Preview: Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game

Update: Josh Vitters has been scratched from tonight’s game. Baltimore Orioles’ 3B prospect Josh Bell will replace Vitters on the East roster. Bell was traded to the Orioles in the deal that sent George Sherrill to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bell is expected to compete for the Orioles’ starting third base job in spring training and is a Rookie of the Year candidate in 2010.

Original Post

Here is what I wrote back in June after I had just done a recap of the major league draft:

“Here is my suggestion for Bud Selig in order to give the draft some juice. Unless you are a real die hard baseball, other than Stephen Strasburg, you don’t know 99 percent of the players drafted in the first round.

“The MLB Network should show a high school or college “Showcase Game of the Week.” Once a week broadcast a game that features a projected first round pick. This will allow fans to get to know some of the players their team is interested in. I think this will really help the draft.”

Major League Baseball and the MLB Network has followed my suggestion–to an extent. Since we are there is no high school or college baseball to showcase right now, the MLB Network has decided to do the next best thing.

Tonight at 8:15 ET, the MLB Network will televise the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars game. This is exactly what I was talking about when I suggested the MLB Network show a rising stars game for high school and college players.

This is really great for the game of baseball.

This will allow fans a chance to see some of the future stars of the game. How often do casual fans get to see their teams top prospects play before they reach the major leagues?

Now that the MLB Network is televising this game, who should you be looking for? Here are 10 players in tonight’s game that you should keep an eye on.

East

1. Buster Posey, C

Organization – San Francisco Giants

Arizona Fall League Stats – .218/.317/.364 in 14 games

Posey was called up by the Giants in September, but for reasons only known to the Giants organization he didn’t play much. In seven games, Posey only hit .118 with the big club.

Don’t be fooled, this guy can hit. All signs point to Posey being the Giants’ starting catcher in 2010.

2. Josh Vitters, 3B

Organization – Chicago Cubs

Arizona Fall League Stats – .360/.385/.460 in 12 games

The former No. 3 pick in the 2007 draft has been tearing up the Arizona Fall League. Vitters should be ready to take over the starting third base job in Chicago once Aramis Ramirez is done with his contract after the 2011 season.

3. Grant Desme, OF

Organization – Oakland A’s

Arizona Fall League Stats – .373/.453/.827 in 18 games

That sound you just heard was Desme just breaking another window. In just 18 games, Desme has 10 homeruns in the Arizona Fall League. Desme has “light tower power” and for those of you think he is a typical A’s “Moneyball” player–he is not.

In the minor leagues in 2009, Desme had 42 SB’s,

4. Starlin Castro, SS

Organization – Chicago Cubs

Arizona Fall League Stats – .433/.462/.550 in 17 games.

The Cubs might have a star on their hands with Castro. The 19-year-old non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic is currently leading the Arizona Fall League in hitting. He is also tied for third in SB’s with five.

Watch for Castro tonight. He might be the most exciting player on the field.

Castro also played in the Future’s Game in July.

5. Drew Storen, P

Organization – Washington Nationals

Arizona Fall League Stats – 0.93 ERA, nine K’s, and two saves in 9.2 IP

Not only does Storen do a good job of updating his Twitter page, but he also might be the future closer for the Nationals. If the East is leading in the ninth inning, look for Storen to close out the game.

West

1. Jason Castro, C

Organization – Houston Astros

Arizona Fall League Stats  –.143/.260/.214 in 11 games

Ready or not, here Castro comes to the Astros. Because the Astros no established catcher in their organization, Castro might be rushed to the majors in 2010.

Castro hit .300 with a .826 OPS in the minor leagues in 2009.

2. Yonder Alonso, 1B

Organization – Cincinnati Reds

Arizona Fall League Stats – .275/.298/.375 in 13 games

Alonso was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2008 draft and if he is going to play in Cincinnati, he is going to have to learn to play another position. I don’t think Joey Votto is going anywhere for a while.

Alonso had a .838 OPS between Rookie and Single-A in 2009.

3. Dustin Ackley, OF

Organization – Seattle Mariners

Arizona Fall League Stats – .300/.378/.375 in 11 games

The No. 2 pick in the 2009 draft is someone to watch tonight. The former Tar Heel star has all the tools to be a star in the majors.

I have gone on record in saying that Ackley would be the best player to come out of the 2009 draft.

4. Jordan Danks, OF

Organization – Chicago White Sox

Arizona Fall League Stats – .333/.378/.485 in 18 games.

The White Sox have done well with one Danks at the major league level, so why not give another Danks a try. Jordan is the younger brother of White Sox LHP John Danks.

Danks made the jump to Double-A in 2009 and while he didn’t tear up Double-A pitching (.243 avg), he could get his shot with the big club in 2011.

5. Tanner Scheppers, P

Organization – Texas Rangers

Arizona Fall League Stats – 3.00 ERA and nine K’s in nine IP.

Scheppers was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2008, but decided to go back to college. While in college, Scheppers tore his rotator cuff in his pitching shoulder.

With doubts about his health, Scheppers slipped to the 44th pick in the 2009 draft. Now healthy, Scheppers is showing everyone why he was on the highest regarded pitchers in the draft.

Conspicuous by his absence on this list is Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg was supposed to start this game for the East squad but was scratched because of a strained neck muscle.

The Reds and the Cubs have the most players in this game with four.

You can view the complete rosters for both teams here.

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