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Random Minor League Notes: 2023 Edition
9 months ago  ::  Oct 03, 2022 - 6:58AM #1
Posts: 25,332



9 months ago  ::  Oct 03, 2022 - 7:00AM #2
Posts: 25,332

Here's what to know for Opening Day in the Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League is turning 30!

Baseball’s finishing school, which debuted in 1992, is opening season No. 30 on Monday. Created by baseball legend Roland Hemond, the AFL has sent thousands of players to the big leagues. Around 60 percent of all Fall Leaguers have at least touched the Majors, with an alumni list headlined by Roy Halladay, Derek Jeter and Mike Piazza, who are all enshrined in Cooperstown. The league has churned out hundreds of All-Stars, over 20 MVPs, dozens of Silver Slugger, Gold Glove Awards and Rookies of the Year and several Cy Young Award winners.

Every organization has sent at least seven prospects to the AFL, where they'll play a 30-game regular season from Oct. 3 through Nov. 12 at six Cactus League stadiums. The franchises and their big league feeder clubs: Glendale Desert Dogs (Brewers, Dodgers, Reds, Twins, White Sox), Mesa Solar Sox (Athletics, Cubs, Marlins, Rays, Yankees)Peoria Javelinas (Guardians, Mariners, Mets, Nationals, Padres), Salt River Rafters (Blue Jays, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Tigers), Scottsdale Scorpions (Angels, Braves, Giants, Orioles, Red Sox) and Surprise Saguaros (Astros, Phillies, Pirates, Rangers, Royals).

In addition to games at each of these venues, this year’s Fall League will also have a tripleheader at Chase Field, home of the D-backs, on Saturday, Oct. 15. For the first time, there will be the AFL Home Run Derby on Saturday, Nov. 5, followed the next day by the annual Fall Stars Game, both held at Sloan Park in Mesa.

The following Friday, Nov. 11, the Peoria Sports Complex will host a play-in semifinal matchup, a new wrinkle into the schedule, before the league’s Championship Game on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Scottsdale Stadium. The Fall Stars and Championship Games will be broadcast on MLB Network.

As usual, AFL rosters are chock full of talent. There are 16 players from MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 playing this fall, including five in the top 25 alone. Salt River will be the home for Cardinals outfielder Jordan Walker (No. 6), D-backs shortstop Jordan Lawlar (No. 13) and Rockies outfielder Zac Veen (No. 24). Glendale will have Reds shortstop Noelvi Marte (No. 18), Surprise will have Pirates catcher Henry Davis (No. 20) and Peoria will be the home for Nationals outfielder Robert Hassell III (No. 23). A total of 94 players ranked on our organizational Top 30 lists will play in Arizona.

For complete coverage of the AFL, visit the official league site at www.mlb.com/afl.

Top 100 prospects in the Fall League:
6. Jordan Walker, OF, Cardinals (Salt River)
13. Jordan Lawlar, SS, D-backs (Salt River)
18. Noelvi Marte, SS, Reds (Glendale)
20. Henry Davis, C, Pirates (Surprise)
23. Robert Hassell III, OF, Nationals (Peoria)
24. Zac Veen, OF, Rockies (Salt River)
42. Jasson Domínguez, OF, Yankees (Mesa)
47. Quinn Priester, RHP, Pirates (Surprise)
51. Brennen Davis, OF, Cubs (Mesa)
54. Masyn Winn, SS, Cardinals (Salt River)
69. Andy Pages, OF, Dodgers (Glendale)
76. Matt McLain, SS, Reds (Glendale)
87. Jackson Merrill, SS, Padres (Peoria)
95. Tink Hence, RHP, Cardinals (Salt River)
97. Nick Gonzales, 2B, Pirates (Surprise)
98. Zack Gelof, 3B, Athletics (Mesa)

MLB also announced that after testing this season in the Minor Leagues, the following new playing rules will be implemented in the Arizona Fall League: pitch timer, restriction on defensive positioning, larger bases and the Automatic Ball-Strike System (“ABS”) Challenge. This Challenge System, which allows hitters, pitchers, and catchers to challenge an umpire's call at the plate with the ABS System, only will be tested at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick and Chase Field.

