As the minor league seasons wind down, it’s time to look ahead to the Arizona Fall League. The showcase features a combination of elite prospects aiming to take the next step and players looking to make up lost development time. The 2017 schedule runs from October 10th through November 18th.
Yesterday, Major League Baseball released preliminary rosters for this season’s teams. The Yankees are currently scheduled to send six players to their affiliate, the Scottsdale Scorpions. This includes two pitchers, Justus Sheffield and Dillon Tate, as well as a small army of position players. Outfielder Estevan Florial will join infielders Thairo Estrada, Chris Gittens, and Kyle Holder.
Florial and Sheffield represent the top prospects. They’re ranked 87th and 89th, respectively, on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list. Florial is hitting .294/.371/.469 with 12 home runs across 455 plate appearances. That adds up to a 142 wRC+ split between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa. The 19-year-old outfielder also represented the Yankees at the 2017 Futures Game. There are some holes in his game, though. A 31.6% strikeout rate needs correcting, and this is a good place to continue his development.
Sheffield, 21, missed nearly seven weeks with an oblique injury. When healthy, he’s pitched to a 3.02 ERA with middling peripherals. He’s outperformed his 4.43 FIP by a significant margin. He has a heathy 8.09 K/9 rate, but walks too many (3.22 BB/9) and has propensity to give up the long ball (1.27 HR/9). The good news is that Sheffield’s healthy — he’s already begun a rehab assignment — and ready to pitch this fall.
Tate, like Sheffield, missed a notable portion of the season due to injury. A balky shoulder kept him from the mound until June 20th. Since then, he’s pitched to a 2.81 ERA across 83.1 innings over three different levels. His peripherals, however, don’t exactly jump off the page. He owns a 3.95 FIP and often struggles to find the strike zone. Another tour through the Arizona Fall League will allow Tate to recoup lost development time and iron out those control issues.
Holder, Gittens, and Estrada represent three infielders with varying degrees of upside. Estrada is the closest to the majors, spending the entire season with Double-A Trenton. He’s a fine defensive shortstop with a solid bat, lacking only in the power department. Holder, another shortstop, is a major league quality glove but has struggled to hit professionally. His 89 wRC+ across 423 High-A plate appearances indicates as much. Gittens, meanwhile, represents a midpoint between Holder and Estrada. The first baseman looks to make up time lost to an undisclosed injury.
These rosters are preliminary and subject to change. Nonetheless, they give us an idea of what to expect this fall. What do you think of the Yankees’ contingent? Who would you like to see suit up for the Scorpions? Let us know in the comment section below!