The Arizona Fall League wrapped up on Saturday night and while the Surprise Saguaros came up short in the championship game, it has to be viewed as an extremely successful campaign for the Yankees contingent. Elijah Dunham, Austin Wells, and Andres Chaparro all stood out on the offensive side of the ball in the fall in helping their team win the Arizona Fall League’s West Division.
Dunham was named the Arizona Fall League “Breakout Player of the Year” in the end-of-season AFL awards. At the end of the campaign, Dunham slashed .357/.465/.571 and his 1.037 OPS placed him fourth in the league. He led the league with 11 stolen bases in 12 attempts. He also finished with just 10 strikeouts in 104 plate appearances, as he was locked in during his time in the desert.
Wells ended the AFL season on a tear, helping the Saguaros secure their place in the AFL Championship Game. On the final day of the season, while playing against second place Glendale in a win-or-go-home scenario, Wells went 3-for-3 with a big two-run home run. He also scored another run in the Saguaros’ 5-3 victory that helped them secure the West Division title.
Over the last week of the regular season Wells went 7-for-9 with a home run, two doubles, and a walk. Wells’ strong finish brought his final numbers up to .344/.456/.578, with two home runs, two triples, and five doubles. His 1.034 OPS placed him sixth in the league and evaluators have continued to rave about his approach at the plate and left-handed swing.
Andres Chaparro also had a big final week of the season. He smashed three doubles on Thursday and added another hit and a walk in Friday’s victory. For his AFL campaign, he finished with a .275/.363/.522 line after starting the season with just a single hit in his first 18 at-bats. Chaparro hit .353 over his last 41 at-bats and drew attention for his hard contact, where he has hits measured at 117, 111 and 110 mph by Statcast.
Andres Chaparro is earning his pinstripes.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) November 16, 2021
The @Yankees prospect drilled this double 117 mph. Only 45 balls were hit harder in the Majors this year, 25 of which were by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. pic.twitter.com/xvZQQ5IX5m
On the pitching side, Zach Greene tossed a scoreless inning in the AFL Championship game and concluded the regular season with a 4.91 ERA in 11 innings pitched. Harold Cortijo posted a 5.00 ERA over 9 innings pitched and appeared to make some strides in harnessing his control over his last few outings.
Blane Abeyta, Clay Aguilar and Tanner Myatt all ended their AFL campaign with ERAs over 10.00, as the Yankees’ pitching contingent struggled in the offense-friendly environment.
Dunham, Wells and Chaparro all finished the minor league regular season with High-A Tampa. Dunham and Wells are strong bets to start next season with Double-A Somerset, or at least be on the list for a quick promotion to that level. Chaparro has displayed strong plate discipline and the ability to hit the ball very hard, so he is a candidate for a jump to Double-A early in 2022 if he continues to progress in the spring.
On the pitching side, Greene will likely start the coming season at either his current Double-A level, or with Triple-A Scranton. Abeyta, Aguilar, Cortijo, and Myatt will all likely find themselves in High-A or possibly Low-A for the Yankees.
The Arizona Fall League has wrapped up for 2021 and the Yankees prospects contributed to a very successful campaign for the Surprise Saguaros. With two of the top six offensive performers in terms of OPS, the Yankees have a lot to be excited about following the AFL. The league served its purpose, as it allowed Elijah Dunham to stamp his name on the prospect map, while Austin Wells continued to impress scouts that have followed him since before he was a first-round pick.
Next on the docket for Dunham and Wells? Continuing to open eyes in 2022.