The Fall Stars Game? Tonight?
So this is . . . unfortunate.
Tonight at 7 p.m. Central time, the best of the Arizona Fall League will take the field in the annual “Fall Stars” Game. In the past, this event took place directly after the World Series ended. It was a delightful little mint that the lords of baseball would hand you as you left the restaurant after finishing another terrific meal of baseball. For those of us who can’t get enough baseball when the World Series ended, the Fall Stars Game would feed our addiction. It was the first televised event of the offseason on the MLB Network.
But the start of the AFL was moved up this year into September. This was a good thing for the players and a good thing for the teams that employed them. For us fans, it’s kind of terrible. That’s because tonight’s Fall Stars Game will start at the exact same time that Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between the Astros and Yankees starts. As much as hardcore fans love to watch the next generation of stars, it’s hard to compete with an epic clash between two of the best teams of the 21st Century.
So you can watch the Fall Stars Game if you want, but it won’t be televised on the MLB Network opposite the ALCS. Instead, you can watch online at mlb.com at 7 p.m. Central.
Cubs fans will want to watch the Fall Stars Game to see the two Cubs farmhands on the East team. The first is catcher Miguel Amaya, who is among the team’s top prospects and could be the Cubs’ catcher of the future. The 20-year-old Panamanian is hitting .303/.385/.364 in the AFL. That number is a little surprising since Amaya’s power is considered to be one of his top assets, but it’s a nine-game sample size. Defensively, reports are mixed as to how advanced his skills are at the moment, but no one doubts that he has the skills to be an above-average defensive catcher. One thing about Amaya’s catching skills is clear and that is that pitchers love throwing to him. Amaya spent this past season in High-A Myrtle Beach and should be in Double-A Tennessee in 2020. A late-season call-up to the majors next year might not be likely at this point, but it’s certainly possible.
One of those pitchers is the Cubs’ other entry into the Fall Stars Game, left-handed reliever Jordan Minch. Minch was a 35th-round pick out of Purdue back in 2014 and he’s slowly worked his way up the system. He spent most of the year in Tennessee, but he did get a late promotion to Triple-A Iowa, where he pitched in one regular season game and two playoff games.
In the AFL, he’s pitched seven innings over six relief appearances. He’s allowed just two runs on six hits, but more impressively he’s struck out 12 batters and walked only one.
Minch combines his mid-90s fastball with an improving slider. As a left-handed reliever, he will probably need to be protected on the 40-man roster this winter in order to keep him from being taken in the Rule 5 draft. He’s making the case for that addition in the AFL this fall.
In addition to the two Cubs players, there are several top ranked prospects in the Fall Stars game that should be household names in the next year or two. Angels outfielder Jo Adell, Phillies infielder Alex Bohm, Twins infielder Royce Lewis and Rays right-handed pitcher Shane Baz are among the highly-regarded players on the East team. The West team has Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez, Nationals infielder Luis Garcia and Royals left-handed pitcher Daniel Lynch are among the players to watch, both now and in the future.
If you want more information on all the players, this piece is a good place to start.
So if you want to watch the Fall Stars Game instead of the ALCS or just on your device at the same time the Astros and Yankees are playing, you should be rewarded with a good game.
Feel free to use this as an open thread.