(Happy 20th, AzFL! You can almost legally drink)
To break up the monotony of analyzing the Yankees' continued problems at the Major League level, and the slight depression that comes with it, I thought I'd change gears and talk about a more positive topic- Prospects!
The Yankees announced their position player selections for the Arizona Fall League a few weeks ago, and officially finished those selections yesterday with the announcement of the group of pitchers who they'll be sending. Josh Norris had the details, and the final AzFL Yankee lineup is an intriguing one for Yankee fans to say the least. My quick take on each selection after the jump.
Austin Romine- A no-brainer. Romine missed so much time with his back injury this season, and only got 71 PA at Triple-A before their season ended. With Russell Martin having a bad year, Romine is still very much in play as a near-future catching option. Getting him as much work and as many ABs as possible to prep him for ST 2013 is a must.
Slade Heathcott- Similar situation to Romine because of the time he missed earlier in the season, but less critical because Heathcott did get a couple hundred PA and was very productive in them. Center field is getting crowded with Mason Williams and Ravel Santana in the mix, and this could be the Yankees' way of auditioning Slade for Double-A next season if he can keep raking.
David Adams- Dude's finally back to full strength and back on the prospect radar after a .378 wOBA in Trenton this season. The Yanks experimented with him at third late in the year and I have to think his going to the AzFL is so he can get more work at the hot corner. With good reviews, Adams suddenly becomes a real player in the plans for 2013-2014.
Mark Montgomery- This one doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. The argument for why it wouldn't have made sense to call up Montgomery to the Majors (high innings count) should still apply here. Maybe the Yanks want to see how dominant Montgomery can be against better hitting competition, but I would keep him limited to just 1-inning appearances.
Dellin Betances- Another head-scratcher. Betances was shut down with shoulder tendinitis at the end of this season and threw a career-high 131.1 innings before getting DL'd. For a guy with an injury history as checkered as his, this seems like a big risk to take. This has to be the beginning of Betances' permanent transition to reliever.
Zachary Nuding- I had Nuding on my Top 30 radar early when he was really putting up some good numbers, then his season got derailed by shoulder injuries. He pitched pretty well in Tampa, he's a big kid, he's got good stuff, and he's only 22. This seems like another case of getting a player who missed time with injuries more reps, and an attempt by the Yankees to gauge Nuding's ceiling as a prospect.
Dan Burawa- Basically the pitching equivalent to Romine. Burawa impressed in camp this year, getting called out by name by Joe himself, so he's clearly held in high regard in the organization. But he missed the entire season with an oblique injury so he needs work to get ready for 2013. Burawa is a college pitcher with plus stuff, so there's plenty to be learned and plenty to like if he shines in this league.