Editor’s note: Marcus was on vacation for part of the past week and we wanted to respect his personal time, so this is coming a few days later than normal. It will focus on series from the previous week, July 18-23. Thank you!
Prospects with recognizable names like Austin Wells and Brock Selvidge have been promoted, while some of the lesser-known players in the system like Carlos Narvaez, Ben Rice, Christopher Familia, and Omar Martinez are becoming more interesting week to week.
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
Record: 12-10 (second half) and 2.5 games back in the International League after splitting six games with the Worcester Red Sox
Coming up: On the road for six games against the Buffalo Bisons (Blue Jays) from July 25-July 30 [1-2 so far]
What began the year as a veteran-heavy roster now serves a team full of prospects, as the RailRiders have welcomed Austin Wells to their group. Somerset has promoted a steady stream of young talent to Triple-A throughout the season, including pitchers Will Warren and Clayton Beeter and outfielders Everson Pereira and Brandon Lockridge. After the Yankees lost Jose Trevino to season-ending surgery, they summoned Ben Rortvedt from Scranton to platoon with Kyle Higashioka behind the plate. That opened the door for Wells to come up and join Carlos Narvaez with Scranton. The RailRiders now have 6 of the Yankees’ top 18 prospects, according to Baseball America.
Getting back to Narvaez, because he plays in an organization that drafts catchers with high picks, as they have with Wells, Josh Breaux, and Anthony Seigler, and signs international catchers who come in with some fanfare (like Antonio Gomez), he has quietly moved through the full-season minors in two years and is now having his best season at Triple-A. Narvaez has received praise for his defensive skill, but his bat should now draw some attention too. The right-handed hitter is slashing .288/.418/.486 in 44 games with Scranton, and he’s added eight home runs along the way. He profiles well as a backup catcher in the big leagues, but the real question is whether the Yankees will give him that opportunity or if it comes somewhere else.
Players of note (stats are season totals):
3B Andrés Chaparro: .821 OPS, 19 HR, 68 RBI, 18 2B, 59 R, 45 BB
OF Estevan Florial: .983 OPS, 22 HR, 54 RBI, 61 R, 48 BB, 18 SB, 103 K
OF Everson Pereira: .938 OPS, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 3 2B, 13 R (15 games)
C Carlos Narvaez: .904 OPS, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 26 R, 5 2B, 31 BB (44 games)
2B Jamie Westbrook: .905 OPS, 14 HR, 42 RBI, 11 2B, 47 R
SP Will Warren: 4.39 ERA, 41.0 IP, 36 H, 20 BB, 44 K
SP Mitch Spence: 4.56 ERA, 102.2 IP, 102 H, 36 BB, 89 K
SP Randy Vásquez: 5.21 ERA, 65.2 IP, 70 H, 36 BB, 73 K
SP Clayton Beeter: 3.26 ERA, 19.1 IP, 15 H, 10 BB, 20 K
RP Matt Krook: 1.05 ERA, 25.2 IP, 8 H, 18 BB, 46 K
Double-A Somerset Patriots
Record: 13-10 (second half) and 1.5 games back in the Eastern League Northeast after winning four out of six games with the Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies)
Coming up: At home for six games against the Bowie Baysox (Orioles) from July 25-July 30 [2-1 so far]
The wheels keep turning in Somerset as players move up to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and players move in from other affiliates. Wells finally got the call to Triple-A, and in his place, catcher Ben Rice arrived from Tampa. His season, and really his career so far, is shaping up as an interesting story. He was a 2021 draft pick out of Dartmouth, meaning his college baseball career was limited by the pandemic and the Ivy League shutting down sports. His first full season was last year in Tampa, and he had a slash line of .267/.368/.442. Pretty good! The left-handed hitter then began this year in Hudson Valley, and for 15 glorious games he went wild, with a line of .341/.559/.523 before he was injured.
