The Arizona Fall League wrapped up its season on Saturday night with its final game. Alas, the Mesa Solar Sox were not involved, so none of the Yankees prospects playing fall ball will be tasting the thrill of a championship. Nonetheless, as we have every week of the AFL here at Pinstripe Alley, let’s check in on how the Baby Bombers fared in the final week of the season (we’ll do a full-season review tomorrow).
Third base prospect Tyler Hardman got hot at the right time, and his bashing of baseballs continued in the season’s final week. In the fifth inning of Tuesday’s game, he came to the plate with a runner on and Mesa leading 5-2. One swing later, the lead was five runs, and Hardman had his sixth dinger of the fall. a number that was ultimately good enough to tie for the team lead.
Tuesday’s game was a tonic for a couple of other Yankees prospects. Jasson Domínguez, who has struggled at the plate throughout the fall, produced his fourth double of the campaign. It’s worth remember that The Martian is still a ridiculously young 19 years old, so his struggles in a small sample size in Arizona should be considered in the larger context of his otherwise-strong 2022 season.
Meanwhile, T.J. Rumfield got himself back into a bit of a groove after his previous week was a bit rough. On Tuesday, he went 3-for-4 at the dish, with two doubles, giving him seven on the season and pushing his batting average back up over .400.
On the mound, Leam Mendez entered the game with two outs in the sixth with Mesa leading. Unfortunately, Mendez blew the lead in the seventh inning, his third blown save. The offense bailed him out in the bottom of the frame though, and he earned his first win of the fall season.
The next night, the bats all had the night off while two pitchers made their way into the game for Mesa. First, Nelson L. Alvarez came into the game in the fifth with Mesa up one run and pitched a clean frame. Yorlin Calderon, however, was not quite as sharp. Still clinging to a one-run lead, Mesa brought him in for the seventh. Calderon promptly imploded, giving up five earned runs in an inning and a third, including two round-trippers. His performance got him his second blown save of the fall, and his second loss.
Mesa’s season ended with a whimper on Thursday night as the Solar Sox were on the wrong end of a one-hit shutout. Hardman, Rumfield, and Domínguez combined to go 0-for-7 with two strikeouts, while none of the Yankees pitchers made their way into the game.
Although the Solar Sox did not advance into the AFL playoffs, there were definitely bright spots in the final couple weeks of the fall season. Tyler Hardman’s outburst and power surge over the final two weeks, and T.J. Rumfield managing to finish the campaign hitting .400 immediately come to mind. All of the young players the Yankees sent down gained valuable reps, playing time, and coaching that will hopefully have them in good shape for 2023.