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Random Minor League Notes: 2022 Edition
1 year ago  ::  Oct 22, 2021 - 10:22AM #11
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Austin Wells, C, Yankees — After one of the better seasons by a catcher in the minor leagues, Wells has taken his offensive show to the desert. The Yankees' 2020 first-rounder followed Monday's four-hit effort with three more hits on Thursday, including a double and his first home run of the fall. The hot stretch propelled him to the AFL lead in both batting average (.500) and slugging percentage (.944) and tied him with Spencer Torkelson for the league's most hits, with nine.

1 year ago  ::  Oct 24, 2021 - 9:42AM #12
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1 year ago  ::  Oct 26, 2021 - 10:26AM #13
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Yankees Prospect Austin Wells Catching Fire in Arizona Fall League

by: Gary Phillips Sports Illustrated: Inside The Pinstripes

Wells is hitting .400 with a 1.220 OPS through seven games

Yankees prospect Austin Wells is off to a scorching start in the Arizona Fall League.

New York’s No. 6 farmhand, per MLB.com, and 2020 first-round pick is hitting .400 with a 1.220 OPS through seven games and 25 at-bats. While that’s not a large sample by any means, Wells has been one of the most productive players in the AFL, which hosts a number of top prospects annually.

Wells has done a little bit of everything for the Surprise Saguaros, hitting three doubles, one triple and one homer while driving in six. The 22-year-old has scored six times, walked five times and struck out eight times.

Wells’ AFL surge is the latest encouraging sign in his development. The University of Arizona product enjoyed his first professional campaign in 2021 after the 2020 minor league season was canceled. Wells split his time between Single-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley. He played in 103 total games, slashing .264/.390/.476 with 16 home runs and 76 RBI.

There have been questions about Wells’ future behind the plate since the Yankees drafted him, but the backstop is staying put for now. He didn’t play anywhere else during the minor league season, and he’s continued making defensive adjustments in Arizona.

1 year ago  ::  Oct 27, 2021 - 10:24AM #14
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NJ.com | Mike Rosenstein: Austin Wells had a solid year beginning his climb within the Yankees’ minor league system, and he’s off to a blazing hot start in the Arizona Fall League as well. Wells’ .538/.600/1.154 slash line earned him Hitter of the Week out west, where the 2020 first-round pick continues to make a name for himself and rise up the Yankees’ prospect lists.

1 year ago  ::  Oct 27, 2021 - 7:41PM #15
Posts: 23,135

Dunham turns on power in 2-HR AFL game

by: William Boor MLB: Yankees

PEORIA, Ariz. --  isn’t known as a power hitter, but the Yankees’ No. 24 prospect does have the ability to drive the ball out of the yard and did so twice Wednesday.

Dunham hit his first two homers of his Arizona Fall League campaign, driving in four runs and finishing 3-for-4 in Surprise’s 5-1 win over Peoria.

“The type of player I am, I’m just trying to have quality ABs and get on base,” Dunham said. “I think that’s winning baseball. I’m not so much into the new wave of hitting a ton of home runs. I want them, I want them to happen, but I feel like those are outcomes from following a smart process and trying to hit the ball hard.”

Using his compact left-handed swing, Dunham repeatedly hit the ball hard against the Javelinas. His first homer traveled 435 feet and had an exit velocity of 109 mph. His second blast left the bat at 103 mph and landed 424 feet from home plate.

“I’m not a big home run threat sometimes,” the outfielder said. “I’m just trying to get barrels, but I did know [those balls were gone].”

After hitting 13 long balls in the regular season between Low-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley, including one multihomer performance, Dunham is off to a strong start in Arizona. He's batting .344 with six RBIs though nine games.

The Fall League is often filled with advanced prospects, and after making his professional debut this year, the Indiana has adjusted well to the competition.

“I’m just here trying to have quality at-bats every day,” the 23-year-old said. “I can’t control where it goes on the field, all I can control is swinging at strikes and hitting it hard. Just keeping it simple and staying mentally right with each AB.”

That simple approach worked well for Dunham in the regular season too. The Indiana native posted a slash line of .262/.362/.463 over 93 games. He caught fire in September, hitting .283 with three homers in 15 games over the season’s final month and carried that momentum to Arizona.

