Yankees: 3 Under-the-radar prospects making massive strides in 2024

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at New York Yankees
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Every season there are prospects who the Yankees find a way to maximize, seemingly coming out of nowhere to become buzzy names in the organization. We’ve covered the likes of Agustin Ramirez and Ben Rice, who are off to fast starts with the Somerset Patriots, but what about some of the lesser-known names in the organization? Some interesting players are doing exciting things throughout the organization, and these three players, in particular, have caught my eye as players who could see a massive boost to their stock in mid-season updates.

The Yankees have always done well at finding under-the-radar talent, and these three names could become more mainstream in the coming months.

Allen Facundo Shining With the Tampa Tarpons

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
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The Yankees have always found hidden gems in their organization, and they’re currently looking at a potential steal in Allen Facundo, a left-handed starter who the team has been building up throughout the season. For the third time this season, he completed five innings in his last start, striking out 11 batters which is tied for a career-high in any outing of his professional career.

He’s racked up 30 innings across his eight starts, striking out 38 batters (30.2%), and while he has an issue limiting walks (11.1%), his groundball rate sits around the 60% mark. His ability to miss bats and keep the ball on the ground is remarkable, and Facundo’s slider is easily the best pitch in his mix. Faundo throws an elite slider at 83 MPH with 8.6 inches of horizontal break and -1.9 inches of Induced Vertical Break, generating a mind-boggling 67.2% Whiff Rate on the season.

His last four starts in particular have been extremely impressive, going to his slider more often and as a result, striking out 39.7% of batters faced with a mere 6.4% walk rate. His 2.40 ERA on the season and 3.34 xFIP are exciting, and if he can continue to shove like this, expect him to be in Hudson Valley very soon. Facundo can mix in his sinker and changeup for whiffs and soft contact, providing him with a deep arsenal that he can utilize in any count.

You may not hear much about Allen Facundo right now, but he could be a top-30 prospect in the organization and one of their better MiLB lefties by the end of the season.

Hudson Valley’s Jesus Rodriguez Could Be Promoted Soon

Hudson Valley Renegades, Yankees
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The Yankees’ best-performing hitter at the Minor League level in wRC+ since 2023 is unsurprisingly Ben Rice (170), but in second place is an unexpected name. Ahead of hitters like Agustin Ramirez, Everson Pereira, and Jasson Dominguez, it’s Jesus Rodriguez who has flown up various leaderboards for the Yankees. After posting a 134 wRC+ with a .849 OPS between Single-A and High-A last season, the recently turned 22-year-old catcher has improved across the board, making more contact and hitting for some more power.

He’s slashing .302/.379/.477 while having 30% flyball and line drive rates, spraying the ball evenly to all fields with a strikeout rate below 16%. Rodriguez now has a 155 wRC+ with a .911 OPS in Hudson Valley dating back to his late-season promotion last year, a 62-game sample size that could make him a promotion candidate. The defense behind the plate isn’t bad either, so there is a chance he could stick at catcher, but he’s also played 1B, 3B, and LF in his career.

What impresses me about Rodriguez’s profile is that there isn’t a bad skill in his offensive profile. The hit tool is probably around a 60 grade with average game power, patience, and speed to go with that. His raw power is likely closer to a 45-grade skill, but we’ve seen some pretty impressive hitters break into the big leagues with the jack-of-all-trades approach to hitting.

An example of this kind of hitter would be Anthony Volpe this season, with him having a roughly-average strikeout rate, walk rate, and Isolated Power this season. He’s been one of the more productive hitters at his position, and while Jesus Rodriguez is not the top-15 prospect Volpe was, I will say there’s some interest on my end in what he can do if he got promoted to Double-A and was tasked with a harder challenge at the plate.

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Ben Cowles Could Be An Infield Option For the Yankees in 2025

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at New York Yankees
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While some of the other prospects are the list are much farther away from the big leagues, Benjamin Cowles might just need the rest of this season to get to the Major Leagues. Ben Cowles has been tearing the cover off of the baseball with the Somerset Patriots, posting a 166 wRC+, and the way he’s doing it is extremely exciting. He’s slugging .541 while walking 12.5% of the time and striking out 15.3% of the time, and it’s not as if he’s beating the ball into the ground either.

A 43% flyball rate and 46% pull rate are great for generating power, and he’s breaking out after having a middling professional career up to this point. Cowles has finally graduated into the Yankees’ top 30, and at 24 years old, the infielder has a chance to become a Major Leaguer in the near future. He’s primarily playing shortstop for the Somerset Patriots, and while he’s likely to end up moving over to 2B or 3B, his profile bodes well for a Major League role.

From 2021-2023, Benjamin Cowles had a 27.1% strikeout rate and as a result, wasn’t moving up the system quickly as he was getting beat by quality pitching. They were attacking his swing-and-miss issues, and he’s seemingly made an adjustment to help him cut down on those strikeouts. We likely won’t see Cowles hit 20-25 home runs in a season, but his ability to pick up doubles and triples does give him a lot of XBH potential.

There is also some sneaky speed here, as he’s swiped seven bases in seven attempts this season, and last year he stole 23 bases in 27 attempts. He’s a quality defender with the versatility and athleticism to play all over the infield and the discipline to hit at the top of a lineup if he’s able to reach his potential. Don’t be surprised if we see him play in Scranton soon.

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