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Yankees prospects hold the lead in the Arizona Fall League

The Yankees’ prospects have the Surprise Saguaros on the verge of a division title with one week to play.

2021 Arizona Fall League Headshots Photo by Michael Gonzales/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Arizona Fall League enters its final week and the Yankees’ prospects hold a slight lead in their division race. With the AFL “Fall Stars” game in the rearview mirror, the Yankees’ prospects are heading down the home stretch with strong performances and the chance to help their team win the AFL Championship.

Yankees prospects are playing for the Surprise Saguaros alongside a mix of prospects from the Royals, Red, Rangers and Nationals. The team went 2-1-1 on the week and has a 15-9-1 record this season, one game ahead of Glendale for both the West division lead and the best record in the entire league. The Saguaros have just five regular season games remaining with the AFL championship game scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m.

The highlight of the week in the Arizona Fall League was the annual “Fall Stars” game that was broadcast live on MLB Network Saturday night. Yankees prospects Elijah Dunham and Austin Wells were selected for the event, and reliever Zach Greene was added to the roster as a late replacement player.

While neither Dunham or Wells recorded a hit in their three combined at-bats, Dunham was a starter and made an outstanding diving catch in the outfield, adding to his AFL highlights.

Outside of the “Fall Stars” setting, Elijah Dunham continued his strong AFL campaign. He went 2-for-3 on Monday with a double and a triple, and also stole his 10th base of the season without getting caught once. His OPS sits at 1.036 after 19 games played this fall.

Infielder Andres Chaparro hit his third home run of the fall on Thursday, leading the Yankees contingent in that statistic. His latest home run traveled 421 feet with a 110 mph exit velocity.

Austin Wells remains a solid performer in the Fall League as he registered a hit and an RBI in each of the games he played over the past week. He has posted a .852 OPS out in Arizona.

Clay Aguilar and Harold Cortijo put together strong outings on the pitching side for the Saguaros this past week. Aguilar threw 2.1 innings of scoreless relief to close out Monday’s victory, earning his first save in the process. Cortijo pitched a scoreless inning on Friday, surrendering just one walk to the opposition.

The other Yankees pitchers in action had a tough week, beginning when Zach Greene gave up two runs without retiring a batter as he earned the loss on Tuesday. Blane Abeyta also allowed two runs in one inning of work when he pitched this past week.

In prospect action outside of Arizona, Yankees infield prospect Roberto Chirinos had a pair of strong performances this week for Caribes de Anzoátegui. After going 2-for-3 with a double and a triple on Friday night, Chirinos connected for his first home run of the winter league season on Saturday, giving him a .915 OPS through 14 games. Chirinos has been playing right field in recent games after playing exclusively on the infield during his time with the Yankees.

Yankees catching prospect Hemmanuel Rosario connected for a home run in one of his two at-bats this past week while playing for Criollos de Caguas in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican native made the most of his limited playing time in the early going to the league.

After a season that saw the Yankees win three division titles from their four full-season minor league affiliates, a group of their prospects has the chance to win even more. The Surprise Sagauros are leading the AFL with just one week to play and Yankees prospects have played a big role in the success. The next week will show if they and their teammates from other organizations can close out the AFL and head into the offseason on a positive note.