The Arizona Fall League has long been considered a finishing school for many of the game's top prospects. Now, we know what the Class of 2018 will look like.
Top overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and No. 7 Forrest Whitley were two of the 17 top-100 prospects named to the six Arizona Fall League rosters, the circuit announced Thursday afternoon.
Guerrero has been arguably the Minor Leagues' best hitter this season. The Blue Jays third baseman has climbed all the way to Triple-A Buffalo in his age-19 season and leads full-season Minor Leaguers with a .382 average, .635 slugging percentage and 1.076 OPS over 91 games. He has hit 19 homers and has produced a near-even 38/37 K/BB ratio over 391 plate appearances. It's those numbers that have many crying out for his promotion to the Majors. However after a left knee injury kept Guerrero out for five weeks in the middle of the summer, the Blue Jays have decided he'll make up for the lost at-bats in Arizona.
Video: Guerrero Jr. cracks two-run shot for Bisons
He'll be joined by fellow Blue Jays prospect and former Double-A New Hampshire teammate Bo Bichette, the No. 9 overall prospect in the game. With the two reuniting on the Surprise infield, the Saguaros are the only AFL club with two top-10 overall prospects. Rangers outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez (No. 58) rounds out the roster's top-100 contingent.
Even so, the most loaded Fall League squad might belong to Scottsdale.
The Scorpions roster is led by Whitley, MLB.com's No. 7 overall prospect. The Astros right-hander was set for a big 2018 after climbing three levels last season, but was suspended for the first 50 games of the season following a drug violation and has made two separate trips to the disabled list with Double-A Corpus Christi, the latest coming as a result of a right lat injury. He's thrown only 26 1/3 innings for the Hooks and will look to make up for the lost innings by bringing his three four pitches in his fastball, curveball, slider and changeup to the Grand Canyon State.
Video: Corpus Christi's Whitley gets the punchout
Scottsdale will have another impressive right-hander in No. 17 overall prospect Sixto Sanchez and boasts three top-100 prospects in its lineup in Reds outfielder Taylor Trammell (No. 19), Mets shortstop Andres Gimenez (No. 57) and Mets first baseman Peter Alonso (No. 61). Alonso has been in the news after New York announced it wouldn't be calling up the right-handed slugger, despite the fact that he's hit 33 home runs and produced a .957 OPS between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas this season.
Elsewhere, Glendale (Luis Robert, Keibert Ruiz, Estevan Florial) and Salt River (Carter Kieboom, Jon Duplantier, Monte Harrison) are scheduled to have three top-100 prospects apiece. Peoria has two in Keston Hiura and Cristian Pache while Mesa has one in Michael Chavis.
The Arizona Fall League regular season runs from Oct. 9-Nov. 15 with the championship game slated for Nov. 17.
The list below shows which Major League organizations form each Arizona Fall League squad. Click each AFL team name to view its full roster:
- Glendale Desert Dogs: Orioles, White Sox, Indians, Dodgers, Yankees
- Peoria Javelinas: Braves, Brewers, Padres, Mariners, Rays
- Scottsdale Scorpions: Reds, Astros, Mets, Phillies, Giants
- Mesa Solar Sox: Red Sox, Cubs, Tigers, Angels, Athletics,
- Salt River Rafters: D-backs, Rockies, Marlins, Twins, Nationals
- Surprise Saguaros: Royals, Pirates, Cardinals, Rangers, Blue Jays
Update: No. 6 overall prospect Brendan Rodgers (Rockies) was added to the Salt River roster hours after the initial league announcement. His inclusion gives the Rafters four top-100 prospects and the league as whole 18. Rodgers has hit .266/.328/.459 with 17 homers and 12 steals in 113 games this season between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque.