Yankees MiLB Report (6/3): Martian sightings, Ben Rice keeps rolling, and Jared Serna finishes a historic month

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The New York Yankees are playing incredible baseball at the Major League level, and their Minor League affiliates were also very entertaining to follow this past week. With Jasson Dominguez continuing his rehab assignment in Double-A, many eyes were on the Somerset Patriots to see how the Yankees’ top prospect was performing. There’s plenty of excitement there, but attention needs to go all around the farm system, as there were plenty of impressive performances to track.

From the Florida Complex League to Triple-A, let’s look at this past week of Minor League action for the Yankees’ organization.

FCL Yankees Slide Into and Fall Out of First

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The FCL Yankees opened the week firing on all cylinders, as they won three straight and put themselves in a tie with the FCL Tigers for first place. Ultimately, they lost the final two games of the week, as they sit two games out of first place through the first three weeks of the Complex League season. Outfielder Christopher Familia was rehabbing with them this week where he hit .625 with a .813 SLG%, as the left-handed slugger is hoping to build off of a strong 2023 season.

Last season we saw Familia hit 22 home runs in just 68 games, as the 23-year-old could play his way into Somerset if he can stay healthy and crush once more in Hudson Valley. Another impressive left-handed bat was Abrahan Ramirez, who had two RBIs and six hits on the week as he’s having a great start to his season. The 19-year-old is hitting .340 with a 165 wRC+, walking more than he strikes out as well.

He’s one of the many infielders of note that the Yankees have in their farm system, and the next progression here should be finding a way to generate more game power. Speaking of power, let’s talk about outfielder Brian Sanchez who the Yankees acquired alongside Jace Avina in the Jake Bauers deal. He’s hitting .345 with 10 XBHs in his first 17 games at the Complex League. Sanchez picked up a home run and triple this week, continuing to ball out with the Yankees.

Bryce Warrecker fired a very strong outing this week, striking out three batters and allowing just one run on a solo blast in that appearance. The right-hander is being stretched out as a starter, and his 5.00 ERA isn’t reflective of just how good he has been, with a 26.8% K-BB% through his first four outings. Former LSU reliever Erick Reyzelman made his season debut this past week, striking out four batters and walking one in 2.2 innings of scoreless work. He’s more of a reliever, but the stuff plays.

As for Brando Mayea, he has a modest 111 wRC+ but the strikeouts are starting to creep down and the OBP is still very strong (.391), which are good early signs. The hope is that just like last year, he has a surge in power late in the season and can get himself to Single-A.

Tampa Tarpons Get Crushed in Palm Beach

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The Tampa Tarpons had two weeks where they won the six-game series, but an injury to Allen Facundo and a 1-5 week would kick them right as it looked like they were getting back up. Luis Serna and Cade Smith weren’t sharp this week, while George Lombard Jr. and Roderick Arias hit under .200 in this series right now. There was just not a lot of good for the Yankees’ Single-A affiliate this season, and they’re running out of time to get anything in the first half.

It’s just not clicking for them right now, but there were some positive performances mixed into this tough week for the Tarpons. Gabriel Barbosa fired a start with 7.2 innings with two runs allowed and four strikeouts. It’s really not the week you highlight for a Minor League affiliate, and they’ll have to show up next week and get their season back on the rails because it’s getting ugly.

READ MORE: The Yankees found a lead-off man and Gold Glover in star shortstop

Hudson Valley Renegades Split the Series Against Aberdeen

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The Yankees got a historic month of May from Aaron Judge, and the Hudson Valley Renegades got a historic month of May from Jared Serna. This week alone he picked up three home runs and 12 RBIs, and his wRC+ on the season is up to 135 with a .363 OBP and 10 home runs on the year. He’s tied with E.J. Exposito (10) for the most home runs in the South Atlantic League with the second-most RBIs (40) as well.

In May alone, he hit 8 home runs and drove in 29 RBIs, the second-most RBIs for a Hudson Valley Renegade in a single month in their franchise’s history. With a 169 wRC+ and .583 SLG% as well in the week, the Yankees have a rising prospect here with Jared Serna. He isn’t the only prospect in Hudson Valley who is on a heater, with Rafael Flores hitting .381 with a 1.017 OPS since returning from the IL. This week he hit .410 with a 1.048 OPS, and the 23-year-old catcher could be due for a promotion soon.

Jace Avina is also on a tear, and he slashed .412/.520/.647 with a home run and four RBIs, and he’s starting to click in the power and contact departments. Over his last 18 games, he’s hitting .352 with three home runs, eight doubles, and a 16.3% strikeout rate. His strikeout rate has decreased from last year with a better batting average and slightly better power numbers as a whole.

Some other notable performers were Jesus Rodriguez (.941 OPS) and Roc Riggio (.909 OPS), and they both have strong hit tools with excellent plate skills. On the pitching side of the ball, Sebastian Keane fired six innings of one-run baseball with six strikeouts and three walks. He’s finally rounding into form, although the walks are the next point of focus more likely for him.

Somerset Settles For a Split, Spencer Jones Heats Up

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Mar 2, 2024; Sarasota, Florida, USA; New York Yankees outfielder Spencer Jones (78) at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

After weeks of scuffling, Spencer Jones had a strong week at the plate for the Somerset Patriots, slashing .304/.407/.565 with a .972 OPS. He’s been subpar in Double-A this season, but it should be noted that when Anthony Volpe was in Double-A in 2022 he had an 89 wRC+ and .686 OPS through June 2nd. Right now, Jones has a 92 wRC+, and while the strikeout rate (35%) is alarming, it’s important for a prospect to overcome adversity.

How Spencer Jones adjusts will dictate his status as a prospect moving forward, but he’s changed his hand positioning and it’s starting to yield some results. Ben Rice has heated up once again as well, hitting a home run and picking up eight hits in the week to raise his wRC+ on the season to 149 on the year. Rice has proved that he’s more than ready for a promotion to Triple-A, and it’s time for the Yankees to get on that.

They might need some help at first base as well; it’s not completely irrational to say that he could compete in the batter’s box at the big league level. The star of the week though? Jasson Dominguez. He hit three home runs and drove in five RBIs, slashing .375/.412/.938 on the week as he looks like the player we saw at the end of the 2023 season. Dominguez was the youngest hitter on the Patriots roster as well, and he’s just crushing it.

On the bump, Zach Messinger fired 5.1 innings with 10 strikeouts with one run allowed in his start of the week. He’s pitched to a 1.95 ERA and struck out 31.9% of batters faced in May. The right-hander is using a gross sweeper to carve up hitters in the Eastern League, and he should be on your radar.

Battered RailRiders Team Drops Another Series

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It wasn’t a great week for the Scranton RailRiders, but without a lot of their top players, who can blame them? Caleb Durbin, Everson Pereira, and Clayton Beeter are all on the IL, and you could argue those are their three best players. It’s truly a tough situation for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate, but they still had some strong performances despite the 2-4 showing.

Yoendrys Gomez fired five scoreless innings with six strikeouts to just one walk. The Yankees have a strong arm with Gomez, who has a 1.62 ERA over his last four innings with 19 strikeouts, although the walks are a question mark for him. I still believe that Gomez is more of a reliever, and he can add value to the 2024 team in a multi-inning relief role. Carlos Narvaez launched a massive home run that hit the scoreboard as he continues what’s been a strong season as he has a 111 wRC+ as a strong defensive backstop.

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