Arizona Fall League Team of the Year – 2017

Once again, this year’s Arizona Fall League featured a number of baseball’s top prospects. Here is Baseball Farm’s 2017 AFL team of the year. Below each player has a player card also summarizing their 2017 MiLB stats.

C – Will Smith – Glendale Desert Dogs (MLB Parent: Los Angeles Dodgers)

AFL | .371/.452/.565 | 23 H | 62 AB | 35 TB | 2 HR | 12 R | 16 RBI | 10 BB | 0 SB | 18 SO

The Dodgers 2016 1st-round pick out of Louisville impressed among an overall solid group of catching prospects (Andrew Knizner, Alex Jackson, Seby Zavala, Sean Murphy) in the AFL this fall. Smith showed excellent patience at the dish, racking up a .452 OBP, while also hitting for power (.565 SLG, 2 HR, 4 2B).

 

1B – Josh Naylor – Peoria Javelinas (MLB Parent: San Diego Padres)

AFL | .304/.337/.494 | 24 H | 79 AB | 39 TB | 3 HR | 10 R | 14 RBI | 3 BB | 2 SB | 14 SO

This power hitting left-handed Canadian was a first round pick of the Marlins in 2015. This Fall, he impressed by flashing an expanded skill set outside of power hitting. On top of hitting for power (3 HR, 6 2B), Naylor also made good contact (.304 BA) and managed to steal 2 bases. It will be interesting to see if Naylor’s game continues to develop as he moves up the Padres ladder next season.

 

2B – David Bote – Mesa Solar Sox (MLB Parent: Chicago Cubs)

AFL | .333/.395/.536 | 23 H | 69 AB | 37 TB | 4 HR | 13 R | 14 RBI | 5 BB | 1 SB | 14 SO

Bote got out of the gate as one of the hottest hitters in the AFL, earning the first player of the week honors by hitting .500 with 3 HR. He cooled off a bit after that initial week, but Bote still finished as one of the league’s best hitters. Bote, who was Rule 5 eligible this offseason, played well enough to earn his way onto the Cubs 40-man roster for 2018.

 

3B – Eric Filia – Peoria Javelinas (MLB Parent: Seattle Mariners)

AFL | .408/.483/.605 | 31 H | 76 AB | 46 TB | 1 HR | 15 R | 13 RBI | 12 BB | 0 SB | 7 SO

Filia finished 2017 as the AFL’s batting champion, hitting a robust .408 in 22 games for a stacked Peoria lineup. Filia is now 25 years old, and spent all of last year in the A-Advanced California League, but after his AFL breakout he needs to be monitored this offseason. He should be moved aggressively up the ladder by the Mariners. Filia beat out a loaded group of 3Bs this year (Austin Riley, Sheldon Neuse, Kody Eaves, Francisco Mejia)

 

SS – Nicky Lopez – Surprise Saguaros (MLB Parent: Kansas City Royals)

AFL | .383/.433/.568 | 31 H | 81 AB | 46 TB | 2 HR | 15 R | 10 RBI | 7 BB | 3 SB | 14 SO

Lopez was the top overall hitter in the 2017 AFL using Baseball Farm’s proprietary statistical model. He made solid contact, got on base at a ridiculous rate (.433 OBP), hit for power (2 HR, 5 2B), stole 3 bags, and played strong defense. The Royals 2016 5th round pick has probably played his way onto a lot of sleeper prospect lists heading into 2018, and he’s still only 22 years old. Look for him to start next year in the AA Texas League, with the chance to move up the ladder if he consolidates his hitting gains.

 

OF – Ronald Acuna – Peoria Javelinas (MLB Parent: Atlanta Braves)

AFL | .325/.414/.639 | 27 H | 83 AB | 53 TB | 7 HR | 22 R | 16 RBI | 12 BB | 2 SB | 22 SO

He was voted AFL MVP, he was our final AFL Player of the Week, he led the AFL with 7 bombs, and he led a loaded Peoria Javelinas team to the AFL championship by driving in 4 runs in the title game. This 19 year-old Venezuelan really looks the part of the top prospect in baseball. We could really be watching something special if he makes his MLB debut in 2018.

 

OF – Monte Harrison – Salt River Rafters (MLB Parent: Milwaukee Brewers)

AFL | .283/.333/.604 | 15 H | 53 AB | 32 TB | 5 HR | 12 R | 14 RBI | 4 BB | 5 SB | 20 SO

A toolsy prospect who flashed an excellent power/speed combo (5 HR, 5 SB) in the AFL this fall. The Brewers 2014 second round pick had an impressive year between A-Full Season and A-Advanced this year, holding his gains while moving up levels and finishing in the 20/20 club. If he keeps filling stat sheets like he did in Arizona this fall, Harrison makes an excellent roto prospect moving forward.

