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Arizona Fall League Update: Week 5

The penultimate week of play is in the books, highlighted by Caleb Durbin’s three stolen base game on Friday.

Glendale Desert Dogs v. Mesa Solar Sox Photo by Chris Coduto/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The fall season is coming to an end in the desert, with one week left in the regular season. As the Mesa Solar Sox play out their slate of games, it’s time to take a look at how the Yankees’ prospects are doing.

We have an easy lead story this week. Friday, the Solar Sox stole nine bases in a single game. Caleb Durbin found himself in the center of that performance, nabbing three bags on his own.

At this point, there is little doubt that Durbin is the Yankees breakout performer this fall. He’s still walking twice as often as he’s striking out, he’s still flirting with a 1.000 OPS, and his 17 stolen bases now pace all players in Arizona.

Ben Cowles has likewise continued to perform well. This week, both the bat and the glove were on display. In the top of the fourth inning Wednesday, he showed his power, driving a solo shot out to left center, his third round tripper of the fall season.

Then in the bottom of the frame, he showed his range at the keystone and made a leaping catch of a liner back up the middle.

Cowles’ .962 OPS trails Durbin by a mere 23 points, as both infielders have shown up at the dish this fall. Speaking of showing up at the plate, Nelson Medina finally got off the schneid this week, amid a lost fall season offensively. Thursday, he tagged his first dinger of the fall, a two-run bomb that had to feel good considering his struggles to succeed.

It’s nice that the bats found success this week, because it was a bit of a mixed bag on the mound, albeit in extremely limited action. Kevin Stevens entered Wednesday’s game in the fifth inning in relief and, despite giving up a hit, recorded the final two outs of the frame in a game Mesa went on to win 7-0. If all that matters is the stat line, Stevens has been the most successful Yankee arm playing for Mesa. He has made eight appearances that have totaled 6.1 innings, with nine strikeouts and a 1.42 ERA.

Matt Sauer, on the other hand, had another rough outing this week in relief. He entered in the fifth inning of the Solar Sox game Thursday, with Mesa leading 2-1. By the time he escaped the frame, Mesa trailed 3-2 in a game they went on to lose 5-2. The loss is Sauer’s third of the fall.

But, as like last week, the underling peripherals are encouraging. Sauer’s been throwing with velocity and and an above-average curveball, as Keith Law noted last week. Moreover, opponents are still only hitting .189 against the former second-round pick, and he has whiffed 16 hitters in 9.2 innings.

Mesa had Monday off and the Fall League held its Home Run Derby Saturday. Those factors limited the pitching opportunities available this week, so Stevens and Sauer are the only hurlers who got game action.

There is a tangential Yankee connection to the Home Run Derby. Cubs outfield prospect Kevin Alcántara ended up in Chicago by way of New York, in the deal that brought Anthony Rizzo to the Bronx. On Saturday, Alcántara participated in the Derby as part of an outstanding fall season. He finished last, but I’m sure he can console himself with his five home runs and 23 RBI in 19 games this fall. For anyone who wants to watch prospects, hit bombs:

One more week of fall baseball, then it’ll be interesting to see what happens next for some of these young players. I won’t lie, I’ll have a much closer eye on Durbin and Cowles than I did prior to their sojourn into the Arizona desert.