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  • Writer's pictureTamar Chalker

Catching Up on The AFL

By Tamar Chalker

October 27, 2023


While the New York Yankees’ season ended far earlier than we all wished, the MLB playoffs aren’t the only baseball games still being played. The Arizona Fall League kicked off on October 2nd and has passed the halfway mark. A handful of Yankee hopefuls are getting some extra work this month with the Mesa Solar Sox.

Mesa is not off to a good start, sitting at the bottom of the six-team league with a 7-13 record. The Yankees sent eight players to the Arizona Fall League. On the mound, Norberto Henriquez, Baron Stuart, Matt Sauer, Kevin Stevens, and Trystan Vrieling are representing the Yankees, joined by infielders Benjamin Cowles and Caleb Durbin, along with outfielder Nelson Medina.

On the mound, Matt Sauer has had the most success. He has made 6 relief appearances and has a save and a loss. His 2.35 ERA and .111 average against are solid, despite the small sample size. Sauer had a pretty solid year in Double-A so it is good to see him building on that success.

Caleb Durbin is a middle infielder who split time between High-A and AA this year. He put together a strong .291/.361/.440 slash line in Somerset, adding 21 stolen bases. In just 14 games with Mesa this fall, however, he has already swiped nine bags and has a pair of homers.

Benjamin Cowles is a shortstop who spent 106 games in High-A with Hudson Valley, along with making three appearances with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 13 appearances for Mesa, Cowles is hitting .333/.453/.548 and has nine RBIs on two homers.

Durbin, Cowles, and Cubs’ prospect James Triantos have provided the bulk of the Solar Sox’s offense this year, with the rest of the lineup putting up fairly paltry numbers. Mesa’s 2023 season may not be bringing a whole lot of success, but it is good to see a handful of Yankees’ farm players continuing to improve.



Oct 28, 2023

One of my best friends lives in Phoenix and every year we say we're going to go see a few games, yet here I sit in NJ. Wait till next year!


Oct 27, 2023

With Lombard (1st round), Sweeney (1st round), Arias (#1 International), Riggio, Serna, and now Caleb Durbin and Benjamin Cowles, it would seem that the Yankees have an overabundance of middle infielders. I think Arias and Lombard are the keepers.

Riggio (5'9"), Serna (5"6"), and Durbin (5"6") are pretty tiny little fellas. Altuve is 5'6", so undersized guys can make it to the bigs, but Altuve is more of an exception to the rule. I have not seen any data to support it, but it seems that little bitty guys do not have a very high chance of climbing the minor league ladder. Unless one of them is exceptional, they should be moved.


Oct 27, 2023

He was one of the 2 players who was signed with the money they had saved for Ohtani.

even though Alcantara has been a good-looking prospect, I still think it was mistake to give him part of the money that they had earmarked for Ohtani.

the Yankees should never have taken seriously Ohtani's refusal to sign with them., should have insisted that Shohei take their money. no knock on Alcantara, but Ohtani's major league career has been more impressive than Alcantara's.

Too bad he sat from 2018 till him being traded for Rizzo.

a clear case of age discrimination. trading away all the potential of the teenaged Alcantara in exchange for a first baseman already on the wrong side of…

Oct 27, 2023
Replying to

it's a reasonably good point, Alan.

the Yankees have been very conservative, insistent on getting their prospects more minor league experience than other teams.

probably a consequence of having talented and successful major league rosters, it's still not without significant drawbacks.

the Yankees kinda emptied the bag at the end of this season, but I think that they'll immediately revert to "slow-walking" their prospects.


Alan B.
Alan B.
Oct 27, 2023

To add a few things to this:

After last night, Durbin is up to 11SBs and has been dropped from 1st to 4th in the lineup with a SLG% well north so far of .550.

Ex-Yankee farmhand, OF Kevin Alcantara, is the power bat. Too bad he sat from 2018 till him being traded for Rizzo, sat in the DSL/FCL. Why do I say that? He was one of the 2 players who was signed with the money they had saved for Ohtani.

Kevin Stevens, an undrafted RHP, signed in 2022, and missed 2023 due to injury, has looked fine in his games to the tune of a 1.59 ERA

Henriquez & Medina both look like they're in over their…

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