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Heathcott and Adams shine in Arizona

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[2] [3]The Arizona Fall League’s championship game is tomorrow, and the regular season has ended with two Yankees near the top of the class. Slade Heathcott and David Adams — two guys coming back from injuries, needing at-bats as much as results — were among the elite hitters in the league.

Heathcott hit .388/.494/.612. He was second in the league in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. In his final eight games, Heathcott had 19 hits including six doubles, three triples and a home run. In that span he stole three bases, drove in 12 runs and walked just as much as he struck out.

Adams hit .286/.388/.524. He ranked fifth in total bases, ninth in slugging percentage and was named one of six finalists for the league’s Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award. [4] In his last eight games, Adams had 12 hits including three home runs. He finished with more walks than strikeouts.

Granted, the Fall League is considered a hitters league, but there have been plenty of young players who went to Arizona and failed to take advantage.

A few other winter notes…

[5]• In his final Fall League appearance, top relief prospect Mark Montgomery actually allowed two runs on three hits (the first hits he’d allowed in nearly a month. He finished with three earned runs through 10.1 innings. He struck out 19, walked five and allowed a .143 opponents batting average.

• None of the other Yankees prospects in Arizona matched Montgomery’s results. Starter Zach Nuding went 1-3 with a 5.82 ERA. Reliever Dan Burawa had more than twice as many walks as strikeouts and an 11.57 ERA. Uncertain prospect Dellin Betances finished with two scoreless innings to cut his ERA to 5.25. He had one walk and eight strikeouts in his final five appearances.

• Speaking of hard-throwing pitching prospects, Jose Ramirez is pitching in the Dominican Republic and has allowed four hits and four runs through eight innings. A three-walk appearances last time out hurt him.

• Actually, there was one other Yankees pitcher in Arizona. Recently claimed off waivers, left-hander Josh Spence had one really bad outing — five earned runs in a third of an innings — to hurt his overall numbers, but lefties did go just 1-for-6 against him. He walked as many as he struck out.

• Another lefty, the recently re-signed Juan Cedeno, is pitching very well in the Dominican Republic. Cedeno is having more success against righties than lefties, and he’s holding opponents to a .192 average with 11 strikeouts and a 1.80 ERA through 10 appearances and 15 innings.

• Part of the Yankees long list of interesting-but-not-necessarily-standout relief prospects, Preston Claiborne is pitching in Puerto Rico this winter. He’s made three hitless, walkless appearances with four strikeouts through four innings. Claiborne, Luke Murton and Adonis Garcia are each playing for Yankees Triple-A manager Dave Miley, who’s managing in Puerto Rico this winter. Garcia has two home runs in just five games, and Murton has a .409 on-base percentage, also in five games.

[6]• Double-A utility man Jose Pirela is getting regular playing time as an everyday second baseman in Venezuela and he’s hitting .306/.400/.429. He’s bounced back from last year’s disappointment, but I’m still not sure he has a future in this organization.

• Top catching prospect Gary Sanchez is getting some playing time in the Dominican. He’s hitting .238 with a home run in 21 at-bats. He’s still awfully young, and that’s a fairly advanced league.

Ronnier Mustelier continues to get most of his time at third base in Mexico. He’s played a little bit of the outfield corners, but mostly he’s playing third and batting fifth, hitting .273/.322/.409 with four home runs and 22 strikeouts in 29 games.

• One last Fall League note: Catcher Austin Romine was the other Yankees prospect down there. He was hitting .300 at the end of October, but unlike Heathcott and Adams, Romine faded last in the season. He had three hits in his last eight games and finished with a .222/.342/.286 slash line. He did have nearly as many walks (12) as strikeouts (13).