Wells, Marinan earn weekly AFL awards

October 26th, 2021

The Arizona Fall League announced its second set of Hitter and Pitcher of the Week Award winners, recognizing New York Yankees prospect Austin Wells and Cincinnati Reds prospect James Marinan, respectively, for their performance in games from Oct. 18-23.

Wells slugs way to Hitter of the Week

Back in the familiar state of Arizona, Wells is mashing his way through the Arizona Fall League just as he did in the Pac-12.

Wells, a University of Arizona product, was named the AFL’s Week 2 Hitter of the Week for his strong showing during the week of Oct. 18-23.

The Yankees’ No. 6 prospect played in just three games over that span, but hit .538 (7-for-13) with three doubles, a triple, homer and five RBIs. There were many players who played in more games during the second week of the AFL season, yet Wells still led the league in total bases (15) and his 1.754 OPS ranked second.

Selected 28th overall by the Yankees in the 2020 Draft, Wells wasted little time showing why he was regarded as one of the best college hitters in the 2020 Draft class. The 22-year-old hit .264/.390/.476 with 16 homers and 76 RBIs over 103 games with Low-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley in his 2021 professional debut.

That impressive debut served as a springboard for Wells, who has continued to rake in Arizona. Through a little more than two weeks of play, the catcher is hitting .400 (10-for-25) with a 1.220 OPS.

“I’ve really just been trying to see the ball,” the 22-year-old catcher told MLB Pipeline last week. “The first couple of games, I’m just trying to see my pitch and get adjusted to the [strike] zones here and staying short. And it’s been working pretty good.”

Marinan deals out of the bullpen

It takes a standout performance to be recognized as one of the top performers in a prospect-laden league such as the Arizona Fall League.

In fact, this past week, the bar was set at perfection.

James Marinan retired every batter he faced for the Surprise Saguaros and has been named the Pitcher of the Week for Week 2 of the Arizona Fall League.

“It’s definitely an honor, it’s a privilege for sure,” Marinan said. “I’m blessed every day to come out here and play the game that I grew up playing and loving, and to be named player of the week for what I’ve been doing is a true honor.”

The 23-year-old Reds prospect came on in relief and threw three perfect innings, striking out six of the nine batters he faced. The strong second week performance was both impressive and an extension of what the right-hander has been doing ever since arriving in Arizona.

Marinan is off to a fast start in the AFL, yielding just one hit and one walk, while striking out eight over seven scoreless innings.

“I kind of just took everything from when the Minor League season ended and carried it into the Fall League here,” Marinan said. “Obviously, it clearly worked out then and it’s working out now. Not trying to do too much, just trying to get the ball over the plate and let the guys work behind me.”

The Dodgers’ fourth-round pick from the 2017 Draft, Marinan was dealt to the Reds in July 2018. While he’s shown glimpses of his potential at times, he’s also struggled to stay healthy. He pitched just 79 1/3 innings in 2019 and was then limited to 64 2/3 frames this season.

In addition to logging more innings, Marinan is using his time in Arizona to develop a fourth pitch. He has yet to throw his cutter in a game but hopes to further refine the pitch over the next few weeks and have it ready to go for Spring Training and the 2022 campaign.

Marinan did finish the season strong and was named the High-A Central Pitcher of the Month for September as he gave up just four hits and struck out 17 over 12 scoreless innings (two starts) in his final two appearances of the season.