For more than 25 years, the Arizona Fall League has given Major League Baseball teams the opportunity to match up some of their top prospects with other top prospects in Minor League Baseball after the conclusion of the season. The six-team league enters its 27th season in 2018 and recently announced preliminary rosters. Former Express players Austin Listi (2015), Griffin Jax (2015), and Daulton Varsho (2015-2016) have been selected to compete in the highly-regarded league that begins play on October 9.
Listi was recently named the Philadelphia Phillies’ Minor League Player of the Year and is part of the Scottsdale Scorpions roster. He split the 2018 season between the Phillies’ high-A affiliate in Clearwater, Fla. and double-A affiliate in Reading, Pa. and finished with a .312 batting average, 25 doubles, one triple, 18 home runs, 63 runs scored, and 62 walks in 123 games. In his lone season with the Express, he batted .211 with four home runs, 19 RBIs, and a .308 on-base percentage in 26 games.
Jax and Varsho will play for the Salt River Rafters this fall. Jax is a part of the Minnesota Twins organization, spending 2018 with the Twins’ high-A affiliate in Fort Myers, Fla. He appeared in 15 games (14 starts) and had a 3-4 record, 3.70 earned run average, and 66 strikeouts over 87.2 innings pitched. Jax started three games for Eau Claire in 2015, going 1-0 with 14 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched. Varsho spent the majority of his season with the Visalia Rawhide, the high-A affiliate for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 83 total games, he batted .294 with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs in 316 at-bats. Varsho played two years for the Express, batting .296 with four home runs and 32 RBIs in 63 games in 2015. He returned in 2016 and earned team MVP honors batting .321 with 15 home runs and 63 RBIs in 63 games that season.
The Arizona Fall League has a strong reputation of developing and showcasing top minor league talent. There are 18 players on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list on this year’s preliminary rosters. AFL alumni have included one Hall of Famer (Mike Piazza), six Cy Young award winners, 17 MVPs, and 29 Rookie of the Year award winners. This season’s schedule will begin October 9 and wrap up November 17.
The Express recently completed its 14th season of play in the Northwoods League. Season tickets for the 2019 season are on sale now. The popular 5-Game Pack, including unlimited food and beverage along with free gifts, is also on sale now by calling the Express office at 715-839-7788 or by clicking here.
The Eau Claire Express are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Now in its 25th anniversary season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, over 200 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIL). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.eauclaireexpress.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Express as your favorite team.