The 2016 Arizona Fall League has come to an end, with the Mesa Solar Sox winning it all, besting the Surprise Saguaros 6-1 in the AFL Championship Game.

But the AFL isn’t about teams with excellent nicknames or championships. It’s about gauging the development of some of baseball’s top prospects and getting a feel for where players are heading into the offseason.

Some of those players have shown they’re ready for a chance to contribute in the big leagues, while others left little doubt that there’s more work to do before a promotion could even be considered.

Below, you’ll find a handful of players who fall under both categories—and others who fall somewhere in between—as we take a look at the highlights and lowlights of the 2016 Arizona Fall League.


Top Hitters

Gleyber Torres proved that age really is nothing but a number, as the 19-year-old—the AFL‘s youngest player—became the youngest player to be named the Arizona Fall League’s Most Valuable Player. Torres showed a spectacularly advanced approach for his age, walking more often (14) than he struck out (eight) en route to not only winning MVP honors, but the AFL‘s batting crown as well.

“He’s just ridiculously good,”’s prospect guru Jim Callis told John Harper of the New York Daily News. “He was clearly the best player in the league. It seemed like he hit a line drive every time up.”

Two more prospects who seemed to make hard contact whenever they stepped to the plate were Cody Bellinger and Zach Vincej, though it’s entirely possible that neither one will open the 2017 season with the franchise he represented in Arizona.

Bellinger, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ top position prospect, is known to be of interest to the Chicago White Sox (per Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan) and Detroit Tigers (per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi) and could be included as part of a trade package as the Dodgers look to bolster their big league roster.

A relative unknown outside of Cincinnati, where he’s not considered one of the Reds’ top 30 prospects, Vincej was one of the AFL‘s best hitters and biggest breakout stars. He’s likely to hear his name called during the upcoming Rule 5 draft, as the Reds left him off their 40-man roster.


Top Pitchers

Already considered one of the best pitching prospects in baseball, the Boston Red Sox’s Michael Kopech only improved his stock with a run that saw him exhibit improved control over all his pitches, including a nasty fastball that sat in the high 90s and cracked triple digits multiple times.

The 20-year-old right-handed hurler led all qualified starters in ERA and finished tied for third in strikeouts with the New York Yankees’ James Kaprielian.

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Austin Gomber was perhaps even more impressive, leading the AFL in strikeouts and innings pitched while trailing only Kopech in ERA. While Kopech entered the AFL as a big-time prospect, Gomber, who sits at No. 18 on’s ranking of the Cardinals’ top 30 prospects, did not.

Like his NL Central counterpart Zach Vincej, Gomber was one of the AFL‘s biggest breakout stars. Unlike Vincej, the 23-year-old isn’t eligible for the Rule 5 draft and could be a factor in St. Louis as early as next season.

But they’re only two of the players who seemingly came out of nowhere to make their presences felt in Arizona.


Breakout Stars

Another name to look for in the Rule 5 draft is converted pitcher Eric Wood, as the Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t add the 24-year-old to their 40-man roster. Versatile enough to play the infield corners as well as left field, Wood’s developing power (a career-high 16 home runs for Double-A Altoona) makes him an intriguing player.

Wood has lots of swing-and-miss in his game, striking out 28 times in 88 Arizona Fall League at-bats, but he showed that he knows how to hit with runners in scoring position, leading the AFL with 20 RBI.

Miami Marlins fans know all about Brian Anderson, the team’s top position prospect (No. 4 overall, per, but it had to be nice to see the 23-year-old tap into his power more regularly in Arizona, where he led all batters with five home runs in 77 at-bats.

Perhaps the most surprising stat among the AFL‘s breakout hitters was that Greg Allen finished only two dingers off Anderson’s lead. The Cleveland Indians’ sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft, Allen has never hit more than seven home runs in a full season, as he’s known more for his speed than his power.

That the 23-year-old swiped 12 bases in Arizona Fall League play, tied with Champ Stuart of the New York Mets for the AFL lead, comes as no surprise at all.

We can’t talk about breakout stars without mentioning a pair of hard-throwing relievers who both rose from Single-A to Triple-A during the regular season and look like they’re ready to contribute to a major league bullpen—the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Jared Miller and Pittsburgh’s Edgar Santana.

Arizona’s 6’7″ southpaw did his best Andrew Miller impersonation in the AFL, with the 23-year-old scattering six hits over 18.1 scoreless innings with 30 strikeouts and only four walks. Santana, 25, wasn’t quite as dominant as Miller, but you can’t find fault with 13.2 scoreless innings of relief.


Biggest Disappointments

Jacob Nottingham might have made the AFL‘s Fall Stars Game, but the No. 14 prospect in the Milwaukee Brewers’ loaded farm system certainly didn’t have the numbers to back up his selection. Only three players finished with a lower OPS than Nottingham, who struck out 24 times while drawing only two walks.

Michael Gettys was another curious choice for the AFL‘s version of the Midsummer Classic, as the San Diego Padres’ No. 10 prospect also struggled mightily to make consistent contact, leading the Arizona Fall League with 30 strikeouts in 70 at-bats.

But no player needed to make a good impression more than Tim Tebow, the oft-maligned former NFL quarterback who is now trying to make his way as a professional baseball player. As you’d imagine from the numbers he put up, folks around the game weren’t impressed with his performance.

Scouts used words like “awful” and “stinks” when it came to describing Tebow to Dan Martin of the New York Post, while an unnamed executive called the former Heisman Trophy winner “ugly,” adding “in the field and at the plate, nothing looks natural.”

If Chris Ellis was hoping to make the case that he was deserving of a chance to win one of the two available spots at the back end of the Atlanta Braves rotation next spring, he failed. Despite a strong showing in his final AFL start (3.2 scoreless innings with four strikeouts), the 24-year-old looks destined to start 2017 back in Triple-A.’s profile of Grayson Long, the No. 10 prospect in the Los Angeles Angels’ farm system, makes a comparison to Ellis (a former Angels farmhand) in terms of stuff and competitiveness. Long’s stuff failed to play up just like Ellis’ in the AFL, as the 22-year-old walked nearly as many batters as he struck out.

Selected 18th overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2013 draft, Chris Anderson is seemingly running out of chances to prove he’s not a bust. The 24-year-old has struggled badly since making his pro debut in 2013, pitching to a combined 4.71 ERA and 1.55 WHIP over the past two years.

His struggles continued in Arizona, where he was shelled to the tune of the AFL‘s worst ERA and WHIP while walking more batters than he struck out.


Unless otherwise noted, all statistics and prospect rankings courtesy of

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