Tampa’s season came to an end, Hudson Valley wrapped up their schedule as they head into the playoffs, Somerset inched closer to a match-up with a Mets affiliate, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre continued shuttling players to the Bronx in week 24.
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
Record: 33-29 (67-69 overall) and six games back in the International League East after losing four out of six games with the Columbus Clippers (Guardians)
Run Differential: +30
Coming up: At home for six games against the Buffalo Bisons (Blue Jays) starting Tuesday, September 12th
With the Yankees losing Ian Hamilton, Albert Abreu, Luis Severino, Kenyan Middleton, and Jasson Domínguez over the course of a week, the RailRiders have been sending reinforcements. Relievers Matt Bowman and Anthony Misiewicz are the latest to try keeping the beleaguered Bronx bullpen afloat, but the most interesting and arguably most deserved promotion came on Monday when the Yankees selected Estevan Florial to the roster.
No, we’ve not seen Florial have sustained success in the big leagues, and, yes, he has just about a 30 percent strikeout rate in Triple-A, but he’s also been arguably the best offensive player the Yankees have in the minor leagues this year, and he still possesses an array of tools not to be found in most other players. Florial’s numbers this year are spectacular, and it’s not out of the question he would have reached a 30/30 season had he finished September in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Considering he hits left-handed and plays above-average defense in center field, he’s more than worth a shot right now. Here’s hoping he can put the bat on the ball for the next three weeks to give him a chance at lasting the winter in the organization.
Players of note (stats are season totals at the level):
3B Andrés Chaparro: .794 OPS, 24 HR, 83 RBI, 21 2B, 77 R, 61 BB
OF Estevan Florial: .945 OPS, 28 HR, 79 RBI, 83 R, 66 BB, 25 SB, 144 K
C Carlos Narvaez: .781 OPS, 9 HR, 33 RBI, 10 2B, 37 R, 47 BB (72 games)
2B Jamie Westbrook: .936 OPS, 21 HR, 63 RBI, 19 2B, 68 R
SP Will Warren: 4.07 ERA, 84.0 IP, 72 H, 40 BB, 89 K
SP Mitch Spence: 4.56 ERA, 150.0 IP, 151 H, 47 BB, 144 K
SP Clayton Beeter: 5.89 ERA, 55.0 IP, 53 H, 35 BB, 62 K
SP Edgar Barclay: 6.62 ERA, 34.0 IP, 34 H, 25 BB, 35 K
Double-A Somerset Patriots
Record: 37-26 (79-52 overall) and half game up in the Eastern League Northeast after splitting six games with the Erie SeaWolves (Pirates)
Run Differential: +118
Coming up: At home for six games against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays) starting Tuesday, September 5th
Although they were a little slow out of the gates in their return, the Patriots got a potential boost for the playoffs by getting back shortstop Trey Sweeney and first baseman T.J. Rumfield. Unfortunately, they also lost Caleb Durbin to the injured list again, so Somerset heads into their last regular season series with a lefty-heavy lineup that’s preparing to face the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets) in the playoffs. The Patriots could now start lefties Ben Rice, Spencer Jones, Sweeney, Rumfield, Elijah Dunham, Jeisson Rosario, and Mickey Gasper in the same game and still run out their best offensive lineup, which is a novelty in an organization that has starved itself of left-handed hitting in recent years.
With Chase Hampton shut down for the year, and Drew Thorpe pulled after four innings of work last week, it will be interesting to see what happens with Richard Fitts, who is up to 146 innings after starting twice last week. Somerset may need to lean on Yoendrys Gómez, Matt Sauer, and Blane Abeyta as playoff starters.
Players of note:
C/1B Ben Rice: 1.078 OPS, 15 HR, 45 RBI, 12 2B, 35 R (43 games)
C Agustin Ramirez: .588 OPS, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 5 2B, 15 R (28 games)
OF Elijah Dunham: .789 OPS, 9 HR, 23 RBI, 32 R, 12 2B, 22 SB (51 games)
OF Spencer Jones: .635 OPS, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R, 5 SB (11 games)
SS Trey Sweeney: .770 OPS, 13 HR, 49 RBI, 18 2B, 63 R, 17 SB
SP Chase Hampton: 4.37 ERA, 59.2 IP, 54 H, 68 K, 21 BB
SP Richard Fitts: 3.58 ERA, 146.0 IP, 127 H, 152 K, 42 BB
SP Yoendrys Gómez: 3.69 ERA, 61.0 IP, 46 H, 71 K, 33 BB
SP Drew Thorpe: 1.48 ERA, 30.1 IP, 15 H, 44 K, 5 BB
RP Danny Watson: 1.64 ERA, 38.1 IP, 18 H, 43 K, 16 BB
High-A Hudson Valley Renegades
Record: 31-35 (70-62 overall) and seven games back in the South Atlantic League North after losing four out of six with the Jersey Shore BlueClaws (Phillies)
Run Differential: +40
Coming up: On the road to meet the BlueClaws again in Game One of the division playoffs Tuesday, September 5th. Game Two will be at home for Hudson Valley Thursday night, and Game Three will be Friday if necessary.
