You can say that some of the Yankees' prospects are already All-Stars as four players from the Charleston RiverDogs will be attending the South Atlantic League All-Star Game in Hickory, North Carolina. Attending the festivities will be sluggers Aaron Judge and Mike Ford, along with pitchers Brady Lail and Caleb Smith.
The 22-year-old outfielder Aaron Judge was drafted 32nd overall in the 2013 MLB Draft and has been impressive in his first taste of professional baseball. The six-foot-seven monster has mashed to a .321/.416/.515 slash line with eight home runs, and is even taking his fair share of walks (13.4%). As exciting as that is to see, it's clear that Judge has mastered the Low-A level and needs to be promoted to High-A yesterday.
Mike Ford, the 21-year-old first baseman was an usigned free agent out of the Ivy League following last year's draft. He got off to an unassuming start in 2013, hitting .235/.346/.374 with three home runs for the Staten Island Yankees. After moving to the Sally league this year, he's seemingly taken off with a .301/.403/.481 batting line, along with eight home runs, four of which came in one game. While unsigned free agents almost always have the deck stacked against them, it's good to see that Ford isn't just a masher as he's walked at a 13.0% rate and only struck out at a 12.0% rate. Unfortnately, there's nowhere for him to go just yet as he's blocked by first base prospect Greg Bird at the next level.
Right-hander Brady Lail was taken in the 18th round of the 2012 MLB Draft and he's been impressive everywhere he goes. He finished last season with a 2.92 ERA and promising peripherals (1.2 BB/9, 8.2 K/9) in rookie ball and in 2014, he's continued to improve. While he has a 3.53 ERA so far, he's actually increased his strikeout rate a full batter per nine innings (9.2) while maintaining a low walk rate (1.7) at the age of 20.
22-year-old lefty Caleb Smith was taken in the 14th round of last year's draft and so far he's been one of the more underrated additions to the Yankees system. After pitching to a 1.93 ERA with a 2.8 BB/9 and excellent 10.0 K/9 last year in Staten Island, he has continued to be impressive in Charleston with a 2.41 ERA, and though his peripherals have backtracked just a bit (3.4 BB/9, 9.6 K/9), there's reason to believe he can continue to find success.
While minor league All-Star Games, especially in Low-A, mean very little, it's nice to see that the Yankees are producing players that are actually deserving of such an honor. These players should be rewarded for their awesome performances and hopefully they will find their way up a level sooner rather than later.