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Yankees 2023 minor league preview: Tampa Tarpons

There is a large group of players vying for spots on the Low-A team, and this is an attempt to predict who might break camp.

Dunedin Blue Jays v Tampa Tarpons Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

As recently as 2020, the Yankees were able to field two teams in the rookie level Gulf Coast League, one team a slight notch above in Pulaski of the Appalachian League, and another short-season team at Staten Island in the New York-Penn League. That made for a large pool of players all funneling into full-season baseball, but also provided more opportunities for guys who weren’t quite ready for that challenge.

Many players progressed through those levels step by step, meaning followers of prospects had a decent idea who would break camp in Single-A each year. After the minor leagues were re-organized and contracted in 2021, the Florida Complex League replaced the GCL, the Yankees went from two rookie teams to one, and they lost their affiliates in Pulaski and Staten Island. This has created a logjam of players rising from the Complex League, as well as the players drafted and signed as free agents in 2022, vying for spots on the Low-A Tampa Tarpons for this season.

With the Tarpons set to open Friday, April 7, here is an attempt at predicting the 30-player roster that will break camp to face the Lakeland Tigers on that day.


There is some heat behind 21-year-old Agustin Ramirez coming into this season, with FanGraphs ranking him as the 13th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system. Ramirez’s bat has gotten him the attention, after he blistered the Complex League for a 143 wRC+ in his second go-round. The right-handed hitter isn’t yet known for his defense, but he can throw and will get plenty of opportunities to catch for the Tarpons.

Along with Ramirez, expect to see Rafael Flores, an interesting undrafted 2022 free agent who only played in four FCL games but went deep in two of them, and Jesus Rodriguez, who outperformed Ramirez to the tune of a 176 wRC+ in the FCL, behind the plate. Rodriguez played quite a bit of first base last year, and it is likely he will see time there for the Tarpons in 2023.


It could be the switch-hitting Ronny Rojas splitting time with Jesus Rodriguez at first base this year in Tampa, and Rojas offers the versatility of playing both corners since he saw the majority of his action at third last year. Rojas, now 21, was a higher-profile signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2017, but he has struggled to put it together as a pro. Possibly manning third base when Rojas isn’t there will be Beau Brewer, who got 12 at-bats for the Tarpons last year after being drafted in July. Brewer, 21, is a right-handed hitter who formerly played with the Savannah Bananas.

Jared Serna has gotten attention from prospect evaluators after a strong FCL season in 2022, and he should be the primary second baseman this year. Serna, who is 20, had a brief stint with Tampa last year, and his 5-foot-8 stature has not prevented him from earning the reputation of hitting the baseball hard.

After not seeing any full-season action since signing in 2018, it may be time for Angel Rojas to make the Tarpons and back up all over the infield. The 22-year-old is known for his speed, making him a great option off the bench every day.

Another 2018 signee, Dayro Perez, should split time at shortstop with Brenny Escanio. Acquired in a 2019 trade with the Brewers after signing with them out of the Dominican Republic, the switch-hitting Escanio has only played two full seasons because of the pandemic. Perez, who has a good defensive reputation, had a solid season offensively in the FCL last year, but he will be taking on the challenge of cutting down his strikeouts at the full-season level.


There is a possibility the Yankees start Anthony Hall, last year’s fourth-round pick out of Oregon, at this level, though they also may send him to Hudson Valley, the likely assignment for first-rounder Spencer Jones. If Hall is in Tampa, he’s probably the headliner in terms of their prospects to follow. The lefty hit and hit for power in college, and the Yankees are hoping for the same as he begins his professional career.

With or without Hall, the names of Alan Mejia, Felix Negueis, Nelson Medina, Tayler Aguilar, and Daury Arias should appear in quite a few Tarpons box scores this year. Followers of major league spring training games may have caught a glimpse of Mejia, Negueis, and especially Aguilar this month as they filled in as reserves. Aguilar was drafted in the 15th round last year and managed to get in 78 at-bats with the Tarpons before the end of the season, so the Yankees could conceivably have him ticketed for Hudson Valley. The other four players mentioned are athletically promising and have all flashed tools across the board, but none has put it together for a full season yet.

A name conspicuously missing from the initial spring training roster was Christopher Familia, who had 116 at-bats in Tampa last year and may have been a lock to return for 2023. Without speculating on his whereabouts, it is worth keeping an eye out for him this year, as well as two outfielders in Jackson Lyon and Jake Palmer who the Yankees signed as rookie free agents.


Accurately predicting who will break camp on the pitching staff of the Tarpons is nearly impossible, as the Yankees drafted 15 pitchers last July and all of them are candidates to begin the season in Tampa. Two of those pitchers, second-rounder Drew Thorpe and third-rounder Trystan Vrieling, could begin the season at Hudson Valley, and perhaps that is where the smart money is. That leaves 13 pitchers, all with college experience, aiming for a spot on a staff that had 16 members coming out of camp last year. Now add in the pitchers coming up from the complex league and the minor league free agents and you run out of room fast.

Of the pitchers drafted in 2022, expect to see righties Chase Hampton and Eric Reyzelman get starts, with more right-handers like Cam Schlittler, Kris Bow, Jackson Fristoe, and Hayden Merda throwing significant innings. Lefty Geoffrey Gilbert has been on the big league lineup card more than once this spring, and he should be with Tampa as well. Relievers like lefty Will Brian and right-handers Matt Keating and Ryan Harvey are good bets to be with the Tarpons and compete for closing opportunities.

Coming up from the complex league are prospects who have gained a little recognition already. Luis Serna, who is only 18 but is one of the more interesting pitchers in the organization, could be in the Tampa rotation from the get-go. Brock Selvidge and Sean Hermann, both 2021 draft picks out of high school, might grab starting spots as well. Justin Lange was acquired in a trade with the Padres for Luke Voit, and Osiel Rodriguez was a high-profile signing out of Cuba, and it may be time to see what both can do in full-season baseball. One more name to add is Montana Semmel, who at 21 could be healthy and ready to put in some innings with the Tarpons.

Beyond that group, other names to watch for to potentially break camp will be more drafted pitchers like Sebastian Keane, Shane Gray, and Trevor Kirk, and free agent signings Pablo Mujica, Mason Vinyard, Baron Stuart, and Harrison Cohen.