Let the games begin!
That might seem like a strange sentiment, given the Division Series in Major League Baseball are well underway, but I’m referring to games of another sort, in a variety of arenas (well, ballparks, but you know what I mean).
The first, of course, is the Arizona Fall League. Year 20 of the AFL will kick off on Tuesday and there are prospects aplenty who will be on-hand. Starting pitchers have yet to be posted, but we do know that the Mets’ Collin McHugh will be starting, courtesy of his tweet (follow him @Collin_McHugh):
“No, it’s not a desert mirage. I am actually starting opening day of our AFL season on Tuesday! Truly humbled by the privilege.”
The top two prospects on MLB.com’s Top 50 — Mike Trout and Bryce Harper — will be a part of the same Scottsdale Scorpions outfield. No. 44 Gary Brown will also be there, making the Scorps outfield one of the most fun to watch in recent memory (they’ve also got Tyson Gillies and Alex Hassan out there!).
Other Top 50 prospects in the AFL:
15. Wil Myers, Royals (also a blogger) (Surprise Saguaros)
23. Nick Franklin, Mariners (Peoria Javelinas)
24. Aaron Hicks, Twins (Mesa Solar Sox)
35. Matt Dominguez, Marlins (Surprise Saguaros)
As I pointed out in the roster release story, there were a total of eight No. 1 prospects from different organizations playing as well. That’s down to 7, with the Cubs’ Brett Jackson being replaced by Josh Vitters. Hey, at least Vitters is No. 5 on the Cubs’ list.
And while Jed Bradley is no longer going to be in Arizona, a number of 2011 first-rounders will, starting with No. 1 overall pick Gerrit Cole (Mesa). No. 2 Danny Hultzen (Peoria) will be there, too, as will No. 28 Sean Gilmartin of the Braves (Surprise), Joe Panik (Scottsdale) of the Giants and No. 31 Mike Mahtook of the Rays (Surprise).
That’s not the only place prospects are playing, of course. While Winter Ball rosters aren’t set yet, there’s overseas action to follow in the form of USA Baseball. The professional team’s first World Cup game in Panama got rained out, but they should be playing for gold soon. Keep in mind, this is a team of guys not on 40-man rosters, but there is Travis d’Arnaud (No. 47) and the aforementioned Brett Jackson (29) from the Top 50, along with some other good talent representing the United States in international competition.
So don’t despair if your team isn’t in the playoffs right now. There’s the future to watch in Arizona and, to an extent, in Panama!