 

OF – Victor Robles – Mesa Solar Sox (MLB Parent: Washington Nationals)

AFL | .244/.389/.488 | 10 H | 41 AB | 20 TB | 3 HR | 10 R | 7 RBI | 10 BB | 7 SB | 9 SO

This athletic 20 year old Dominican OF made his MLB debut for Washington this summer, cementing his place as one of baseball’s top prospects. While he didn’t impress on the level of baseball’s other hot young OF prospect (Acuna) Robles strung together a nice Fall and took his team to the AFL Championship game against Peoria. Robles’s batting eye was impressive: 10 BB/9 Ks in 41 ABs.

 

RHP – Justus Sheffield – Scottsdale Scorpions (MLB Parent: New York Yankees)

AFL 20.1 IP | 22 SO | 7.33 KBB | 0.84 WHIP | 3.10 ERA | 14 H | 0 HR | 3 BB

There is no statistically significant correlation between a pitcher’s height and his effectiveness or durability (http://sabr.org/research/does-pitcher-s-height-matter). Use this to your advantage when evaluating prospects, such as Justus Sheffield. Sheffield is another gem in a loaded Yankees system (Baseball Farm pitching rating: A+). His pitching control (7.33 K/BB ratio) was particularly eye-popping.

 

LHP – Max Fried – Peoria Javelinas (MLB Parent: Atlanta Braves)

AFL 26.0 IP | 32 SO | 4 KBB | 0.88 WHIP | 1.73 ERA | 15 H | 1 HR | 8 BB

Braves lefty farmhand is the 4th Peoria Javelina to make our AFL team of the year. Fried made 6 excellent starts this fall, finishing with a 3-1 record and posting a miniscule 0.88 WHIP. AFL batters only managed a .163 batting average against him. Fried will be pushing for a starting rotation spot this spring after making 4 starts in the big leagues in 2017.

 

RP – Kirby Bellow – Salt River Rafters (MLB Parent: Arizona Diamondbacks)

AFL 15.0 IP | 17 SO | 5.66 KBB | 0.87 WHIP | 1.80 ERA | 10 H | 0 HR | 3 BB

Lefty reliever sparkled in 11 relief appearances during the AFL. Bellow allowed few runners to reach base (0.87 WHIP) and displayed excellent control (5.66 K/BB ratio) in 15 innings out of the pen for the Rafters. Hitters only managed a .189 batting average against him, and he was particularly tough on lefties, who hit a measly .095.

 

Here are 2017’s top-20 AFL hitters using our proprietary stats:

Nicky Lopez SS | .383/.433/.568 | 31 H | 81 AB | 46 TB | 2 HR | 15 R | 10 RBI | 7 BB | 3 SB | 14 SO
Ronald Acuna CF | .325/.414/.639 | 27 H | 83 AB | 53 TB | 7 HR | 22 R | 16 RBI | 12 BB | 2 SB | 22 SO
David Bote 2B | .333/.395/.536 | 23 H | 69 AB | 37 TB | 4 HR | 13 R | 14 RBI | 5 BB | 1 SB | 14 SO
Eric Filia 3B | .408/.483/.605 | 31 H | 76 AB | 46 TB | 1 HR | 15 R | 13 RBI | 12 BB | 0 SB | 7 SO
Steve Wilkerson 2B | .317/.396/.512 | 26 H | 82 AB | 42 TB | 1 HR | 15 R | 10 RBI | 9 BB | 2 SB | 14 SO
Monte Harrison CF | .283/.333/.604 | 15 H | 53 AB | 32 TB | 5 HR | 12 R | 14 RBI | 4 BB | 5 SB | 20 SO
Austin Riley 3B | .300/.364/.657 | 21 H | 70 AB | 46 TB | 6 HR | 11 R | 18 RBI | 4 BB | 1 SB | 21 SO
Sheldon Neuse 3B | .314/.366/.570 | 27 H | 86 AB | 49 TB | 5 HR | 20 R | 23 RBI | 7 BB | 0 SB | 16 SO
Jonathan Davis RF | .295/.389/.410 | 23 H | 78 AB | 32 TB | 1 HR | 15 R | 13 RBI | 9 BB | 7 SB | 15 SO
Victor Robles OF | .244/.389/.488 | 10 H | 41 AB | 20 TB | 3 HR | 10 R | 7 RBI | 10 BB | 7 SB | 9 SO
Josh Naylor 1B | .304/.337/.494 | 24 H | 79 AB | 39 TB | 3 HR | 10 R | 14 RBI | 3 BB | 2 SB | 14 SO
Kody Eaves 3B | .337/.389/.554 | 28 H | 83 AB | 46 TB | 3 HR | 14 R | 9 RBI | 6 BB | 1 SB | 23 SO
Will Smith C | .371/.452/.565 | 23 H | 62 AB | 35 TB | 2 HR | 12 R | 16 RBI | 10 BB | 0 SB | 18 SO
Francisco Mejia 3B | .365/.397/.476 | 23 H | 63 AB | 30 TB | 2 HR | 12 R | 8 RBI | 2 BB | 0 SB | 6 SO
Andrew Knizner C | .358/.403/.537 | 24 H | 67 AB | 36 TB | 3 HR | 8 R | 12 RBI | 4 BB | 0 SB | 11 SO
Lourdes Gurriel SS | .291/.309/.494 | 23 H | 79 AB | 39 TB | 3 HR | 10 R | 11 RBI | 1 BB | 2 SB | 11 SO
Thairo Estrada SS | .342/.381/.430 | 27 H | 79 AB | 34 TB | 1 HR | 13 R | 10 RBI | 3 BB | 3 SB | 19 SO
Kevin Kaczmarski CF | .351/.393/.442 | 27 H | 77 AB | 34 TB | 1 HR | 12 R | 11 RBI | 5 BB | 2 SB | 20 SO
Michael O’Neill RF | .286/.315/.457 | 20 H | 70 AB | 32 TB | 2 HR | 12 R | 12 RBI | 3 BB | 4 SB | 14 SO
Kelvin Gutierrez 3B | .350/.438/.475 | 14 H | 40 AB | 19 TB | 1 HR | 6 R | 9 RBI | 7 BB | 1 SB | 10 SO