Upon Rice’s return to health, he was sent back to Tampa for a rehab assignment, and in 10 games with the Tarpons he picked up where he left off, putting together a .948 OPS. Instead of being sent once again to Hudson Valley to resume his season, he was jumped to Somerset, and he has started off his time there by hitting three homers in five games, going 10-for-20, and knocking in 10 runs. You have to pay attention when a player hits like this—especially when he’s a catcher—and although he’s 24, he doesn’t have a lot of games under his belt. So Rice is an intriguing player who may just be coming into his own.
Not 1. Not 2. Not 3...But 4 hits tonight for #Yankees catching prospect Ben Rice.— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) July 23, 2023
In his third Double-A game, and first catching, Ben Rice went 4-for-5 with 2 HR, 2 R, 2B and 4 RBI. pic.twitter.com/5Yzf3RwAvx
Players of note:
OF Jasson Domínguez: .712 OPS, 12 HR, 46 RBI, 66 BB, 26 SB, 63 R — this is cheating a bit since it’s including the first few games of the not-yet-covered Week 18, but he has a 139 wRC+ in his first 57 PA of the second half
SS Trey Sweeney: .800 OPS, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 18 2B, 59 R, 13 SB
1B T.J. Rumfield: .785 OPS, 17 HR, 50 RBI, 11 2B, 40 R
3B Tyler Hardman: .863 OPS, 24 HR, 49 RBI, 51 R, 9 2B, 9 SB
SP Chase Hampton: 4.54 ERA, 39.2 IP, 35 H, 48 K, 14 BB
SP Richard Fitts: 3.75 ERA, 100.2 IP, 93 H, 108 K, 24 BB
SP Yoendrys Gómez: 1.26 ERA, 28.2 IP, 15 H, 34 K, 17 BB
RP Edgar Barclay: 1.20 ERA, 30.0 IP, 23 H, 45 K, 10 BB
Hereee's Hardmannnn— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) July 23, 2023
Tyler Hardman now has four homers in his last three games and a league leading 24 on the year as we lead 6-2 in the 8th pic.twitter.com/csPEnRpdYh
High-A Hudson Valley Renegades
Record: 13-14 (second half) and six games back in the South Atlantic League North after losing four out of six games to the Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets)
Coming up: On the road for 6 games against the Hickory Crawdads (Rangers) from July 25-July 30 [2-1 so far]
Perhaps overshadowed by the recent strong performance of Spencer Jones and continued hot hitting of Agustin Ramirez is the adjustment that Christopher Familia appears to have made to High-A. It is still not clear what to make of Familia as a prospect, but his numbers in Tampa during his time there were bonkers, and after a quiet start with Hudson Valley he is really picking it up. In his last nine games, Familia has three homers and eight RBI to go with a slash line of .314/.351/.600. The left-handed-hitting outfielder is 23 now, and he has a total of 75 full-season minor league games to his name, but with the way he makes contact, hits the ball hard, and drives it for extra bases, it is difficult to ignore there may be something here. Familia is one of the most fascinating players to follow in the Yankees’ system at the moment.
The Renegades’ bullpen lost a key piece when Bailey Dees was deservedly promoted to Somerset, but the pitching staff was boosted by the promotion of left-handed starter Brock Selvidge from Tampa. It would not take much effort to win an argument that the 2021 third-rounder was Tampa’s best starter this year, and on the heels of that performance, he was recently acknowledged as one of the Top 30 prospects in the Yankees’ system by Baseball America. The Hudson Valley rotation has been a highlight among all the affiliates this season, and it remains so with Drew Thorpe, Brendan Beck, Zach Messinger, Juan Carela, Tyrone Yulie, and now Selvidge scheduled to take turns.