The Renegades have seen a lot of the Jersey Shore BlueClaws of late, so they have a familiar opponent as the South Atlantic League playoffs begin this week. After playing Jersey Shore in 12 games over the last month, Hudson Valley will attempt to knock them out in a best-of-three series beginning Tuesday night. Starting pitchers had not been announced for the Renegades as of Monday, but it would seem Yorlin Calderon is lined up for Game One. After that, and considering the innings total for Zach Messinger, who only went one inning in his last start, and Brock Selvidge, who started two games last week, the Hudson Valley bullpen could be counted on for a lot of the work in the playoffs. A heavy influence on the pitching staff comes from Tampa call-ups, including recently added righthanders Osiel Rodriguez and Cam Schlittler. That duo struck out 10 BlueClaws in seven innings last week without allowing an earned run.
While the team is not coming in hot, some of the hitters have had success against Jersey Shore. Jared Serna, Jesus Rodriguez, and Spencer Henson come into the series after hitting a combined .333 (16-for-48) last week while driving in 11 runs and scoring 10.
Players of note:
C Jesus Rodriguez: .997 OPS, 3 HR, 20 RBI, 5 2B, 13 R (25 games)
OF Christopher Familia: .804 OPS, 11 HR, 32 RBI, 4 2B, 33 R (47 games)
2B Jared Serna: .739 OPS, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 7 2B, 2 3B, 18 R, 10 SB (27 games)
OF Anthony Hall: .578 OPS, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 5 2B, 11 R (24 games)
SP Zach Messinger: 4.36 ERA, 109.0 IP, 84 H, 113 K, 53 BB
SP Brock Selvidge: 3.58 ERA, 50.1 IP, 44 H, 46 K, 14 BB
RP Luis Velasquez: 2.23 ERA, 36.1 IP, 21 H, 44 K, 18 BB
Low-A Tampa Tarpons
Record: They finished their season 30-34 (61-69 overall) after losing five out of six games with the Lakeland Flying Tigers
Run Differential: -33
It’s a wrap for the 2023 Tampa Tarpons, and a tip of the cap should go out to manager Rachel Balkovec and the coaching staff for handling all that came their way. There were 37 position players and 36 pitchers who suited up for the Tarpons at some point this season, a staggering 73 individuals to manage and try to develop. Some of those players, including a significant group who broke camp with Tampa, are no longer in the organization, while the team finished the season on the field with four players in the lineup who weren’t in the system before July.
Tampa did not have a winning record, and they won’t be competing in the playoffs, but they did promote several players to High-A and beyond. Agustin Ramirez began the season in Tampa but will finish it in Somerset. Jared Serna, Anthony Hall, Jesus Rodriguez, and Christopher Familia all turned productive stints with the Tarpons into promotions as well, and there are 10 pitchers currently with Hudson Valley who progressed through Low-A this year. Hopefully that’s viewed as a successful year of development.
Next year’s Tarpons have a chance to be the most interesting team in the Yankees’ system, with an army of talented players hopefully making the jump to full-season baseball in April of 2024. Until then, one name to keep an eye on who finished 2023 in Tampa is right-handed pitcher Jackson Fristoe. His 4.91 ERA in 36.2 innings pitched won’t pop any eyeballs, and neither will his 28 walks, but the 45 strikeouts he recorded reflect the high-octane fastball he was throwing at the end of the season. Just about sitting in the upper 90s in September gives us something to look forward to for Fristoe, last year’s 12th rounder out of Mississippi State, in the spring.
Players of note:
SS George Lombard Jr.: .718 OPS, 4 RBI, 6 R, 1 2B (9 games)
2B Roc Riggio: .623 OPS, 11 R, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 2 2B, 18 BB (17 games)
C/1B Omar Martinez: .812 OPS, 18 HR, 71 RBI, 66 R, 16 2B, 8 SB
OF Nelson Medina: .859 OPS, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 9 2B, 3 3B, 25 R (50 games)
RP Matt Keating: 3.64 ERA, 64.1 IP, 60 H, 92 K, 36 BB
Prospect of the week: Ben Rice
He just isn’t stopping, and it’s glorious. Rice could be the most interesting man in the Yankees’ system right now, and with each base hit his future becomes more intriguing. Last weeks’ tear looked like this: 11-for-22, three doubles, a homer, three runs, four batted in, four walks, and only three strikeouts. He’s been hitting to all fields, hitting for power, hitting in the clutch, and hitting for contact. The whispers about Rice being a legitimate prospect who could be ready to help the big league club as soon as next year are starting to grow louder, and it is remarkable.