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Yankees Prospects: Week nine minor league review

More Palensky dominance, more homers from Florial, more good starts from Hampton and Beeter, and the return of Yoendrys Gómez highlight week nine.

Syndication: Westchester County Journal News
Aaron Palensky
Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News / USA TODAY NETWORK

Estevan Florial kept hitting homers, Oswald Peraza joined him, and the RailRiders kept scoring runs. Meanwhile, Aaron Palensky continued to tear up the South Atlantic League, the Hudson Valley starters showed well again, Tampa slowly but surely has been improving in the Florida State League, and some prospects we’ve been waiting for are starting to come off the injured list. It’s time for the ninth edition of our 2023 minor league review.

Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders

Record: 25-26 and 10.5 games back in the International League East after winning four out of six games with the Worcester Red Sox

Run Differential: +33

Coming up: A road trip, but a short one, for six games against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies) starting on Tuesday, May 30th

The RailRiders have seen several players move up and down from the big leagues in the first two months of the season, and such is life at Triple-A. Randy Vásquez and Matt Krook were the latest to be promoted in the past week, and while Vásquez has already returned after a strong start in the Bronx, Krook is still with the Yankees. If he pitches the way he did for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he might stay there (though he might just be keeping the rehabbing Tommy Kahnle’s spot warm).

The RailRiders’ offense has been a lot of fun to watch for a while now, and last week was no different. They slashed .302/.405/.564 as a team, posting 51 runs against the Red Sox while continuing to increase a run differential for the season that belies their record. Among the 13 homers hit by the RailRiders, three came off the bat of Estevan Florial. It was another loud offensive show of a week from Florial, as his 1.256 OPS for the series came with eight RBI. Oswald Peraza did nothing to quiet the voices of those who say he is too good to stay in Triple-A, adding three home runs of his own to go with an OPS of .903. Jesús Bastidas is beginning to remind people why he is playing a step away from the big leagues, as he now owns a slash line of .424/.525/.818 in the last two series along with four home runs.

Perhaps the most welcome sight of the week was the start of Will Warren on Sunday. After a rough start in the series opener in just his second game at Triple-A, Warren came around to fan eight in six innings of work while allowing two earned runs against the Red Sox. Mitch Spence kicked in another good start, and he quietly has strung together a strong month of May, with a 2.73 ERA in 29.2 innings. Jhony Brito returned from the big leagues and was great, picking up the win while striking out six in five innings.

Relievers who have pitched for the Yankees this season—Colten Brewer, Greg Weissert, and Deivi García—and one who has pitched for them in the past and hopefully will in the near future—Kahnle—combined for 9.1 innings of shutout work while punching out 13.

Players of note (stats are season totals):

3B Andrés Chaparro: .824 OPS, 11 HR, 34 RBI, 6 2B, 32 R, 19 BB
OF Estevan Florial: 1.080 OPS, 12 HR, 28 RBI, 30 BB, 10 SB, 57 K
SS Oswald Peraza: .329/.380/.576, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 3 2B, 6 SB
INF Jesús Bastidas: .765 OPS, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 6 2B, 25 R
SP Will Warren: 2-1, 5.27 ERA, 13.2 IP, 11 H, 5 BB, 15 K
SP Mitch Spence: 4.86 ERA, 50 IP, 52 H, 10 HR allowed, 20 BB, 42 K
RP Matt Krook: 1.04 ERA, 17.1 IP, 5 H, 12 BB, 34 K

Double-A Somerset Patriots

Record: 25-19 and 4.5 games back in the Eastern League Northeast after dropping four out of six to the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers)

Run Differential: +30

Coming up: On the road for six games against the Altoona Curve (Pirates) starting Tuesday, May 30th

The Patriots haven’t been used to losing this season, but perhaps a couple of key injuries threw them off a bit last week. Starter Blas Castano and outfielder Brandon Lockridge, both big contributors in 2023, hit the seven-day injured list, but the news wasn’t all bad. Yoendrys Gómez came off of the IL to make his season debut, and he shut out the SeaWolves for three innings.

Gómez’s return to the rotation should be a boost to the team following the loss of Castano and the promotion of Warren to Triple-A. This week, according to Brendan Kuty of The Athletic, reliever prospect Edgar Barclay will begin his season with the Patriots. He too has been out with an arm concern, but he is expected to step into a prominent role in the Somerset bullpen right away.

The rotation highlights from last week come from the familiar names of Richard Fitts and Clayton Beeter. The duo combined to strike out 11 in 11 shutout innings while surrendering only six hits and walking four. That’s the kind of performance you would hope to see from those two, and when Gómez gets built up he could ably fill the spot vacated by Warren. It was a tougher week for the bullpen, as they contributed greatly to the staff’s ERA of 6.84 against Erie.

The offense got positive contributions from infielder Caleb Durbin (1.000 OPS for the series), Jasson Domínguez (.849), Everson Pereira (.838), and T.J. Rumfield (.831). Rumfield has been quietly coming on for the last month, with a slash line of .300/.411/.567 in May.

