The Arizona Fall League is heading into the final two weeks of play for their short season. Several of the Yankees’ prospects playing in the desert continue to show off their skill and potential, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Also, another winter league has kicked off in Puerto Rico giving more prospects the chance to continue playing through the winter.
Yankees prospects are playing for the Surprise Saguaros alongside a mix of prospects from the Royals, Red, Rangers and Nationals. The team had a tough 1-5 record on the week and is 13-8 this season, leaving them tied for both the top spot in the AFL West division and in the AFL overall.
Elijah Dunham continues to be the story for the Yankees contingent. He is third in the league with an OPS of 1.062 after 16 games played. He also continues to be an efficient base stealer and has not been caught in nine attempts on the Fall season — he has also struck out just five times in 73 plate appearances. Those five strikeouts are well below his 13 walks this fall as he continues to own the strike zone and has posted a .493 OBP.
Infielder Andres Chaparro has found some chances to show off his power with a monster home run that hit off the scoreboard well behind the left-center field fence. Chaparro has not received the same playing time as Elijah Dunham and Austin Wells this fall, but he is hitting .323 with six extra base hits in his last 31 at-bats.
Austin Wells, the Yankees’ top ranked prospect playing in Arizona, continues to put up solid offensive numbers as he is slashing .277/.424/.489. This week he hit his second triple of the Fall — combined with his regular minor league, Wells now has seven triples on the season in 116 games, an impressive number for a catcher.
On the pitching side, right-hander Zach Greene gave up his first run in this Fall stretch, but bounced back with a scoreless inning later in the week — he now has nine strikeouts in 6.1 innings. Harold Cortijo also produced his best AFL outing so far, throwing two scoreless innings during Monday’s game. He made it through the outing without issuing a walk after struggling with his control for most of the season including the fall.
Clay Aguilar gave up three runs, but only one earned during his one outing of the week. The left-handed pitcher has struggled through the Fall and has a 9.53 ERA. The Yankees’ other pitching prospects in the AFL also continue to struggle as Blane Abeyta and Tanner Myatt both have ERAs of 7.36 and 10.80 respectively.
Also of note in the Arizona Fall League, former Yankees prospect Canaan Smith-Njigba was in the center of a bench clearing brawl after he was hit by a pitch up near his head. Baseball America’s Josh Norris said it is the only time in 15 years that he can remember seeing or hearing about a benches clearing incident in the AFL. Smith-Njigba was traded to Pittsburgh as part of the Jameson Taillon trade last January.
Infield prospect Robert Chirinos continues his strong play for Caribes de Anzoátegui as he had a three hit night this week and has been moved up into the middle of the batting order after starting out hitting ninth on a regular basis. Through 10 games he has a .333/.395/.485 line with three doubles and a triple.
The Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente (Puerto Rican Winter League) kicked off this week with its first few games. Hemmanuel Rosario, a Yankees catching prospect and Puerto Rico native, is on the roster of Criollos de Caguas. Rosario played for the Yankees in the Florida Complex League this past year.
The offseason continues to be very busy for a number of Yankees prospects. With a chance to improve their stock, prospects such as Elijah Dunham and Andres Chaparro are taking advantage of the opportunity. Even as the AFL approaches its final weeks, more prospects are kicking off their winter in other areas and leagues.