Below is a summary of new playing rules that will be used during the Arizona Fall League:

  • PITCH TIMER: After successful testing in MiLB that reduced game times on average by 26 minutes, the Major League rule recently approved by the Competition Committee will be implemented to enforce time limits between delivery of pitches, inning breaks, and pitching changes.
  • DEFENSIVE POSITIONING: As recently approved by the Major League Competition Committee, the defensive team must have a minimum of four players on the infield, each of whom must have both feet completely in front of the outer boundary of the infield, and two infielders must be positioned entirely on each side of second base.
  • LARGER BASES: To reduce player injuries and collisions – and create shorter distances between bases to impact the success rate of stolen base attempts - the size of first, second, and third base will be increased from 15 inches square to 18 inches square.
  • ABS CHALLENGE: The Automatic Ball-Strike (“ABS”) Challenge System that began in the Florida State League in 2022 will be implemented on the experimental level at the Arizona Fall League for games played at Salt River Fields and Chase Field. Batters, Pitchers, and Catchers will have the opportunity to challenge an umpire's ball or strike call if they feel it is incorrect. All challenges will be evaluated by the ABS system to determine the outcome. Both teams are allowed three challenges and will be awarded their challenge back if correct.
  • Opening Day probable starters:
  • Peoria (Bryan Woo, Mariners) at Glendale (Emmet Sheehan, Dodgers), 3:35 p.m. ET

Surprise (Quinn Priester, Pirates) at Salt River (Connor Thomas, Cardinals), 3:35 p.m. ET
Mesa (Holt Jones, Marlins) at Scottsdale (Connor Van Scoyoc, Angels), 9:35 p.m. ET

Dates To Remember

Oct. 3: Opening Day

Oct. 15: Chase Field tripleheader starting at 2:35 p.m. ET
Nov. 5: Home Run Derby, Sloan Park, 9:35 p.m. ET
Nov. 6: Fall Stars Game, Sloan Park, 7 p.m. ET
Nov. 12: Championship Game, Scottsdale Stadium, 7 p.m. ET

9 months ago  ::  Oct 03, 2022 - 7:04AM #3
Posts: 25,332

The Arizona Fall League rosters are here -- and they're loaded

Yankees (Mesa): Jasson Domínguez, OF (No. 2/MLB No. 42); Nelson Alvarez, RHP; Yorlin Calderon, RHP; Tyler Hardman, 3B/1B; Shaine McNeely, RHP; Leam Mendez, RHP; T.J. Rumfield, 1B

One of the most hyped international prospects ever, Domínguez already has played in two SiriusXM All-Star Futures Games as a teenager and has the upside of solid or better tools across the board. Mendez is the most intriguing of these Yankees pitching prospects, missing bats with a 92-95 mph fastball with riding action and flashing a promising mid-80s splitter.

8 months ago  ::  Oct 07, 2022 - 7:44AM #4
Posts: 25,332

Did the Yankees Win the Joey Gallo Trade?

Before the Yankees traded Joey Gallo, fans of the organization wanted New York to get rid of the outfielder regardless of the return.

Gallo was hitting .159/.291/.368 with 25 home runs and 194 strikeouts in his Yankees career, a span of 140 games dating back to last summer's trade deadline when New York sent four prospects to the Rangers to acquire Gallo. Boos from the home crowd in the Bronx outnumbered cheers for Gallo by an immense margin.

The Yankees ended up sending Gallo across the country to the Dodgers on August 2 in exchange for pitching prospect Clayton Beeter, a right-hander that settled in as New York's No. 9 prospect, per MLB.com.

It's far too early to declare a winner for either side, but as Gallo reverts to his typical toxic tendencies in a Dodgers uniform, Beeter has shown some promise while pitching in Double-A Somerset.

Beeter made his final regular season start of the Double-A season on Friday, tossing five scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and two hits allowed. Since the trade, Beeter has pitched to the tune of a 2.13 ERA over seven appearances, striking out 41 batters in 25.1 frames.

That's a significant improvement for Beeter after his production with Double-A Tulsa. In 18 appearances with Los Angeles' affiliate (over 51.2 innings), the right-hander had a 5.75 ERA.

