The 12 Youngest Players in the 2022 Arizona Fall League

Image credit: Jordan Walker (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The Arizona Fall League is nearly upon us. On Oct. 3, players will descend upon the greater Phoenix area for six weeks of games. 

The league serves a number of purposes, including extra reps for players who missed time during the season, extra looks at players who need to be added to the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft and a sort of finishing school for prospects who are among their system’s elite. 

The latter group includes players like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Ronald Acuña Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Aaron Judge

Oftentimes, the way to find the best players is simply by looking at their birthday and identifying the youngest players on the circuit. With that in mind, here are the 12 youngest players on the league’s preliminary rosters, which were released on Friday.

1. Deyvison De Los Santos, 3B, D-backs

Birthdate: June 21, 2003

Quietly, De Los Santos has torn the minor leagues to shreds this summer. The powerful infielder opened at Low-A Visalia and earned a late-season promotion to Double-A Amarillo by season’s end. His 22 home runs this season are the most by any player 19 or younger. 

2. Jose Salas, SS, Marlins

Birthdate: April 26, 2003

Salas didn’t carry the highest profile of the Marlins’ cachet of middle infield prospects, but his performance has put him a tick above the rest. He was promoted to High-A in late June but was underwhelming in his 48 games in the Midwest League. Salas doesn’t have one particular standout tool, but the overall package makes him one of Miami’s top talents.

3. Jackson Merrill, SS, Padres

Birthdate: April 19, 2003

Merrill, the Padres’ first-round pick in the 2021 draft, opened eyes with his play in spring training, then spent two months recovering from a wrist injury. He was outstanding when he was on the field, slashing .325/.387/.482 in 45 games with Low-A Lake Elsinore. He’ll make up for lost time in the Fall League.

4. Jasson Dominguez, OF, Yankees

Birthdate: Feb. 7, 2003
Dominguez put up admirable numbers in the Low-A Florida State League, especially given his age, relative inexperience and the overall pitcher-friendly atmosphere around the league. Once he got to High-A Hudson Valley, however, Dominguez kicked it into high gear. He finished his 40-game run with the Renegades with a .907 OPS and six home runs. The Yankees promoted him to Double-A Somerset for the season’s final week and the Eastern League playoffs. 

5.Joe Mack, C, Marlins

Birthdate: Dec. 27, 2002

Mack was Miami’s second-round choice in 2021, out of high school in New York. He showed strong on-base skills in his pro debut, but was limited to just 41 games (35 outside of the Florida Complex League) because of injuries. At his best, he offers the potential for impact both at the plate and behind it as well. 

6. Adrian Sugastey, C, Giants
Birthdate: Oct. 23, 2002
Sugastey has emerged as one of the better prospects in the San Francisco system thanks to a blend of defensive skills that should allow him to stick behind the plate and offensive skills that could make him valuable on both sides of the ball. He makes plenty of contact and struck out just 53 times in 371 plate appearances this season, spent almost exclusively at Low-A San Jose. He missed about five weeks during the summer with injury. 

7. Jeferson Quero, C, Brewers
Birthdate: Oct. 8, 2002
Despite being one of the youngest in the Fall League, Quero was somehow nowhere near the youngest on a Low-A Carolina club packed with talented teenagers. He was bothered a bit by a cut on his hand during the season but played well enough to earn a late-season promotion to High-A Wisconsin, where he cooked the competition. In the Midwest League, Quero hit .313/.329/.530 with four home runs in 20 games. He had five passed balls all year and threw out 31% of attempted basestealers.

8. Tink Hence, RHP, Cardinals
Birthdate: Aug. 6, 2002
Hence is one of the most electric arms in the minor leagues, and he’s dominated in short bursts with Low-A Palm Beach all summer long. He finished with an absurd 81 strikeouts in 52.1 innings. Put another way, he struck out 41.5% of the 195 hitters he faced. He works with an electric fastball that plays up because of his excellent extension and backs it with a nasty changeup and a pair of breaking balls that flash plus but need more consistency. He will be appointment viewing during his time in the desert.

9. Jordan Lawlar, SS, D-backs
Birthdate: July 17, 2002
Lawlar is the second highest-ranked prospect heading to the Fall League. He was drafted sixth overall in 2021 and has hit his way to Double-A in his first season as a pro. The quick rise is especially notable considering he hurt his shoulder after just two Arizona Complex League games last summer. Overall, Lawlar is one of just eight players since 2006 to hit .300 with 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases in his age-19 season.

10. Warming Bernabel, 3B, Rockies
Birthdate: June 6, 2002
The Rockies’ minor league system is bubbling, and a great deal of that talent was concentrated at the lower levels. Bernabel was part of a dynamic group at Low-A Fresno that also included shortstop Adael Amador, outfielder Yanquiel Fernandez and righthander Victor Juarez. Bernabel was promoted to High-A Spokane on July 3 and continued bashing the ball, posting a .904 OPS before landing on the injured list on Aug. 23.

11. Jordan Walker, 3B/OF, Cardinals
Birthdate: May 22, 2002
Walker is the highest-rated player among the Fall League’s preliminary rosters, checking in at No. 7 on the Top 100. He’s one of the sport’s premier power brokers and has shown enough athleticism to move to the outfield in anticipation of the Nolan Arenado-sized roadblock at the hot corner in St. Louis. The Cardinals’ AFL contingent is among the best in the sport, but Walker is the clear best of the nest.

12. Nick Yorke, 2B, Red Sox
Birthdate: May 22, 2002
Much like fellow young Fall Leaguer Luis Matos, Yorke began the season on the Top 100 but fell off after scuffling. In all, Yorke produced an OPS of just .668 at High-A Greenville in 80 games while dealing with multiple injuries. Before 2022, he’d earned a rep as one of the best offensive prospects in Boston’s system. Now, he’ll try to use the AFL to rebound while making up for the lost at-bats.

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