Players of note:

OF Brandon Lockridge: .894 OPS, 9 XBH, 13 RBI, 13 R, 17 SB
OF Jasson Domínguez: .769 OPS, 7 HR, 24 RBI, 36 BB, 14 SB, 32 R
C Austin Wells: .939 OPS, 7 HR, 20 RBI, 4 2B, 14 R (20 games)
OF Everson Pereira: .856 OPS, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 10 2B, 7 SB, 17 R
SP Clayton Beeter: 3.82 ERA, 38.2 IP, 32 H, 49 K, 21 BB
SP Richard Fitts: 5.26 ERA, 39.1 IP, 43 H, 41 K, 11 BB
SP Gray Fenter: 3.64 ERA, 29.2 IP, 21 H, 36 K, 15 BB
RP Michael Giacone: 2.21 ERA, 20.1 IP, 25 K, 11 BB
RP Indigo Diaz: 3.32 ERA, 19 IP, 25 K, 16 BB

High-A Hudson Valley Renegades

Record: 27-18 and leading the South Atlantic League North by three games after taking four out of six with the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Nationals)

Run Differential: +44

Coming up: Back home for six games against the Aberdeen IronBirds (Orioles) beginning Tuesday, May 30th

Being strong in all facets of the game obviously gives a team a chance to win every day, but what makes for a consistently good team is getting contributions from all corners of the roster. That may be the story of Hudson Valley, as it seems whichever way you turn you’ll find someone performing well.

Three players who’ve been helping to drive the bus all season led the team in OPS in their series against Wilmington: Aaron Palensky (1.918), Spencer Henson (1.080), and Alexander Vargas (1.023). But right behind them were Eduardo Torrealba (.977), who was sent down from Somerset when Caleb Durbin was promoted, and Grant Richardson (.935), who was injured early and is starting to round into form. Two players who struggled last week, Spencer Jones and Antonio Gomez (8-for-44 with 16 strikeouts), still combined to score eight times, drive in six, and put up five extra-base hits. Rehabbing catcher Josh Breaux chipped in three hits in nine at-bats.

The Renegades’ rotation continues to be a highlight, and while budding stars like Chase Hampton and sleeper prospects like Juan Carela keep rolling along, it was Joel Valdez who picked up a win last week by shutting out the Blue Rocks for six innings while striking out three. He was in need of a start like that after posting a 6.11 ERA in his previous four outings. In the bullpen, the names of Danny Watson and Jack Neely should be getting familiar for fans. It was another stellar week for the two righty relievers, as Watson punched out four in three scoreless innings, and Neely pulled a Watson and recorded every one of his outs via the strikeout, putting up seven in 2.1 innings of clean work. The bullpen should get even stronger this week when it’s joined by Mason Vinyard up from Tampa.

Players of note:

OF Aaron Palensky: 1.178 OPS, 12 HR, 34 RBI, 9 2B, 10 SB, 29 R
SS Alexander Vargas: .765 OPS, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 5 2B, 3 3B, 7 SB, 23 R
1B Spencer Henson: .883 OPS, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 8 2B, 29 R
OF Spencer Jones: .840 OPS, 13 2B, 3 3B, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 11 SB, 28 R
SP Chase Hampton: 3.15 ERA, 34.1 IP, 27 H, 59 K, 13 BB
SP Zach Messinger: 3.12 ERA, 40.1 IP, 36 H, 46 K, 18 BB
SP Drew Thorpe: 3.92 ERA, 43.2 IP, 42 H, 52 K, 18 BB
SP Juan Carela: 3.44 ERA, 36.2 IP, 29 H, 42 K, 15 BB
RP Danny Watson: 1.48 ERA, 24.1 IP, 12 H, 39 K, 9 BB
RP Jack Neely: 2.00 ERA, 18 IP, 11 H, 29 K, 12 BB

Low-A Tampa Tarpons

Record: 18-27 and 13.5 games back in the Florida State League West after winning four out of six games with the Palm Beach Cardinals

Run Differential: -22

Coming up: At home for six games with the Bradenton Marauders (Pirates) beginning Tuesday, May 30th

The Tarpons’ offense has been powered by Jared Serna for the last few weeks, but although he led the team in hits against Palm Beach with seven, the production was spread throughout the roster. Perhaps the most productive bats belonged to Agustin Ramirez and Daury Arias, who combined for only 10 hits in the series, but they drove in nine and scored five times. Each of them homered.

While not lighting up the scoreboard, the Tarpons were able to put up wins thanks in large part to the pitching staff. Only six pitchers so much as surrendered an earned run last week, and one of those was starter Brock Selvidge, who pitched very well for six innings against the Cardinals. Sean Hermann also got a win, going five innings, allowing two runs, and striking out four. When the rest of the staff combines to throw 30.2 innings of zeros, you can see how Tampa won the series.

Players of note:

2B Jared Serna: .921 OPS, 26 R, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 8 2B, 10 SB
OF Anthony Hall: .255/.386/.383; 2 HR, 8 RBI, 20 R, 4 2B, 19 BB (94 AB)
C Agustin Ramirez: .769 OPS, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 4 2B, 20 R, 21 BB
OF Nelson Medina: .842 OPS, 12 XBH, 22 RBI, 6 SB
SP Justin Lange: 4.30 ERA, 29.1 IP, 18 H, 54 K, 21 BB
SP Brock Selvidge: 3.40 ERA, 39.2 IP, 38 H, 40 K, 7 BB
RP Luis Velasquez: 1.19 ERA, 22.2 IP, 7 H, 24 H, 12 BB
RP Matt Keating: 2.21 ERA, 20.1 IP, 15 H, 29 K, 11 BB

Prospect of the Week: Aaron Palensky

Palensky continues to be one of the most interesting stories of the season so far. He’s likely the MVP of the South Atlantic League to this point, and he’s forcing the conversation about him to change as he continues to hit. He now leads the league in home runs, slugging, and OPS, and those who’ve waited for him to come back to Earth are still waiting. This past week against Wilmington, Palensky went off again. He had 13 hits in 21 at-bats, hit two homers, doubled five times, added a triple, drove in seven, and scored nine times. His silly slash line of .619/.680/1.238 was enough to bring him recognition as the Prospect of the Week for the second time, and the clock is ticking toward the time some room is made for him in the Somerset outfield.


And just like that, the clock has struck! Palensky is on his way to Double-A.