SURPIRSE, Ariz. -- Being selected by the Miami Marlins to represent the club in the Arizona Fall League is one more thing to add to an already long list of accomplishments for Christian Yelich:
He already was a two-time organizational Player of the Year for the Marlins, an All-Star Futures Game selection, the Florida State League’s postseason All-Star, and the No. 1 prospect in the organization.
Everything is going right for the 20-year-old native of Thousand Oaks, Calif., this year, but he keeps himself in check. That’s how Yelich, the first-round pick by the Marlins in 2010, was raised.
“Baseball’s a really humbling game,” Yelich said before the Phoenix Desert Dogs took on the Surprise Saguaros. “You can be at the top one second, and the next night you can [stink].”
Why stop there? On Thursday, the youngest player on Phoenix’s roster was named to the AFL Rising Stars Game roster for the West Division along with fellow Marlins prospects Michael Brady and Grant Dayton.
The left-handed slugger is making pro ball look easy. With Jupiter, Yelich’s average was .330 through 106 games. Agile on the basepaths, he has stolen 20 bases.
In 17 games with the Desert Dogs, Yelich is continuing to play well, batting .317 this fall with his new surroundings.
“You’ve got some older guys who’ve been around in Double A, Triple A,” the outfielder said. “They’re knocking on the door to the big leagues so it’s kind of cool to see what they do to prepare for the game.
“Going out there and playing against the best makes you better. I’m using this to get experience and see what I’ll be going up against next year, and the years after.”
The only thing that held the organization’s top prospect back this season was his teammate (and roommate), catcher Jake Realmuto, who also joined the Phoenix roster in the AFL.
Late in spring training, Realmuto swung through a changeup, and the barrel of the bat caught Yelich in the elbow while he was standing on the on-deck circle. Yelich landed on the disabled list.
“We laugh about it now,” he said, joking that he doesn’t let the catcher forget it. “But it wasn’t funny at the time.”
If he can avoid the wrath of freak accidents, Yelich could be joining 60 percent of AFL alumni who reach the majors. Based on his track record, it looks like it could be sooner rather than later.