MLB.com’s dynamic duo of Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo teamed up to rank the top 20 prospects in the Arizona Fall League this year, and each of the Chicago Cubs’ big three prospects in attendance made the list. The makeup of the list came not only from long-term value, but also AFL-specific performance. That undoubtedly hurt at least one of the Cubs’ prospects.
Kris Bryant landed at number two on the list, behind only the top prospect in all of baseball, Byron Buxton (Twins). Bryant was just ahead of the A’s stud teenage shortstop Addison Russell and Blue Jays top pitching prospect Aaron Sanchez. The MLB.com team expects Bryant in the bigs “soon,” though he still needs to show some he can handle third base.
Albert Almora comes in at number 10 and Jorge Soler is just behind at number 13. A quoted scout said that Soler’s body is exactly what you want to see and he’s got the power to match, but the “day-to-day focus isn’t there.” Was that a product of his leg injury? He reportedly wasn’t running at full speed this Fall. Or is there a legitimate focus issue? He was benched by his manager at Daytona for what could have been described as a focus/effort issue, so there’s at least a little precedent there. Hopefully it’s not a lingering concern. Soler is still undoubtedly adjusting to his new life in professional baseball, but that can be a credible excuse for only so much longer.
Baseball America also ranked AFL prospects, and, again, all three of Bryant, Almora, and Soler made the cut. Bryant comes in at number three to BA (behind Buxton and Russell), while Almora is 11th and Soler is 20th. Soler’s ranking is rather low, though he did seem to be dealing with lingering leg issues throughout the league, and was plagued early on by serious contact problems. Both are the product of his midseason leg stress fracture, and the ensuing rust.
The AFL was particularly prospect-heavy this year, and these rankings provide additional data points for where we might see these guys ranked in overall top 100 lists, which will be coming soon. Javier Baez and Kris Bryant are each legitimate threats to crack the top ten on most lists, and Albert Almora should be in the top 20. Soler is a little harder to guess, because scouts still love his physical ability. If he’s out side the top 35 on any list, I’d be surprised. I’m guessing that C.J. Edwards will have a wide range of rankings, because of his obvious ability paired with the questions about his future role.