SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—Top prospects from around the league came together last night for the annual Rising Stars game, an all-star event showcasing the top talent in the Arizona Fall League. In a game filled with electric moments, the host East squad claimed a 9-4 victory over the West in front of a league record crowd of 5,713 at Salt River Field at Talking Stick.
Leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton (Reds) opened things for the West in the first and showed just why many believe he’s the most electric player in the minor. After drawing a walk from East starter Jarred Cosart (Astros), the speedy center fielder swiped second base and third base (on a delayed steal) before coming around to score on a double by right fielder Rymer Lirinao (Padres).
That wasn’t it for Hamilton though, who would continue to make noise throughout the game, both at the plate and in the field. In his third at bat, Hamilton dropped a drag-bunt down the first base line, drawing an errant throw that allowed baserunner Nick Ahmed (Braves) to score from first base and Hamilton to wind up on third. For many scouts in attendance, Hamilton’s home-to-first time (3.40 seconds) on the bunt was the fastest they had ever timed.
Hamilton, who was sent to the Arizona Fall League to work on his transition from shortstop to the outfield, even showed off his defensive progress, tracking down a well-hit flyball to deep center field off the bat of East outfielder Brian Goodwin (Nationals). Said one evaluator, “He’s got the ability to be an above-average center fielder out there. That speed is elite. He just needs more reps.”
After the game, Hamilton was pleased with his performance. “It was fun. Excitement is the main thing about me and whatever I do. I knew everyone back home was watching (on MLB Network)—had to put on a show for them.”
After Hamilton and Liriano scored in the first, the East responded with a pair of runs in the first and second innings off West starter Kyle Gibson (Twins). Goodwin (Nationals) narrowed the deficit with a solo home run to right-center in the first inning and catcher Austin Romine (Yankees) tied things up in the second, scoring on a wild pitch after crushing a triple to center field to leadoff the inning.
The teams would exchange runs before the East blew things open with a six-run fifth inning that put the game to its final 9-4 tally. After right fielder Corey Dickerson (Rockies) drove in the game-tying run off righthander Michael Tonkin (Twins), second baseman David Adams (Yankees) doubled to right-center, bringing in two more. He would also come around on a double by Goodwin, his second extra-base hit of the game.
Diamondbacks’ Anderson Impresses Locals
In a game dominated by hitting, local fans also got a look at pitching prospect Chase Anderson (Diamondbacks). The 6-foot-1, 175-pound righthander came in relief of Cosart and shined, tossing two shutout innings, allowing two hits while striking out four.
“It really couldn’t have been any better,” Anderson said. “It’s very cool being in front of your home fans—this being our home field for Spring Training. I wasn’t too nervous and just tried to stay within myself, stay locked in.”
Anderson has been dominant this fall, going 2-0, 3.29 over 14 innings (four starts), with 19 strikeouts and just five walks. On Saturday, he admittedly ramped up his stuff, sitting 92-94 mph with his fastball. He mixed in a plus changeup at 81-83 mph that drew multiple swings-and-misses from both lefthanded and righthanded hitters and a 76-78 mph curveball with excellent depth.
• Gibson allowed two runs on three hits, striking out two and walking one. Gibson showed a solid three-pitch mix, led by his 92-94 mph fastball with excellent life. His slider flashed plus, showing sharp bite at 82-84 mph while his changeup came in at 85 mph. Scouts continue to view him as a middle-of-the-rotation arm, some believing he has the upside of a No. 2 starter.
• East starter Jarred Cosart (Astros) dialed his fastball up to 99 mph, but struggled with control in his two innings of work. Cosart, who was in Houston the day before helping unveil the big league club’s new uniforms, also mixed in a plus curveball at 81-82 mph with excellent, consistent break and an 85 mph changeup.
• Goodwin went 2-for-5 with a double and home run. For one scout, it was Goodwin that jumped off the paper Saturday night: “I honestly didn’t realize he had that kind of power in him. He hit a couple balls really hard up the middle tonight.”
• East reliever Mark Montgomery (Yankees) struck out the side in the eighth inning. The righthander attacked hitters with a 91-92 mph fastball and plus 83-86 mph slider with excellent dive.
• East outfielder Nick Castellanos (Tigers), the 2011 Futures Game MVP, continued to excel on the big stage with a pair of hits. Facing Gibson in the first, Castellanos showed off his bat control and contact ability, flipping a single to right field on a slider, after swinging over the top of one on the previous pitch.
• West reliever Johnny Hellweg (Brewers), who was traded for Zach Greinke this summer, only faced one batter but dialed it up to 100 mph.