A successful minor league season came to a close in bittersweet fashion, with Somerset and Hudson Valley both losing playoff series.
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
Record: Finished the season at 73-75 after splitting six games with the Syracuse Mets
The RailRiders were the last Yankees affiliate to play a game this season when they defeated Syracuse 7-3 on Sunday. They finished their schedule with back-to-back wins in crisp, overcast weather, and each featured what had become the main attraction for followers of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre down the stretch. With the playoffs out of reach and several top prospects sent to the big leagues, starting pitchers Will Warren and Clayton Beeter took center stage, and they were joined by fellow starters Edgar Barclay, Mitch Spence, and a rehabbing Frankie Montas. Barclay and Spence threw quality starts on Thursday and Friday against the Mets, with Barclay striking out 8 in his 5.1 innings of work and Spence reaching a system-leading 163 innings pitched. After Montas threw two scoreless frames on Saturday, Warren followed with five innings of one-run ball and seven strikeouts. Beeter then matched Warren’s numbers on Sunday, only he shut the Mets out in his turn.
This quintet is an interesting follow in the offseason. Beeter, Barclay, and Spence are Rule 5 eligible, and only Beeter is a lock to be protected. Barclay has put himself in the conversation, and a team can do worse than to have Spence as depth. Warren does not need to be stashed on the roster, but he may be ready to compete for a big league spot in the spring, and though Montas has been a huge disappointment since coming over in a 2022 trade, could the Yankees keep him on a lower-dollar, one-year deal and see what he can do when he’s healthy?
Double-A Somerset Patriots
Record: Finished the season 84-53, but were knocked out of the playoffs after losing the Eastern League Division Series 2-0 to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets)
After a season of dominating the Eastern League on both sides of the ball, the Patriots couldn’t get anything going against Binghamton. The Rumble Ponies now are a much more talented team than the one Somerset played earlier in the season, since they were fortified by prospects acquired in trade deadline deals as well as promotions from within the Mets’ system, and in a three-game series you can find yourself on the wrong side of things very quickly. The Patriots managed to hit the ball hard in game one and come away with not much to show for it, thanks to some sparkling Binghamton defense and bad luck, while the Rumble Ponies cashed in their opportunities with big hits. Somerset was stymied in game two, despite Richard Fitts’ strong start, and just like that the season was over.
Wins are nice, and the players would probably tell you they’d love to end the season with a championship, but the organization has to feel great about what took place in Somerset this year. As Matt Kardos wrote in his excellent season recap, “Manager Raul Dominguez and his staff rostered 67 different players, many of which had career years and have even gone on to the big leagues already. Chalk this season up as a massive success for player development.”
Take a look at the current list of the Yankees’ top 30 prospects on MLB.com, and you’ll see that 19 of them spent time in Somerset this season, and four of them finished the season on the major league roster. Also consider the fact that the Patriots led the Eastern League in home runs (by 26), runs batted in, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and steals, plus they led in pitching ERA and strikeouts, and there is some praise due for what was accomplished in Somerset in 2023.
High-A Hudson Valley Renegades
Record: Finished the season at 70-62 overall, but lost the South Atlantic League Championship Series 2-0 to the Greenville Drive (Red Sox)
The Renegades were a powerhouse in the first half of the season, and they secured a playoff spot thanks to several players enjoying career years at the plate backing up outstanding pitching. They played with a very different roster throughout the second half of the season, and by the time they reached the postseason they looked an awful lot like the Tampa Tarpons we saw for most of 2023. That made them something of an underdog in the playoffs, but they managed to reach the league championship series after defeating Jersey Shore two games to one.
The clock struck midnight against Greenville, and Hudson Valley bowed out quietly in a two-game sweep. Much like the story in Somerset, the season in Wappingers Falls has to be considered a great success. The Renegades moved almost an entire pitching staff up to Double-A and still managed to lead the league in staff ERA, hits allowed, and strikeouts. They had a top-five offense that saw prospects like Spencer Jones, Ben Rice, and Agustin Ramirez move to Somerset and monster contributor Aaron Palensky end up in Triple-A. Manager Sergio Santos and his staff have a lot to be proud of.
Low-A Tampa Tarpons
Record: Finished the season at 61-69 overall
Minor league players of note (stats are season totals):
C Agustin Ramirez: .271 BA, .819 OPS, 18 HR, 69 RBI, 24 2B, 73 R
C/3B/LF Jesus Rodriguez: .310 BA, .849 OPS, 9 HR, 62 RBI, 20 2B, 66 R
C/1B Ben Rice: .324 BA, 1.049 OPS, 20 HR, 68 RBI, 18 2B, 62 R
1B/3B Andrés Chaparro: .247 BA, .775 OPS, 25 HR, 89 RBI, 24 2B, 82 R
1B T.J. Rumfield: .222 BA, .757 OPS, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 16 2B, 45 R
2B Jamie Westbrook: .294 BA, .896 OPS, 21 HR, 65 RBI, 20 2B, 70 R
2B Caleb Durbin: .304 BA, .822 OPS, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 46 R, 36 SB
2B Jared Serna: .283 BA, .813 OPS, 19 HR, 79 RBI, 28 2B, 90 R, 29 SB
SS Trey Sweeney: .252 BA, .778 OPS, 13 HR, 49 RBI, 20 2B, 67 R, 20 SB
3B Tyler Hardman: .237 BA, .890 OPS, 26 HR, 56 RBI, 56 R
OF Elijah Dunham: .227 BA, .719 OPS, 16 HR, 43 RBI, 71 R, 25 2B, 28 SB
OF Spencer Jones: .267 BA, .780 OPS, 16 HR, 66 RBI, 71 R, 43 SB
OF Christopher Familia: .307 BA, .995 OPS, 22 HR, 63 RBI, 11 2B, 57 R
OF Anthony Hall: .246 BA, .756 OPS, 10 HR, 47 RBI, 15 2B, 54 R
OF Aaron Palensky: .245 BA, .888 OPS, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 20 2B, 72 R, 23 SB
SP Will Warren: 3.35 ERA, 129.0 IP, 109 H, 59 BB, 149 K
SP Mitch Spence: 4.47 ERA, 163.0 IP, 162 H, 53 BB, 153 K
SP Clayton Beeter: 3.62 ERA, 131.2 IP, 105 H, 75 BB, 165 K
SP Edgar Barclay: 3.91 ERA, 78.1 IP, 70 H, 44 BB, 100 K
SP Chase Hampton: 3.63 ERA, 106.2 IP, 85 H, 145 K, 37 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: 2.52 ERA, 139.1 IP, 99 H, 182 K, 38 BB
SP Matt Sauer: 3.41 ERA, 74.0 IP, 51 H, 93 K, 34 BB
SP Zach Messinger: 4.35 ERA, 101.0 IP, 86 H, 120 K, 54 BB
SP Brock Selvidge: 3.45 ERA, 127.2 IP, 116 H, 137 K, 35 BB
SP Justin Lange: 4.75 ERA, 85.1 IP, 62 H, 131 K, 63 BB
RP/SP Yorlin Calderon: 3.10 ERA, 81.1 IP, 70 H, 98 K, 26 BB
RP Luis Velasquez: 1.74 ERA, 62.0 IP, 28 H, 77 K, 33 BB
RP Jack Neely: 2.17 ERA, 66.1 IP, 39 H, 100 K, 20 BB
RP Danny Watson: 1.58 ERA, 62.2 IP, 30 H, 82 K, 25 BB
RP Bailey Dees: 2.60 ERA, 62.1 IP, 37 H, 77 K, 27 BB