(Photo Credit: Zachary Lucy)
Second baseman Willie Calhoun went 3-for-3 and earned MVP honors while teammate Cody Bellinger added a two-run home run on Saturday night, powering the AFL West squad to a 12-4 victory over the East in the Fall Stars Game, a showcase of the top talent in the Arizona Fall League.
Tampa Bay pitching prospect Brent Honeywell notched the win for the West, pitching two perfect frames and striking out five of the six batters he faced in front of more than 5300 fans at Surprise Stadium.
San Francisco Giants prospect Chris Stratton started the game for the East and got stung early, registering the loss. He yielded four runs on four hits with a walk and one strikeout in his two innings of work.
Calhoun started the game and batted eighth amid a very talented lineup for the West. He singled in the second inning, ripped an RBI single in the third, then culminated his evening in the fifth frame with a two-run HR to right-center. He was replaced by Red Sox prospect Mauricio Dubon in the sixth inning.
Bellinger hit second in the order and played the entire game at first base. The two-run shot in the sixth inning was his lone hit of the night, but he came just short of another bomb with a blast to the deepest part of the park in center field in the bottom of the first.
Dodgers outfield prospect Alex Verdugo, who was originally scheduled to join Calhoun and Bellinger on the West squad, opted instead to travel to Tokyo and compete for Team Mexico in two exhibition games against Team Japan.
Red Sox infield prospect Yoan Moncada, who is widely considered by many to be the top farmhand in baseball, also missed the game after being shut down with a thumb injury last week.
The landslide victory gave the West Division their second consecutive win in the annual AFL All-Star affair. The West has won four of the past six contests.
Calhoun hit 27 home runs this year for Double-A Tulsa while Bellinger poked 23. Both earned promotions to Triple-A Oklahoma City towards the end of the season and appeared on the club’s PCL playoff roster.
Calhoun and Bellinger will resume play on Monday as Glendale faces Peoria with less than two weeks remaining on the AFL schedule.