The Yankees have announced the three position players they’ll send to the Arizona Fall League this year.
Center fielder Mason Williams, right fielder Tyler Austin and catcher/third baseman Peter O’Brien will each play for the Scottsdale Scorpions. The Yankees will also send four pitchers to Scottsdale, but those selections have not been announced.
For followers of the minor league system, though, this trio already makes the Fall League a must-follow this offseason.
Williams was widely considered the Yankees top prospect heading into this season, but he had a kind of uneven year in High-A Tampa — hit .216 in May and .313 in June, for example — before getting a late bump to Trenton. Williams has well over 400 at-bats this season, but the Yankees clearly think there’s more work to be done this year.
Austin had a massive breakout season a year ago, but a wrist injury has limited him to 311 at-bats this season. He has not hit for the kind of power the Yankees expected this year in Double-A, and he’s stood out as a strong Fall League candidate in need of at-bats. A team source told me over the weekend that Austin is getting close to playing some Gulf Coast League games in his return from the wrist injury.
O’Brien has put himself on the map this season in Charleston and Tampa. Drafted as a college catcher out of Miami, O’Brien slugged .619 as a full-time catcher in Charleston, then went to Tampa — where Gary Sanchez was on the roster — and spent more time at third base than catcher. Even after Sanchez’s promotion to Trenton, O’Brien has continued to play mostly third base. I have to assume (though I haven’t had a chance to ask anyone yet) that a big part of the Fall League assignment is giving O’Brien more time to learn the position.