Scottsdale Scorpions manager Jay Bell sat down with us to give us some notes on how the Yankees prospects are doing in the Arizona Fall League.
The number four prospect for the Yankees had an up and down year. It started off well for Sheffield who was finding some early season success at the double-A level until an injury sidelined the left-hander from early July until early September.
Sheffield was sent to the Arizona Fall League to help him make up for the time missed during the season. He has made the most of his time with the Scorpions posting a 2.37 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 20.1 innings of work.
Sheffield took a comebacker off his left leg and was removed from his last start on November 11 for purely precautionary measures. Sheffield has also impressed Jay Bell, the manager for the Scottsdale Scorpions who said the lefty did a phenomenal job this fall.
“There’s nothing but good things to say about him,” Jay Bell said. “He’s a big leaguer waiting to happen; he’s got a chance to be a top of the rotation type of guy at the big league level.”
Abreu had a busy 2017, pitching for low A and rookie ball this year until finally arriving at high A with the Tampa Yankees where he made nine starts. In those starts, Abreu had an ERA of 4.19 and a 1.40 WHIP. It was the most Abreu struggled at a single level this year after breezing through rookie ball, and low A. In the Fall League Abreu has found his stride again with a 3.18 ERA in 22.2 innings.
However, most of Abreu’s struggles have come in his last two starts for the Scorpions where he allowed six of his eight runs. The key to success for Abreu is keeping his emotions in check on the mound according to Bell. If the righty can continue to control his feelings, like what he has done in the fall league, Bell sees him joining Sheffield as a top of the rotation starter.
“It’s going to be putting everything together, not just the stuff,” Bell said. “Because stuff might get you to the big leagues, but composure allows you to stay there. He’s been fun to watch.”
After making a seamless transition from high A to Double-A in 2017, Cody Carroll continued to turn heads at the Arizona Fall League. Bell said Carroll has been extraordinary on the mound this fall, pitching 9.2 innings and not allowing a single run while only allowing six batters to reach base. Carroll has also collected 14 strikes outs and four saves during his time in Arizona which led Bell to say Carrol is evolving from a wild pitcher into an effectively wild pitcher.
“He throws extremely hard; he can pitch downhill, occasionally let one go that hits backstop,” Bell said. “He’s a joy, a pleasure to be around, I think he is going to be a quick mover (through the minor leagues).”
In baseball a lot of times stats drive the way fans, coaches, and organizations, look at the game. But for Andrew Schwaab it is important to look deep into the stats. The right-handed reliever has a 4.91 ERA this fall, but most of that came from two bad outings. The first was on October 16 when he gave up three runs in a third of an innings while the second came on November 11 when he also gave up three runs but this time in two innings of work.
Outside of those performances, Schwaab has given up one run in seven innings of work. His stats on the season with double-A Trenton back up that Schwaab was just having a few tough days as he only gave up six runs in 21 innings of work. Bell said that the thing standing in the way of Schwaab taking off is his pitch command.
“He was a guy that I was extremely fond of early on,” Bell said. “He’s not the guy that wows you with stuff, but his delivery is tight, and it could be quality with his movement.”
Florial is about two weeks shy of hitting his 20 birthday, but one wouldn’t know that based on the type of production he put up at low and high A this year. The outfielder slashed .292/.372/.850 between the two levels while knocking in 57 runs and 13 home runs.
Florial has struggled with average since coming to Arizona only hitting .254. However, he has still found a way to get on base (.371) despite his bat going cold. Bell is not worried by Florial’s struggles calling the outfielder a gifted five-tool player, especially when considering that he is only 19 years old.
“It’s such a pleasure to just watch his improvement,” Bell said. “He’s 19 years old, he’s got a lot to learn, but he does so many good things at such a young age that he’s a potential many time all-star.”
When entering the Arizona Fall League, McKinney was faced with an interesting challenge. Re-learn first base, a position that up until October, he has not played since high school. Mckinney took it all in stride. He worked on his new position throughout the fall, while besting his career offensive numbers (.277/.355/.778) by posting .303/.432/.795 in the meantime.
Bell said the key to cracking to majors for McKinney would be playing a solid first base and a solid outfield which will make him a very versatile player.
“The combination of being able to move around potions to position as well as having a terrific bat,” Bell said. “He’s got a chance to be a major leaguer for a long time.”
Holder has never had an issue with defense. An infielder who can play short, second or third on any given day and was placed on MLB pipeline’s all-defensive team in January of 2017. Holder came to Arizona looking to improve the offensive game which compared to his 2017 he has done. Holder has hit for better average (.333) and gotten on base more often (.386) than he did during the regular season. But for Bell who has been with Holder the entire season the change came after the first few months of the season where he struggled to start off the year.
“All of a sudden he started figuring some stuff out,” Bell said. “Started hitting the other way doing a really good job with that, he actually drove some balls out of the park too.”
The infielder, who much like Holder, rotates between second, short and third finally found his swing this year. After slowly climbing closer to .300 throughout his career Estrada was finally able to break that plateau this year as he hit .301 this year at for the Trenton Thunder. Bell said the No. 17 prospect for the Yankees can hold his own at any of his positions but has noticed that his offensive game can be a bit inconsistent at times. Bell said Estrada tends to make in-game adjustments which can make up for the inconsistent bat. Estrada has been consistent throughout 2017 though as he continued his offensive success into the fall slashing .353/.397/.824 in 68 at-bats.
“I’ve really enjoyed his personality; it’s phenomenal,” Bell said. “He’s done a great job offensively for this year in double-A and also this fall.”