AFL unveils rosters for Rising Stars Game
Scottsdale's Harper is among the top prospects participating
A year ago, Bryce Harper couldn't participate in the Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars Game. The 2010 No. 1 overall pick was in Arizona, but was on the Scottsdale Scorpions' taxi squad, making him ineligible for the annual exhibition bringing together the AFL's most promising prospects.
There are no technicalities this time around and Harper headlines the 50 prospects who will play on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Surprise Stadium. The game, slated to begin at 5 p.m. Mountain Time, will be broadcast live on MLB.com and MLB Network (Paul Severino and Dave Valle will have the call).
For the first time, the Fall League used social media to announce the rosters on Tuesday, rolling out the participants in batches on Twitter (@MLBAzFallLeague).
"I'm pretty excited," Harper said. "It's going to be fun, entertaining for the fans, to be around the top guys from around the world, basically. It'll be an exciting day."
rising stars rosters
|East division||West division|
|Steve Ames||LAD||P||Nate Adcock||KC|
|Charles Brewer||ARI||P||Anthony Bass||SD|
|Chris Carpenter||CHC||P||Brad Boxberger||CIN|
|David Carpenter||LAA||P||Jed Bradley||MIL|
|Gerrit Cole||PIT||P||Cory Burns||CLE|
|Jacob Diekman||PHI||P||Wes Etheridge||TOR|
|Terry Doyle||CWS||P||Preston Guilmet||CLE|
|Trey McNutt||CHC||P||J.J. Hoover||ATL|
|Kevin Munson||ARI||P||Danny Hultzen||SEA|
|Rob Scahill||COL||P||Jeremy Jeffress||KC|
|Casey Weathers||COL||P||Taylor Whitenton||NYM|
|Jason Castro||HOU||C||Christian Bethancourt||ATL|
|Derek Norris||WSH||C||Kyle Skipworth||FLA|
|Nolan Arenado||COL||INF||Matt Adams||STL|
|Brian Dozier||MIN||INF||Tyler Bortnick||TB|
|Junior Lake||CHC||INF||Christian Colon||KC|
|Ryan Wheeler||ARI||INF||Matt Dominguez||FLA|
|Joe Panik||SF||INF||Nick Franklin||SEA|
|Ben Paulsen||COL||INF||Mike Olt||TEX|
|Jean Segura||LAA||INF||Joe Terdoslavich||ATL|
|Xavier Avery||BAL||OF||Michael Choice||OAK|
|Robbie Grossman||PIT||OF||Jaff Decker||SD|
|Bryce Harper||WSH||OF||Anthony Gose||TOR|
|Mike Trout||LAA||OF||Mikie Mahtook||TB|
|Tim Wheeler||COL||OF||Wil Myers||KC|
In addition to Trout and Harper, there are three other Top 50 members, both on the West squad: Royals outfielder Wil Myers, Mariners shortstop Nick Franklin and Marlins third baseman Matt Dominguez. There is solid representation from each organization's Top 10 lists as well.
The game has a very strong track record. The 2009 Rising Stars Game featured 28 players who made it to the big leagues the following season. A total of 24 Rising Stars participants from the 2010 game spent time in the Majors in 2011.
"We just have to keep working hard," said Mike Trout, MLB.com's No. 1 prospect, who will play alongside Harper in the AFL East outfield. "[So much of the] team will be in the big leagues next year."
The Rising Stars Game has become a great place to see former first-round picks in action. In 2010, even without Harper, there were 19 players taken in the first or supplemental first round of the Draft. This year's rosters are similarly adorned, including those from the most recently completed Draft this past June. Gerrit Cole and Danny Hultzen, the Nos. 1 and 2 picks of the 2011 Draft, will be starting the game on the mound. Fellow 2011 first-rounders Jed Bradley (Brewers), Mikie Mahtook (Rays) and Joe Panik (Giants) will also play in Saturday's exhibition.
The AFL's version of "this time it counts" is a cash prize, which undoubtedly raises the stakes for these prospects who have been playing in the low-key, developmental atmosphere the Fall League fosters.
"It's like a smaller version of the Futures Game," said Trout, who played in the 2010 Futures Game. "It's a great honor to be a part of it. We're going to go out there and do our thing. We'll be out there competing. You want to go out there and showcase yourself, but you want to win for your team, too."
"There's a lot of guys who were in the Futures Game, or will be next year, that will be in this game," Harper agreed. "There's a lot of top talent in the league. It'll be fun that it's on MLB Network. We're excited about that, too."
The Game's profile has risen and it tends to be the Arizona Fall League's most highly attended contest of the season. It's a chance for fans, as well as scouts, to see a whole lot of talent all on one field at the same time.
"We are privileged to offer elite players in a showcase game on national television," said AFL director Steve Cobb, who works with scouting and Minor League directors of every Major League organization to form the rosters, which have at least one representative from each system. "The rosters are stocked with first-round draft choices and 2011 Minor League all-stars."