An Update on Yankees Prospects Currently Playing in Arizona Fall League
Added by Matt Kardos on November 2, 2012.
Slade Heathcott is one of the Yankees top prospects currently playing in the Arizona Fall League.
Every October, major league teams send many of their top prospects to the Arizona Fall League to further develop their approach and hope that they can harness their talent to match their potential heading into the following season. This fall, the Yankees farm hands, along with the Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants have sent their prime prospects to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions, one of the six franchises that compile the Arizona Fall League. As the Trenton Thunder beat writer for Double G Sports and an analyst who follows the Yankees farm system as a whole very closely, I will be providing updates on the Yankees AFL participants weekly.
Slade Heathcott - The Yankees first round draft selection from 2009 draft (29th overall) is in the midst of a torrid week at the plate for Scottsdale. Heathcott is hitting .600 this week with a double, two triples and 6 RBI. Looking to build off a solid season in which he hit .307 with 5 homers and 27 RBI in 60 games with the Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League, the right fielder appears to be fulfilling the promise that so many saw in him when they selected him so high in the draft. Thus far, Heathcott is hitting .295 with a team high 9 RBI while also leading the entire Arizona Fall League in triples with 3 in just 12 games as he looks to open the season in Trenton come the spring.
Mark Montgomery - Montgomery is probably the closest to reaching the big leagues of any Yankees prospect participating in the AFL. The Trenton Thunder stopper, equipped with arguably the most devastating slider in all of the minor leagues has left off right where he did this past season when he posted a 7-2 overall record with a 1.54 ERA while striking out 99 batters in just 64.1 innings between Tampa and Trenton. This fall, Montgomery has allowed one earned run, which came in his first appearance of the season on Oct. 10. Overall he has allowed just 2 hits and has struck out 15 in 8.1 innings pitched. When asked in August about which Thunder players he thought were closest to the big leagues, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said, “We’ve got some guys, especially Montgomery. He’s a guy that we promoted, and he’s someone that I’ve been following. I think he’s got a pretty wicked slider that can move pretty quickly through the system, not necessarily this year. He’s one guy right off the bat — we have other guys too, but Montgomery is someone that I think is knocking on the major league door here in the next year or so.”
David Adams - The Thunder third baseman is one of the veteran players on this Scottsdale roster and brings a sense of leadership to the group. Typically batting third in the Scorpions order, Adams is second to Heathcott in team RBI with 8. After opening the first week of the fall like wildfire, Adams has since gone cold at the plate and has seen his average plummet to .226 overall while hitting just .175 with 0 RBI in his last ten games. The 25 year-old righty is coming off a season in which he served as a catalyst to the Thunder offense by hitting .306 with eight homers and 48 RBI in the middle of the Trenton order. With the decline in production from the seemingly aging Alex Rodriguez at third base, the Yankees as an organization view the continued development of Adams to be important due to the lack of depth at third base within the system.
Austin Romine- Having already had a taste of big league action in 2011 as a September call-up, Romine spent much of his 2012 season injured, having played in only 31 games. The former second round pick is looking to get some at bats in this fall to reinstate his standing as one of the top young catching prospects in baseball. With an aging Russell Martin behind the plate at the major league level, a good showing in Arizona could tremendously boost the chances of Romine cracking the big league roster come April. Romine has hit safely in seven of his last eight games and has seen his average go up to .273 after a slow start to his fall season. Romine is one of three Yankees prospects selected to play in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars game tomorrow, along with Adams and Montgomery.
Dellin Betances- Easily the most well known Yankees representative in the Arizona Fall League, Betances has a ton to prove this fall. After being regarded as the Yankees top pitching prospects as recently as last spring, Betances had a disastrous 2012 campaign that his seen his stock free-fall to a status that has left baseball executives with more questions than answers in regards to the towering 6’8” righty. Dellin struggled mightily between Scranton and Trenton this season, going a combined 6-9 with a 6.44 ERA. The biggest problem for Betances has come to be his endurance and control. In 131.1 innings pitched, Betances allowed 243 base runners (99 walks-144 hits).
After being shut down in mid-August due to injury, Betances is in the AFL to work on his control issues and thus far has been a very nice job in ironing out his problems. In 6.1 innings pitched for Scottsdale, Dellin is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA with eight strikeouts and most importantly, just three hits and three walks. While the pure talent and ceiling for success remains sky high, pundits around baseball continue to debate whether Betances ultimate fate will be as a relief pitcher as Betances has thrived in shorter outings this fall.
Cashman said of Betances 2012 season, “Yeah, I thought he could [contribute to the major league team]. But, baseball’s a difficult game, and yeah he’s obviously struggled with his command this year and he’s obviously on the DL. It’s been a disappointing year for Dellin, but it doesn’t change his ceiling and it doesn’t change his potential. Prospects are suspects, and he’s in the prospect category that had a suspect season.”