It’s nothing but bad news out of the Bronx these days, so those looking for some positivity and hope can turn their eyes to the minor leagues, where the Yankees have had several of their prospects enjoy productive and successful seasons so far. Everson Pereira and Oswald Peraza are in the majors, Austin Wells is in Triple-A with Will Warren and Clayton Beeter, Jasson Domínguez, Drew Thorpe, Chase Hampton, and a cast of other interesting players have reached Double-A, and Spencer Jones leads another group at High-A. They represent a wave of talent moving toward the major leagues, and though prospects are suspects until they produce at the highest level, they offer what the big league team has not been able to give the fans- hope.
As long as hope is what’s motivating our attention, there is another wave building behind the players at the upper levels of the minors, and most of them play for the Florida Complex League Yankees, a team full of teenaged talent who clinched a spot in the playoffs and will have a chance to compete for a championship. With the obvious grain of salt that must be taken when discussing players this young who haven’t reached full-season competition, take a look at what this group has to offer just in players who’ve yet to turn 20.
John Cruz, outfielder, age 17
The baby of this group hasn’t hit like it. He only turns 18 next week, but Cruz is at .294/.376/.531 in 48 games, and he leads the team with 10 homers and 47 RBI. This is a left-handed hitter generating some buzz.
Willy Montero, outfielder, age 18
Not many people were talking about this big right-handed hitter before the season, but that may change soon. The 6-foot-4 Montero has been a fixture near the top of the lineup for 47 games, and he’s slashed .331/.389/.436 with 13 extra-base hits while playing mostly in center field.
George Lombard Jr., shortstop, age 18
The Yankees’ first-round pick this year only started playing last week due to an injury, but he’s off to a good start with the bat at 5-for-12. Lombard’s scouting report offers no real area of weakness in his game, and he has gained praise for the high quality of his character and work ethic.
Enmanuel Tejeda, infielder, age 18
Tejeda is perhaps a sleeper prospect, but he does everything well. He can play second, short, or third, and his stellar numbers on offense look very similar to the ones he put up last summer in the Dominican Summer League. He’s played in 50 games, and he’s slashed .307/.465/.458 with five home runs, four doubles, and three triples. He’s also stolen 24 bases in 30 attempts.
Yankees infield prospect Enmanuel Tejeda is hitting .313/.476/.453 with nine extra base hits and 20 stolen bases, 36 K to 35 Bb across 38 games. Advanced approach, above-average contact skills and projectable power. One of the top players in the FCL this summer. #RepBX pic.twitter.com/mDNKhDYxex— Geoff Pontes (@GeoffPontesBA) August 5, 2023
Roderick Arias, shortstop, age 18
The switch-hitting Arias was making a lot of noise before a broken pinkie ended his season prematurely. He has a cannon for an arm, and with the bat he hit .267/.423/.505 with six homers in 27 games. Add in his 17 steals, and you can see why he’s so highly regarded.
Keiner Delgado, infielder, age 19
Listed at 5-foot-7, this switch-hitter will have to keep performing to make people believe, but all he’s done so far is produce. He’s at .293/.414/.485 for the season (49 games) with eight homers, 36 steals, and more walks than strikeouts. He’s primarily a second baseman but has seen some time at short as well.
Hans Montero, infielder, age 19
A fairly high-profile international signing for the Yankees, Montero created questions with his performance in the DSL, but he’s shown well in his first season in the States. His line of .257/.419/.404 with five home runs in 53 games is promising, particularly the ability to get on base, and he can play all over the infield.
Jordarlin Mendoza, pitcher, age 19
Included among Baseball America’s Top 30 Yankees prospects, the righty Mendoza is another pitcher who racks up the strikeouts (39 in 28.2 innings), and he does it with a tight-spinning breaking ball.
Henry Lalane, pitcher, age 19
If Roderick Arias is the position player who caught the most scouts’ attention, Lalane is the pitcher. The 6-foot-7 lefty has struck out 34 in 21.2 innings while walking only four batters, and he’s doing it with power stuff.
Luis Serna, pitcher, age 19
Coming into the season, Serna was viewed as one of the better pitching prospects in the organization, but a shoulder ailment slowed him down. He’s been slowly building up since his return, but he’s managed to strike out 23 in 19.1 innings pitched. He’s gained a reputation for his poise and mature command of multiple pitches.
That list of teenagers doesn’t even include Engelth Urena, an 18-year-old catcher who Baseball America still lists as a Top 30 prospect in the organization despite him not playing at all this season. It also doesn’t account for 20-year-old right-hander Carlos Lagrange, who has hit 100 mph and struck out 63 in 41.2 innings for the FCL Yankees, 20-year-old undrafted free agent signing Dylan Jasso, who has slashed .377/.486/.574 in his first 17 pro games, or 21-year-old catcher Edinson Duran, who has slashed .314/.405/.457 in 32 games behind the dish this summer.
Edinson Duran is a interesting catching prospect on the Yankees FCL team. Good catch and throw with feel to hit and some power. He's hitting .355/.443/.487 across 24 FCL games this summer. #RepBX pic.twitter.com/h03KOFaZB7— Geoff Pontes (@GeoffPontesBA) August 5, 2023
This is another wave of talent that should flow into Low-A Tampa next year, where most of these players could be making their full-season debuts. They might also soon be joined by Brando Mayea, the top 2023 international free agent signing and a 17-year-old center fielder who will likely get his turn to shine in the FCL.
Lending some fuel to the hope is Baseball America including nine of these players in its updated list of Top 30 prospects in the Yankees’ system. Consider the fact that the Yankees could have Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and Everson Pereira all playing meaningful roles for them at age-23, with Domínguez right behind them in Triple-A at 21, and a group of really exciting players who’ve already tasted success together amassing at the lower levels. That’s the kind of ray of light that might help carry fans through these listless times.