Good players very rarely spend a lot of time on the Scranton RailRiders — by design, of course, as its primary purpose as the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate is to develop players and get them to the Bronx as soon as possible. Even so, between veterans on minor league deals and low-level prospects blocked at the Major League level, there are still players who put together strong performances with the RailRiders but did not get the call to the Bronx.
Cognizant of this, and with a dearth of news thanks to this lockout, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and determine the best members of the Scranton RailRiders over the past five seasons (2016-2019, 2021) who did not find themselves in any game recap here on Pinstripe Alley, except for the daily prospect roundups.
Note: In an effort to make this list as authentically Scranton as possible, I selected players who spent multiple seasons with RailRiders.
Mark Payton, 2016-2018
The Yankees selected Payton in the seventh round of the 2014 MLB Draft, but he never quite cracked any Yankees top prospect lists. To be fair, the outfielder was in the Yankees farm at the same time as Aaron Judge and other members of the current squad, but nonetheless, Payton managed to climb steadily through the system. In his age-24 season, he primarily played for the Trenton Thunder but had a cup of coffee with the Scranton RailRiders, going 3-for-7 with two walks, a double, and a stolen base in two games.
Payton spent most of 2017 in Scranton, slashing .272/.335/.407 with 6 home runs and 14 doubles in 80 games. He remained there in 2018, posting a .259/.368/.401 slash line in 62 games. Following the season, he was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. After the 2019 campaign, the Cincinnati Reds selected him in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft; he was returned to Oakland before the abbreviated 2020 season began, but was then traded back to the Reds on August 7th.
This past July, the Reds traded Payton to the Mets, who non-tendered him in the days leading up to the lockout. He is currently a free agent, with a career 19 OPS+ in 44 plate appearances.
Ryan McBroom, 2018-2019
Originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2014 draft, McBroom was traded to the Yankees in exchange for Rob Refsnyder on July 23, 2017. Since the Yankees’ not-quite-a-utility-man had been designated for assignment, there weren’t exactly any high hopes for McBroom. In his age-26 season, the Double-A first baseman/outfielder forced his way onto the RailRiders’ roster with a strong showing for Trenton, splitting time with Mike Ford and Tyler Austin at first base, the aforementioned Payton and Clint Frazier in left field, and Billy McKinney in right. He slashed a respectable, albeit unspectacular, .295/.339/.443, with 11 home runs and 18 doubles in 96 games.
2019 was McBroom’s first full season at Triple-A, and he proved to be one of Scranton’s most reliable bats. In 117 games, he slashed .315/.403/.574 with 26 home runs and 29 doubles. This allowed the Yankees to flip him to the Kansas City Royals for international bonus pool money on August 31st. He would make his Major League debut just four days later, and would spend parts of the next three seasons on the Royals roster.
In 66 games at the Major League level, McBroom slashed .268/.322/.427 with six home runs and eight doubles. The Royals released him this past November to allow him to sign with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball.
Dietrich Enns, 2016-2017
Selected as a reliever in the 19th round of the 2012 draft, Enns saw his career in the Yankees farm system interrupted in 2014 when he required Tommy John surgery as a member of the Tampa Yankees. When he returned to the mound in June 2015, the Yankees turned him into a starting pitcher, and he took to the new role well. He bounced between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton during the 2016 season, posting a 1.52 ERA and 6.9 K/9 in 14 games (10 starts) for the RailRiders.
Enns continued his strong performance in seven starts in 2017 (2.29 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, 8.5 K/9). Rather than give him a start at the Major League level with a rotation that had a Cy Young candidate in Luis Severino, a pair of mid-rotation starters in Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, a rookie Jordan Montgomery, and a small army of question marks, the Yankees opted to send him to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Jaime García. That moved ended up working out, for although García was just a depth piece, Enns hit the injured list after just one start and one relief appearance, totaling a combined four innings.
Enns would bounce around the minors for a bit, spending time in the Padres, Mariners, and Rays organization — with whom he made a randomly effective appearance as a multi-inning reliever in nine outings this past season — before heading to Japan in November to play for the Saitama Seibu Lions.
Jake Cave, 2015-2017
Arguably the most successful of the players on this list, Cave entered the Yankees organization as a sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft. In his first game, however, he fractured his kneecap in a collision at home plate, ending his 2011 season and causing him to miss 2012 as well. Despite the missed time, Cave shot up through the farm, reaching Triple-A Scranton for a cup of coffee in 2015 at the age of 22.
On the back of this strong performance — he had 11 hits, four of which went for extra bases, in just seven games as a member of the RailRiders — the Reds selected him in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft. After failing to make the roster, he was returned to the Yankees and assigned to Double-A Trenton. After posting an .863 OPS in 27 games, Cave received the call back to Scranton. He did not perform nearly as well with the RailRiders, slashing just .261/.323/.401.
With the Yankees farm deep in the outfield, Cave once again started the season in Trenton in 2017. After slashing .266/.317/.516 with 5 home runs in 31 games, he once again found himself back in Scranton, and this time, he made sure that he would stay: in 72 games, he posted a .324/.367/.554 slash, hitting 15 home runs, 13 doubles, and 3 triples. This strong performance earned him a spot on the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, and when the Yankees designated him for assignment in spring training to make room for Neil Walker, they flipped him to the Minnesota Twins for a 19-year-old pitcher named Luis Gil.
Since making his Major League debut on May 19, 2018, Cave has been an instrumental depth piece for the Twins, slashing .240/.305/.417 with 28 home runs in 281 games, all the while providing solid, albeit unspectacular, defense at all three outfield positions. That being said, his decline to a 50 OPS+ in 76 games this past season combined with Gil’s ascendance in prospect relevance might make Minnesota regret the deal one day.