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Arizona Fall League: Season in Review

With the AFL over, the prospects the Yankees sent to the desert have finished their seasons.

Surprise Saguaros v Mesa Solar Sox Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The 2022 Arizona Fall League concluded on Saturday. Accordingly, several young Yankees farmhands have finished their fall seasons after getting valuable extra playing time with the Mesa Solar Sox. So with the AFL concluded, it is time to take one last look at how they fared. Their ages and the level at which they concluded the 2022 season is included in parentheses

Jasson Domínguez (19, Double-A Somerset)

2022 AFL stats: .159/.250/.217, 4 2B, 5 SB

There is no way to sugarcoat it. The most-highly heralded prospect the Yankees sent to the desert perhaps had the roughest time of it. He had loads of trouble at the plate, hitting for neither power nor average, and striking out 17 times in 69 at-bats. The high point for him likely came during the Fall Star Game, when he ripped an RBI double down the left field line.

There was also reporting in the past few days that Domínguez had issues with hustle in his time in the desert. All told, it certainly wasn’t the fall season that he, the Yankees, and the fanbase were hoping for from the highly regarded prospect. But it’s worth remembering that he’s a 19-year-old who was competing against some excellent competitors.

Tyler Hardman (23, Somerset)

2022 AFL stats: .325/.374/.662, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 21 runs

Hardman got off to a perfectly adequate start this fall, hitting .300 through the first two weeks. But as the season went on, his bat heated up, becoming incandescent in the final two weeks. Hardman hammered five home runs in that span, including two in one game at one point.

His hot finish to the fall season reinforces what FanGraphs wrote about him shortly after the Yankees drafted him in 2021. Hardman, they opined, was a bat-only, three true outcomes player when New York selected him. Seeing him hit for the level of of power he did in Arizona bodes well.

T.J. Rumfield (22, High-A Hudson Valley)

2022 AFL stats: .400/.477/.582, 22 hits, 14 runs, 10 RBI

Rumfield came out of the gates swinging a big stick. And while it was perhaps unreasonable to expect him to hit at a nearly .500 clip, he maintained his performance throughout the fall campaign. When the dust settled, he tied for the AFL lead in batting average and finished third in OPS. If there’s a concern, it’s that Rumfield is yet to show the power one might expect from a first baseman. After hitting four home runs in 209 at-bats during the regular season, he managed only one more in Arizona, in 55 at-bats.

Nelson L. Alvarez (24, Hudson Valley)

2022 AFL stats: 10 IP, 13 H, 11 BB, 14 K

Alvarez, a righthanded reliever, had issues keeping the bases clear of traffic this fall. 24 baserunners in 10 innings is rough. On the positive side, he struck out well over a batter per inning, and did not surrender a single home run. That builds on a strong performance for Hudson Valley, where he gave up only 0.5 HR/9 in his 53.2 relief innings.

Yorlin Calderon (21, A-Ball Tampa)

2022 AFL stats: 12.2 IP, 16 H, 12 ER, 17 K

Another Yankee relief pitcher, Calderon had the same bugaboo as Alvarez. Calderon only walked four batters, but allowing 16 hits still meant he dealt with 20 baserunners in fewer than 13 innings.

Shaine McNeely (24, Tampa)

2022 AFL stats: 2 IP, 3 ER, 2 K

McNeely’s fall season barely got off the ground before tragedy struck. The young man’s father died shortly after the season kicked off, and he ended up only making one appearance for the Solar Sox. Once again, our thoughts and prayers are with McNeely and his family.

Leam Mendez (22, Tampa)

2022 AFL stats: 13.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 7 BB

The fourth and final reliever New York sent to Arizona, Mendez was the most successful, at least in terms of his stat line. He seemed to miss few bats, with only six strikeouts, but that might have been an aberration. Mendez threw 29.1 innings over two levels in 2022, his first campaign in the Yankees organization. And over that time, he struck out 11.4 batters per nine, so his AFL performance might have been an outlier.

The AFL announced its award winners over the weekend, and while none of the Yankees farmhands walked away with one, they still enjoyed various levels of success this fall. Ominously, a Baltimore Orioles club that already looks like it’s going to be a pain in the rear saw one of its top prospects walk away with the MVP. Former second overall pick Heston Kjerstad had an outstanding fall and earned the accolade.

Finally, Baseball America has in the past couple of weeks compiled a video database from the AFL, so feel free to check that out if you’re interested.