Arizona Fall League 2018: Whitley, Trammell headline Scottsdale Scorpions roster

The 27th Arizona Fall League season kicked off on Oct. 9, and players are already making waves against the best competition the minor leagues has to offer.

For the last quarter century, the Fall League has brought baseball’s future stars together to showcase their skills and serve as the last big stepping stone before the big leagues.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero and baseball’s top prospect, will get the most attention, and rightfully so. But the Blue Jays prospect is not the only big name taking the field at six different spring training ballparks across Arizona in October and November.

The Scottsdale Scorpions are one of the six teams in the AFL. They will feature players from the Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, and San Francisco Giants organizations.

The Scorpions, who are managed by Giants’ Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels manager Willie Harris, are 1-2 this season, good for last place in the AFL West division. Scottsdale dropped their last game, 7-6, to Salt River on Thursday at Salt River Fields, and will play the Rafters again on Friday night at Scottsdale Stadium.

Here are four Scorpions’ players to keep your eye on this fall.

Forrest Whitley – Houston Astros

The Astros No. 2 prospect is the top pitching prospect overall participating in this year’s league, according to MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospect rankings.

Whitley, the Astros first-round draft pick in 2016, did not pitch much in 2018. After jumping three levels in the Astros system in 2017, Whitley missed the first 50 games of this past season due to a drug violation and made two different trips to the disabled list with Double-A Corpus Christi.

As a result, Whitley only threw 26.1 innings and is looking to make up for it in Arizona. The 21-year-old right-hander could debut with the Astros as early as next season. He will throw a power fastball between 92-97 mph with cutting and running action. Scouts consider this his best pitch, but Whitley will complement his heater with three plus offspeed pitches: a hard 12-6 curveball, a late-biting slider, and a changeup.

Whitley got the Opening Night nod on Tuesday and appeared to be in midseason form. Facing the Mesa Solar Sox, he struck out the first seven batters and wound up allowing two earned runs on one hit in 3.1 innings.

Taylor Trammell – Cincinnati Reds

The Reds No. 3 prospect is the second highest rated hitter participating this year, according to MLB Pipeline.

The 21-year-old Trammell burst onto the national scene this past summer, earning MVP honors at the Futures Game in July. Trammell hit the go-ahead home run and a triple, leading the U.S. to a 10-6 win over the World Team.

The Reds, who selected Trammell in the Competitive Balance Round of the 2016 draft, saw him produce consistently during his first professional season in 2017. In 110 games at High-A Daytona this season, Trammell hit .277 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs. He stole 25 bases and finished tied for the third best on-base percentage (.375) in the Florida State League.

Trammell can still improve his strikeout and walk rates, but he has become more patient, allowing him to get on base and use his speed to create havoc for the pitcher on the bases.

 Andres Gimenez – New York Mets

Gimenez is one of two MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects from the Mets organization partaking in the Fall League this year.

The Mets top prospect and shortstop signed with the Mets in July 2015, and the international prospect dominated the Dominican Summer League. He finished with the highest on-base percentage, the second highest batting average and the third highest OPS. In 2017, Gimenez made his U.S. Debut as one of the youngest prospects in the South Atlantic League and performed exceptionally well.

At only 20 years of age, Gimenez has already made it to Double-A and should be on the fast track to the big leagues. Ahmed Rosario currently mans shortstop for the Mets, but Gimenez’s advanced approach at the plate will be hard to pass up if it continues. He could always play second base when ready.

After hitting .282 in 85 games for the Class-A Advanced St. Lucie Mets this past season, Gimenez hit .277 in 35 games for Double-A Binghamton.

Peter Alonso – New York Mets

Alonso could have easily been called up by the Mets in September after an outstanding 2018 season.

The Mets No. 2 prospect finished second among players in the organization in home runs and slugging percentage. But he broke out this past season. In 132 games between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Syracuse, the 23-year-old slugger hit 36 home runs and drove in 119 RBIs. He struck out 128 times but also walked 76 times, showing he can be patient at the plate. He also hit .285, which is fairly high for a power hitter.

So far Alonso is hitting .583 with one home run and four RBIs for Scottsdale.

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