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Yankees Prospects: Week 26 minor league review

Hudson Valley advanced to the championship round, Somerset finished off a dominant regular season, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre closed out their home schedule.

Somerset Patriots v Akron RubberDucks
Trey Sweeney
Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Yankees season is likely nearly at an end, and so is the season down on the farm. Hudson Valley advanced to the championship round, Somerset finished off a division sweep, and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre finished out their home schedule as they enter the last week of their season.

Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders

Record: 36-32 (70-72 overall) and 7.5 games back in the International League East after splitting 6 games with the Buffalo Bisons (Blue Jays). They are eliminated from postseason contention.

Run Differential: +21

Coming up: On the road to finish the season with 6 games against the Syracuse Mets starting Tuesday, September 19

The RailRiders may have sent a lot of their top draws up to New York, and they are no longer contending for a playoff spot, but they still provide reasons to watch them in their final week of play. The most interesting reasons are on the mound.

The tandem of Will Warren and Clayton Beeter, both well positioned to debut in the big leagues next year, are coming off a week when they combined to strike out 27 in 15.2 innings while allowing only one run. Yes, the intensity level may be down at this point in the Triple-A season, but that is outstanding work no matter how you slice it. Warren’s 10 strikeouts on Sunday alone represent a career high for him.

It’s also worth taking a peek at Nelson Medina, a 23-year-old center fielder who was called up after Tampa’s season ended to fill in for the injured Brandon Lockridge. Medina was good in limited action for the Tarpons this year, missing a chunk of the season with an injury of his own, and he is intriguing for his athleticism and tools. Having never seen a pitch above Low-A, Medina has understandably struggled, going 0-for-19, but his strike zone judgment appears sound and he has glided around the outfield capably.

Players of note (stats are season totals at the level):

3B Andrés Chaparro: .774 OPS, 24 HR, 85 RBI, 21 2B, 78 R, 64 BB

C Carlos Narvaez: .754 OPS, 9 HR, 34 RBI, 11 2B, 38 R, 52 BB (78 games)

2B Jamie Westbrook: .904 OPS, 21 HR, 64 RBI, 19 2B, 68 R

SP Will Warren: 3.71 ERA, 94.2 IP, 78 H, 45 BB, 103 K

SP Mitch Spence: 4.50 ERA, 156.0 IP, 155 H, 50 BB, 150 K

SP Clayton Beeter: 5.40 ERA, 60.0 IP, 57 H, 37 BB, 75 K

SP Edgar Barclay: 6.23 ERA, 39.0 IP, 39 H, 29 BB, 41 K

Double-A Somerset Patriots

Record: 42-27 (84-53 overall) and second half winners of the Eastern League Northeast after winning 5 of 6 games with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays)

Run Differential: +131

Coming up: On the road to face the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets) for Game One of the Eastern League Division Series on Tuesday, September 19. Games Two and Three are scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Somerset.

The Patriots have been the flagship of the Yankees’ affiliates for the last two years, and this year they accomplished a clean sweep of the Northeast division by winning both halves of the season. They lost only three series the entire year, and they roll into the playoffs with players who can hurt you on both sides of the ball. There are prospects who have starred this year, like Spencer Jones, Ben Rice, and Richard Fitts, and there are less-heralded players like Grant Richardson, Matt Sauer, and Tanner Myatt all coming up big at the right time. They will have their work cut out for them against a re-made, suddenly-talented Binghamton team that has benefited from the Mets’ active trade deadline.

Richardson has been on fire since his promotion to Somerset. As a Patriot he has a slash line of .340/.426/.642 and five home runs in 53 at-bats. That’s happening while Jones is at .319/.385/.468 over the last two weeks and Rice is an unconscious .350/.480/.600. Each of those players has homered twice in that span and combined to drive in 12 runs while scoring 14. Add Trey Sweeney, Elijah Dunham, and Caleb Durbin, all of whom are coming off good series against New Hampshire, into the mix and Somerset has a potent lineup heading into the playoffs.

