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Clay Aguilar Continues To Grow

The Yankees sent top catching prospect Austin Wells and outfielder Elijah Dunham to the Arizona Fall League.

The organization also sent lesser-known lefthander Clay Aguilar.

The 22-year-old Aguilar has been making a name for himself since signing as a nondrafted free agent out of the University of Houston in 2020.

“It’s all about who he is as a person,” minor league pitching coordinator Sam Briend said. “That’s the separator for him.”

He debuted this year after the coronavirus pandemic canceled the 2020 minor league season. He didn’t disappoint.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Aguilar jumped into any role the Yankees needed at Low-A Tampa. He  logged a 2.15 ERA in 21 appearances (four starts), striking out 66 in 46 innings. He pitched six scoreless innings in his lone outing at High-A Hudson Valley to finish the season.

Since Aguilar threw just 52 innings, the Yankees wanted him to keep working for Surprise in the AFL. Briend said that Aguilar will start out relieving but the plan is for him to transition into a starting role.

Aguilar doesn’t throw particularly hard, though he’s upped his velocity from 88 mph to 90 and the Yankees believe he could add more heat. But he’s a strike-thrower who knows how to pitch with a solid breaking ball with good spin rates and a developing slider.

Aguilar’s work ethic stands out, Briend said.

“It’s the belief in himself,” the coordinator said. “He’s done a little bit of everything. He was throwing strikes, adding velocity and adding another pitch. He’s just a really high-feel, strong-pitchability guy.

"It allows him to make development changes that other people it might be more difficult for in season.”

Briend said that Aguilar's makeup creates room for growth.

“The big thing is just continuing to refine the stuff,” Briend said. “See that fastball velocity continue to trend up, and then with the secondary pitches.

"He added the slider this year (and) saw some good flashes. He’s getting more consistency with that. Getting a little bit of a better shape to it. And then run it from there.”

Jackson Chourio (Photo Courtesy Wisconsin Timber Rattlers)

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