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Fall Stars wrap: How top prospects performed
By Austin Laymance and Manny Randhawa
Below is a recap of each player's performance from the 12th edition of the Arizona Fall League's Fall Stars Game at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, a 4-2 win for the East division.
Among the highly regarded players in this year's exhibition were 10 players on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list.
Matt Thaiss, 1B, LAA No. 3: Thaiss started at first base for the East and went 0-for-2 with a pair of groundouts, one to the pitcher and the other to the shortstop. Thaiss, the 16th overall pick in the 2016 Draft, played five innings in the field.
Samil De Los Santos, RHP: De Los Santos did not appear in the Fall Stars Game.
Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU No. 1 | MLB No. 7: Tucker showed why he's the Astros' top prospect with a strong showing for the East. The No. 5 overall choice in the 2015 Draft out of a Florida high school, Tucker started in right field and went 1-for-1 with a single and a walk. He played five innings in the field.
Athletics Sheldon Neuse, 3B, OAK No. 14: Neuse contributed a run-scoring single in the eighth inning and came off the bench for the East to play the final four innings at third base. After striking out in his first at-bat, Neuse sent a 2-1 pitch back up the middle to score Corey Ray with one out in the eighth.
Blue Jays Max Pentecost, C, TOR No. 8: Pentecost, the 11th overall pick by the Blue Jays in the 2014 Draft out of Kennesaw State, made three plate appearances, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a walk. A backstop with a compact swing and raw power, he slashed .276/.332/.434 with nine homers at Class A Advanced Dunedin in 2017.
T.J. Zeuch, RHP, TOR No. 5: Zeuch, selected 21st overall by Toronto in the 2016 Draft, was impressive in one inning of work for the West team, striking out two as he retired the side in order. The 6-foot-7 right-hander struck out Thairo Estrada on a nasty slider, and froze No. 2 overall prospect Victor Robles with a 93.4-mph fastball on the outside corner.
Braves Ronald Acuna, OF, ATL No. 1 | MLB No. 5: Acuna, the second-highest-rated prospect in the AFL Fall Stars Game, went 1-for-4, leading off the game with a single to left field. The 19-year-old jumped across three Minor League levels in 2017, slashing an impressive .325/.374/.522 with 21 homers in 139 games between Class A Advanced Florida and Triple-A Gwinnett.
Austin Riley, 3B, ATL No. 10: Riley entered the game as the designated hitter in place of Francisco Mejia and went 0-for-1 with a walk. While he's prone to strike out often, he's also shown the power stroke that led Atlanta to develop him as a hitter rather than a pitcher out of high school. Riley slashed .275/.339/.446 with 20 homers in 129 games between Class A Advanced Florida and Double-A Mississippi in 2017.
Touki Toussaint, RHP, ATL No. 14: Toussaint tossed a scoreless seventh inning for the West team. The 16th overall selection in the 2014 Draft by the D-backs, he struggled at times with his command in '17, posting a 4.53 ERA in 26 starts between Class A Advanced Florida and Double-A Mississippi.
Brewers Jake Gatewood, 1B/3B, MIL No. 18: Gatewood played the final four innings at first base for the East. He grounded out to shortstop in his only at-bat.
Corey Ray, OF, MIL No. 2 | MLB No. 58: Ray started at designated hitter for the East, scored a run and went 1-for-3 with a single, walk and two strikeouts. The fifth overall pick in the 2016 Draft, Ray also stole two bases. He hit an infield single to second base on 1-2 pitch in his first at-bat, then struck out swinging in his next two at-bats before working a walk and scoring from third base on a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.
Cardinals Andrew Knizner, C, STL No. 27: Knizner entered the game behind the plate as a replacement for Pentecost, going 0-for-1 with a groundout to shortstop. In 2017, his second professional season, Knizner slashed .302/.349/.471 with 12 homers in 95 games between Class A Peoria and Double-A Springfield.
Sandy Alcantara, RHP, STL No. 9: Alcantara came on in the third, pitching two innings in relief of the West starter, Mitch Keller. He gave up two hits and struck out two, getting Corey Ray on a 99.1-mph fastball, and Billy McKinney with an 88.9-mph changeup, considered his second-best pitch behind the heater.
Jordan Hicks, RHP, STL No. 14: Hicks did not appear in the Fall Stars Game.
Cubs Adbert Alzolay, RHP, CHC No. 3: Alzolay pitched the fifth inning for the East and allowed a solo home run to the second batter he faced. He issued two walks, recorded outs on the ground and in the air, and struck out the last batter he faced to end the inning.
David Bote, 2B: Bote played the final four innings at second base for the East. He lined out to third base in his only at-bat.
Jake Stinnett, RHP: Stinnett pitched a perfect seventh inning for the East. The right-hander induced a ground ball to the first batter he faced, then got a flyout and ended the frame with a three-pitch strikeout.
