The Arizona Fall League Championship Game will take place Saturday afternoon at 1:08 at Scottsdale Stadium, featuring the Peoria Javelinas and Mesa Solar Sox.
The Peoria squad — made up of prospects from the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, and Toronto Blue Jays — have been must-see all fall. Their roster consists of Ronald Acuna, Max Fried, Michael Chavis, Luis Urias, and an equally impressive supporting cast allowed the Javelinas to own the league’s best record at 18-12.
On top of the potent bunch leading the league in nearly every offensive category, they also had a few eventual league-leaders in the clubhouse. Seattle Mariners’ Eric Filia captured the batting title at a .408 clip, the best mark since the 2013 campaign. Acuna, Austin Riley, and Alex Jackson, all Braves farmhands, combined to hit 18 homers, with top prospect Acuna leading the way with seven. Riley finished third in the runs batted in race with 18 of his own.
“It’s fun. Just trying to just enjoy everyday, and hopefully trying to win a championship,” Fried said after an 11-10 Peoria win over the Surprise Saguaros on November 12.
It’s safe to say this is a club that has a lot of fun.
Take their contest with the Scottsdale Scorpions on November 2, if you will. With the go-ahead run on third in the top of the ninth inning, Chavis ripped a single to right field to score the game-winning run. As the ball skidded into the outfield, the Peoria dugout loved it. Their collective cheers echoed around the stadium, making a Fall League affair feel like a World Series battle.
“The biggest thing is my mental approach with everything. It all comes from the preparation, and a lot of it is maturity,” Chavis told reporters following his late-inning heroics in Scottsdale.
Peoria sported an offense that posted just under six runs per game, which makes up for a sluggish pitching staff. They had a league-high 4.94 ERA, and it will have to carefully approach a Mesa lineup on Saturday that features bats like Victor Robles, Kyle Tucker, Kody Eaves, Sheldon Neuse, and David Bote.
Of course, there is always an exception. That exception came in the form of Atlanta southpaw Max Fried, who made his big league debut in September. The 23-year-old has baffled hitters out in Arizona, sporting a 3-1 record to complement a sparkling 1.73 ERA over 26 innings of work.
Keep an eye out for Atlanta’s Big Four (Acuna, Fried, Riley, and Jackson) and the shimmying-slugger Filia to lead the Javelinas to their first Fall League title since 2012.
With rosters full of big names, forceful bats, and five youngsters on MLB’s Top 100 Prospects list, Peoria and Mesa feels destined to be a shootout.