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Austin Wells’ big week highlights the Yankees prospects in the Arizona Fall League

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One of the Yankees top hitting prospects had a pair of big games, and has been one of the top offensive performers in the desert so far this fall.

Surprise Saguaros v. Peoria Javelinas Photo by Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images

As the end of October approaches, Major League Baseball has set its World Series teams and the end of the major league season is in sight. Meanwhile in Arizona, six teams of prospects are continuing to hone their craft in order to take the next step towards the major leagues. Let’s check in on the Yankees prospects playing in the Arizona Fall League after two weeks of play.

Yankees prospects are playing for the Surprise Saguaros alongside a mix of prospects from the Royals, Red, Rangers and Nationals. The team had a strong week, going 4-1 and taking a 0.5 game lead in the AFL West Division.

Yankees catching prospect Austin Wells put together a big week and is now hitting .409/.480/.773 with a home run, triple and three doubles after six games played. Wells’ big week started on Monday when he went 4-for-5 with two doubles and a triple as part of a 5-3 victory over the Peoria Javelinas. He followed up that performance by going 3-for-4 with a double and a home run in a 17-2 drubbing of the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Wells played behind the plate in all three games he played this week. The Arizona Fall League is heavily scouted due to the number quality prospects there, allowing scouts to get a final look at any progress that Wells is making behind the plate when end of the year reports come out about the team’s top prospects.

It has been more than a one man show for the Yankees prospects in Arizona — outfield prospect Elijah Dunham is proving to be a strong contributor to the Saguaros’ attack. In six games of action, Dunham has a .333/.520/.444 line. He is fifth in the league in OBP, and also is a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts.

Dunham, who only stole six bases in three seasons playing for the University of Indiana, has found a lot of success adding another tool to his game since joining the Yankees organization. He stole 28 bases in 33 attempts during the regular season, and is building off of that success this fall.

On the pitching side, right-hander Zach Greene continued his strong season with another inning of relief where he struck out two while only allowing one single. He now has six strikeouts in 2.1 innings pitched this fall. Clay Aguilar made his AFL debut tossing two scoreless innings, despite giving up four singles in those two frames. The left-hander put together an outstanding season that saw him reach High-A Hudson Valley late in the season. Tanner Myatt also posted a scoreless inning this week as well. He continues to struggle with his control as he matched his two strikeouts with two walks in the single frame. Myatt was limited to just 18.1 innings pitched this past season due to injuries, but has electric stuff when he is on his game.

Harold Cortijo is another pitcher hoping to build innings and regain his control. The Yankees’ 14th-round pick from 2017 had a BB/9 rate under 3.0 during his first two seasons in the organization, but has seen a 9.0 BB/9 or higher mark at every level played since the start of 2020. That control has not returned to this point as Cortijo has walked five in his 3.0 innings so far in the desert. Blane Abeyta, who finished the season on a very good run with Low-A Tampa, has yet to match that success in the AFL. He has allowed six runs so far in just 2.1 innings pitched, four of which were earned.

Andrew Chaparro is also in action for the Yankees, and the corner infielder hasn’t found his way on base much this fall — he has just one hit and one walk in five games. Chaparro is not showing signs that he is in over his head, however, striking out just four times so far, and is likely to get his bat going as the AFL season continues.

In news outside of the Arizona Fall League, Yankees infield prospect Roberto Chirinos is on the roster of Caribes de Anzoátegui B.B.C in the Venezuelan winter league. Chirinos played at three levels for the Yankees this past season, reaching High-A Hudson Valley. Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza will also be managing Cardenales De Lara in the same league. Last winter several Yankees prospects, including Oswald Peraza, played in this league briefly.

In another positive note two pitchers in the Yankees organization who went down with Tommy John surgery during minor league spring training have resumed throwing according to their social media accounts. Daniel Bies, who was projected to start the season with Double-A Somerset before his injury, and Jake Agnos, who was the Yankees fourth round pick in 2019, both took this significant step towards returning over the last few weeks.

The Yankee are getting strong results from the top prospects they sent to the Arizona Fall League. Austin Wells and Elijah Dunham are counted among the teams top-30 prospects, while Zach Greene was the most advanced player in the group based on minor league level of play in 2021. All three are turning in strong performances early on and could be finding a way to boost their stock and future projections even higher in the eyes of evaluators.