The big test for Beeter is turning this solid stretch into another step forward in 2023, eventually making the jump to Triple-A and beyond while continuing to develop. After New York invested a chunk of their pitching depth at the deadline—parting ways with the likes of JP Sears, Ken Waldichuk, Hayden Wesneski and more—Beeter is ranked higher than every other pitching prospect in the organization except Will Warren (No. 8 overall). That means lofty expectations will follow him as he climbs through the system.

New York's pitching department has a tremendous track record of bringing the best out of their arms, youngsters and veterans alike. Again, seven starts in Double-A is not enough of a sample to say Beeter has figured it out with his new team, but it's a start.

Remember, all signed pointed toward the Yankees getting rid of Gallo, no matter what. For them to get this type of high-upside arm in return is a victory. The prospects they sent to the Rangers that are already contributing in Texas are a sunk cost. 

Meanwhile, after a bit of a hot start with the Dodgers, Los Angeles Gallo has turned back into New York Gallo. The outfielder is batting .165/.276/.400 in 31 games with the Dodgers, slugging five home runs with 16 RBI. He's struck out 39 times in 85 plate appearances, good for a 39.8 strikeout rate. That's higher than it was in both 2021 and 2022 with the Yankees. 

8 months ago  ::  Oct 10, 2022 - 9:14AM #5
Posts: 25,332

Arizona Fall League Update: Week 1

While we (im)patiently wait for the Yankees to begin their postseason, and the chase for World Series championship No. 28, there are Yankee farmhands who are still honing their craft. The Arizona Fall League began play on October 3rd, and among those toiling in the desert are a number of Yankee youngsters, headlined by “The Martian” Jasson Domínguez.

For a primer on who the Yankees sent to Arizona, check out this piece by our own Jake Devin. Once you’ve done that, without further ado, here is a rundown of how the opening week of fall ball went for those representing New York.

Let’s start with Domínguez, whose torrid stretch run after promotion to Double-A has him almost certainly on the verge of ascending to lofty prospect rankings next season. Through four games, his bat has yet to find its rhythm at 2-for-11. But Domínguez is showing a keen eye, with four walks, and he has tacked two stolen bases onto his stat line as well. Although the base hits are not falling in bunches, the youngster’s swing looks like it is in fine form.

The most impressive opening week for a Yankee prospect certainly belongs to third baseman Tyler Hardman. The 2021 fifth-round pick is off to a torrid start. He went 8-for-16 at the plate with a home run for the Mesa Solar Sox. Going 4-for-5 with five runs scored and three runs batted in, as he did on October 5th, certainly doesn’t hurt. Hardman’s start is in line with FanGraphs’ expectations for him, as they described him as a bat-only player shortly after the Yankees drafted him. Hopefully he continues to rake in his time in the desert.

The final Yankee position player at the Fall League is first baseman T.J Rumfield. A week in, he is 3-for-11 but, like Domínguez, is taking his walks, resulting in a gaudy .429 OBP. He has also made the most of his opportunities with men on base, knocking in five runs in the opening week of action. Rumfield, who FanGraphs says possesses “big power and bat speed,” could be one to watch as he gets more reps this fall.

On the mound, the Yankees did not send any elite organizational arms. Through one week, right-hander Leam Mendez has acquitted himself well in the early going. Mendez has appeared in two games so far, throwing a total of 3.1 innings, allowing only one run. That run was a solo home run surrendered to Heston Kjerstad, the Orioles’ No. 9 prospect. Otherwise, he’s been almost spotless.

The rest of the young arms the Yankees sent to Arizona did not cover themselves in glory, though the sample sizes are ridiculously small and the offensive environment seems pretty robust. Nelson L. Alvarez (six earned runs in 1.2 innings), Yorlin Calderon (three earned runs in 1.2 innings), and Shaine McNeely (three earned runs in two innings) have all been touched up. They’ll have plenty of time ahead to improve.

The Yankees have had three farmhands walk away from the Arizona Fall League with the Most Valuable Player Award (Eric Duncan in 2005, Greg Bird in 2014, and Gleyber Torres in 2016). Maybe one of this year’s youngsters can replicate the feat. With several weeks remaining, anything is possible.

8 months ago  ::  Oct 12, 2022 - 9:41PM #6
Posts: 25,332
8 months ago  ::  Oct 21, 2022 - 9:44AM #7
Posts: 25,332

Arizona Fall League Update: Week 2

T.J. Rumfield’s big week headlines the Baby Bombers playing in the desert.