“Just doing what I always do, just trying to keep it simple,” Dunham said. “Just hit strikes and not try to do too much with it.”

Owen White continued to impress and improved to 3-0 with another dominant outing. The Rangers’ No. 29 prospect threw 40 of his 68 pitches for strikes and struck out five over five scoreless innings, lowering his AFL ERA to 1.20 with 14 strikeouts through three starts (15 innings).

“He’s been great,” Dunham said. “He’s always a quality outing when he goes out, so it’s nice playing behind him.”

White, a second-round pick from the 2018 Draft, retired 12 of the first 14 batters he faced and didn’t surrender a hit until the fourth. Peoria loaded the bases against the right-hander in the fifth, but he escaped unscathed. He scattered three hits and and two walks over his five frames.

The Saguaros, who have won four straight games, improved to 9-3.

“I’m having a great time, especially with our team,” Dunham said. “We’re really good. So it’s a lot of fun winning and we have a good energy too. It’s been a great time so far.”

1 year ago  ::  Oct 30, 2021 - 10:30AM #16
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Yanks' Dunham sizzling in Arizona

by: Jim Callis MLB: Yankees

MESA, Ariz. -- Two constants in the early part of the Arizona Fall League season have been that the Surprise Saguaros win and Elijah Dunham gets on base.

Both those things happened again on Thursday as the Saguaros (11-3) rallied from an early four-run deficit to defeat the Mesa Solar Sox (7-7) in a matchup of the developmental circuit's division leaders. Dunham collected three hits (including two doubles), walked once and was hit by a pitch, scoring two runs and driving in two more as Surprise won its sixth straight game, 10-9.

 "It's a lot of fun with this group of guys because we're having a good time," Dunham said. "We're also competitive and we really like to play together. I think because we're competitive and having a good time, everything's going right."

A lot is going right for Dunham, who's batting .389/.522/.694 with a pair of home runs and seven steals in the Fall League. The Yankees left fielder has reached base in each of his nine starts and done so multiple times in seven of them, walking eight times and striking out just twice in 46 plate appearances. Yet he says the first of those whiffs, against Blue Jays right-hander Cre Finfrock in the third game of the season, has keyed his performance.

"My first strikeout of the year here, I got blown up," Dunham said. "I couldn't even make a decision because I was late on my timing. So I had a conversation with Justin Foscue, who's on our team, because we have the same hitting guy in Nashville [Hunter Bledsoe]. He kind of explained to me what his method of timing was.

"It finally clicked for me that there wasn't a certain timing point that the pitcher gives you, it's when you need to go. For me, I need to go really early and try to go really slow. That's really opened up some vision things for me and a lot of confidence because I'm really seeing it well at the plate."

Dunham has a relatively compact left-handed stroke, produces the bat speed and strength to hit for power and controls the strike zone well. He's an average runner who's aggressive on the bases and is capable of playing either outfield corner or first base.

Despite those tools and a track record of production at Indiana and in college summer leagues, Dunham went unpicked in the shortened five-round Draft in 2020. Though he described that disappointment as a heartbreaker and had two years of eligibility remaining with the Hoosiers, he opted to sign with the Yankees for $20,000 as a nondrafted free agent because he was 22 and wanted to start his pro career. After hitting .263/.362/.463 with 13 homers and 28 steals in his 93-game debut this summer between Low-A and High-A, he has no doubts he made the right decision.

"The thing is, you got to play good at some point," Dunham said. "No one's ever made it to the bigs not playing good. If you believe in yourself and you're confident in yourself, go take your shot."

Royals right fielder Seuly Matias put Surprise ahead for good with a three-run homer that capped a six-run fourth inning against Blue Jays left-hander Brody Rodning, a drive that traveled 387 feet with an exit velocity of 105 mph. Matias is tied for third in the AFL with four homers.

Cubs right fielder Nelson Velazquez (No. 29) also hit his fourth homer in the Fall League for Mesa, a 433-foot solo shot at 110 mph in the sixth inning against Rangers right-hander Tim Brennan. Cubs third baseman Andy Weber added a three-run blast (410 feet, 106 mph) in the ninth off Nationals righty Todd Peterson, his first of the fall.

