The Arizona Fall League began action on October 9th and will come to an end this Saturday. While only die-hard baseball fans may follow the AFL, it is fair to say that it is a great 40-day eye-test of baseball’s most promising stars.
After all, the Yankees very own Gleyber Torres walked away as the 2016 AFL MVP when he posted a .403 BA, .513 OBP and a 1.1589 OPS over 18 games. Other notable AFL MVP’S include Nolan Arenado (2011), Kris Bryant (2013), and Ronald Acuna (2017).
Both Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar took part in the AFL in 2016 and just yesterday finished second and third in the 2018 Rookie of the Year voting. This is reason enough as to why we should look at how this seasons AFL Baby Bombers are performing.
Let’s start with infielder Thairo Estrada, who is no stranger to the AFL. Estrada turned heads in 2017’s AFL as he posted a .342 batting average through 20 games. Three months later, he suffered a gunshot wound in an attempted robbery in his hometown of Bejuma, Venezuela but was able to return to High-A Tampa in mid-April. However, a back injury put him back on the shelf, resulting in the 22-year-old playing in just 18 games in 2018.
This fall, Estrada has played in 18 games which matches his season total in the minor leagues this past season. While he is currently batting .250 at the dish and riding a sub .300 OBP, he is getting a feel for the game and will be a must watch as he enters the 2019 season, likely in Trenton, with hopes of a call-up to Triple-A Scranton.
Next up, twenty-year-old outfielder and the Yankees No. two prospect, Estevan Florial. Through 19 games this fall, Florial has struggled, striking out at a 38% clip while posting a .176 batting average. Like Estrada, he also played in the 2017 Fall League and had much success as he sported a .383 OBP and showcased his speed around the bases.
While both Estrada and Florial are not performing at their highest abilities this fall, they are two Yankees to keep an eye on. The added exposure in which these two gain from the Arizona Fall League can also make them valuable trade assets in what is already a deep Yankees team.