The Mesa Solar Sox, host club of the Yankees prospects playing in the Arizona Fall League, is through another week of action, so it is worth checking back in to see how our farmhands are doing in the desert.

This week, we lead off with T.J. Rumfield. The first baseman, who advanced as far as Hudson Valley at High-A, has been absolutely on fire so far in the Fall League. Through two weeks, he paces all hitters in runs batted in (10) and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (1.344), and is tied for the lead in batting average (.500). This week, he knocked his first long ball, a solo shot to what looked like the deepest part of the park.

Acquired from Philadelphia last November in a deal that sent Nick Nelson to the Phillies to clear space on the 40-man roster, Rumfield’s torrid start has him in prime position to put together a solid short season and burnish his prospect bona fides.

Tyler Hardman is also off to a solid start at the plate. With a dinger of his own, he has nine hits in his first eight games, although with nine strikeouts in 30 at-bats, he could stand to perhaps make more frequent contact.

The third bat the Yankees sent to Arizona is easily the best-known of the bunch, outfielder and consensus top-100 prospect Jasson Domínguez. The youngster is off to a rough start, as he’s currently sporting a .174 batting average with four hits in 23 at-bats, only one for extra bases (a double). He’s still showing command of the strike zone though, with more walks than strikeouts (eight and seven, respectively). I’m sure we’d all like to see him raking in Arizona, but small sample sizes apply, and it is worth remembering how strongly he closed his season after his promotion to Double-A. There is still plenty of time, so hopefully The Martian starts putting some balls into orbit.

Righthander Leam Mendez has seen the most action, and the most success, of any of the arms the Yankees sent to the AFL. Mendez has appeared in four games now, allowing three earned runs in 6.1 innings. Unfortunately for him, he’s also taken the loss in two appearances, to go along with one blown save. To put his ERA into context (again, small sample size warning also applies), the lowest team in the league is 5.14, and Mesa’s team ERA is 5.82. Mendez seems to be acquitting himself pretty well, all things considered.

The rest of the Yankees’ arms have been less successful. Shaine McNeely has not appeared in a game since the first week of the season. Yorlin Calderon, meanwhile, has pitched twice, allowing four earned runs in 3.1 innings. And Nelson L. Alvarez has had a rough time — in four outings, he has walked eight, allowed a .421 opposing batting average, and given up six earned runs in 4.2 innings (11.57 ERA). Yes, it is an elevated offensive environment but that is a rough couple of weeks for the young hurler.

Even with Domínguez’s struggles, the bats are having more success in the desert than are the arms. Hopefully, as we get deeper into play, Rumfield can continue his torrid pace, and the rest of the Yankee youngsters can get into grooves of their own.

8 months ago  ::  Oct 22, 2022 - 9:54AM #8
Posts: 25,332

T.J. Rumfield, NYY (22): Acquired from the Phillies in exchange for Nick Nelson, Rumfield is an intriguing first base prospect who missed considerable development time – both in college and post-draft. When he’s been on the field, he’s demonstrated superb plate discipline. He puts on power displays in batting practice, though this has yet to translate in-game. He currently leads the AFL with a 1.236 OPS in 38 plate appearances.

8 months ago  ::  Oct 24, 2022 - 1:45PM #9
Posts: 25,332

Arizona Fall League Update: Week 3

Yankee prospects continue to play well in the desert this fall

The third week of play has finished in the desert, as a plethora of young players get extra reps to augment their 2022 seasons. Among them, of course, are several Yankee farmhands.

First baseman T.J. Rumfield continues to play well, with his name gracing the offensive leaderboards throughout the Arizona Fall League. He had a bit of a quiet week, going 0-for-3 on Monday and getting a couple of days off. But he went 2-for-4 Wednesday with a walk, and has consistently shown the ability to put the ball in play, striking out only six times in 40 plate appearances.

Tyler Hardman had himself a nice week. Offensively, he hit his second home run of the fall in the first inning on Wednesday. His OPS continues to climb for the Solar Sox, though he continues to have some swing and miss in his game, with 14 K’s thus far. Hardman also showed the leather this week, kicking off the rarely-seen 5-2 double play with some slick glovework.