D-backs Victor Reyes, OF, ARI No. 19: Reyes drove in the final run of the game for the East with a sacrifice fly to right field in the eighth inning. He came off the bench and played four innings in left field. Reyes grounded out to the pitcher in his first at-bat.
Kirby Bellow, LHP: Bellow did not appear in the Fall Stars Game.
Dodgers Yusniel Diaz, OF, LAD No. 5 | MLB No. 76: Diaz went 1-for-3 with an RBI single in the second to score Josh Naylor, who had tripled. The 21-year-old outfielder had a strong season in 2017 between Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa, slashing .292/.354/.433 with 11 home runs in 492 plate appearances. He's working on utilizing his speed on the basepaths, having been caught in 14 of 25 stolen-base attempts.
Matt Beaty, 3B/1B, LAD No. 30: Beaty, who had a strong showing for Double-A Tulsa in 2017, went 0-for-1 with a walk. A Double-A Texas League All-Star this season, he slashed .326/.378/.505 with 15 home runs in 116 games.
Giants Tyler Cyr, RHP: Cyr earned the save for the East by pitching a perfect ninth inning to hold a two-run lead. Cyr retired the first batter he faced on a ground ball, struck out the next batter on three pitches and then got a lineout to center in a full count to end the game.
Aramis Garcia, C, SF No. 8: Garcia came off the bench for the East and caught the final four innings. With Garcia behind the plate, four East pitchers combined to throw four hitless frames with five strikeouts against one walk.
Indians Francisco Mejia, C/DH, CLE No. 1 | MLB No. 13: The switch-hitting Mejia, who slashed .297/.346/.490 with 14 homers at Double-A Akron this season, went 1-for-2 with a double from the right side against left-hander Tanner Scott. Mejia lined a ball into right-center field in the fourth inning, with an exit velocity of 100.0 mph, hustling into second with a sliding double.
Argenis Angulo, RHP: Angulo came on for the West in the eighth inning and gave up a double, a single and a walk before exiting. He was charged with three runs in 1/3 of an inning. At Class A Advanced Lynchburg in 2017, he posted a 2.29 ERA in 41 appearances (55 innings), striking out 68 and walking 27.
Mariners Braden Bishop, OF, SEA No. 5: Bishop went 0-for-1 with a strikeout after entering the game in the sixth inning, playing center field. Known primarily for his defensive ability in center field when drafted, Bishop turned in a strong offensive season between Class A Advanced Modesto and Double-A Arkansas in 2017; he hit .306/.393/.413 with 22 steals in 119 games.
Matthew Festa, RHP: Festa tossed a 1-2-3 sixth inning for the West team, striking out a pair. The 24-year-old posted a 12.8 K/9 rate along with a 3.23 ERA in 69 2/3 innings for Class A Advanced Modesto in 2017.
Marlins Braxton Lee, OF: Lee came off the bench for the East and played the final four innings in right field. He went 0-for-2 with a strikeout. Lee was acquired from the Rays in June as part of the Adeiny Hechavarria trade.
Mets Luis Guillorme, SS/3B, NYM No. 11: Guillorme played the entire game at shortstop for the East. He made all the plays defensively and helped turn a double play to end the top of the second inning. Offensively, Guillorme went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored. He doubled to left on a 2-0 pitch in the bottom of the eighth and then scored from second on a single to left.
Tomas Nido, C, NYM No. 9: Nido started behind the plate for the East and caught five innings. With Nido catching, East pitchers allowed two runs on five hits, with seven strikeouts and three walks. Nido threw out Ronald Acuna trying to steal second base in the first inning. At the plate, Nido went 0-for-2.
Nationals Victor Robles, OF, WAS No. 1 | MLB No. 2: The top-ranked player in this year's Fall League, Robles lived up to the billing in the Fall Stars Game by winning MVP honors. Robles started in center field for the East and played the entire game. He scored two runs, stole a base and finished 1-for-3 with a run-scoring single, a walk and a strikeout.
Orioles Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, BAL No. 3: Mountcastle started at third base for the East and drove in the game's first run with a groundout to shortstop in the bottom of the first inning. Mountcastle, the 36th overall pick in the 2015 Draft, played five innings and finished 1-for-2 with a double.
Tanner Scott, LHP, BAL No. 6: Scott looked great in two scoreless innings for the East, striking out four and allowing a double. The lefty took the mound to open the third inning and then struck out the side. All four strikeouts came on swings and misses. He's in the AFL for a third straight year and was selected to the 2017 Futures Game.