1 year ago  ::  Oct 31, 2021 - 10:21AM #17
Posts: 23,135

Clay Aguilar Continues To Grow

by: Brendan Kuty Baseball America

Pitchability is the separator for the 22-year-old lefthander, a nondrafted player in 2020 whom the Yankees sent to the Arizona Fall League in 2021.

The Yankees sent top catching prospect Austin Wells and outfielder Elijah Dunham to the Arizona Fall League.

The organization also sent lesser-known lefthander Clay Aguilar.

The 22-year-old Aguilar has been making a name for himself since signing as a nondrafted free agent out of the University of Houston in 2020.

“It’s all about who he is as a person,” minor league pitching coordinator Sam Briend said. “That’s the separator for him.”

He debuted this year after the coronavirus pandemic canceled the 2020 minor league season. He didn’t disappoint.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Aguilar jumped into any role the Yankees needed at Low-A Tampa. He  logged a 2.15 ERA in 21 appearances (four starts), striking out 66 in 46 innings. He pitched six scoreless innings in his lone outing at High-A Hudson Valley to finish the season.

Since Aguilar threw just 52 innings, the Yankees wanted him to keep working for Surprise in the AFL. Briend said that Aguilar will start out relieving but the plan is for him to transition into a starting role.

Aguilar doesn’t throw particularly hard, though he’s upped his velocity from 88 mph to 90 and the Yankees believe he could add more heat. But he’s a strike-thrower who knows how to pitch with a solid breaking ball with good spin rates and a developing slider.

Aguilar’s work ethic stands out, Briend said.

“It’s the belief in himself,” the coordinator said. “He’s done a little bit of everything. He was throwing strikes, adding velocity and adding another pitch. He’s just a really high-feel, strong-pitchability guy.

"It allows him to make development changes that other people it might be more difficult for in season.”

Briend said that Aguilar's makeup creates room for growth.

“The big thing is just continuing to refine the stuff,” Briend said. “See that fastball velocity continue to trend up, and then with the secondary pitches.

"He added the slider this year (and) saw some good flashes. He’s getting more consistency with that. Getting a little bit of a better shape to it. And then run it from there.”

1 year ago  ::  Nov 01, 2021 - 10:30AM #18
Posts: 23,135

Yankees prospects are turning heads in the Arizona Fall League

The Yankees outfield prospect is among the top offensive performers so far in the 2021 AFL

With the official minor league season over, a number of Yankees prospects are continuing play in the Arizona Fall League and around the various winters leagues that have started up. Let’s check in on the progress that Yankees prospects are making in their various leagues.

Yankees prospects in the Arizona Fall League are playing for the Surprise Saguaros alongside a mix of prospects from the Royals, Reds, Rangers and Nationals. The team’s 12-3 record is best the AFL and they have a four game lead in the AFL West division.

The Yankees’ 24th-ranked prospect per MLB.com, Elijah Dunham has put on a show so far and is catching the attention of evaluators in the desert. He is currently hitting .395/.540/.711, with 2 HR, 4 2B and a triple in his first 11 games of the season. He also is a perfect seven for seven in stolen base attempts. Dunham has struck out just two times in 50 plate appearances this season and is locked in after getting his timing down in the early going.

Also heating up this week was Andres Chaparro, who has gone seven for his last 14 after starting the AFL campaign just 1 for 18. He made some very loud contact in a 4-4 outing last Monday that included a home run and a 111 mph hit that bounced hard enough off the wall that he was held to a single. The corner infielder is making loud contact, and along with Dunham seems to be improving his stock in the early part of the AFL. He has always displayed a good eye at the plate and currently has a .368 OBP.

After being the AFL hitter of the week in the previous week, Austin Wells cooled off this week, but was still a productive player for the Saguaros. He scored three runs last Monday and then knocked in four RBI in another win on Wednesday.

On the pitching side, right-hander Zach Greene has now pitched 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing just three singles so far. He has six strikeouts and no walks so far this fall. Greene was not the only pitcher from the Yankees who stood out this past week as Blane Abeyta also had a his best outing of the fall league, tossing 2.1 perfect innings with three strikeouts in Friday’s game. He was credited with the win in the Saguaros’ 10-9 victory. Greene and Abeyta combined for 3.1 perfect innings in a game where the team allowed nine runs and no other pitcher used escaped unscathed.

