Yankees: One rising prospect to keep an eye on in 2023

elijah dunham, yankees
Indiana's Elijah Dunham (17) makes a hit during the first inning against the University of Evansville Purple Aces at the newly renovated German American Bank Field at Charles H. Braun Stadium in Evansville, Ind., Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The Purple Aces defeated the Hoosiers, 5-4. Iu Vs Ue 01

Last year, there were numerous guys in the Yankees farm system that increased their stock heading into 2023, and one of them was Elijah Dunham. Dubbed “Big Cheese” because he’s from Indiana, the 24-year-old put his name on the map thanks to a fantastic year. Though he played in AA Somerset and is set to start this season in AAA Scranton, Dunham’s name is one you should follow, and a guy that could find himself on the MLB roster sooner than later.

Dunham was dominant in AA Somerset:

Dunham was one of the best contributors for the Yankees in AA, as he posted a 118 wRC+ to go with 17 HR and 37 steals across 110 games. His .797 OPS and ability to man the corner outfield spots and first-base as well, could force the Yanks to show their hand. With all the discussions surrounding various options for LF this season, why not look internally and give Dunham a shot?

He posted a 12.2% BB Rate to go with a 21.2% K Rate, showing off his elite ability to be patient at the plate, and hit for more power than he ever had prior. The lefty is one of the few true power-speed guys that the Yanks have in a rather loaded farm system, and fortunately for him, he doesn’t man one of the middle infield spots. His path to the Majors could clear up more in the coming weeks, assuming the Yankees are really searching for a suitor to take on Aaron Hicks and the remaining $39 million that he’s owed these next three years.

Should the front office choose to acquire another outfielder to take the reins in left field, that wouldn’t cut off Dunham’s chance to make a statement. The lefty checks off a ton of boxes that the organization prioritizes, and I firmly believe that he would turn in an undervalued years’ worth of production. I know his pathway isn’t clear quite yet, but starting off hot in AAA would make it, so the organization has no choice but to give him a shot. The Yanks’ outfield talent is extremely deep in the minors, with Jasson Dominguez, Spencer Jones, and Everson Pereira all featuring in their Top 10 for organizational prospects.

The Yankees should give Elijah Dunham a chance:

Dunham could also be a guy the team looks to include in trade packages if they don’t believe he’ll join the roster and have a spot. He’s turning 25 in May, and there are countless teams out there that could use a player with his skills. Though it’s not the “big move” that Michael Kay and co had referenced last month, it could be one of the more beneficial moves if they give him a chance to play. He’s also a heavy pull-hitter, and since he’s a lefty, that means he could capitalize on the short porch that so many sluggers love to make home. Dunham pulled 45.1% of all batted balls hit last season, which is also trending in the right direction, as he’s getting better at hitting to all parts of the field. Though he’s not huge and isn’t the prototypical slugger, a potential 20/20 season, given a full year’s worth of AB’s, of course, could be very manageable for Big Cheese.

Elijah Dunham is one guy I’ll be watching this season, and he has flown onto the Yankees’ radar for good reason. If he can get rolling early in Scranton, I see no reason not to give him a chance to show what he’s got. Whether he be given that opportunity remains to be seen, but I’m holding out hope that the team recognizes Dunham’s strengths and views him as an asset.