The 2021 minor league season wrapped up in late September, but some of the Yankees’ top prospects have already started their next round of play in the Arizona Fall League. The AFL began on Wednesday, October 13th, and some of the Yankee representatives have gotten off to a hot start. Lets take a look at the week in review of the Yankees prospects playing in the AFL.
Yankees prospects are playing for the Surprise Saguaros, alongside a mix of prospects from the Royals, Reds, Rangers, and Nationals. During the first week of the season the team, went 2-2 and sits one game back of the Glendale Desert Dogs.
Right-handed relief pitcher Zach Greene was tapped to hold a tight 1-0 lead late in the game on Opening Day. Greene finished 2021 with Double-A Somerset and struck out 91 batters in 59.2 innings on the season. In terms of minor league level, he is the most advanced player sent by the Yankees to the AFL this year and picked up right where he left off in the regular season. Facing five batters, Greene recorded four strikeout in 1.1 shutout innings.
Greene’s strong outing allowed fellow Yankees prospect Elijah Dunham kick-start a ninth-inning rally that stretch the lead to its final score of 5-0. On the day Dunham went 3-4, and finished the week playing once more and recording a pair of walks.
The corner outfielder greatly increased his stock during this past season. He rose from an undrafted free agent in the five-round 2020 draft to a player who was one of the first players promoted from Low-A to High-A once the 2021 campaign kicked off.
The highest-profile Yankees prospect in the AFL is catcher Austin Wells. The catcher was the Yankees top draft pick in 2020 and put forth a strong offensive performance in his professional debut at the Low-A and High-A levels. Wells registered two singles and a walk in 10 plate appearances this week. He played two of his three games at catcher while he was the DH for another game.
Third baseman Andres Chaparro also played in three games this past week. Coming off a 2021 season where he dramatically increased his power number and overall offensive production while playing for Low-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley, Chaparro only recorded a single hit and walk apiece on the week in 11 plate appearances.
Two pitchers who struggled with control during their regular season and are looking for progress in the desert are Tanner Myatt and Harold Cortijo. Myatt — pitching in his first game action since early July — struggled, recording only two outs and allowing a home run in his AFL debut. Cortijo did not allow any hits or runs, but still walked two batters in his inning of work. He battled control issues during his time pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League last year and again during his limited time pitching in the regular season this year.
After finishing the regular season on a hot streak, right handed pitcher Blane Abeyta gave up a pair of runs in 1.2 innings pitched despite not giving up a hit. A walk, an error, a wild pitch, and a balk did the damage to Abeyta as Surprise dropped Saturday’s game to Glendale.
The Arizona Fall League is off and running and the Yankees prospects and their teammates saw a week of mixed results. Several players like Zach Greene and Elijah Dunham had outstanding starts to their AFL runs with many more games still to play.