Since its inception in 1992, the Arizona Fall League has featured some of the hottest prospects in baseball. This year’s class includes tp 10 prospects Ronald Acuna, Kyle Tucker, Victor Robles, and Mitch Keller and in past seasons has featured Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant, both of whom went on to win AFL MVP honors and 2017 NL Rookie of the Year, Cody Bellinger…..just to name a few.
While much has been written about the AFL not only this year but in seasons past, I wanted to feature players that I evaluated in person that are flying under the radar. My criteria of under the radar is based on a few subjective rules. Draft round, team prospect ranking, and my own east coast bias. Covering the Florida State League during the season is wonderful but also very limiting. I also run a 24 team fantasy baseball dynasty that features unlimited MiLB rosters and weekly pickups.
I spent 3 days in Arizona from Nov 9-11 and caught 5 games, seeing all 6 teams in action. I present the 2017 AFL Under the Radar All Star team.
LF – Kevin Kaczmarski – NY Mets/Scottsdale Scorpions
9th round pick in 2015, Kaczmarski reached AA in 2017. Slashed .351/.397/.442 in the AFL. Went 2-4 on Nov. 11 and showed good range in LF, laying out to rob Bobby Bradley of a base hit down the LF line. Kaz is not ranked in the Mets top 30 prospects by MLB.com and was ranked 40th by Prospects1500.com. Kaz profiles as a 4th OF with above average OBP skills, speed, and defense.
CF – Steven Duggar – SF Giants/Scottsdale Scorpions
6th round pick in 2015. Reached AAA in 2017 after an injury riddled season. Slashed .263/.367/.421 in the AFL. Went 3-12 on Nov. 9-11 with 2 HR. Excellent CF range covering a lot of ground. Good athlete with the ability to pull for power. 7th ranked Giants prospect by MLB.com and 5th ranked by Prospects1500.com.
RF – Eric Filia – Seattle Mariners/Peoria Javelinas
20th round pick in 2016 reached High A this season. Won the AFL batting title slashing .408/.463/.605. Went 4-7 in 2 games on Nov. 9-10. Has 60 grade hit tool with excellent hand eye coordination and excellent on base skills. Will walk more the strike out and barrels everything. Doubles machine. Below average in-game power. Ranked 24th in the Mariners’ system by MLB.com and unranked by Prospects1500.com.
*3B – Kody Eaves – Detroit Tigers/Mesa Solar Sox
16th round pick in 2012 reached AAA this season. Went 2-5 on Nov. 9. and slashed .337/.389/.554. Multiple seasons in the minors with double-digit HR. Has a big swing that has slightly improved as he has matured but BB rate still leaves a lot to be desired. Solid defensively and versatile, playing multiple infield positions. Unranked in MLB.com Tigers top 30 and prospects1500.com’s top 50.
*Eaves played 2B when I saw him in person. In ever publication, I have seen him listed as 3B. 3B was loaded in the AFL with guys like Michael Chavis, Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Riley, Francisco Mejia, and Sheldon Neuse. Kevin Padlo and Taylor Sparks were also evaluated but were left off this list due to their high draft ranking.
SS – Nicky Lopez – Kansas City Royals/Surprise Saguaros
5th round pick in 2016 reached AA this season. Went 2-5 on Nov. 10 and slashed .383/.433/.568, finishing runner-up to Filia for the AFL batting title. Excellent plate coverage, good athlete, strong quick hands. Plays a smooth SS with an above average arm. 11th ranked Royals prospect by MLB.com and 9th by prospects1500.com.
2B – Luis Guillorme – New York Mets/Scottsdale Scorpions
10th round pick in 2013 reached AA this season. Went 2-8 in 2 games I saw on Nov. 9 and 11 and slashed .289/.333/.356. Good contact skills, plate control, and eye at the plate. Excellent hand eye coordination. The question will be can he hit enough to be an everyday big leaguer? 20 grade power but plays elite 70 grade defense. Extremely quick hands on double play turns. 11th ranked Mets prospect by MLB.com and 27th by prospects1500.com.
1B – Matt Beaty – Los Angeles Dodgers/Glendale Desert Dogs
12th round pick in 2015 reached AA this season. Went 3-8 on Nov. 10-11 with 2 doubles off the wall that would have gone out of most MLB parks. Slashed .242/.275/.424. Has above average power and hit tool. Uses legs and gets good extension at point of contact. 30th ranked Dodgers prospect by MLB.com and unranked by prospects1500.com
C – Andrew Knizner – St. Louis Cardinals/Surprise Saguros
7th round pick in 2015 reached AA this season. Went 2-5 with a hard hit 2B to deep RCF off TJ Zeuch on Nov. 10. Slashed .358/.403/.537. Good ability to hunt his pitch. Power could develop if he improves his launch angle and decrease GB rate. 27th ranked Cardinals prospect by MLB.com and 51st by prospects1500.com.
DH – Anthony Santander – Baltimore Orioles/Salt River Rafters
Non drafted international FA signing in July 2011 reached Baltimore in injury plagued 2017 season. Went 1-5 on Nov. 9 with a long HR to RF. Slashed .208/.234/.333. Plus power with holes in swing. Low BB rate could lead to low OBP. 9th ranked Orioles prospect by MLB.com and 7th ranked by prospects1500.com.
SP – Taylor Hearn – Pittsburgh Pirates/Glendale Desert Dogs
5th round pick in 2015 reached High A this season. Threw 3 scoreless IP allowing 1 hit, 1 BB, and 1 K on Nov. 11. 70 grade FB and above average slider that tends to flatten out at times. Below average change-up and command. Threw 17.2 IP with a 3.06 ERA, .230 Avg, and a 7.32 K/9. 11th ranked Pirates prospect by MLB.com and 8th ranked by prospects1500.com.
RP – Kirby Bellow – Arizona Diamondbacks/Salt River Rafters
26th round pick in 2015 reached AA this season. Threw 2 perfect innings of relief on Nov. 9 with 2 strikeouts. Relies on deceptive delivery and plus slider to keep hitters off-balance. Slider in the low 80’s with a lot of tilt. Looks like a frisbee at times. Unranked prospect by MLB.com and prospects1500.com.