Scottsdale, Ariz.––A Salt River win on Wednesday night would have qualified the Rafters as the first team in contention for Saturday night’s Arizona Fall League championship game; however, Scottsdale had different plans. Although Scottsdale is the only team that is not eligible to play for the ring, they intend on finishing their season with a fight.
In their final matchup against the Rafters, the combined efforts of a trio of Yankee pitchers––James Kaprielian, Nestor Cortes and J.P. Feyereisen, led the Scorpions to a 4-0 shutout victory.
Kaprielian, the Yankees’ No. 9 prospect, twirled 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his last start for the Scorpions, retiring nine out of the ten batters he faced.
Kaprielian was the 16th overall pick in the 2015 draft as the Yankee’s No. 1 draft selection. Despite a flexor tendon strain that placed the prospect on the disabled list for the majority of his last season, he has dominated throughout his stint in the Yankees organization with a career ERA of 2.45.
"I felt like I’ve been pretty well-prepared coming from UCLA. It’s obviously a little bit different playing at this level but I didn’t feel like it’s been too big of a jump. I’ve enjoyed being a professional baseball player," said the right-hander.
After 4 1/3 frames, Kaprielian set the tone for the night––resigning with four strikeouts, two walks and one hit.
On the relief was Nestor Cortes, the left-hander from Hialeah, Florida. Cortes was drafted out of high school in the 36th round of the 2013 draft.
"The first few years, I didn’t know if I made the right decision in signing. I was doubtful. After getting out of extended and rookie ball, I don’t regret it at all. It’s a good experience, it’s fun to do and I would love to do it for the rest of my life," said Cortes.
Cortes and Feyereisen continued upon Kaprielian’s shutout with one hit, one walk and eight strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings.
"We’re getting our innings in, getting our work in and enjoying our last few days in Arizona. It’s nice to get out of the final outing with a good one," said Feyereisen.
You can’t talk about talented Yankees prospects without mentioning the success of Gleyber Torres, New York’s No. 2 prospect and MLB’s No. 17 overall.
Torres was the heart of the Yankees’ trade that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs on July 25. Throughout the fall league, he has been named the AFL Player of the Week twice, proving a valuable asset to the Scorpions roster.
The19-year-old went three-for-four with an RBI and two runs scored, contributing to the majority of total runs scored throughout the contest.
The Caracas, Venezuela native holds a six-game hitting streak and leads the league with a .403 batting average.
"He’s a stud. He acts like a professional on and off of the field. When you watch him play, you can see he’s something else. He’s only 19 years old and he can do it all. He’s a big package, fun to work with and I hope to see him in the show soon," said Cortes.
The Rafters will take on the Surprise Saguaros on Thursday for another opportunity to clinch championship eligibility.