Robles, hurlers highlight tight Fall Stars Game

Nationals' top prospect wins MVP in AFL's marquee event

Robles, hurlers highlight tight Fall Stars Game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball's future stars were on display in the Arizona Fall League's 12th annual Fall Stars Game on Saturday night, as the East Division, led by No. 2 overall prospect Victor Robles and A's No. 14 prospect Sheldon Neuse, rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat the West, 4-2, at Salt River Fields.

Robles, Washington's top-ranked prospect, scored a pair of runs, stole a base and went 1-for-3 with a walk out of the leadoff spot to garner Most Valuable Player honors. His lone hit in the contest, a bloop single to left field in the eighth inning, tied the game, and Neuse's single two batters later put the East up for good.

Box score

"The last thing I was trying to do was hit into a double play," said Neuse. "I worked myself into a good count, missed a 2-0 fastball and then got a pitch up that I was able to drive back up the middle."

The East struck first, pushing across a run in the bottom of the first inning to take an early lead. Robles, the top-ranked player in this year's Fall League, worked a leadoff walk against West starting pitcher Mitch Keller, stole second base, and then came in to score on Ryan Mountcastle's (Orioles' No. 3 prospect) groundout to shortstop. His stolen base was one of three by the East in the frame, as Corey Ray (Brewers' No. 2) swiped both second and third base after reaching on an infield single.

That lead didn't hold for long, though, as the West came right back to tie the game in its next trip to the plate.

Mountcastle's RBI groundout

Though not known for his speed, Josh Naylor showed plenty of wheels as he raced around the bases for a leadoff triple after ripping a fastball from East starter Justus Sheffield inside the first-base line, past a fully extended Matt Thaiss (Angels' No. 3). Following a Francisco Mejia strikeout and a walk to Max Pentecost, Yusniel Diaz (Dodgers' No. 5, No. 76 overall) hit a 105 mph, line-drive single to center field to plate Naylor and tie the game.

Naylor hustles out a triple

The teams remained tied until the top of the fifth, when Luis Urias put the West back on top with one swing of the bat. The Padres' No. 9 prospect worked a 3-1 count against Albert Alzolay before depositing a 96 mph fastball well beyond the wall in left-center field. The ball traveled a projected 416 feet, per Statcast™, with an exit velocity of 107.9 mph.

"To be honest I don't know how I hit it out," said Urias. "That's not a big part of my game -- I'm more about getting base hits and hitting line drives. I'm very happy that I could hit the ball that far."

Urias' solo home run

The East wouldn't go down without a fight, however, as Robles tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning when he plated Luis Guillorme (Mets' No. 11) from second base with a single to shallow left field. Ray followed with a walk to set the stage for Neuse, who waited back nicely on a slider from Tyler Jay and laced it back up the middle. Victor Reyes (D-backs' No. 19) then added a sacrifice fly to right field to score Ray and provide the East with a key insurance run.

Robles' game-tying single

That no hitter on either team collected more than one hit speaks to how impressive both teams' pitchers were.

Keller, Pittsburgh's No. 2 prospect (No. 18 overall) and the top-ranked pitcher in the AFL, struggled to command his fastball in his start for the West but still showcased impressive stuff, including a fastball that averaged nearly 96 mph and topped out at 97. He showed feel for both a low-80s slider as well as a firm changeup at 89-90, ultimately allowing one earned run on one hit and two walks in two innings.

Keller's two innings of work

Sheffield, the Yankees' No. 4 prospect (No. 79 overall), also allowed one earned run in two innings. The 21-year-old left-hander yielded three hits, walked one and struck out two while throwing 18 of his 31 pitches for strikes. His fastball reached 96.9 mph and averaged 94-95 on the night, and he effectively mixed in a low-80s slider,

Sheffield pleased with progress

Also standing out on the mound in the game was hard-throwing lefty Tanner Scott, who recorded four of his six outs via the strikeout while working two scoreless frames for the East in relief of Sheffield. The O's No. 6 prospect operated at 97-98 mph with his fastball and induced a swing-and-miss with five of his eight sliders in the outing.

Scott strikes out the side

T.J. Zeuch (Blue Jays' No. 5) fanned two of the three batters he faced during a perfect fifth inning for the West. The big right-hander pounded the zone with a 92-94 mph two-seam fastball and an 82-85 mph slider, ultimately throwing strikes with eight of his 12 pitches in the frame.

Zeuch's strong relief appearance

In total, there were seven pitchers in Saturday's game who hit at least 96.0 mph on the radar gun, per Statcast™. Right-hander Sandy Alcantara (Cardinals' No. 9) recorded the game's top velocity when he hit 100.1 mph with his final pitch in the fourth inning.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.