Yankees have a red-hot lefty slugger dominating Double-A

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Sal DiMaggio / USA TODAY NETWORK

Keep your eyes peeled, New York Yankees fans; a left-handed slugger is making waves in Double-A. We’re talking about Ben Rice, a 24-year-old catcher who kicked off 2023 in the Yankees’ high-A ranks and has since ascended rapidly through the minor leagues. His secret weapons? Astounding power and an uncanny knack for making contact.

Rice’s Impressive Stats: A Breakdown

In just 32 games at Double-A, Rice is posting a scintillating slash line of .326/.389/.674. If that doesn’t get you excited, how about this: he’s belted 12 home runs and driven in 36 RBIs. FanGraphs’ data further highlights his prowess at the plate, revealing a K% rate of a mere 17.4% and a wRC+ of 182. These metrics are indicative of Rice’s incredible skill set when he’s wielding a bat.

Beyond the Power: Rice’s Contact Abilities

Even with his current power surge, Rice’s MLB prospect profile focuses more on his capacity for putting the ball into play rather than just blasting it out of the park. The profile states:

“With a compact yet strong left-handed swing and good strike-zone management, Rice has improved the frequency and quality of his contact this summer,” his MLB prospect profile stated. “Though he went deep five times in his first 12 Double-A games, he’s still a hit-over-power guy who might max out around 15 homers per season. He has yet to do much damage against southpaws as a pro, so he may not be more than a platoon player.”

Potential Limits: The Platoon Factor

Rice’s prospect profile also points out that he hasn’t yet shown the ability to handle southpaws effectively, suggesting he may be more suited for a platoon role in the majors.

The Defensive Aspect: Rice vs. Wells

On the defensive front, Rice doesn’t boast the strongest arm, but he’s a solid blocker, according to his prospect profile. In the Yankees’ roster of catching prospects, Rice and Austin Wells are primarily known for their batting skills rather than their defensive prowess behind the plate.

Rice’s Potential Impact: Looking Ahead

While Wells may have a more immediate impact on the Yankees’ MLB roster, Rice could be in line for a Triple-A call-up once Wells moves up to the majors. From that point, Rice might find his way into the big league, either as a designated hitter or as a secondary catching option in the next season.

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Optimistic Outlook: Yankees Encouraged by Rice’s Progress

It’s clear that the Yankees have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about what Rice is accomplishing in the minor leagues. How they plan to deploy him in the future remains a subject of intrigue, but his current trajectory suggests a promising outcome.

Follow this writer on X/Twitter: @DylanBacker_