The weather has begun to cool, families will soon gather over turkey and stuffing and the latest season of the Arizona Fall League is in the books. For six weeks, some of the game’s best prospects exhibited their talent in front of a smattering of fans. But now those players have scattered back to the four corners of the country and to points beyond.

So, too, have the scouts. Sixty percent of fall league attendance is made up of evaluators — this is only a slight exaggeration — but before these scouts tied a bow on their final reports, several of them spoke to The Athletic. Here, the result of conversations with several scouts with several big-league organizations, is a rundown of the top 10 they liked … as well as five on whom they couldn’t agree.

The 10 prospects who most impressed

1. Jackson Merrill, SS, Padres

There used to be competition for the title of Best Padres Prospect, but the mass exodus to Washington in the Juan Soto trade leaves Merrill more or less alone. Good thing for the Padres that he’s one of the best prospects in the game. Though his fall numbers weren’t stunning — a .261/.316/.352 line in 22 games — no player generated as many positive reviews from scouts as the No. 27 pick in the 2021 draft. “Most scouts are salivating over him,” one scout said, “and even the low guys think he’s good.”

In their first extended look at Merrill, who was limited to only 45 games at Low A this year due to a wrist injury, evaluators saw a player with a projectable body and a feel to hit. Only 19, Merrill stands at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, carrying himself more like a 22-year-old than a teenager. He’ll fill out more, but not in a way that leads scouts to think he’ll have to move off shortstop. At the plate, the left-handed hitter shows signs of good plate discipline, as well as the ability to spray the ball over the field. The power, they think, will come.

It hasn’t yet, and no one’s predicting home run titles for Merrill in the first place. He’ll have to get the ball off the ground more often — Merrill had a 59-percent groundball rate at Low A — but could wind up hitting 15 to 20 homers a year. Put the whole package together, another scout said, and Merrill’s “got a chance to be really, really good.”


2. Edouard Julien, 2B, Twins

Go ahead, take a moment and say the Quebec native’s name. Put your best French accent on it. Eh-dwar Jool-yen. Fun, right? You might get to say it a lot more, because Julien might be headed for a notable big-league career. While no one is saying he was the second-best prospect in the AFL — this is a ranking of guys who turned heads, not a long-term value projection — Julien caught the attention of plenty of scouts.

It’s the on-base, baby. Julien worked 23 walks this fall — one more than he had strikeouts, and two more than he had games played — to get aboard at a .563 clip. That’s long been in the former 18th-rounder’s toolbox, with 98 walks this regular season and 110 the year before. But the 23-year-old offers more than just his eye. He’s capable of hitting the ball hard — “Hit seeds all fall league,” said one scout — and there’s a chance he learns to hit more homers. He had five this fall, although he may need to iron out some kinks in his mechanics to be able to pull the ball for power consistently.