MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Next big things: Fall Stars set to shine in desert

Next big things: Fall Stars set to shine in desert

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- One thing people always talk about when discussing prospects are their tools. Tonight's Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game will have more of them than your local hardware store.

Those tools don't automatically guarantee success in the big leagues, but one needs to look no further than this year's World Series and rookie class to see that the league is a terrific indicator of who the next stars of Major League Baseball will be.

Cubs slugger Kris Bryant won the AFL MVP in 2013, took National League Rookie of the Year honors in 2015 and won a World Series ring this year, with a regular season MVP award possibly to come. His Cubs teammate Addison Russell played here in 2013 and '14, while rookie catcher Willson Contreras got valuable development time behind the plate in the AFL just last year.

On the other side of the Fall Classic, Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor played in the AFL in 2014.

Several of this year's top Rookie of the Year candidates came through the Fall League in the past two years, too. Corey Seager, the likely National League ROY winner, played in 2013 and '14. Washington's Trea Turner was here in 2014 as well. And Yankees rookie phenom Gary Sanchez was in the league just last year and won Fall Stars Game MVP honors.

So who has the best tools in tonigiht's Fall Stars Game? You can watch live on MLB Network and MLB.com at 8 p.m. ET. But for now, here's a closer look, broken down by tool.

All players are graded on the 20-80 scouting scale when they are evaluated by scouts. Those grades are used on all of our Prospect Watch rankings to break down each individual tool: hitting, power, speed, arm and defense for position players and the full array of pitches, along with control, for those on the mound.

Players are graded for future tools: 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.

HIT
Franklin Barreto (A's No. 1), Nick Gordon (Twins No. 2): The two shortstops carry the only 60-hit tools into the Fall Stars Game (though an argument can be made that Gleyber Torres should join that group). Barreto has a very quick bat and makes explosive contact. Gordon has a simple, line-drive approach that should allow him to continue to hit for average.

POWER
Eloy Jimenez (Cubs No. 2), Tyler O'Neill (Mariners No. 2): Jimenez and O'Neill both grade out with 60 power. The 19-year-old Jimenez is still growing into his power, but still had 57 extra-base hits during his full-season debut. O'Neill has hit 56 homers the last two seasons combined. Both have gone yard three times this fall.

Jimenez hits the ball hard

RUN
Anthony Alford (Blue Jays No. 1), Michael Gettys (Padres No. 10): This pair of outfielders both earn 70 grades for their speed, which helps them on both sides of the ball. Alford, the former college football player, was slowed by a knee injury during the regular season, but has four steals this fall. Gettys topped 30 steals for the first time in his career in 2016 and has added a pair in the AFL.

ARM
Gettys, Brett Phillips (Brewers No. 7), Miguel Andujar (Yankees No. 7): A pair of outfielders and a third baseman with 70 arms. Gettys had 21 outfield assists in 2015 and 15 more this past season. Phillips also had double-digit assists two years running, with 21 combined in '15-'16. Andujar might have the best infield arm in the Minors, one that with some feel could throw mid-90s heat from the mound.

Phillips' two-run double

FIELD
Gettys: If you haven't figured it out by now, Michael Gettys is perhaps the toolsiest (raw tools at least) in the Fall League. He grades out as a 65 defender and takes tremendous pride in his work in center field, and he uses that plus speed to run down balls.

FASTBALL
Michael Kopech (Red Sox's No. 5): The right-hander has a 75 grade on his fastball, but that might be splitting hairs, as he does show a true 80 heater at times. Kopech can touch triple digits with good late life. He's been sitting in the upper 90s this fall and has 18 strikeouts (against just one walk) in 14 innings.

CURVE
Francis Martes, David Paulino (Astros No. 4): The pair of Astros right-handers both have 60 curveballs at their disposal. Martes has improved his breaking ball considerably, and it's developed into a true power curve that can serve as an out pitch. The same can be said for Paulino's power breaking ball, coming from his 6-foot-7 frame.

CHANGEUP
Brent Honeywell (Rays No. 2), Trey Ball (Red Sox): Both Honeywell and Ball have above-average off-speed offerings that grade out as 55s. Honeywell uses his changeup as one of four pitches he mixes in to keep hitters guessing and off balance. Ball struggles with overall command, but he throws his changeup with very deceptive arm speed.

OTHER
Honeywell: You don't see screwballs very often these days, but Honeywell has one. And it's not just a trick pitch. It's a 65 and he uses it extremely effectively as his best secondary pitch.

CONTROL
Honeywell: His ability to command the baseball (55 control grade) is a big part of Honeywell's success. He can throw all four of his pitches for strikes, and he goes right after hitters with his arsenal.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.