Image credit: (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
The Arizona Fall League held its annual Fall Stars Game on Nov. 6. The American League won the game by a 6-3 final, led by two hits, including a home run, from White Sox top prospect Colson Montgomery, who was named the game’s MVP.
Eric Brown Jr. (Brewers), Kyle Manzardo (Guardians) and Will Robertson (Blue Jays) added home runs, and Brown Jr. made a pair of highlight-reel plays. Cardinals outfielder Victor Scott II stole three bags in the game, which was played at Mesa’s Sloan Park.
Best Hitter — Colson Montgomery, SS, White Sox: Montgomery currently ranks No. 14 on BA’s Top 100, and he used the spotlight of the Fall Stars Game to show why he’s earned such accolades. In his first at-bat, facing Nationals lefty DJ Herz, Montgomery got a fastball running away from him at shot it through a shifted infield for a single. He homered in his second at-bat and finished as the only player in the game with multiple hits.
Best Power — Colson Montgomery, SS, White Sox: Montgomery’s homer—the first of four in the game—was an absolute no-doubter. More than its distance, the blast stood out for a number of reasons. First, it came off of a fellow lefthander. The White Sox’s top prospect was pitted against Dodgers southpaw Ronan Kopp, who held same-side hitters to a .179 batting average during the regular season.
Next, it came with two strikes. Kopp looped in a curveball for the second strike, then fed Montgomery a heater down and on the outside corner. Montgomery shot it out of play foul. The next pitch was middle-in, and Montgomery hammered it onto the berm. According to the MLB Network broadcast, it traveled 409 feet and left the bat at 105 mph.
Best Speed — Victor Scott II, OF, Cardinals: Speed is one of Scott’s calling cards, and it was on display almost immediately in the Fall Stars Game. The outfielder sliced the second pitch of the game into medium left field, then turned on the jets around first to turn a blooper into a hustle double. He then stole third base, his first of three steals on the day.
Best Baserunner — Michael Trautwein, C, Reds: In the third inning, the Cincinnati backstop prospect showed off excellent instincts on the basepaths. After doubling into the right-center field gap, he surprised everyone by successfully swiping third base. A batter later, he continued to show opportunistic tendencies by going on contact and scoring the game’s first run on a grounder to first base. Trautwein certainly wasn’t the game’s fastest runner, but he prove to be its smartest runner.
Best Defender — Eric Brown Jr., SS, Brewers: In the fourth inning, The Milwaukee prospect was shifted to the right against lefthanded hitter Chase DeLauter, who poked a grounder toward the area where Brown would normally be stationed. Brown reacted quickly, scooped the ball while sliding to a stop, then popped back up in plenty of time to make a strong throw to get DeLauter by plenty. The play was extremely difficult, but Brown’s quickness and instincts made it look smooth and easy. An inning later, he showed his range in the other direction by vacuuming up Damiano Palmegiani’s grounder before whirling, throwing and getting the out by two steps.
Best Defender (Honorable Mention) — JT Schwartz, 1B, Mets: Though Brown’s pair of gems takes the category, Schwartz’s glove work deserves a mention. In the bottom of the eighth, the Mets prospect showed off his range by reacting quickly to a looping foul bloop off the bat of Oakland prospect Max Muncy. Schwartz drifted back, then made a full-extension dive to haul in the ball before it could land in foul ground. There’s a fair chance it was the best play from a first baseman in the entirety of the Fall League.
Best Arm — Will Robertson, OF, Blue Jays: In the second inning, Padres prospect Jakob Marsee banged a ball off the left-field wall, just out of Robertson’s reach. Still, the Toronto outfielder was collected enough to corral the carom and fire a strike to third base, where fellow Blue Jays prospect Damiano Palmegiani was waiting to apply the tag to the sliding Marsee.
Best Fastball — Emiliano Teodo, RHP, Rangers: Although the Fall Stars Game was Teodo’s worst outing of the AFL—it was the only time he’s walked multiple hitters or failed to record a strikeout—it was easy to see why he’d racked up 19 strikeouts in his previous 11 fall frames. The righthander brought his sinker up to 101 mph and got swings and misses and grounders during his inning. We’ve written plenty about it in the past few weeks, but changing from a four-seamer to a sinker has quickly turned the direction of Teodo’s career.
Best Breaking Ball — Juan Mejia, RHP, Rockies: Mejia’s sweeping slider has opened eyes during the AFL, and the pitch was clearly on display in the Fall Stars Game. The righthander, who struck out 86 hitters in 58.2 regular-season innings, used his slider in the FSG to add two more strikeouts to his total for the season. Both of his victims—Kala’i Rosario (Twins) and Kyle Manzardo (Guardians) can be counted among the AFL’s most feared sluggers. By finishing both batters with breaking balls, he showed the pitch can be effective against both lefties and righties.