The RailRiders made their playoff run a little tougher, the Patriots held onto first place, and Hudson Valley and Tampa approached the end of their regular seasons with different results last week.
Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
Record: 31-25 (65-65 overall) and 3.5 games back in the International League East after losing four out of six games with the Rochester Red Wings (Orioles)
Run Differential: +22
Coming up: On the road for six games against the Columbus Clippers (Guardians) starting Tuesday, September 5th
The RailRiders didn’t last long as the center of minor league attention. They’ve had Everson Pereira, Austin Wells, and Jasson Domínguez roll through town over the last month of baseball, and now all three are up in the big leagues along with former Triple-A teammates Oswald Peraza and Randy Vásquez. The early returns on those players, and the sweep of the Astros over the weekend, have caused fans who only follow the major league team to ask who is coming next?
Well, if the players in the majors stay healthy, that might be it for promotions. Andrés Chaparro has put up good numbers in his first season in Triple-A, but there isn’t a place for him to play if he’s called up. It remains to be seen what kind of treatment he’ll get in the offseason when it’s time to protect players on the 40-man roster, but it’s looking like he might get squeezed out again. The same can be said for Estevan Florial — if he were going to get a call up, it would have happened already. Both of those players can argue they deserve a shot in the big leagues, and so can Jamie Westbrook. He’s had a quietly terrific season for the RailRiders, but as a 28-year-old minor league veteran his turn just didn’t come this year.
The only pitcher who could possibly debut from here on out would be Clayton Beeter, since he is likely to be placed on the 40-man this winter anyway. What stands in the way of his call would be the number of innings he’s already thrown this year (111.1), and the same is true for Will Warren (106.1), who also has the barrier of not needing roster protection in the offseason. The Yankees reached for Greg Weissert when they needed an injury replacement for Ian Hamilton, and they still have Ron Marinaccio and Nick Ramirez as rostered players should any more injuries occur.
A wild card in the “who’s next?” discussion is catcher Carlos Narvaez, who is highly unlikely to see a callup with Kyle Higashioka and Ben Rortvedt still available but will benefit greatly from the promotion of Wells. Narvaez has put up an excellent offensive season to go with strong defense behind the plate. He’s an underrated prospect as the season winds down.
Players of note (stats are season totals at the level):
3B Andrés Chaparro: .794 OPS, 23 HR, 80 RBI, 21 2B, 73 R, 59 BB
OF Estevan Florial: .915 OPS, 24 HR, 69 RBI, 75 R, 63 BB, 23 SB, 135 K
C Carlos Narvaez: .813 OPS, 9 HR, 32 RBI, 9 2B, 37 R, 47 BB (68 games)
2B Jamie Westbrook: .927 OPS, 20 HR, 59 RBI, 17 2B, 65 R
SP Will Warren: 4.44 ERA, 77.0 IP, 69 H, 38 BB, 80 K
SP Mitch Spence: 4.66 ERA, 143.0 IP, 147 H, 47 BB, 135 K
SP Clayton Beeter: 5.15 ERA, 50.2 IP, 45 H, 31 BB, 58 K
SP Edgar Barclay: 7.88 ERA, 24.0 IP, 24 H, 22 BB, 23 K
Double-A Somerset Patriots
Record: 34-23 (76-49 overall) and one game up in the Eastern League Northeast after winning four out of six games with the Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox)
Run Differential: +118
Coming up: At home for six games against the Erie SeaWolves (Pirates) starting Tuesday, September 5th
With the upper tier of the Yankees’ position player prospects now playing in the majors, Spencer Jones has ascended to the top of most lists of the best prospects still in the system. He has appropriately reached Double-A in his first full season, and he should be challenged with making a significant adjustment to the level in September. Last week, Jones had only one hit, though it was a grand slam, and struck out in half of his at-bats. That’s okay. Anyone looking for Jones to push himself into the major league picture should be prepared to wait until the latter part of next season in the best-case scenario.
A boon to the pitching staff down the stretch could come from Matt Sauer if he keeps having starts like the one he put up last week. In 6.2 innings he punched out 11 and gave up only one run on three hits. That’s his second start in a row going six innings and not giving up more than a run.