Jasson Domínguez, meanwhile, quietly had himself a nice week. He brought his batting average up 30 points over the course of the week, with more extra-base hits (two doubles) than he had in the previous two weeks combined (one).

The Martian has also continued to show a keen eye at the plate, and hone his craft as a base stealer. Through three weeks, he has only one more strikeout than walk (nine to eight) and he has yet to be caught stealing. The young outfielder is tied for second on the Solar Sox with his four stolen bases. And his eye is sharp enough that he won a challenge on a pitch originally called a strike.

On the other side of the ball, Leam Mendez continues to be the best of the arms the Yankees sent to Arizona. Working exclusively in relief for the Solar Sox, Mendez has now thrown 8.1 innings to the tune of a 3.24 ERA. The Solar Sox’s team ERA sits at 6.18, so Mendez is performing extremely well, and he has the second lowest ERA of any of the club’s relievers.

Yorlin Calderon made an appearance on the 21st and tossed his best outing of the fall. Calderon threw three innings in relief, allowing only one run. In his 3.1 previous innings, he’d allowed four earned runs, so he took a leap forward this week. Nelson L. Alvarez, meanwhile, has continued to struggle. He has allowed 19 baserunners in only six innings, doubtless a major factor in his 10.50 ERA. One silver lining though has been his ability to miss bats. Alvarez has racked up nine strikeouts thus far, giving him a gaudy 13.50 K/9.

Shaine McNeely, the fourth hurler the Yankees sent to Arizona, has not pitched since the opening week. Tragically, the young man’s father passed away earlier this month and it seems likely he stepped away from the AFL to be with his family. Our condolences go out to him and his entire family for their loss.

Three weeks in, we’re seeing varying levels of success from the young players the Yankees sent to Mesa. Hopefully they continue to improve and get valuable reps to help them prepare for 2023 and beyond.

8 months ago  ::  Oct 28, 2022 - 3:33PM #10
Posts: 25,332

New York Yankees – The Next Wave Of Baby Bombers

The New York Yankees “Baby Bombers” of 2017 were in large part a bust thanks to Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird. Aaron Judge became one of the league’s best players and Luis Severino has been a great pitcher when healthy.

In 2015, they ranked in four of the top seven spots for Yankee prospects. Severino was first, Judge was second, Bird was fourth and Sanchez was seventh. There was a time that Sanchez looked like the best of the baby bombers in 2016. He burst on the scene and hit 16 home runs in around two months. Bird was good when healthy, but injuries derailed him. This group was sold to Yankee fans as the following core four. They were supposed to win several championships, but the furthest they made it was to game seven vs the Houston Astros in the ALCS.

Maybe the New York Yankees next wave of Baby Bombers can make a difference

Fast forward five years and they still can’t get past Houston. The furthest they’ve now gone in six games against them. Bird is in Triple-A and Sanchez was traded to the Minnesota Twins. Severino and Judge remain for now. This group has gone backward and now they have the threat of losing Judge in free agency. The Baby bombers of 2017 ultimately failed.

Now there is a new group of prospects that could be better than the 2017 group. It starts with shortstop Anthony Volpe who has a similar story to Derek Jeter. Volpe is a hometown kid who grew up in New Jersey rooting for the Yankees. Oswald Peraza is also a shortstop who got a taste of MLB action this year, Jasson Dominguez could be the best outfield prospect the Yanks have ever had. Austin Wells has the type of swing that could hit 30-40 home runs at Yankee Stadium, but his defense as a catcher has been questioned. Everson Pereira could be a five-tool player as an outfielder.

The age of this group is what makes it exciting. Volpe is 21 years old and could be in the big picture this year. Peraza is 22 and could be the starting shortstop next year. Dominguez is just 19 years old and was the best player during the Somerset Patriots championship run. Wells is the oldest of the bunch at 23 because he went to college. Pereira is 21 years old and could move up to Triple-A next year if he stays healthy. All of these guys could be in the Bronx within the next two years.

If Aaron Judge leaves this group will be looked at as the transition. This could be similar to when the Yanks did a quick rebuild in the 2016 season. The New York Yankees will always have the talent they need to utilize it properly and let these kids play. Don’t hold them back because of service time.

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