Yanks' Sanchez, Pirates' Meadows and Reds' Blandino go deep in victory
By Mike Rosenbaum
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball's future stars were on display Saturday night as the West Division slugged its way to an 8-3 win over the East in the Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game at Salt River Fields.
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, Austin Meadows of the Pirates and Reds prospect Alex Blandino supplied a trio of two-run homers to power the West squad. Sanchez also showed off his plus arm strength, throwing out a basestealer en route to being named the Fall Stars Bowman Star of the Game.
"I wasn't expecting it, because other hitters did a good job, too," Sanchez said after the game. "But I took it, and it's something I really feel good about."
The 22-year-old Sanchez is having a fantastic Fall League campaign, batting .328/.353/.688 with an AFL-leading six home runs and 17 RBIs through 15 games for the Surprise Saguaros.
Sean Manaea opened the game with two dominant innings for the East. The A's No. 3 prospect issued one walk while striking out four of the seven batters he faced, and 20 of his 31 pitches went for strikes. The 23-year-old left-hander showed good velocity, working in the 93-96 mph range with his fastball -- touching 97 mph once -- and he induced two whiffs a piece with his slider and changeup.
Marlins No. 6 prospect Austin Dean gave the East an early lead in the bottom of the second inning as he raced around the bases for a two-run, inside-the-park home run after his line drive down the right-field line got past a diving Derek Fisher. Second baseman Ramon Torres' relay throw beat Dean to the plate, but Sanchez was unable to corral the ball, allowing Dean to score with a feet-first slide.
The West pushed across another run in the top of the fifth inning to take the lead, with White Sox No. 17 prospect Adam Engel, who singled and then stole second base, scoring on Torres' sacrifice fly to left field.
An inning later, Pirates No. 2 prospect (No. 22 overall) Meadows, entering the game in place of starting right fielder Fisher, extended the West's lead to 5-2 with a two-run home run to right field on a full-count fastball from Tigers right-hander Adam Ravenelle.
"He pitched me pretty good. I got some fastballs I fouled off toward the end there, and he had a nice slider in the dirt, and I was able to lay off that. He just left one up and I was able to get the barrel out and get it over the fence. I thought I got under it a bit, but I'm glad it dropped right over the fence: 391 feet," Meadows said about his home run.
Third baseman Jeimer Candelario, the Cubs' No. 20 prospect, cut into the West's lead in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI double over Engel's head in center. The 21-year-old switch-hitter has been one of the top hitters in the Fall League, batting .333/.353/.646 with three home runs, six doubles and 11 RBIs through 12 games for the Mesa Solar Sox.
However, the West responded with a three-spot in the top of the eighth to take a commanding 8-3 lead. After Engel plated Phil Ervin with a single back up the middle, Blandino, the Reds' No. 7 prospect, put the game out of reach for the East with a two-run home run to straightaway left field.
The West pitching staff struck out 15 batters, while both teams combined to strike out 25 times in the game.
Engel went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks, two runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base in the contest. The 23-year-old has been one of the breakout stars in the Fall League, batting .404/.525/.574 with eight doubles and seven steals through 14 games for Glendale.
Former No. 1 overall prospect Jurickson Profar added to his impressive Fall League campaign with a 2-for-3 showing in the Fall Stars Game.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.