Players of note:
C/1B Ben Rice: 1.038 OPS, 14 HR, 41 RBI, 9 2B, 32 R (38 games)
C Agustin Ramirez: .623 OPS, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 4 2B, 13 R (24 games)
OF Elijah Dunham: .845 OPS, 9 HR, 23 RBI, 29 R, 12 2B, 18 SB (46 games)
OF Spencer Jones: .504 OPS, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R (6 games)
SP Chase Hampton: 4.37 ERA, 59.2 IP, 54 H, 68 K, 21 BB
SP Richard Fitts: 3.40 ERA, 135.0 IP, 114 H, 143 K, 37 BB
SP Yoendrys Gómez: 3.47 ERA, 57.0 IP, 43 H, 66 K, 29 BB
SP Drew Thorpe: 1.37 ERA, 26.1 IP, 12 H, 39 K, 5 BB
RP Danny Watson: 1.56 ERA, 34.2 IP, 17 H, 40 K, 16 BB
High-A Hudson Valley Renegades
Record: 29-31 (68-58 overall) and five games back in the South Atlantic League North after losing four out of six with the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Nationals)
Run Differential: +36
Coming up: At home for the final six games of the regular season against the Jersey Shore BlueClaws (Phillies) beginning Tuesday, September 5th
The Renegades received some reinforcements with the rehab assignment of first baseman T.J. Rumfield from Somerset and the promotion of pitcher Yorlin Calderon from Tampa. With one more series to play before the playoffs begin, Hudson Valley is spreading the playing time throughout the roster, with 12 players reaching double-digits for plate appearances last week. Jesus Rodriguez, Anthony Hall, and Jared Serna paced the offense by going a combined 21-for-61 (.344), and the group of former Tampa Tarpons was backed up by outfielder Jared Wegner’s 1.114 OPS for the week.
The starting pitching staff did not experience its best series, but the return of reliever Anderson Munoz gave the bullpen a shot in the arm. Munoz, Luis Velasquez, Clay Aguilar, Shane Gray, and Mason Vinyard combined to throw 17.2 shutout innings with 22 strikeouts.
Players of note:
C Jesus Rodriguez: .993 OPS, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 5 2B, 10 R (20 games)
OF Christopher Familia: .799 OPS, 10 HR, 30 RBI, 4 2B, 31 R (43 games)
2B Jared Serna: .710 OPS, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 5 2B, 2 3B, 13 R, 7 SB (22 games)
OF Anthony Hall: .653 OPS, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 5 2B, 11 R (20 games)
SP Zach Messinger: 4.31 ERA, 96.0 IP, 81 H, 113 K, 52 BB
SP Brendan Beck: 1.74 ERA, 31.0 IP, 24 H, 35 K, 7 BB
SP Brock Selvidge: 3.96 ERA, 38.2 IP, 35 H, 37 K, 12 BB
RP Harrison Cohen: 3.71 ERA, 43.2 IP, 35 H, 58 K, 21 BB
Low-A Tampa Tarpons
Run Differential: -16
Coming up: On the road to close out the season with six games against the Lakeland Flying Tigers beginning Tuesday, September 5th
George Lombard Jr. came to the Tarpons following a brief stint with the complex league team at the end of their season, and this year’s first-round pick is making a good early impression. While receiving positive attention for his defense at short, Lombard Jr. started his Low-A career by going 5-for-13 with a double, three runs batted in, five runs scored, five walks, and a stolen base, and that includes a four-hit game on September 3rd. It’s a bit of a surprise to see him promoted to Tampa in his draft year out of high school, but it’s great to see him more than holding his own while getting in a couple more weeks of games before the Tarpons’ season ends this week.
Tampa saw an exciting prospect return from a long Tommy John rehab when Luis Gil made his first appearance of 2023. His fastball looked familiar to the one he featured before his injury, and it’s good for him to get in a few innings of competition before the fall.
Players of note:
SS George Lombard Jr.: 1.018 OPS, 3 RBI, 5 R, 1 2B (4 games)
2B Roc Riggio: .623 OPS, 11 R, 0 HR, 9 RBI, 2 2B, 18 BB (17 games)
C/1B Omar Martinez: .833 OPS, 18 HR, 70 RBI, 64 R, 16 2B, 8 SB
RP Matt Keating: 3.64 ERA, 59.1 IP, 58 H, 86 K, 33 BB
Prospect of the week: Caleb Durbin
Somerset is headed to the playoffs whether they win the second half or not, but the return of Durbin from the injured list is very much helping the Patriots move toward a season sweep. Durbin does a lot to help a team win, and last week he did a bit of everything for Somerset. He was 8-for-22, had five doubles and a home run, drove in two, scored three times, and added two stolen bases. That brings his combined stat line between High-A and Double-A up to .304/.399/.828 with 36 steals. The 23-year-old has played second, short, and third, and he’s become an underrated prospect.