Arizona Fall League play got underway last week with a few Yankees representatives playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions. They have only participated in four games to this point, but I figured that a weekly check in on how they are doing might be interesting for those who follow the Baby Bombers throughout the season, particularly because a few of the Yankees' better prospects have been sent to Arizona.
Tyler Austin might be the most intriguing of the prospects playing in the AFL this season, being that he reported to Arizona as a first baseman after playing the outfield for the Yankees the past few seasons. Austin has moved from catcher to third base before settling in the outfield and it appears that now the team is hoping he can add the other corner infield to his repertoire. In two games for the Scorpions last week, Austin fared the best of the Yankees prospects. He picked up two hits in six at-bats, drove in two runs, and worked a walk. It will be worth watching to see what comes out of his work at first base. Obviously Mark Teixeira isn't going anywhere anytime soon, but the Yankees may have future plans in mind nonetheless.
After a dreadful season with High-A Tampa, Mason Williams is also participating in the AFL to get some extra work in. He has picked up four hits in 13 at-bats for Scottsdale to this point, two of which were doubles. Williams also drove in a run and stole a base in three games. If he can hit well out west, hopefully he can bring some of that good fortune back with him for next season. He needs it after failing to prove he can hit High-A pitching thus far.
Peter O'Brien basically tore the cover off the ball all season between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, but his problem is that he is currently without a position. The Yankees moved him from behind the plate after he was promoted to Tampa, trying him out at third base before that proved to be a bit of a disaster. His bat is what will get O'Brien to the majors, if that happens, but he'll need to play somewhere if he doesn't want to be a DH like Jesus Montero. The Yankees are likely hoping he can work out some of the kinks in his defense in extra games with the Scorpions. O'Brien has gotten reps behind the plate so far in the AFL, so it's possible that the team hasn't abandoned all hope of him catching just yet. Either way, he's picked up one hit in eight at-bats with that hit being a home run that drove in two runs.
The Yankees sent four pitchers to Arizona, none of them being top of the line prospects, and three of them have seen action so far. Fred Lewis, Brett Gerritse, and James Pazos are all representing the Yankees on the pitching side for the Scorpions. To this point, Lewis has gotten the most playing time with 2.1 innings of work in which he allowed three hits and two walks along side four strikeouts without allowing a run. Pazos picked up a win and worked two innings for the Scorpions in a game he finished last week. He allowed no hits, but walked two and struck out four. Gerritse has gotten into one game in which he pitched 1.1 innings, allowing three runs on two hits in addition to two walks. He did manage to strike out two batters.
Obviously everything here is small sample size so far, but there are definitely some positives to take away. We'll check back in on the Baby Bombers next week to see how the first full week of play goes.
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