Durbin, Salinas take home final Fall League honors

November 15th, 2023

The short final week of the Arizona Fall League did not suffer a shortage of strong performances, with the three days of Week 6 action (leading up to the play-in game on Friday and Championship Game on Saturday) resulting in four prospects with double-digit total bases as well as numerous lights-out mound appearances.

Two members of the Mesa Solar Sox, though, separated themselves from the worthy competition. The Yankees' Caleb Durbin and the Athletics' Royber Salinas earned the AFL's closing Hitter of the Week and Pitcher of the Week honors respectively.

Durbin caps standout autumn
A piece of the Yankees' return in the trade that sent Lucas Luetge to the Braves last offseason, Durbin wrapped up his first year in the New York system with a statement-making stint in the Fall League. He began Week 6 by stealing three bases in a single game, and his 21 thefts put him three short of the league record set by Rick Holifield in 1994.

The 23-year-old shortstop went 6-for-12 with a home run and two doubles over Mesa's final three games, sealing a .353/.456/.588 slash line on the season. He had three homers, a triple and nine doubles (second only to AFL MVP Jakob Marsee). Durbin's league-best 21 bases came in 23 attempts.

"I’m trying to do damage, but I’m keeping it simple at the same time and really just picking my pitches to let it loose,” he told MLB.com last week. “And then with two strikes, I'm usually pretty dialed in on trying to get the job done and getting on base.”

Durbin swiped 36 bases over 69 games during the Minor League season, putting together a .304/.395/.427 line between High-A Hudson Valley and Double-A Somerset.

Salinas saves the best for last
Like Durbin, Salinas started his pro career in the Atlanta system and came to an American League club in a trade last winter -- in his case, to Oakland in the Sean Murphy deal. The 22-year-old righty took home Pitcher of the Week honors after punching out six over four innings of one-hit ball in a start for the Solar Sox on Nov. 7. He walked three and limited Salt River to one unearned run.

The A's No. 24 prospect, who earned a victory in that outing, was 2-1 with a 6.16 ERA over six starts for Mesa. He struck out 23 and walked 12 across 19 autumn innings.

With a solid four-pitch mix headlined by a 60-grade fastball, Salinas struck out 93 in 71 2/3 Minor League innings this year. He made 18 appearances -- 16 starts -- for Double-A Midland and two rehab starts in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League.