Most Impressive Arizona Fall League Prospects
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We’ve all had fun watching these playoff games -- well, unless you’re a fan of the Rays, White Sox, Giants, Brewers, Yankees or Cardinals; and even then things could be worse -- but it’s time to talk about something we all really love.
I had a chance to go to the First Pitch Arizona conference over the weekend (and a tremendous thank you to those fine folks at Baseball HQ for having me), and it also afforded me a chance to take in five Arizona Fall League Games. For those unfamiliar with the AFL, it’s a league that takes place at Cactus League sites that features some of the better prospects in baseball. If you’ve never been -- and feel comfortable traveling -- it’s an outstanding time for those that like baseball. We all like baseball.
I’ll have a list over the week on the best prospects for the 2022 season and the best long-term looks, but first, here’s a look at the prospects that really impressed me in my brief look over the weekend.[[ad:athena]]
Brett Baty, 3B, New York Mets: I had heard good reports about Baty all season, and to say he passed the eye test in my couple of looks is an understatement. He made hard contact throughout, including a triple with an exit velocity that registered around 110 mph. The swing suggests that the 21-year-old is going to have plus tools with both average and power, and he didn’t appear to have any issues recognizing spin. I didn’t get to see Baty get any chances in the field, but the arm strength was apparent, and he does appear to have a chance to stick at third. It wouldn’t shock me at all if he was a part of the Mets by next summer, and he’s got a chance to be a star in the long-term.
Curtis Mead, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays: Mead was traded to the Rays in the deal for Christopher Sanchez from the Phillies, and even just based on two games, I’m going to say this is a trade that Philadelphia regrets. A lot. Signed out of Australia, the 20-year-old clobbered a an opposite-field shot in my last game in Arizona, and he made hard contact throughout while getting rave reviews from scouts. Mead also plays second base, but the hot corner looks like the more likely landing spot. He’s a prospect that went from being “intriguing play” to one that will be firmly inside my Top 100 prospect list to open 2022.
Michael Toglia, 1B, Colorado Rockies: The Rockies made Toglia their first-round pick in 2019 out of UCLA, and for the most part, the results have been very mixed. Mixed might be a nice way to describe a hitter who has slashed .233/.342/.455 in a 156 games. It was all of two games of a look, but I saw reasons for optimism with Toglia going forward. Hit hit a skyscraper of a homer on Saturday -- his second homer in four games -- and it’s pretty clear that the power is legit. He also looked athletic on the bases, and looks like someone who could feasibly play in the outfield. The swing is long and average doesn’t seem likely, but especially if he plays in Coors Field, it’s not hard to see him being a potential 30-plus homer player for a season or six.
Spencer Torkelson, INF, Detroit Tigers: I mean, of course he did. The first-overall pick struck out a couple of times in my looks, but in the rest of the at-bats he obliterated the baseball, because of course he did. One disappointing thing was that Torkelson was at DH in my looks, so no looks to see him at the hot corner. Life can be cruel sometimes. But it doesn’t matter; Torkelson is a special offensive talent, and he’s one of the few prospects for 2022 that deserve a selection at some point in drafts to begin the season.
Joey Wiemer, OF, Milwaukee Brewers: Tooled. Up. Wiemer was a fourth-round pick out of Cincinnati in 2020 who was considered a quality athlete that looked the part in a uniform, but he posted a .958 OPS with 27 homers and 30 steals in the 2021 season, and I was curious to see if the eye test would match the production. It did. The swing is unorthodox, but the bat speed is legit, and the ball jumps off the bat of a player that is all of 6-foot-5, 215-pounds. He also showed off impressive speed, and showed a strong arm on a throw to third from right to a nail a runner. If there’s one concern here it’s that Wiemer hasn’t played at the upper levels and will be 23 in February, but again, the eye test suggests that this is a future starter. And, as I joked with Keith Law of The Athletic, one who looks like he’s going to rob a bank with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze after the games.
Bobby Miller, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers: This section is going to be, uhh, brief. The pitching I saw was pretty awful over the weekend, and there’s really not much to write about. One notable exception, however, was Miller. The first-round pick out of Louisville in 2020 did allow a homer to Jeter Downs -- a homer that was aided at least somewhat by the wind -- but he touched 98 mph with his fastball and showed three solid off-speed pitches. The best of these was a slider, but there’s a slower curve and a useable change, as well. Miller’s delivery is not completely without effort, but he should be able to start, and he’s a must-have in deeper dynasty leagues right now.
MacKenzie Gore, LHP, San Diego Padres: I’m cheating, because I didn’t actually get a chance to see Gore pitch when I was in Arizona. What I did get a chance to do was talk to several scouts about the left-hander, and they came away (mostly) impressed with what they saw. He was 93-97 mph with his fastball on Wednesday, and he showed an easy plus change with a slider around that mark. He was able to repeat his new delivery well, and he did a decent job of commanding his fastball -- something that has been a big issue for the former top overall pitching prospect. We need to see more of this from Gore this fall and then see it carry over to the spring, but there’s no doubt this is a positive development.