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2017 Arizona Fall League Preview

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The Arizona Fall League gets underway this week with Ronald Acuña among the Braves being sent to the prospect showcase

MLB: Spring Training-Atlanta Braves at New York Yankees Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Fall League gets under way this week(Tuesday), and the Braves have sent some key prospects this year. For those that aren’t aware of what the AFL is, it’s a prospect showcase league every fall where six teams made up of prospects from five big league clubs compete. Most of these prospects come from the upper levels of the minor leagues- Double A and Triple A experience is common, but not all have it.

The league started in 1992 and is a league that many teams choose to send elite prospects to. Of course not every prospect here is elite, and some teams entirely forego sending top prospects because they prefer to keep them for instructional leagues. Alumni of the league includes the likes of Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Albert Pujols, Mike Piazza, and Derek Jeter among others.

The AFL is a chance for a guy who is right on the doorstep of the big leagues(Ronald Acuña) to get a little extra work that could help him crack the Opening Day Roster. Or it could be a way to get a guy who missed time with injury(Max Fried) a chance to re-gain that lost developmental time. In other cases you could see a young prospect a team wants to test out against top competition(Austin Riley).

The AFL is a league that plays with very little else going on for scouts, so it’s heavily attended. A strong showing here and you could go from very good prospect to elite, like Gleyber Torres just did after a strong showing last year. But it could also expose some holes in your game against high level competition with many extra eyeballs on you- not that a bad showing is damning to every prospect as Mike Trout hit .245 with a .600 OPS in 25 games back in 2011 after being worn out after a long season.

In the last six years the league’s MVP has gone to big name guys most of the time with Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant, Greg Bird, and Gleyber Torres winning the award. That said you can still see those occasional wins by Chris McGuiness and Adam Engel as well.

Braves Prospects

Corbin Clouse-Clouse has some of the best stuff of any relief prospect in the game, but needs to tighten his command a bit to realize his full potential. This test could help him as he makes a push to the big leagues in 2018.

Max Fried-Fried made his big league debut this year, but the time he lost due to minor injuries and innings he lost while relieving will get made up here. With some time off to rest the Braves are hoping we can see the Fried we saw in 2016 and in spring training.

Josh Graham-It’s easy to forget Graham is still a recent convert to the mound, as the former college catcher seems to get a lot of work in the minors. This opportunity should let Graham log even more innings under his belt as he starts to push himself up towards Atlanta.

Touki Toussaint-One of the game’s most talented pitching prospects, Touki is getting some additional work as he tries to get the light bulb to go on. Touki will need to build off his late season success and hopefully improve his command.

Alex Jackson-Jackson lost time with injury and started slow after his promotion to Double A, but he came on strong late. The AFL could allow him to build on that and get some of the additional catching reps he needs. He’s one of four catchers on the roster, though two of them are on the taxi squad, so expect him to split time most of the week.

Austin Riley-Riley again ended the season hot, and will get a chance to show what he can do against the toughest pitching he’s faced so far. He’s likely to split time at third with Red Sox slugger Michael Chavis.

Ronald Acuña-The top prospect in the game is likely to play a lot if the Braves don’t hold him back at all after his long season. Acuña will be facing some quality pitching to help get him ready for a shot to break camp with the team.

Jared James-James was named to the team after Seymour was removed. He’s going to be on the taxi squad, so he can only play on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Anfernee Seymour-Initially named to the team, Seymour was removed after a violation of team rules.

Top Prospects

The AFL is a league mostly made up of hitting prospects with less top pitching prospects than hitters as you will notice. This is because of the way pitchers innings are so heavily monitored by teams. You’ll notice the theme that almost all of the top pitching prospects in the league missed time with injury this year.

Below is a list of arguably the 20 top prospects the league has to offer this year, and as you’ll notice it’s showing up with 25% Braves speaking to how good the Braves group is. There are plenty of other good prospects in the league as well.

Ronald Acuña, OF, Braves

Victor Robles, OF, Nationals

Mitch Keller, RHP, Pirates

Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros

Francisco Mejia, C/3B, Indians

Estevan Florial, OF, Yankees

Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners

Luis Urias, SS/2B, Padres

Yusniel Diaz, OF, Dodgers

Michael Chavis, 3B, Red Sox

Yordan Alvarez, 1B/OF, Astros

Justus Sheffield, LHP, Yankees

Corey Ray, OF, Brewers

Monte Harrison, OF, Brewers

Austin Riley, 3B, Braves

Touki Toussaint, RHP, Braves

Dillon Tate, RHP, Yankees

Sheldon Neuse, 3B, Athletics

Alex Jackson, C, Braves

Max Fried, LHP, Braves

Teams

Below you will find a list of the teams in the league and the affiliates that make up each team. Linked to each team is a full preview of everyone on the roster from my work at Minor League Ball.

Glendale Desert Dogs (White Sox, Indians, Dodgers, Pirates, Phillies)

Mesa Solar Sox (Cubs, Tigers, Astros, Athletics, Nationals)

Peoria Javelinas (Braves, Red Sox, Padres, Mariners, Blue Jays)

Salt River Rafters (Diamondbacks, Orioles, Rockies, Marlins, Brewers)

Scottsdale Scorpions (Reds, Angels, Giants, Yankees, Mets)

Surprise Saguaros (Royals, Twins, Cardinals, Rays, Rangers) COMING SOON

Schedule

Peoria plays most weeks Monday-Saturday as the league is off on Sundays. There are only a small handful of off days, excluding Sundays, in the 30 game schedule. Among those off days include a pair of events, the Bowman Hitting Stars Challenge and the Fall Stars Game, which very well could both feature Ronald Acuña.

10/10 vs Glendale, 12:35

10/11 @ Glendale, 12:35

10/12 @ Mesa, 12:35

10/13 vs Mesa, 12:35

10/14 vs Salt River, 12:35

10/16 @ Salt River, 12:35

10/17 vs Surprise, 12:35

10/18 @ Surprise, 12:35

10/19 vs Scottsdale, 12:35

10/20 @ Scottsdale, 6:35

10/21 OFF, Bowman Hitting Challenge, 6:35

10/23 vs Glendale, 12:35

10/24 @ Glendale, 12:35

10/25 @ Mesa, 12:35

10/26 vs Mesa, 12:35

10/27 vs Salt River, 12:35

10/28 @ Salt River, 12:35

10/30 vs Surprise, 12:35

10/31 @ Surprise, 12:35

11/1 vs Scottsdale, 12:35

11/2 @ Scottsdale, 6:35

11/3 vs Glendale, 12:35

11/4 OFF, Fall Stars Game, 5:08

11/6 @ Glendale, 12:35

11/7 @ Mesa, 12:35

11/9 vs Mesa, 12:35

11/10 vs Surprise, 6:35

11/11 @ Surprise, 6:08

11/13 vs Salt River, 12:35

11/14 @ Salt River, 12:35

11/15 @ Scottsdale, 6:35

11/16 Scottsdale, 12:35

11/18 CHAMPIONSHIP