The Yankees have landed several notable International Free Agent classes over the last two seasons. While some of those players have moved through the lower levels of the rookie leagues already, others just got their first professional experience this summer, with varying levels of success. Here is a look at the the Yankees Dominican Summer League team, and their Gulf Coast League affiliates’ performances in 2019.
It isn’t every season that a rookie ball team makes national news, but that is exactly what happened on July 3rd when the DSL Yankees set a minor league record by scoring 38 runs in one game. Despite that historic performance, the team as a whole struggled to find consistent pitching and finished 33-31 on the season, 10 games out in their division.
As could be expected of a team that produced a historical offensive output, the Yankees finished among the top of the 45 teams in the DSL this season for numerous offensive categories, such as runs (7th), OPS (7th), and home runs (4th).
Maikol Escotto: 17-years-old, SS/2B/3B
Escotto was billed as having gap power when the Yankees signed him on July 2nd, 2018, but his eight home runs show that the young infielder is developing more pop in his bat. He also showed solid plate discipline, walking 14.7% of the time, en route to the ninth-best OPS in the DSL at .981, to go along with an outstanding 167 wRC+. Escotto played all around the infield this season, with 23 games at second base, and eight each at third base and shortstop.
Carlos Verdecia: 17-years-old, 2B/SS
Verdecia came to the organization with a reputation for being able to get the bat on the ball, after only striking out once in 115 plate appearances during his last season in the 15U Cuban National League. Verdecia lived up to this reputation, recording more walks than strikeouts and registering a .280/.415/.450 line and a 143 wRC+ line in 28 games. Like Escotto, Verdecia played most of his games at second base, where he has more of a long-term defensive profile.
Osiel Rodriguez: 17-years-old, RHP
Rodriguez was considered one of the top pitchers in the 2018 international signing class, but was slowed by a minor shoulder injury in his debut season. He only pitched 9.2 innings on the season, with six earned runs, nine strikeouts, and four walks. It was an inconclusive introduction to professional ball for this well-regarded arm.
GCL Yankees East and West
The Yankees continue to aggressively promote and challenge many of their their youngest prospects to the Gulf Coast League. Fielding two of the youngest lineups in the the league, both teams struggled with consistency. Neither team finished above .500, with the West squad finishing 22-27 on the season, and the East finishing in last place in their division with an 18-29 mark. Here is a look at the most notable prospects on these rosters.
Raimfer Salinas: 18-years-old, CF
After signing with the Yankees as one of the top rated players in the 2017 international signing class, Salinas only played 11 games between the DSL and GCL in an injury plagued debut season. He bounced back nicely this season, playing consistently while manning center field, where he has the athletic profile to stick as a plus defender. He finished with a .270/.329/.415 line at the plate.
Alexander Vargas: 17-years-old, SS
The biggest bonus handed out by the Yankees in the 2018 signing period went to Vargas, as the Yankees lured him away from an agreement with Cincinnati to wait until the 2019 signing period. Vargas is billed as more glove than bat in some scouting reports, but he started out recording a 13-game hit streak in June that crossed from the DSL to his promotion to the GCL. Unfortunately for Vargas, his offensive production dropped from that point forward, but there were some positive signs as Vargas only struck out 12.7% of the time and showed his speed by stealing 15 bases in 18 attempts. He slashed .233/.313/.373 in 2019.
Kevin Alcantara: 17-years-old, CF
The 6-foot-6 Alcantara has drawn comparisons to a young Dexter Fowler as he progressed through the international signing process and into his professional debut. While he struggled early, he was the the only 16-year-old playing professionally stateside until he turned 17-years-old on July 12th. There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about Alcantara’s potential, as his numbers improved each month and he finished red hot, hitting .333/.365/.450 during August.
The potential outfield of Alcantara, Salinas, and Jasson Dominguez in Pulaski next season has the chance to be one of the best prospect groups in the Yankees system if the players continue to develop.
Jose Chambuco: 17-years-old, RHP
Chambuco pitched his way out of the DSL and earned a promotion stateside in early July. His 11.7 K/9 combined with an extremely low 1.4 BB/9 are outstanding for any pitcher, much less a player who turned 17 during the season. Standing at 5-foot-9, he is bound to start drawing comparisons to Deivi Garcia if he continues to miss bats and move up the ladder.
Known as a system with a ton of high-risk, high-reward players at the lower levels, the Yankees continue to push their prospects with challenging assignments. While some of the numbers may not stand out, the organization is trusting their process to get their young players experience to build on moving forward.
Next week, I’ll be reviewing one of the best teams in the Yankees’ system this season, Rookie Ball Advanced Pulaski Yankees, along with the Class A short season, Staten Island Yankees.