The Yankees’ minor league season is almost at a close. Triple-A Scranton will be done after four more games this week in Syracuse, and Double-A Somerset will join them on the metaphorical links if they don’t win today (and tomorrow) to stay alive in the Eastern League Division Series. With all other affiliates finished for 2023 as well, it’s time to hand out some awards!
Unlike the major league team, where misfortune abounds, there are success stories everywhere throughout the farm system. That makes it all tough to choose the top performers of the year. Heck, the prospect who garnered the most headlines (Jasson Domínguez) wasn’t picked since there was an even more worthy name at Double-A and he barely spent any time in Scranton. Nonetheless, here are the outstanding players and pitchers getting the nod.
DSL Player of the Year: Gabriel Terrero
Terrero was part of the Yankees’ international free agent signing class in January, and he stole the spotlight in his first professional baseball action down in the Dominican Summer League. Playing most of his games at second base, the 5-foot-6 switch-hitter slashed .299/.407/.533 and, more impressively, led the team with seven home runs. Some of the reports on Terrero before he signed indicated good hitter traits, and at only 17, his performance in the DSL makes that evaluation look accurate.
DSL Pitcher of the Year: Chalniel Arias
This lanky 6-foot-3 right-hander pitched his way to a rare FCL call-up this summer, but not before he caused 54 hitters to swing at air in 38 innings. He walked only nine in his DSL stint and departed with a 2.37 ERA. Having just turned 20, Arias will likely return to the FCL in 2024, but strength gains in the offseason could help him sneak into the Low-A picture.
FCL Player of the Year: Keiner Delgado
With all the talent on the squad that roamed the Florida Complex League, there are strong cases to be made for several players receiving recognition here. Roderick Arias, John Cruz, and Enmanuel Tejeda would all be justifiable choices, but Delgado turned those who were skeptical of his DSL performance last year into believers in 2023. At 19 years old, and listed at 5-foot-7 and 145 pounds, Delgado was second on the team with 8 home runs, had 12 doubles, stole 36 bases, and slashed .293/.414/.485. Oh, and he walked more than he struck out (36 to 31). He did this while playing mostly second base, but he saw time at short and third as well.
FCL Pitcher of the Year: Allen Facundo
Like the position player side, there were other choices for pitchers who deserve this recognition. Carlos Lagrange led the team and the league in strikeouts, and Henry Lalane K’d more per nine than Lagrange while walking only four hitters. Both of those guys are better prospects, but Facundo has been underrated and perhaps under-noticed after missing the 2022 season due to injury. He may have been the toughest pitcher to hit on the FCL team, allowing only 20 knocks in 30.1 innings while fanning 40 and posting a 2.37 ERA. The left-handed Facundo, 21, registered innings as both a starter and reliever, and he proved he deserves a shot at breaking camp with Tampa next year.
Low-A Player of the Year: Jared Serna
Was it the year of the diminutive hitter in the lower minors? At 5-foot-6, Serna provided more power than you would expect, popping 19 home runs for the Tarpons. He drove in 79 runs, scored 90, and swiped 29 bases in a dynamic offensive performance for the middle infielder who turned 21 in June. Serna’s successful run in Tampa earned him a call-up to Hudson Valley on August 8th for the final stretch of the campaign at High-A.
Low-A Pitcher of the Year: Brock Selvidge
Selvidge pitched most of the year at 20 years old, and after 77.1 high-quality innings in Tampa, he got a bump to Hudson Valley, where he was the winning pitcher in the Renegades’ Division Series clincher. Selvidge seemed to get better and better as the season went on, and he left Tampa with a 3.38 ERA, 91 strikeouts, and only 21 walks. There wasn’t another pitcher on the Tarpons’ staff who compiled a better body of work.
High-A Player of the Year: Spencer Jones
With all the player movement in and out of Hudson Valley this year, the player with the best overall season has to be the 2022 first-round pick Jones, who stuck around for 411 at-bats and put up a .787 OPS. It must continually be mentioned that this was the Vandy product’s first full season, and 13 home runs, 28 doubles, and 35 stolen bases at High-A—all after just 22 games in Low-A late last year—is a pretty darn good outcome.
High-A Pitcher of the Year: Drew Thorpe
Speaking of guys in their first full seasons, Thorpe had one of the best years of any pitcher in Minor League Baseball, so he has to be the choice here. With 138 punchouts and only 33 walks in 109 innings, Thorpe was astonishingly good and consistent for Hudson Valley, and often his stat lines would make you wonder if you were looking at his most recent game, because the special outings started to run together. More impressively, the 22-year-old got promoted to Somerset and didn’t slow down one bit, ultimately earning Baseball America’s pick for the best Yankees prospect of 2023.
Double-A Player of the Year: Ben Rice
There were a few memorable hot streaks in the organization this year. Christopher Familia went on an absurd tear in Tampa and Agustin Ramirez demolished High-A in his brief stint with Hudson Valley. But the catcher Rice, though he has played only 48 games with Somerset, has managed to be among the teams statistical leaders in just about every category. Rice’s slash line of .327/.401/.648 in Double-A somehow looks sustainable when you watch him play, and it has jump-started a conversation about whether the Dartmouth product will make the big leagues in 2024.
Double-A Pitcher of the Year: Richard Fitts
In a system with pitching standouts from High-A up through Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Fitts has made sure his name comes up when mentioning the Yankees’ best starters in the minors. This workhorse threw 152.2 innings in the regular season and posted a 3.48 ERA with 163 strikeouts, which was the seventh-most in minor league baseball this year. Fitts is one of the few top performers the Yankees did not promote this season, but Somerset is glad for it.
Triple-A Player of the Year: Estevan Florial
It was a strange year for Florial in New York, being designated for assignment, going unclaimed, getting outrighted to Scranton, and then recently being added to the 40-man roster again and playing every day for the Yankees, but it was an electric year for him in Triple-A. Florial drilled 28 homers, drove in 79 runs, scored 83, hit 23 doubles, and stole 25 bases. His .945 OPS over 409 at-bats made him an incomparable force on offense for the RailRiders.
Triple-A Pitcher of the Year: Will Warren
With apologies to Mitch Spence, who has answered the bell consistently and with strong results for the RailRiders, it is Warren who has taken the reins as the best pitcher the Yankees have in Triple-A. It didn’t start out that way, as the 24-year-old right-hander struggled through an adjustment after being promoted from Somerset, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his numbers now. A 3.71 ERA, 103 strikeouts in 94.2 innings, and only 78 hits allowed indicate that Warren is a pitcher who has conquered each minor league level.
Will Warren with the RailRiders:— Conor Foley (@RailRidersTT) September 18, 2023
First 11 games:
-26 bb/46 k
-.258/.372/.467 opponent line (.839 ops, .307 babip)
-59% strikes; 51% grounders
-19 bb/57 k
-.188/.261/.323 (.584 ops, .226 babip)
-63% strikes; 56% grounders
-7 hr pic.twitter.com/N91KUMonAB