Fitts is now at 152.2 innings pitched on the year, so you hold your breath in this territory, but last week gave no indication he’s slowing down. He struck out 11 in 6.2 innings while giving up only one run on a walk and four hits. Somehow Sauer seemed more dominant, punching out 14 in his 11.1 innings of work over two appearances. Zach Messinger and Yoendrys Gómez figure into the starting picture in the playoffs, while Myatt’s work in the bullpen of late (0.68 ERA over the last month) has been stellar. Relievers Ryan Anderson, Jack Neely, and Harrison Cohen all go into the series with Binghamton pitching well.

Players of note:

C/1B Ben Rice: 1.049 OPS, 16 HR, 48 RBI, 13 2B, 40 R (48 games)

C Agustin Ramirez: .586 OPS, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 7 2B, 17 R (31 games)

OF Elijah Dunham: .778 OPS, 10 HR, 27 RBI, 34 R, 13 2B, 23 SB (56 games)

OF Spencer Jones: .739 OPS, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 9 R, 8 SB (17 games)

SS Trey Sweeney: .778 OPS, 13 HR, 49 RBI, 20 2B, 67 R, 20 SB

SP Chase Hampton: 4.37 ERA, 59.2 IP, 54 H, 68 K, 21 BB

SP Richard Fitts: 3.48 ERA, 152.2 IP, 131 H, 163 K, 43 BB

SP Yoendrys Gómez: 3.58 ERA, 65.1 IP, 47 H, 78 K, 37 BB

SP Drew Thorpe: 1.48 ERA, 30.1 IP, 15 H, 44 K, 5 BB

SP Matt Sauer: 3.42 ERA, 65.1 IP, 47 H, 78 K, 37 BB

High-A Hudson Valley Renegades

Last Week: Defeated the Jersey Shore BlueClaws (Phillies) two games to one in the South Atlantic League Division Series. Lost Game One of the Championship Series 2-0 to the Greenville Drive (Red Sox) on Sunday.

Coming up: On the road to meet the Greenville Drive again in Game Two on Tuesday, September 19 with a potential Game Three scheduled for Wednesday.

Hudson Valley found themselves down a game in the best-of-three division series after losing on the road to Jersey Shore, but they came home with their backs against the wall and won back-to-back games to advance to the championship round. Game Three was particularly thrilling, with the Renegades taking an early lead behind Brock Selvidge and then having Geoffrey Gilbert make his High-A debut by striking out two to get out of an eighth-inning bases-loaded jam.

The Renegades are following a similar path in the championship series by losing the first game, this time at home to the Greenville Drive. They will go on the road for what will hopefully be the last two games, needing to win one to play a second. Hudson Valley could not push a run across in the opener, and Greenville’s only runs scored via the base on balls. Pitching has been the story in these playoffs, and runs are at a premium.

Only one Hudson Valley hitter has an average over .300 in the small four-game sample of the postseason, and that’s unsung Rafael Flores. After sharing time throughout the year with all the catchers who have come through High-A, Flores has been parked behind the plate in the playoffs, and his defense has stood out. He’s thrown out would-be base stealers and handled a staff made almost entirely of pitchers who spent most of the year in Tampa. Several of the pitchers have been pitching in High-A for the first time as they take the mound in the playoffs, and Flores has guided them well. Brock Selvidge has been with Hudson Valley for a while, and he’s pitched well, but the Yankees have to be pleased with the performances of Jackson Fristoe, Geoffrey Gilbert, Osiel Rodriguez, Cam Schlittler, and Yorlin Calderon, who have combined to allow a single earned run in 20.1 innings while striking out 22.

Low-A Tampa Tarpons

Record: Season completed September 10. They finished 61-69 overall.

Prospect of the week: Will Warren

With the tremendous performances of pitching prospects like Drew Thorpe, Chase Hampton, and Richard Fitts, Warren has been a bit lost in the shuffle. Part of that was likely due to the way he struggled upon his promotion to Triple-A, and he seemed to get knocked around for weeks while walking too many hitters. That now looks like a bump in the road, as Warren has been Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s best starter for well over a month. Last week he pitched twice, taking his regular turn once and then coming in to relieve for a rehabbing Frankie Montas. In those two games he allowed only one run and six hits while striking out 14 in 10.2 innings. Stretch out one more week and that line only improves to one run in 17.2 innings with 23 K’s. Warren began the season as perhaps the Yankees’ best pitching prospect, and he could finish it in line to compete for a big league job in spring training.