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Austin Wells (Robert M. Pimpsner)

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Yankees send intriguing group to 2021 Arizona Fall League

Now that the New York Yankees major league season is over for 2021, the attention shifts over to the prospects that will be participating in the Arizona Fall League (AFL) that begins on Wednesday, October 13. Eight prospects will represent the Yankees as a member of the Surprise Saguaros (Nationals, Reds, Rangers, and Royals prospects also make up the final roster).

From the position player group, the Yankees will have catcher Austin Wells, outfielder Elijah Dunham, and infielder Andres Chaparro.

Wells is going to be the headline catcher for Surprise and he should get more development time behind the plate as New York tries to find their catcher of the future. The First Round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft played in 103 games this year for Low-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley and had a slash line of .264/.390/.476 with 16 home runs and 76 RBIs while drawing 71 walks.

As for Dunham, he has been the best hitter the Yankees signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Indiana in 2020. The left-handed hitter had a slash line of .263/.362/.463 with 13 home runs, 57 RBIs, and 28 stolen bases. Since Dunham wasn’t known for stolen bases in college, it only adds another tool to his game as he gains more experience.

Meanwhile, Chaparro has been in the Yankees system since 2016 and he deserves a chance for more attention on this type of stage. As his career has gone on, the 22-year-old has continued to improve his game defensively and his on-base percentage continues to go up. This year, in 101 games across Low-A and High-A, he had an OBP of .381 and had 15 home runs and 73 RBIs.

On the mound, the Yankees have one left-handed pitcher going to Arizona in Clay Aguilar, a non-drafted free agent out of Houston back in 2020. Aguilar had a 2.15 ERA in Low-A this year in 21 appearances (four starts). He struck out 66 batters while only walking 11 in 46 innings. That allowed him to get promoted to High-A for the final week of the Renegades season. In the one start he made, he threw six scoreless innings, allowed three hits, and struck out five against Greensboro.

In terms of advanced arms, right-hander Zach Greene made a good impression at Double-A Somerset this year. Greene was selected in the 8th Round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of South Alabama and he got to Double-A Somerset in June of this past season.

While Greene did not have a great end to the season, he still put up 91 strikeouts in 34 appearances between High-A and Double-A and held opposing hitters to a .185 average over 59.2 innings.

As far as lower-level arms go, right-handers Harold Cortijo and Tanner Myatt will look to continue to get innings after being injured for most of this season. Cortijo made just eight appearances between Rookie-Ball and Low-A (7.30 ERA) while Myatt had a 5.40 ERA and 16 walks in 15 appearances between Tampa and Hudson Valley. As for Blane Abeyta (5.37 ERA in 17 appearances for FCL and Tampa), the non-drafted free agent out of Nevada in 2020 will be on the taxi squad for Surprise.

Those pitchers will have a familiar face with them in Arizona as Preston Claiborne will be the team’s pitching coach. There will also be a familiar face in the infield with Chaparro as Ezequiel Duran was named as one of the Rangers representatives for Surprise.

Written By

I am an alum of St. John's University, where I majored in sports management.

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