Hope Springs Eternal in the Arizona Fall League

The Yankees 2016 season started off with a lamentable thud in more ways than one. Greg Bird's season ended before it really began, as the team announced that a torn labrum would keep him out for the entirety of 2016 on February 1st. Bryan Mitchell injured his toe about six weeks later, and would not return until August. James Kaprielian was placed on the disabled list with an elbow injury in April, and would not pitch for the remainder of the season. In short order their first baseman of the present and future, their sixth starter, and their top pitching prospect went down with serious injuries. And what seems like a dozen minor leaguers and shuttle relievers suffered some sort of season-ending injury during Spring Training.

The teams left in the playoffs have had less injury woes than the Yankees, so their odds on making it through to the playoffs didn’t come as a complete shock. Some of the best sites were predicting that the Yankees wouldn’t make the playoffs earlier in the season, but it’s still somewhat tough to take.

So it goes.

Six months later, though, things are looking up. The Yankees have top prospects throughout the minor leagues, and are slated to shed upwards of $40 MM as compared to Opening Day 2016 (I'm factoring in potential arbitration raises, and my back of the napkin math could be off). And, most importantly, Bird and Kaprielian are back.

The Arizona Fall League began just last week, yet it is difficult to curtail the excitement therein. Bird is batting .308/.357/.615, with 4 2B in 13 at-bats. Trade deadline acquisition (and top-50ish prospect) Gleyber Torres is batting .250/.308/.583, with 1 2B and 1 HR in 12 at-bats. And the oft-overlooked Miguel Andujar my well be the best of all, batting .400/.455/.600, with 1 3B in 10 at-bats. The sample sizes are small, to be sure - but there are some glowing reports out there already.

Most important, however, is the fact that Kaprielian is back. He made his AzFL debut on Wednesday, October 12, and he was nothing short of brilliant. Kaprielian struck out 6 in 3.0 IP, throwing 40 pitches and allowing just one hit. And, as per BA's Josh Norris, his stuff is right where it left off this Spring - "his fastball sat comfortably between 94-96 mph and he worked in all three of his offspeed pitches: a slider and changeup in the high-80s, and a curveball in the low-80s."

These stats will change quite a bit (all are current as of noon on Monday), but these four players provide some insight as to what the next great Yankees team could look like - a slugging first baseman, a two-way shortstop, a solid third baseman, and a top of the rotation starter is a hell of a foundation to build upon.