Pilittere turning heads in AFL
Prospect holding his own despite advanced competiton
The Peoria Saguaros -- and maybe even the Yankees -- have found an unlikely hero in P.J. Pilittere.
Having never competed above the Class A Advanced level, Pilittere is the most inexperienced Yankees prospect participating in the Arizona Fall League. But somehow, while splitting time behind the plate with Colt Morton and Jason Jaramillo, Pilittere has managed to do more than hold his own among the Double-A and Triple-A standouts in Peoria.
The catcher, who will turn 25 on Thanksgiving, has played in just 10 games for the Saguaros, but is batting .407 and has hit safely in eight of those contests. And despite sitting out at least two games in between starts last week, his bat caught fire. Pilittere went 6-for-12 with five RBIs and a run scored in three games as the team's backstop.
A product of Cal State Fullerton, Pilittere also put together solid numbers in 87 games with Tampa this season. He batted .302 with 38 RBIs and 39 runs scored.
Pilittere and 24 other Yankees prospects are currently playing in fall and winter leagues. Here's how they fared this past week:
RHP T.J. Beam -- Beam has been a constant out of the Peoria bullpen since the Arizona Fall League opened its season nearly a month ago. This past week, the right-hander picked up a win against Grand Canyon with two innings of hitless relief. He earned his second save of the fall against the Javelinas on Tuesday, and now boasts a 0.75 ERA.
LHP Sean Henn -- After some success to start the season, Henn has struggled over the past week and a half. He suffered his first loss of the year on Nov. 3 after giving up three runs on four hits to the Javelinas. His ERA stands at 9.90.
RHP Jeff Kennard -- Kennard earned his first win with Peoria against the Javelinas on Tuesday when he held them hitless through two innings of relief. He also made an appearance on Nov. 3, giving up one run on two hits in two innings. The outings were the first in which Kennard hadn't given up at least two runs, so he lowered his ERA from 10.38 to 7.82.
RHP Darrell Rasner -- Rasner has been almost unhittable since getting roughed up in his first AFL start. He hasn't given up an earned run since Oct. 13, but did let up an unearned one against the Javelinas on Tuesday. The right-hander boasts a 2.84 ERA.
1B Eric Duncan -- Duncan's average slumped last week, but he didn't let that affect his run production. He batted just .120 (3-for-24), but still managed to drive in runs in four of his last six games. He's batting .250 with 15 RBIs.
OF Brett Gardner -- The hits have been harder to come by for Gardner as of late, but he hasn't let that affect his duty as a leadoff hitter. After beginning the season with an average pushing .400, Gardner batted .210 (4-for-19) last week to lower his season total to .274. However, he did draw two more walks than he had hits and his .451 on-base percentage ranks sixth in the league.
West Oahu CaneFires
RHP Christian Garcia -- Garcia is 2-0 with a 3.05 ERA, but hasn't appeared in a game since Oct. 27.
RHP Ian Kennedy -- Take away one start and Kennedy would have near-perfect numbers. Kennedy surrendered eight runs in one-plus innings on Oct. 22, but has shut down Hawaii in every other start. On Nov. 3, Kennedy scattered three hits in four shutout innings while striking out six North Shore batters. The scoreless appearance lowered his ERA to 4.50.
RHP Jeff Marquez -- Marquez pitched well enough to earn his second win with the CaneFires on Saturday. He gave up four runs -- three earned -- on four hits in five innings while striking out six and walking one. Marquez has a 7.77 ERA on the season.
RHP Joba Chamberlain -- Chamberlain hasn't shut out any teams in Hawaii, but he has been consistently dominant. The Yanks' 2006 first-round pick gave up one run on three hits in a win against North Shore on Sunday. He boasts a 2.51 ERA, and after striking out five Honu batters without a walk, he's racked up 35 Ks compared to just three free passes.
LHP Michael Dunn -- Mark Melancon's replacement on the West Oahu roster, Dunn has been almost perfect in two relief appearances thus far. He scattered three hits and struck out two in two scoreless innings of relief.
Venezuela Winter League
OF Jose Tabata -- Tabata's average dropped almost 90 points in the span of five games after he went 3-for-19 this past week. However, the 18-year-old outfielder is still batting .292 on the season.
SS Carlos Leon -- Leon is 0-for-1 for the Pastora de los Llanos and hasn't played since Oct. 15.
2B Carlos Mendoza -- Mendoza was hitless in six at-bats last week, dropping his season average to .300.
3B Marcos Vechionacci -- Vechionacci is batting .273 with three RBIs and four runs scored in five games, but hasn't played since Oct. 17.
RHP Francisco Butto -- The closer hasn't given up a run in his last six appearances, and he gave up just one hit in two appearances over the course of the week. Butto also picked up his third save of the year with the Tigres de Aragua and lowered his ERA to 2.79.
RHP Gerardo Casadiego -- Casadiego surrendered runs in two out of his three relief appearances this week, but still has a 2.63 season ERA. He gave up an unearned run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning on Nov. 1 and two earned runs on four hits in three innings on Sunday.
LHP Edgar Omana -- Omana pitched one hitless inning on Saturday, striking out one. In nine total innings, he has a 7.00 ERA and opponents are batting .182 against him.
RHP Scott Patterson -- The closer for the Aguilas del Zulia shut down opponents in two appearances last week. He pitched two hitless innings, struck out two and walked one, lowering his ERA to 5.06 on the season.
Dominican Winter League
RHP Erick Abreu -- Abreu pitched three scoreless innings in his first start in the Dominican Republic, but hasn't seen action since Oct. 22.
RHP Juan De Leon -- The 26-year-old De Leon gave up one run on three hits in his first 2 1/3 innings with the Leones del Escogido, but hasn't taken the mound since Oct. 20.
RHP Jorge De Paula -- De Paula took a loss in his first start in the Dominican Republic despite giving up just two runs -- one earned -- on three hits in five innings.
RHP Edwar Ramirez -- Ramirez has given up two runs on two hits in three innings with the Tigres del Licey.
Mexican Winter League
OF Justin Christian -- Christian batted .300 in three games last week, but struck out four times in 13 at-bats. The outfielder led the Yankees organization with 68 steals at Double-A Trenton this past season and has racked up eight steals in 21 games played.
Kristen Zimmerman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.