The Arizona Fall League Fall Stars game is the centerpiece of the fall season, coupling the major-league ready talent of the AFL with the ease of the desert’s second season to produce the best showcase for top minor-league talent.
And was that talent ever on display over the weekend. The AFL showcase served as a chance not only to see the best of the AFL’s talent-laden pool in action but also to see it against other top-flight talent.
As with any all-star game, there were standouts even among the standouts, but on this stage, they provided us with a new level of context among their peers.
Byron Buxton, for example, went just 1-for-4, but he also drew a walk and showed off his speed going first to third on a single to left field. The box score may not exemplify his prowess, but his performance sure did. There are also tools on display that don’t get noticed as easily in the box score, such as Padres prospect Austin Hedges throwing out multiple base stealers.
Marlins first-round pick Colin Moran put together a perfect evening at the plate. He may not be the highest-ceiling player in the AFL, but he knows how to hit and demonstrated that on Saturday night, going 2-for-2 with a walk.
The story on Saturday night, however, were the home runs. The AFL is historically an offense-friendly league, but no one was prepared for the home run show put on Saturday.
Nicholas could be a late bloomer, having hit more than half of his career home runs during the 2013 season. Still, his ability to carry his power over from the regular season to advanced competition in the AFL should say something about his future.
The same can’t be said for Romero, who also hit a pair of home runs in the Fall Stars Game. Romero is large, if nothing else. He doesn’t actually hit for the power his frame would suggest, coming off of an 11-homer season in 2013 in Double-A, but he showed on Saturday what he can do when he uses his whole body and the whole field.
On the mound, we saw a lot of what we already knew. Twins right-hander Alex Meyer has his body under control, allowing him to repeat his mechanics and throw strikes. Mike Montgomery does not, looking as disjointed and uncomfortable as ever. Marcus Stroman was reliable as always, pitching well in his one inning of work.
All in all, the Fall Stars Game provides us with a nice view of the prospect landscape, but it can’t give us a full scope of where things stand. Still, at the very least, now you have first-hand proof that Byron Buxton is really good.