Yankees MiLB Report (5/14): FCL Action, Catchers Flourish, and Pitching Gems

Minor League Baseball: Louisville Bats at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
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This is an exciting week of MiLB coverage as there was a full week of Complex League action, with the season now in full swing for the FCL Yankees. On top of that, we have our usual Single-A to Triple-A games to talk about, where there were some dramatic games and excellent performances. With the Yankees continuing to surge at the Major League level, seeing their Minor League teams pick up steam after some slow starts or continue their dominant starts to the season is also encouraging.

From some excellent catching production across the organization to some notable gems, there’s plenty to discuss in this week’s MiLB Report.

Florida Complex League Yankees Get Off to Solid Start

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at New York Yankees
Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Last season the FCL Yankees were one of the most successful MiLB affiliates in all of baseball, reaching the Championship Round and finishing near the top of the league in various categories. They got blown out yesterday but are still off to a 4-3 start to their season, and some performers are already going toward the top with the trio of Josue Gonzalez, Abraham Ramirez, and Edgleen Perez dominating through their first seven games.

The oldest player of the group, Josue Gonzalez is off to a great start after moving up from the Dominican Summer League, slugging 1.000 with three home runs. His right-handed power is excellent, and while we don’t have much data and information on these players, he could climb in value if he were to get to Single-A and see his production remain elite. Gonzalez is 20 years old and is one of the many catchers we’ll get to talk about today.

Abraham Ramirez, who is a year younger than Josue Gonzalez, has been hitting the ball well too with a .444 AVG and .778 SLG% as he’s picked up two home runs. He hasn’t worked many walks with a strikeout rate of around 21%, but the fact that he only had one home run through his first 60 professional games makes his start even more impressive. He’s finding his power, and hopefully, the 2B/3B can find his way to Single-A soon.

The player who catches my eye the most is Edgleen Perez, who is still just 17 years old and has gotten off to a fast start in the Florida Complex League. With eight walks to three strikeouts, his plate discipline has been extremely impressive, and he’s slashing .429/.652/.786 with a 260 wRC+ and another catcher who we’re going to talk about plenty this season. Perez is a candidate to fly up top-30 lists this season as well.

Danny Flatt, a 19-year-old the Yankees selected in the 2023 MLB Draft, was their most impressive starter, as he fired four innings of one-run baseball with five strikeouts. He’s got an excellent breaking ball while the fastball is in the lower 90s, and he could be someone who pops as he adds more velocity.

Tampa Tarpons Continue to Struggle On the Season

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at New York Yankees
Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Tarpons have been the Yankees’ worst-performing MiLB affiliate this year and they were their worst last season as well, but the expectation was for them to be great. Unfortunately, injuries have really hurt them, but they did see the return of George Lombard Jr. this week after an IL stint that knocked him out for a bit. In six trips to the plate, he picked up a double and walked in his return to the Tarpons, and his wRC+ on the season is up to 129 with a .430 OBP, having a solid season thus far.

He hasn’t been able to generate consistent game power but he does impact the ball well, as he’s above-average in terms of 90th Percentile Exit Velocity, Chase Rate, and SEAGER scores as well. Roderick Arias has also started swinging the bat well in recent days, as he struck out just 18.2% of the time with a 22.7% walk rate this past week with a .353 AVG. Over his last 19 games, he has a 130 wRC+ with a 27.8% strikeout rate, and the hope is that he can continue to improve and mature as he gets more time with Tampa.

Their best pitcher this week was Luis Serna who fired five innings of one-run baseball with three strikeouts, and he’s been inconsistent but impressive in terms of controlling strikeout-to-walk rates. Another name who has a poor ERA and great K-BB numbers is Josh Grosz, who I’m definitely interested in. He should probably throw more sliders but when you have a 32.3% strikeout rate, it’s hard to ignore that kind of production.

Next Series: Bradenton Marauders @ Tampa Tarpons

Hudson Valley Drops Some Close Games in Aberdeen

Syndication: Poughkeepsie Journal, Hudson Valley Renegades, yankees
Credit: Patrick Oehler / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Hudson Valley Renegades suffered a tough five-game losing streak this week that they ended on Sunday with a win, with three of their five losses being one-run games. Granted the rain didn’t help with the circumstances, but they just couldn’t get some big hits or big outs in key situations, but there were still some impressive performances here. Jesus Rodriguez was their most impressive hitter by far, and he’s absolutely mashing this season with the Renegades as he continues his tear of the South Atlantic League.

He picked up two home runs and hit over .300 in this series, and his wRC+ on the season climbs to 160 with an excellent ability to make contact and hit line drives. I view him as one of the best hitters that nobody has ever heard of in the Yankees’ organization, improving the batted ball distribution by going out and being a line drive machine. His groundball rate is below 30% and his five home runs on the season are more than half of what he had last season (9). If Rodriguez can maintain the power strides, expect him not only to be in Somerset soon but to also be a buzzy name at the deadline.

Some other impressive performances at the plate include Rafael Flores (4-11) and Jared Serna (123 wRC+), and Serna is the player who has blown me away the most in their improvement. He’s pulling the ball more, elevating the ball more, decreasing his chase rate, and making more contact. Serna might be a top-15 prospect in the organization if he can continue to put up strong performances at the plate because of his strong defense at a valuable position like shortstop.

