Seven baby Yankees have headed out to Arizona to play in the AFL for 2012. Those players are Dellin Betances, Zach Nuding, Mark Montgomery, Dan Burawa, David Adams, Slade Heathcott, and Austin Romine. They are part of the Scottsdale Scorpions team that includes players from the Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels, and Pittsburgh Pirates.
For the position players, Romine and Heathcott have each played in twelve games to this point, while Adams has played in fourteen. Romine has hit fairly well after missing nearly the entire minor league season with a back injury sustained in Spring Training, going 12 for 44 (.273) with three doubles and three runs driven in. He's walked eight times, good enough for a .385 OBP. Defensively, he's made no errors, but only managed to catch one would-be base stealer so far.
Heathcott also missed a good chunk of the minor league season, but came back strong for High-A Tampa upon his return. In the AFL so far, Slade has gone 13 for 44 (.295) with nine walks and twelve strikeouts. Heathcott also has hit four extra-base hits, including three triples, bringing his OPS in 12 games to .870, which is second-highest among the Scorpions.
Second baseman David Adams hasn't hit quite as well as Romine or Heathcott, with a .226 average in his fourteen games. He has managed to collect six doubles thus far, which is easily the best on the team. In addition to going 12 for 53 so far, Adams has walked eight times and struck out ten times. He's made two errors at second base, which is one more than Heathcott has made in centerfield to this point. Adams also trails Heathcott in stolen bases (two to one).
On the pitching front, Dellin Betances has pitched 6.1 innings across four games while looking to bounce back from the disaster he was with the AAA Yankees and AA Thunder during the regular season. In those 6.1 innings, Betances has allowed three hits and two earned runs in addition to a hit batsman and three walks. During that time, he's also struck out eight, which is truly what keeps hope alive that maybe he'll turn things around one day. Dan Burawa's season ended after a Spring Training injury, so he's using the AFL to make up for lost time. He hasn't fared very well so far, allowing eleven earned runs in 8.1 innings across seven games. Burawa has walked eight and struck out five, which comes out to a 2.76 WHIP.
Zach Nuding pitched to a 3.89 ERA in 85.2 innings for the High-A Tampa Yankees in 2012, but has struggled a bit in his 10.2 AFL innings to this point. He's allowed eighteen hits and nine runs in addition to six free passes while striking out eight batters. He's the only Yankee pitcher on the Scorpions to start a game so far, which he has done four times. He'll certainly be looking to improve upon his 7.59 ERA before the close of the AFL season.
All of that is fine and good, but Mark Montgomery is certainly the most exciting Yankee prospect still playing baseball at this point. He's flown through the system so far, leaving people still searching for answers for his slider. In his 8.1 AFL innings (seven games), Montgomery has struck out fifteen, and allowed only two hits and one earned run. He's also issued four walks, which comes out to a 0.72 WHIP and a 1.08 ERA. The Yankees don't seem to have any problem with promoting him quickly, so he could be making an appearance in New York before too long if he keeps up the great results.
This Saturday at 8 p.m. is the Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars game on MLB Network. Montgomery, Romine, and Adams were all selected from the Scorpions for the roster. Other players you may have heard of, including Anthony Rendon of the Nationals and Billy Hamilton of the Reds, will also be playing in the game. This is a good chance to check out some of the Yankee prospects you may not have been able to see play before, like Montgomery. Hopefully they represent the Yankees well.
The AFL season runs through November 15th.