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AFL Notebook: What you need to know from Week 2



It was another gorgeous week for baseball out in the desert.

The Glendale Desert Dogs posted a 1-5 record this week, but that one win looms rather large. The 1-0 victory over Salt River on Friday avoided tying the longest losing streak in the league’s history.

It evoked a postseason-like celebratory scene at Camelback Ranch. One player even joked that champagne awaited the players in the clubhouse.

Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about the week the seven Yankees prospects had in the Arizona Fall League.

Jordan Foley (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Jordan Foley

The 25-year-old Foley has been primarily used as a reliever since being drafted out of Central Michigan in 2014. This fall with Glendale, all three of his outings have been starts.

He’s logged 6.1 innings of work for the Desert Dogs. Saturday night’s start against Mesa, however, did no favors to his ERA. He surrendered five earned runs in just two innings, skyrocketing his ERA to 11.37. He’s now given up eight runs this fall, walking five and striking out 13. His other start of the week came on Monday against Mesa.

Foley’s always been a big strikeout guy. He averaged 9.09 strikeouts per nine innings with Double-A Trenton this summer, but did average 4.75 BB/9, as well. Of the 19 outs, he’s recorded this fall, 13 have come via punch-out.

Heading into Saturday’s start, he boasted the second highest K/9 rate in the Arizona Fall League (16.62). The only pitcher better so far? Forrest Whitley, MLB.com’s No. 8 prospect and his 17.18 mark.

It’s obvious why he’s an intriguing arm, but the biggest flaw in his game right now is his command issues. Enter the Arizona Fall League, where Foley will have plenty of chances to fix that against legitimate hitting prospects in the desert.

Estevan Florial

If Estevan Florial had an opportunity to wipe out any recollection of his first two weeks of the AFL, it’s fair to say he would.

The Yankees’ No. 2 prospect and MLB.com’s No. 46 overall is batting .042 with 12 strikeouts in 24 at-bats. He’s punched at least once in each of his first seven games.

His first, and only, hit this fall came October 10. We’re now closing in on two weeks since he’s tallied another one.

You can’t help but moan and groan when you take a peek at his numbers with Glendale, but manager Dave Anderson is not concerned.

Why?

Well, there are several factors. Florial missed a good chunk of time in 2018 due to surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in his hand. An injury like this can be detrimental to a 20-year-old prospect, and it’s likely he’s out in the AFL for a second straight year to make up for that lost time. So relax, Anderson said, because he’s still working on getting back into game action while out in Arizona.

To clarify, Anderson said there is no concern that Florial is still recovering from the injury.

The Glendale skipper said last week he will play Florial as much as he can to get him back on track.

Allow him to settle into a routine out here, get acclimated with the pitching and work back into game action. He’s only 20, you know.

Thairo Estrada  (Rick Scuteri/AP Images)

Thairo Estrada

Estrada’s batting average is another sight for sore eyes for Yankees fans who may be keeping an eye on this league. The 22-year-old is batting .172, with all five of his hits being singles. He’s struck out seven times in 29 at-bats — nearly a 25 percent clip — and has walked just once.

Case in point: He’s just not seeing the ball well.

Estrada is in the same camp as his Yankees counterpart Florial, who just needs to get his footing in Arizona before any conclusions are drawn about the club’s No. 16 prospect.

He only played in 18 games this year because of a pesky back injury. This was after he suffered a gunshot wound last offseason in an attempted robbery while back home in Venezuela.

Also back out west for a second consecutive fall league stint, Estrada’s struggles can be pointed to the fact that he’s still working back into a routine. He’s played in seven of the team’s first 10 games, as Anderson said he’s hoping to get him as much playing time as possible to make up for the injury-riddled summer he’s coming off.

He’s gotten a hit in his last two games, which is hopefully an indication that he’s picking up the ball better each week.

Kyle Zurak (Mike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP)

Kyle Zurak

Opposing hitters have been none too kind to Zurak so far.

In his first four appearances, he hasn’t looked good in any. He’s only recorded five outs but has surrendered eight earned runs on eight hits. He’s also walked five and has given up five home runs.

That rounds out to a 43.20 ERA for those keeping score at home.

On October 18, the 23-year-old right-hander balked home the winning run. The “balk-off” pushed Glendale’s then-losing streak to eight games.

Spending the 2018 season with Charleston and Tampa, the East Amherst native compiled a 5-3 record and 3.02 ERA. His first two seasons in the organization has shown he’s a high-strikeout guy with some command issues.

One weird little tidbit of information: In 86 professional innings pitched, he’s allowed just four home runs. In 1.2 innings with Glendale, he’s allowed two.

Baseball is weird, so let’s let Zurak settle into his role with the Desert Dogs before we make any rash decisions.

Steven Sensley

If you had Steven Sensley as the best Yankees hitter so far, then kudos to you.

Unranked in the replete New York farm system, the 23-year-old is batting .242 with a .333 slugging percentage in nine games. He played in each of Glendale’s six games this week, currently riding a four-game hit streak courtesy of a two-hit effort on Saturday.

Sensley, who’s done a great job of barreling up a lot of balls this fall, has hit safely six times in eight games.

First base had been a little foreign to him before coming out here, but he’s handled it extremely well so far. I saw him on Monday snare a few hot shots, as well as scoop-and-stretch on several different occasions.

Dave Anderson spoke highly about the slugger, citing the strides he’s made defensively after getting a few games under his belt at first.

Yankees fans know about the slugger that Sensley is, but he’s also working on becoming a complete ballplayer this fall. It’s already paying dividends.

Matt Wivinis (Robert M. Pimpsner)

Matt Wivinis

Here’s another Yankees prospect that’s impressed me through the first two weeks.

We only saw him twice this week, but he threw for four scoreless innings with four strikeouts and just one hit. He was perfect over two frames on Friday against Salt River. It was the definition of efficient.

As he’s made the jumps to different levels in the organization, his walk rate has uninvitedly done so, as well. But that’s to be expected when the hitters are more advanced level-by-level.

He’s already walked five in 5.1 IP in Arizona, but that’s why he’s out here. Wivinis is a prime example of pitchers coming to this league to refine some skills and, in this case, work on his command.

At 25 years old, the Yankees might be a bit more aggressive in his development and promotions. He started 2018 at Class-A Charleston and ended the year in Double-A Trenton.

He’s been the best of the four Yankee arms through the first 10 games.

Hobie Harris

Harris has also made an impression in this league thus far.

He made two appearances this week, an October 16 one-run outing over one inning, and two scoreless frames on October 19. That’s now 5.1 IP and two runs, two walks, and two punch-outs scattered over six hits this fall, good for a 3.38 ERA.

His last three years in the organization have been great. He’s a big right-handed reliever who has had no issues striking hitters out.

It’s likely he’s out here to make up for an injury-plagued 2018 campaign that saw him miss a chunk of time with an injury.



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