Players of note:
OF Spencer Jones: .829 OPS, 12 HR, 47 RBI, 23 2B, 4 3B, 49 R, 23 SB
C Agustin Ramirez: 1.203 OPS, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 10 2B, 14 R (19 games)
2B Benjamin Cowles: .744 OPS, 12 2B, 9 HR, 29 RBI, 41 R
OF Christopher Familia: .735 OPS, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 3 2B, 14 R (18 games)
SP Zach Messinger: 4.04 ERA, 78.0 IP, 69 H, 95 K, 40 BB
SP Drew Thorpe: 2.08 ERA, 99.1 IP, 69 H, 124 K, 31 BB
SP Juan Carela: 3.78 ERA, 81.0 IP, 64 H, 105 K, 32 BB
SP Tyrone Yulie: 4.66 ERA, 75.1 IP, 58 H, 89 K, 41 BB
RP Jack Neely: 2.28 ERA, 43.1 IP, 24 H, 67 K, 16 BB
Spencer Jones SCORCHES a 2 run double to get the party started! pic.twitter.com/7nkLYmfQ57— Hudson Valley Renegades (@HVRenegades) July 22, 2023
Low-A Tampa Tarpons
Record: 14-13 (second half) and 4.5 games back in the Florida State League West after dropping four out of six games with the Clearwater Threshers (Phillies)
Coming up: At home for six games with the Dunedin Blue Jays from July 25-July 30 [2-1 so far]
Each player in the minor league system is technically a prospect, but some prospects are more interesting than others when it comes to their potential to move toward the major leagues. With each promotion, or injury in the unfortunate case of Anthony Hall, the Tarpons’ roster loses an interesting prospect, as it has with Ramirez, Familia, and now Selvidge. But that also creates an opportunity for the light to shine on other players who’ve received less attention, and Omar Martinez is one of those players. The left-handed hitter has been on a heater for a good stretch, with 5 homers, 15 RBI, and a .310/.375/.738 slash line in his last two series. He’s having a good year, consistent with what he’s done in short season ball, and he’s forcing his name into the conversation of players to watch in Tampa.
It’s getting to the time in the season where real evaluations can be made with the sample of performance players have provided, but that doesn’t make a judgment on right-handed pitcher Justin Lange any easier. The last couple of weeks have been a microcosm of Lange’s season: 9.2 innings pitched with 17 strikeouts, but also five walks and seven earned runs. He’s somehow been able to dominate and yet has been unable to keep runners from crossing the plate on him, and while he still passes the eye test with his physicality and stuff, it is difficult whether to say he is a future starter or may fare better as a reliever. Lange is still very much a work in progress, a fascinating one at that, but he’s also been able to post all year, and that is the most important thing for his development.
Players of note:
2B Jared Serna: .849 OPS, 67 R, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 18 2B, 19 SB
OF Anthony Hall: .839 OPS, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 39 R, 8 2B, 2 3B (on the injured list)
1B/3B/C Jesus Rodriguez: .802 OPS, 6 HR, 35 RBI, 45 R, 14 2B, 14 SB
C/1B Omar Martinez: .805 OPS, 11 HR, 44 RBI, 38 R, 10 2B, 7 SB
SP Justin Lange: 4.92 ERA, 64 IP, 44 H, 102 K, 51 BB
RP Cole Ayers: 3.98 ERA, 40.2 IP, 40 H, 56 K, 14 BB
RP Yorlin Calderon: 3.25 ERA, 52.2 IP, 44 H, 66 K, 14 BB
Prospect of the Week: Drew Thorpe
There goes that man again. If you look at the stat line from Drew Thorpe’s last start, you might think it’s from the last time he won South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week. This one got him the award again: 8 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 13 K.
Right now, Thorpe is a metronome. The 2022 second-rounder goes out and performs every week, and while plenty of voices are clamoring for his promotion to Double-A, and that still may happen, we are also looking at a first-year pitcher who is about to reach the 100-inning mark for the season. How much further the Yankees push Thorpe will be interesting to see, but fans can feel great about what he’s been able to accomplish in 2023.