Cam Schlittler once again remains the most impressive pitcher on the Hudson Valley Renegades, as he fired five innings of scoreless baseball with seven strikeouts to just two walks. He’s arguably the best pitcher in the South Atlantic League this season as he’s only allowed eight hits on the year with a 1.04 ERA and a 32.7% strikeout rate through his first five starts, and he could be in Somerset at some point before summertime begins.

Next Series: Jersey Shore BlueClaws @ Hudson Valley Renegades

Somerset Starts Heating Up After Rough Start

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
Feb 17, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher Agustin Ramirez (96) prepares to take batting practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Agustin Ramirez (absolute shocker here) had another incredible week at the plate to help guide the Somerset Patriots to a 4-2 series win over the Altoona Curve on the road. I’ve seen people hype up Ramirez, so it’s not as if he’s some unknown name in the organization, but this is a player who deserves to be lauded as a top 75-100 prospect at the very minimum at this point. After mashing two home runs while hitting .364 on the week, he has the most home runs in the Eastern League (11) while striking out under 19% of the time.

Another hitter who has impressed me is Jared Wegner, an outfielder who has really mashed with the Somerset Patriots in his first season there. He’s hit multiple baseballs over 115 MPH for home runs, sporting a 129 wRC+ and 23.3% strikeout rate on the season. He’s become more of a part-time player with Somerset, but he hit .333 with a 121 wRC+ over his three games in this series.

Bailey Dees was the best starter the Patriots had on the week based on throwing nine scoreless innings across two scoreless starts. He’s improved dramatically after a terrible debut start. He’s sporting a 2.45 ERA and 24.6% strikeout rate over the last six outings, but he’s not the only impressive arm in Somerset.

Trystan Vrieling fired six innings of two-run baseball with four strikeouts and a walk, posting a 3.34 ERA on the season with a 2.36 FIP through his first six starts, and he’s just got excellent ratios that make his results even more exciting. With a 45.7% groundball rate and above-average strikeout and walk rates, he’s got the profile to go out and attack hitters with sustainable ways to get them out.

Brock Selvidge fired a complete game (although it was seven innings), as he allowed three runs with five strikeouts and three walks. Command has been inconsistent for him, but he has a 2.18 ERA and 3.49 xFIP on the season in his first six starts in Double-A. He’s really coming into his own on the mound as a groundball pitcher who can generate whiffs, and at the age of 21, there’s still room to improve.

After a rough series against Toronto, Jack Neely responded with 3.1 innings of shutout baseball with five strikeouts over this week. He has a 29.9% K-BB% and a 1.62 ERA over 16.2 innings, and he could become an excellent reliever for the Yankees in the near future. Since being promoted to Double-A last season, Neely has a 2.10 ERA over 34.1 innings pitched, striking out 37.2% of batters faced with just a 5.8% walk rate.

Next Series: Portland SeaDogs @ Somerset Patriots

Scranton Keeps It Rolling With Another Series Win

Syndication: Courier News
T.J. Rumfield jogs to first base during the August 25, 2023 game against the Bowie Baysox at TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater, N.J. Credit: Sal DiMaggio / USA TODAY NETWORK

The first-place Scranton RailRiders have been the best affiliate for the Yankees this season, and they delivered another winning week with a 4-2 series. One of the keys to their success has been their great pitching staff, and one of their most consistent performers had been Clayton Beeter. He struck out six batters with just two runs allowed over five innings, and the right-hander has really done a great job at Triple-A after a rocky season in 2023.

He has a 2.89 ERA and 34.7% strikeout rate across six starts with the RailRiders on the year, and while the walk rate is high (13.6%), the stuff is improved and he could provide some valuable innings for the team in 2024. Another arm that has been suprising is Alex Mauricio, a reliever in the organization who is making his Triple-A debut this season. He picked up three strikeouts over 2.2 frames without an earned run, having a marvelous year out of the bullpen. Mauricio has a 1.50 ERA and 27.1% K-BB% thus far on the year and has done a great job preventing damage contact as well.

Carlos Narvaez had a huge week, hitting .300 with a 1.188 OPS against the Red Wings with seven walks, and he’s done an excellent job this season. The catcher has a .398 OBP and .406 SLG% on the season with a 116 wRC+, and the Yankees placed him on the 40-man roster this past winter as their first-man-up if a catcher went down. He’s in the 96th Percentile in terms of SEAGER while improving his quality of contact, and defensively he’s strong enough to fill-in at catcher if needed.

Caleb Durbin hit .348 in the week with a 140 wRC+, and the infielder has continued to do a great job of getting on-base and setting the table at the top of the lineup for Scranton. T.J. Rumfield has come up and instantly hit as well, as he hit .350 with a .435 OBP over the week and his wRC+ on the season is at 120. The hope is that he can generate more consistent game power because he has the frame to drive the ball, and his excellent glove at first base is the cherry on top.

Next Series: Scranton RailRiders @ Worchester WooSox

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