Padres Luis Urias, SS, SD No. 3 | MLB No. 48: Urias starred both offensively and defensively, hitting a go-ahead solo homer in the fifth inning, and starting a slick 6-4-3 double play in the half inning prior to that. He began the double play by diving full-extension to his left to snare a sharp ground ball and then flipping to second. The home run, which came off Cubs' No. 3 prospect Adbert Alzolay, had an exit velocity of 107.9 mph and projected distance of 416 feet over the left-center-field wall, according to Statcast™.
Josh Naylor, 1B, SD No. 10: Naylor went 1-for-4, scorching a triple with an exit velocity of 107.5 mph down the right-field line in the second, and scoring the West's first run. The 20-year-old first baseman, drafted 12th overall by the Marlins in 2015, has plus-plus raw power and has shown plate discipline in slashing .280/.346/.415 with 10 homers in 114 games between Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio in 2017.
Phillies Cornelius Randolph, OF, PHI No. 12: The No. 15 overall pick by the Phillies in the 2015 Draft, Randolph went 0-for-1 with a deep flyout to center field (100.2-mph exit velocity, per Statcast™) after entering the game in the sixth inning. Though a shoulder injury slowed him down in 2016, Philadelphia is eager to see what a healthy Randolph can do at the plate. In 2017, he slashed .250/.338/.402 with 13 homers in 122 games, rebounding from a slow start.
Pirates Mitch Keller, RHP, PIT No. 2 | MLB No. 18: Keller made the start for the West, going two innings and giving up a run on one hit and walking two. He threw 38 pitches, 20 of which were strikes. A second-round pick by the Pirates in the 2014 Draft, Keller flashed his 97-mph fastball, but he struggled with his command in the first inning, issuing both of his walks in that frame. He retired the side in order in the second.
Kevin Kramer, 2B, PIT No. 9: Though his 2017 season at Double-A Altoona was shortened due to a broken hand in June, Kramer was in the midst of a breakout season, slashing .297/.380/.500 in 53 games. He went 0-for-1 in the AFL Fall Stars Game with a groundout to first base.
Adam Choplick, LHP: Choplick did not appear in the Fall Stars Game.
Rays Brandon Lowe, 2B, TB No. 13: Lowe, who slashed .298/.375/.493 with 11 home runs between Class A Advanced Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery in 2017, went 0-for-2 with a walk.
Red Sox Michael Chavis, 3B, BOS No. 2 | MLB No. 92: The 26th overall selection in the 2014 Draft, Chavis went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts in the Fall Stars Game. He had a much-improved season in 2017 after struggling in his first two professional seasons. Between Class A Advanced Salem and Double-A Portland, the 22-year-old third baseman slashed .282/.347/.563 with 31 homers in 126 games.
Reds Brennan Bernardino, LHP: Bernardino earned the win for the East with a hitless eighth inning. With the East trailing, 2-1, Bernardino entered to start the top of the eighth. He retired the first batter he faced on a ground ball, walked the next batter on four pitches and then got a pair of swinging strikeouts to end the frame. The East scored three runs in the bottom of the inning, and Bernardino was credited with the win.
Rockies Yency Almonte, RHP, COL No. 10: Almonte had his sinker and slider working as he pitched a hitless sixth inning for the East. Almonte retired the first batter he faced on a popup, walked the next batter on a full count and then responded with a swinging strikeout and a grounder to end the frame.
Royals Nicky Lopez, SS, KC No. 11: Lopez came off the bench to play shortstop, going 0-for-2 with a groundout back to the mound and lineout to center. Though not a power hitter, he walked as many times as he struck out between Class A Advanced Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2017 (52), hitting .279/.348/.356 with 21 steals in 129 games.
Gerson Moreno, RHP, DET No. 20: Moreno did not appear in the Fall Stars Game.
Twins Tyler Jay, LHP, MIN No. 8: Jay, the sixth overall pick in the 2015 Draft, was called upon in the eighth inning for the West team, inheriting runners at first and second with one out. He gave up a single to Braden Bishop and a sacrifice fly from Victor Reyes before striking out Braxton Lee to end the inning.
White Sox Jace Fry, LHP: Fry did not appear in the Fall Stars Game.
Yankees Thairo Estrada, SS, NYY No. 17: Estrada started at second base for the East and played five innings. Defensively, he started a double play to end the top of the second inning. At the plate, Estrada went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
Billy McKinney, 1B/OF, NYY No. 23: McKinney started in left field for the East and went 0-for-2 with a flyout and a strikeout . McKinney, who was acquired from the Cubs in last year's Aroldis Chapman deal, played five innings in the field.
Justus Sheffield, LHP, NYY No. 4 | MLB No. 79: Sheffield started for the East and pitched two innings, allowing one run on three hits. The 31st overall pick in the 2014 Draft, Sheffield walked one and recorded two strikeouts swinging. He threw 31 pitches, the last one resulting in an inning-ending double play. Sheffield was part of the package the Yankees received from the Indians in the Andrew Miller trade last year.