The Arizona Fall League “Fall Stars” game, which was played Nov. 1 in Scottsdale, Ariz., has become a must-see event for prospect watchers. The 2013 contest featured over a dozen players who went on to make an impact in the big leagues in 2014, including Mookie Betts, C.J. Cron, Ken Giles, Aaron Sanchez, Jorge Soler, and Marcus Stroman.
The 2014 edition is no less star-studded and should generate at least 10-15 guys who make a significant contribution in the majors next season, but those aren't the only players worth paying attention to. There are several Fall League guys who won’t appear in the contest due to injury or workload issues but are still strong candidates for big league roster spots in 2015.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle. Walker only appeared in a few Fall League games and isn’t on the Stars roster, but he’s a future ace who should open the season as the Mariners’ No. 3 starter.
Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota. Buxton’s injury-marred season continued as a dislocated finger ended his Fall League season this week, but, health permitting, he should push for a big league spot by mid-2015. One of the top hitting prospects in baseball, Buxton projects to hit for power and average while showing plus speed on the bases.
Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs. – Russell underperformed in a brief Fall League appearance and was shut down due to fatigue. Nevertheless, he’s one of the most exciting shortstop prospects in the game and will likely find himself in Chicago before 2015 is out.
Mark Appel, RHP, Houston. After a disastrous 2014 campaign, Appel impressed in 17 Fall League innings. His stuff was crisp, but he still doesn’t look like the front-line ace the Astros thought they had drafted. However, a strong spring and a good start to the season could win Appel a promotion in 2015.
Darnell Sweeney, 2B, Los Angeles Dodgers. Free Darnell Sweeney!!! A .370 Fall League average after posting a .288/.387/.463 line over a full season in Double-A, and he’s not on the Fall Stars roster? Really? Sweeney is not a tools stud, but he’s a future big-leaguer.
Rusney Castillo, OF, Boston. Castillo’s strained thumb ended his Fall League season, but he should be fine for spring training. Castillo’s bat control and plus speed make him an offensive weapon that the Red Sox will deploy daily in 2015.