Yankees Fans: Most Important Takeaways from 2016 Arizona Fall League
Tate Regaining His Form?
During the 2016 General Managers’ meetings, Yankees GM Brian Cashman revealed that enigmatic pitching prospect Dillon Tate, the centerpiece of the Carlos Beltran deal at the August 1st trade deadline, would return to the starting rotation in 2017 after working as a reliever in the last two months of the season and during the Arizona Fall League.
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The team clearly bought low on the fourth overall selection in the 2015 draft after fluctuating velocity resulted in some ugly outings in the Sally League in the first half of this season. He was often working in the high-80s with the Hickory Crawdads, far from the 100 mph heater that enticed scouts in his college days.
The 22-year-old saw his velocity gradually return after coming over to his new organization. It is admittedly still a little inconsistent, but he was mostly within the 93-97 range with his fastball over his six AFL appearances.
When speaking to Baseball America’s Bill Mitchell (subscription required) in October, Tate attributed his early-season struggles to an issue with his pitching mechanics:
"Just some mechanical adjustments that needed to be made, actually a really small one. Over time, the more I tried to fix it, I just wasn’t doing what was natural for me. I think that probably tied into it."
His improved stuff is beginning to translate to success on the mound, as Tate struck out 11 batters in 9.1 innings of work in Arizona while allowing just one walk. After getting roughed up in his first two outings of the fall, he finished the year with 6.1 scoreless frames. He was eventually shut down after reacing his innings limit for the season.
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The Yankees will need to continue to take things slow with Tate, but he’s one of the few minor league arms with a legitimate chance to be a front-of-the-rotation starter down the line. He’s expected to begin next season with High-A Tampa.