Dillon Tate's first full year as a pro didn't go nearly as smoothly as anticipated. The No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 Draft strained a hamstring two starts into the season, saw his stuff drop precipitously and changed organizations at the Trade Deadline.
Healthy again, Tate is getting some extra work as a reliever with the Arizona Fall League's Scottsdale Scorpions. Though he gave up four runs in five innings over his first four appearances, he has flashed the fastball and slider that made him the first first-round pick in UC Santa Barbara history and earned him a $4.2 million bonus.
• Arizona Fall League coverage
After his fastball dipped to the high 80s at times this summer, Tate has worked at 92-97 mph in Arizona. He also has shown a sharper and harder slider, which has sat in the mid-80s. He has thrown strikes, but he has gotten knocked around because his command has been inconsistent.
Tate said his main goal in the AFL is to add innings after getting just 82 1/3 during the regular season. He doesn't blame the hamstring injury for his drop in stuff, which he said began to rebound after the Rangers traded him and right-handed pitching prospects Nick Green and Erik Swanson in July.
"Prior to that, I tried a few things but they just didn't work for me personally," Tate said. "I gave them a good try, but they just didn't work. Ultimately, there was just one small fix that needed to be made, and it didn't happen the way I thought it would with the solution to the problem. So I ended up moving a little bit backward, but I'm moving in the right direction now. And that's all that matters."
Tate's prospect stock soared when he had a dominant summer as a reliever with the U.S. collegiate national team in 2014, and he was equally impressive when he moved into the UCSB rotation the following spring. The Yankees haven't made a decision about his long-term role, opting to deploy him out of the bullpen in August and in the AFL to keep things simple for now.
Tate -- ranked 10th among Yankees prospects by MLBPipeline.com -- has two swing-and-miss pitches when at his best, and he'd obviously have more value as a starter. Some scouts wonder if he'll wind up as a reliever because he has had more success in shorter stints, has a slender 165-pound frame and owns a changeup that still needs a lot of work. He said whether he winds up in the rotation or the bullpen isn't important to him.
"You tell me when to pitch and I'm pitching," Tate said. "It's all the same to me. It doesn't matter. They're both pitching, so there's no preference for me."
Yankees hitters in the Fall League
Miguel Andjuar, 3B
Greg Bird, 1B
Gleyber Torres, SS
Tyler Wade, SS/2B/OF
The highest-priced signee in the Yankees' 2011-12 international class ($750,000 out of the Dominican Republic), Andujar offers well above-average raw power and arm strength. He had his best full season in 2016, hitting .273/.332/.410 with 12 homers in 130 games between Class A Advanced and Double-A at age 21.
Bird was the AFL MVP and home run leader (six) in 2014, then broke into the big leagues with 11 homers in 46 games the next year. Expected to play regularly for New York at first base this season, he instead missed the entire year after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Torres originally signed with the Cubs for $1.7 million out of Venezuela in 2013, then came to the Yankees as their key acquisition in the Aroldis Chapman trade in July. The 19-year-old shortstop has solid all-around tools and is an advanced hitter for his age, as evidenced by his .270/.354/.421 line with 11 homers in 125 Class A Advanced games this season. Torres, who has been seeing time at second base for Scottsdale, says he's ecstatic to be with his new team.
"I'm very emotional about this new opportunity with the New York Yankees," said Torres. "I've read and seen how the fans have been paying attention to my development and, look, that's what inspires me to keep working and give them happiness in New York in the big leagues."
A contact-oriented hitter with good speed and middle-infield skills, Wade was a fourth-round pick from a California high school in 2013. After batting .259/.352/.349 with 27 steals in 133 Double-A games, he's playing the outfield in Arizona to enhance his versatility.
Yankees pitchers in the Fall League
Nestor Cortes, LHP
J.P. Feyereisen, RHP
James Kaprielian, RHP
Brody Koerner, RHP
A Florida high schooler who dropped to the 36th round of the 2013 Draft amid signability questions, Cortes has demonstrated some of the best pitchability in the Yankees' system since turning pro. His best attributes are his command of a 90-mph fastball and his changeup, which he used to go 11-4, with a 1.53 ERA and a 115/24 K/BB ratio in 106 innings while moving from low Class A to Triple-A this year.
An Indians 16th-round pick from Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2014, Feyereisen was part of the Yankees' haul in the Andrew Miller trade this July. A reliever who operates with a low-90s fastball and low-80s slider, he recorded a 1.70 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 58 1/3 Double-A innings in 2016.
The 16th overall choice in 2015, Kaprielian is a potential frontline starter with a fastball that sits at 94-95 mph and a curveball and changeup that are plus pitches at their best. He's making up for lost innings after getting just three Class A Advanced starts in his first full pro season before a strained flexor muscle in his forearm sidelined him.
Koerner has posted a 1.56 ERA since signing as a 17th-rounder out of Clemson in 2015, though elbow issues limited him to five starts this year. His best offerings are his low-90s sinker and his solid changeup.