As the World Series shifts back to Houston to wrap up the 2022 major league season, the Arizona Fall League enters the last week of its short campaign.
The final week of the AFL kicks off this weekend with the 16th annual Fall Stars Game, and two Nationals prospects were chosen to the National League roster: catcher Drew Millas and right-hander Orlando Ribalta.
Millas, the 24-year-old acquired by the Nationals at the 2021 trade deadline as part of a three-prospect package from the Athletics in exchange for Yan Gomes and Josh Harrison, has had an impressive month in Arizona. He leads the Peoria Javelinas with a .314 average, .529 slugging percentage, .862 OPS and five doubles. He has also hit two homers with 13 RBIs and a .333 on-base percentage in 13 games.
The No. 30 prospect in the Nats system, per MLB Pipeline, rose through the minor league ranks this summer. Starting the season with Single-A Fredericksburg, he earned two promotions to Double-A Harrisburg after two stops at High-A Wilmington.
Between the three affiliates, Millas slashed .225/.340/.350 with a .690 OPS, 14 doubles, two triples, six homers, 36 RBIs, eight stolen bases and 51 walks.
Ribalta is a lesser-known prospect, but has also found success in the AFL after some impressive numbers this year.
The reliever is one of three pitchers (one other reliever and one starter) on Peoria’s staff to have pitched at least 10 ⅓ innings and not surrendered a run. Over eight appearances, Ribalta has allowed just seven hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. Opponents are hitting just .194 against him while he’s posted a 0.774 WHIP.
Despite some struggles at Fredericksburg (3.97 ERA and 1.382 WHIP in 34 innings), Ribalta was promoted to Wilmington in late July and excelled with the Blue Rocks in a short period of time. In 16 ⅓ innings over 11 appearances, he posted a 2.20 ERA, 1.224 WHIP and 2.63 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He finished the season with a combined 3.40 ERA, 1.331 WHIP and 54 strikeouts in 50 ⅓ innings over 36 games.
The 24-year-old was born in Cuba and drafted by the Nationals in the 12th round of the 2019 MLB Draft from Miami Dade College. He isn’t currently ranked as a top Nats prospect, with this year being his first season in the minor leagues outside of rookie ball.
The 2022 AFL Fall Stars Game will be played at 4 p.m. Sunday to avoid a potential conflict with Game 7 of the World Series. It can be viewed on MLB Network if the World Series is over by Saturday. Otherwise, it will stream exclusively on MLB.com.
* Washington Nationals Philanthropies, the official charitable arm of the Nationals, today announced plans to honor Ryan Zimmerman with the Power of Baseball Award at its annual fundraising gala in March.
Zimmerman is the first current or former player to receive this award, which annually recognizes an individual, corporation, organization or local group that embodies the positive character and level of achievement exemplified throughout the game of baseball.
The first player ever drafted by the Nationals, Zimmerman played 17 seasons with the organization before retiring earlier this year. Nicknamed “Mr. National,” Zimmerman has proven himself a leader on the field and in the community throughout his time in the D.C. area.
In 2006, Zimmerman established the ziMS Foundation to raise money and awareness for programs benefiting those afflicted with multiple sclerosis, a disease that has affected his family. Serving as the foundation’s president, he is actively involved in decision-making and donates his time, money and image to promoting the foundation. The ziMS Foundation has raised more than $4 million for organizations dedicated to the fight against MS.
Zimmerman is the largest individual donor to Nationals Philanthropies over the past decade and has been a consistent supporter of the youngsters at the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zimmerman and his wife, Heather, spearheaded a relief campaign to provide health care professionals with support, resources and meals. During his playing career, Zimmerman was the Nats’ Roberto Clemente Award nominee six times and received the “Good Guy” Award, as voted on by D.C. media members, twice since it was first established in 2016.
Past recipients of the Power of Baseball Award include Nationals founding managing principal owner Ted Lerner (2022), chef José Andrés (2021) and manager Davey Martinez (2020).