Here are 2017’s top-20 AFL pitchers (min. 15 innings) using our proprietary stats:

Justus Sheffield 20.1 IP | 22 SO | 7.33 KBB | 0.84 WHIP | 3.10 ERA | 14 H | 0 HR | 3 BB
Kirby Bellow 15.0 IP | 17 SO | 5.66 KBB | 0.87 WHIP | 1.80 ERA | 10 H | 0 HR | 3 BB
Mickey Jannis 27.0 IP | 24 SO | 4.8 KBB | 1.04 WHIP | 2.33 ERA | 23 H | 0 HR | 5 BB
Max Fried 26.0 IP | 32 SO | 4 KBB | 0.88 WHIP | 1.73 ERA | 15 H | 1 HR | 8 BB
T.J. Zeuch 18.1 IP | 15 SO | 3.75 KBB | 0.98 WHIP | 3.44 ERA | 14 H | 0 HR | 4 BB
Burch Smith 20.1 IP | 29 SO | 2.63 KBB | 1.13 WHIP | 3.98 ERA | 12 H | 0 HR | 11 BB
Sean Brady 22.2 IP | 16 SO | 3.2 KBB | 1.19 WHIP | 2.78 ERA | 22 H | 1 HR | 5 BB
Mitch Keller 23.2 IP | 13 SO | 2.6 KBB | 1.01 WHIP | 1.52 ERA | 19 H | 1 HR | 5 BB
Max Povse 25.2 IP | 25 SO | 4.16 KBB | 1.32 WHIP | 4.56 ERA | 28 H | 1 HR | 6 BB
Ben Meyer 15.1 IP | 18 SO | 3.6 KBB | 1.63 WHIP | 4.11 ERA | 20 H | 0 HR | 5 BB
Keegan Akin 16.1 IP | 13 SO | 2.6 KBB | 0.92 WHIP | 2.76 ERA | 10 H | 1 HR | 5 BB
Taylor Hearn 17.2 IP | 14 SO | 1.75 KBB | 1.25 WHIP | 3.06 ERA | 14 H | 0 HR | 8 BB
Alec Mills 23.0 IP | 20 SO | 3.33 KBB | 1.39 WHIP | 3.91 ERA | 26 H | 1 HR | 6 BB
Colin Poche 16.1 IP | 21 SO | 2.62 KBB | 1.16 WHIP | 3.31 ERA | 11 H | 2 HR | 8 BB
Zach Jemiola 23.0 IP | 19 SO | 2.11 KBB | 1.35 WHIP | 2.74 ERA | 22 H | 1 HR | 9 BB
Kyle McGowin 20.2 IP | 27 SO | 99 KBB | 1.50 WHIP | 4.79 ERA | 31 H | 6 HR | 0 BB
Spencer Turnbull 21.2 IP | 19 SO | 3.16 KBB | 1.43 WHIP | 3.74 ERA | 25 H | 3 HR | 6 BB
Albert Abreu 27.2 IP | 23 SO | 1.64 KBB | 1.27 WHIP | 2.60 ERA | 21 H | 3 HR | 14 BB
Tyler Beede 16.0 IP | 11 SO | 2.75 KBB | 1.25 WHIP | 4.50 ERA | 16 H | 1 HR | 4 BB
Logan Shore 24.0 IP | 18 SO | 9 KBB | 1.54 WHIP | 6.00 ERA | 35 H | 5 HR | 2 BB

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