The Yankees' season is over, and even though the minor leagues have been shut down for over a month, there are still a few prospects to follow this fall. The organization will be sending eight prospects to the Arizona Fall League in order to give them additional playing time and allow them to work on things that they can improve upon. Their players include pitchers Domingo Acevedo, Ian Clarkin, Tyler Webb, and Chaz Hebert, as well as hitters Tyler Wade, Tyler Austin, Dustin Fowler, and Gary Sanchez.
The Yankees have traditionally been affiliated with the Scottsdale Scorpions at Scottsdale Stadium, however, this year their prospects will be playing for the Surprise Saguaros in Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. The short season runs from October 13 and comes to an end on November 19. The league will host a hitting challenge on Oct. 17, the Fall Stars Game on Nov. 7, and the Championship Game on Nov. 20.
Back in early September, before we had a finalized list of prospects, Billy Eppler–Yankees assistant GM at the time–spoke to Chad Jennings about a few of the players:
Eppler seemed pretty impressed by Sanchez's body of work and the step up he took this year:
"This guy's 22 years old, so he's coming out of college right now, essentially," Eppler said. "And he's basically dominating Triple-A. That's pretty valuable. And he's doing it at a premium position. He's a pretty complete player right now. We're excited by how he's grown."
Eppler commented about how they simply want him to continue to work on his defense behind home plate. The only way to do that is to do it more.
As a 20-year-old, Wade hit .280/.349/.353 in high-A Tampa and even got a chance in Double-A, despite being nearly 4.5 years younger than the league average. "For us to move a player that young up to Double-A, there's going to be ingredients that go beyond performance," said Eppler. Apparently, the Yankees really like Wade's attitude, his competitiveness, and generally all the intangibles you could want in a young player. He's already collected over 500 plate appearances, so he'll be playing this Fall to simply get a taste of superior pitching.
One guy you might not know of is Hebert, who put together a 2.55-ERA season with three complete game over Low-A Charleston, High-A Tampa, and a spot start in Scranton. For those who aren't familiar (read: everyone) Eppler provides us with a little bit of a scouting report:
"Left-handed starter that controls the strike zone (and) manages the strike zone well," Eppler said. "Has a pretty advanced changeup. Small cutter that is showing improvement. Breaking ball that he can throw for strikes. He's still pretty young at 22 years old and pitched pretty well in the Florida State League."
He's definitely someone I will have my eye on going forward.
Eppler believed that Webb could have been among the relievers brought up over the course of the season, but a tendon injury in his hand put him on the disabled list in June. The lefty had a 2.84 ERA in 38.0 innings as a 24-year-old and should be in line to make his MLB debut next year. He'll be in the AFL this year to make up for lost time and add some innings onto his arm so that he can maintain a tougher workload next year.
Eppler believes that Fowler, despite his low profile, is still a player the organization has a lot of faith in and he likes what he saw in 2015. "Improving his ability to put the ball in play," Eppler said. "(Also) improving his selectivity. He's clearly getting stronger." Despite his status as a prospect, he's not expected to play too much this Fall and will instead be there just to see higher competition.
It was originally planned that Eric Jagielo would get some hacks in the AFL after missing a good portion of the season with a knee injury. Unfortunately, it turned out it would take him a little longer than expected to be game-ready after undergoing surgery and the organization decided to replace him on the roster with Tyler Austin. In 2015, Austin only hit .235/.309/.311 during his first stint in Triple-A, eventually losing playing time to better players. He was demoted to Double-A just to get him some playing time–he hasn't even hit 400 plate appearances yet–so he's here to play and to hopefully figure things out for himself.
The 21-year-old flamethrower started out in Low-A Charleston, but he missed considerable time and ended up in Staten Island. Despite performing well, he only threw 48.0 innings and could use some additional time on the mound. The Yankees like him and are probably interested to see what he can do at higher levels, so getting him work now could help him hold up next year.
Missing for the entire 2015 season, Ian Clarkin is alive and healthy. After some elbow issues kept him out of games, the AFL should help him get some work in so he doesn't go into 2016 having missed competitive baseball for an entire year.
Who are you excited to see compete this Fall? Was there anyone in the system who you hoped to see more of?