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Arizona Fall League Update: Week 2

T.J. Rumfield’s big week headlines the Baby Bombers playing in the desert.

Mesa Solar Sox v. Peoria Javelinas Photo by Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Mesa Solar Sox, host club of the Yankees prospects playing in the Arizona Fall League, is through another week of action, so it is worth checking back in to see how our farmhands are doing in the desert.

This week, we lead off with T.J. Rumfield. The first baseman, who advanced as far as Hudson Valley at High-A, has been absolutely on fire so far in the Fall League. Through two weeks, he paces all hitters in runs batted in (10) and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (1.344), and is tied for the lead in batting average (.500). This week, he knocked his first long ball, a solo shot to what looked like the deepest part of the park.

Acquired from Philadelphia last November in a deal that sent Nick Nelson to the Phillies to clear space on the 40-man roster, Rumfield’s torrid start has him in prime position to put together a solid short season and burnish his prospect bona fides.

Tyler Hardman is also off to a solid start at the plate. With a dinger of his own, he has nine hits in his first eight games, although with nine strikeouts in 30 at-bats, he could stand to perhaps make more frequent contact.

The third bat the Yankees sent to Arizona is easily the best-known of the bunch, outfielder and consensus top-100 prospect Jasson Domínguez. The youngster is off to a rough start, as he’s currently sporting a .174 batting average with four hits in 23 at-bats, only one for extra bases (a double). He’s still showing command of the strike zone though, with more walks than strikeouts (eight and seven, respectively). I’m sure we’d all like to see him raking in Arizona, but small sample sizes apply, and it is worth remembering how strongly he closed his season after his promotion to Double-A. There is still plenty of time, so hopefully The Martian starts putting some balls into orbit.

Righthander Leam Mendez has seen the most action, and the most success, of any of the arms the Yankees sent to the AFL. Mendez has appeared in four games now, allowing three earned runs in 6.1 innings. Unfortunately for him, he’s also taken the loss in two appearances, to go along with one blown save. To put his ERA into context (again, small sample size warning also applies), the lowest team in the league is 5.14, and Mesa’s team ERA is 5.82. Mendez seems to be acquitting himself pretty well, all things considered.

The rest of the Yankees’ arms have been less successful. Shaine McNeely has not appeared in a game since the first week of the season. Yorlin Calderon, meanwhile, has pitched twice, allowing four earned runs in 3.1 innings. And Nelson L. Alvarez has had a rough time — in four outings, he has walked eight, allowed a .421 opposing batting average, and given up six earned runs in 4.2 innings (11.57 ERA). Yes, it is an elevated offensive environment but that is a rough couple of weeks for the young hurler.

Even with Domínguez’s struggles, the bats are having more success in the desert than are the arms. Hopefully, as we get deeper into play, Rumfield can continue his torrid pace, and the rest of the Yankee youngsters can get into grooves of their own.