Tanner Myatt had an up and down week, as he recorded his first save of the fall early in the week, but also had a blown save during Thursday’s game that saw him record just one out and throw two wild pitches in the span of six batters faced. Also struggling this week, pitcher Clay Aguilar gave up five earned runs in his only inning of work, and Harold Cortijo game up a run in his only appearance of the week.

Beyond the Arizona Fall League, baseball has picked up for most of the winter leagues as well. Dermis Garcia, who led Yankees minor leaguers with 31 home runs this past season, is playing in the Dominican Winter league with Gigantes del Cibao. Garcia previously played for the team in the 2019-2020 winter.

Infield prospect Robert Chirinos continued his strong play for Caribes de Anzoátegui, as he has six hits through his first four games. Chirinos is playing mostly at second base so far in the winter league season, but has also found himself playing in left field late in games. Signed as a shortstop, Chirinos has played three infield positions for the Yankees, making this his first official game action in the outfield.

A pair of players who were with Double-A Somerset during the season are also playing in the Venezuelan league right now. Catcher Jason Lopez and pitcher Kevin Gadea are both looking to improve their game this offseason in Venezuela.

Jared Serna, who played for the Yankees in the Dominican Summer League this past year, is currently playing well for Charros de Jalisco in the Mexican Pacific Winter League. Serna stole 24 bases in 28 attempts during the season, and recently turned heads with a 3-5 performance that included a home run and two doubles.

The Arizona Fall League has long been a chance for prospects to take the next step and really break out in the eyes of scouts who frequent the prospect heavy environment. In addition to the league in Arizona, baseball is picking up in numerous countries where it will be carried on throughout the winter. In each of these leagues Yankees prospects are also hoping to get the experience that will help them take the next step in their professional career.

1 year ago  ::  Nov 01, 2021 - 3:45PM #19
Posts: 23,135

Baseball America updates Yankees top 10 prospects

The Martian isn’t No. 1… or 2.

The World Series was extended for at least one more game on Sunday night, but both New York teams are already in postseason mode.

On Monday, Baseball America dropped their rankings of the top ten prospects in the New York Yankees organization. And there’s at least one surprise in the list: Jasson Dominguez isn’t in the top two.

For most scouting services, shortstop Anthony Volpe has been the Yankees’ top prospect for most of 2021. He remains there in the BA update. But who else made their top ten list?

Here’s how Baseball America ranked the Yankees’ top ten prospects at the close of the 2021 baseball year. What do you think?

  1. Anthony Volpe, SS
  2. Oswald Peraza, SS
  3. Jasson Dominguez, OF
  4. Luis Gil, RHP
  5. Austin Wells, C
  6. Hayden Wesneski, RHP
  7. Trey Sweeney, SS
  8. Oswaldo Cabrera, 2B/3B
  9. Luis Medina, RHP
  10. Ken Waldichuk, LHP

BA also updated their rankings of the best prospect in the organization by tool. Here are the best Yankees prospects by tool according to the publication:

Best Hitter for Average: Anthony Volpe
Best Power Hitter: Anthony Garcia
Best Strike-Zone Discipline: Anthony Volpe
Fastest Baserunner: Oswald Peraza
Best Athlete: Estevan Florial
Best Fastball: Stephen Ridings
Best Curveball: Clarke Schmidt
Best Slider: Greg Weissert
Best Changeup: Ron Marinaccio
Best Control: Jhony Brito
Best Defensive Catcher: Antonio Gomez
Best Defensive Infielder: Oswald Peraza
Best Infield Arm: Oswald Peraza
Best Defensive Outfielder: Estevan Florial
Best Outfield Arm: Estevan Florial

1 year ago  ::  Nov 02, 2021 - 11:27AM #20
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Yankees: Future signee Roderick Arias looks like an absolute monster


Arias is the consensus No. 1 international prospect for many reasons: bat-to-ball skills, the ability to control the zone, his plus arm potential … we could go on.

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