF Brian Goodwin; he was playing in and had to range a long, long way to catch the ball. Imagine how much range he'll showcase when he doesn't have to continually track the ball!
—Bunted for a single batting left-handed; recorded a 3.40-second time to first base, according to Baseball America’s Peter Wardell, which was unprecedented; advanced all the way to third base after the ball was misplayed by 1B Jonathan Singleton.
1. Brian Goodwin, OF, Washington Nationals
Game Stats: 2-for-5, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K
—Homered on 2-1 fastball (93 mph) off Kyle Gibson (Twins) to lead off the bottom of the first; showed plus bat speed and raw power on no-doubter to right field.
—Almost homered again in second at-bat off RHP Mike Brady (Marlins) when he drove a ball to the left-centerfield wall; would have been a double had he not been robbed by Billy Hamilton’s outstanding full-extension, diving catch.
—Ripped a line-drive, RBI double to the right center field wall off LHP C.J. Riefenhauser (Rays); once again exhibited plus bat speed.