The Yankees are below .500, and while that’s certainly not how fans imagined the season would pan out, the Minor League system has continued to yield strong results. With a myriad of top prospects having incredible games, the Yankees should be highly encouraged by the results they’ve been seeing, especially as of late. Last night we saw two of the best prospects in the system have big games, a strong debut at a new level, and an 11-strikeout performance in Somerset.
With all of the affiliates playing last night, let’s highlight some of the top performances around the farm system from the action.
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Yankees Get Huge Games From Top Outfield Prospects
Spencer Jones had himself a huge game in the Hudson Valley Renegades’ 7-1 win over the Brooklyn Cyclones, going 3-4 with a double, walk, two RBIs, and two stolen bases. He’s up to 32 steals on the season, and when we had the opportunity to interview him on Fireside Yankees over the offseason, he mentioned his athleticism as something he feels people overlook.
“One thing I’ve always thought I had my whole life well before the power came in is speed, something people don’t really recognize when they see me at first is I can run well, and that’s something that I’ve always taken pride in”– Spencer Jones
Jones has gone through ups and downs as a prospect this season, but he’s slowly improved his plate discipline and strikeout numbers while displaying great athleticism on the baseball diamond. Few guys have the speed and power tools that Spencer Jones has, and if he can find his stride at the plate, the Yankees could have a superstar-caliber prospect. MLB Pipeline and Baseball America both included him in their top 100 lists, with Pipeline ranking him as the Yankees’ number 1 prospect.
What about the guy who MLB Pipeline previously had as our top prospect? Well, Jasson Dominguez also had himself a big day, making a valiant bid at a cycle going 3-5 with a HR, single, and double en route to Somerset’s 9-3 win. The Martian has saved his best baseball for the second half, slashing .339/.403/.508 in his last 29 games, striking out just 18.7% of the time in the process.
As if to spite a terrible decision to drop Jasson Dominguez nearly 50 spots on MLB Pipeline’s list, Dominguez has kicked it into a different gear as of late. He’s tapping into his raw power more, hitting for a ridiculously high average, and continuing to work walks as well. Similar to Jones, Dominguez has absolutely torched opposing defenses on the basepaths, swiping 36 bags in 43 attempts (83.7%) in 105 games on the season.
Jasson Dominguez is a name that you could see at the Triple-A level at some point during the season, in which the Yankees will get an opportunity to see what he’s made of as we enter a pivotal offseason for the organization. The Yankees are in a position where their team is going to have a lot of open jobs for internal guys to grab, a position they haven’t been in since 2017.
If Dominguez wants to be in the Bronx in 2024, the opportunity is certainly there for him to take it. While I’m unsure if it’ll happen in Spring Training like Anthony Volpe, it’s not hard to imagine that the Yankees would at least consider it. He’s in the 54th Percentile in Whiff Rate, 98th Percentile in Chase Rate, and 83rd Percentile in In-Zone Swing Rate. There’s a lot to like in his profile, and he’s got an advanced feel for the plate to pair with his freakish tools.
Overlooked College Bats to Buy Stock On
Ben Rice hit another home run, his ninth at the Double-A level in just 23 games. The Dartmouth product has come out of nowhere to become one of the best hitters in the Somerset lineup, slashing .322/.396/.700 for a 192 wRC+. Results aren’t the only thing going for the 24-year-old, as his underlying data suggests his approach at the plate is outstanding. Swing decisions are extremely important when forming a strong approach at the plate, and Rice ranks in the 75th Percentile in Swinging Strike Rate at the Double-A level thus far.
His Chase Rate ranks in the 76th Percentile, and yet he swings in-zone more than the average hitter. He’s spiked his aggression at the plate as of late, but it’s resulted in the offensive explosion we’ve seen as of late. He also has a 30.4% Line Drive Rate and pulls 54.3% of batted balls while rarely hitting groundballs, a combination that’ll result in plenty of HRs with the short porch in RF. The Yankees should consider making an aggressive promotion with Rice to the Major League level, as they might have something in his bat, although it’s still uncertain as to what position he’ll play.
Roc Riggio had a weird day at the plate, as while he went 0-2 on the day, it came with four walks and two RBIs as the Tampa Tarpons collected a weird win over Daytona. They had five total hits but scored eight runs, all thanks to the 15 walks they collected on the day. Riggio has a .206/.449/.235 slashline in MiLB thus far, with a 119 wRC+ and 26.5% BB%, and while these numbers will even out over time, his collegiate career was extremely enticing offensively.
Clobbering 18 HRs in 59 games with Oklahoma State, the electric infielder has recorded exit velocities as high as 110 MPH in college. He has a powerful swing that’ll induce plenty of pulled flyballs, and as a college bat who got drafted this season, next year could be a big season for him if he has a strong tenure in Single-A. Could he start out in High-A next season? Time will tell, but if he does, he could bring his electric bat and personality to the higher levels of MiLB and push for extremely aggressive promotions down the line.
Ben Rice and Roc Riggio aren’t names that’ll pop up on any top 100 lists over the offseason, but these are names that could net huge value for the Yankees as left-handed power hitters with plus swing decisions.
Yankees Get Exciting Performances From the Pitching
Justin Lange was acquired in a trade that sent Luke Voit to San Diego right before the 2022 season, and while he had his ups and downs with the Tampa Tarpons, he routinely flashed high-upside stuff that could manifest itself into a pretty good pitcher if he ever developed command or consistency. Receiving a promotion to High-A Hudson Valley, Lange tossed 5.2 innings of scoreless baseball, striking out eight batters and walking one, making for a dazzling debut from the 21-year-old.
From 2021-2022, Lange had a 6.63 ERA and 12.8% K-BB%, but this year he’s lowered his ERA to 4.25 while increasing his K-BB% to 18.9% in much more difficult levels than the Florida Complex League. It’s likely that the Yankees view Justin Lange as a reliever at the Major League level, but if he ever finds any semblance of command, this could be a great MLB starter. His dominant arsenal has netted him a Swinging Strike Rate above 16% on the season, striking out 34.6% of batters faced, and in shorter spurts as a reliever, it’s easy to see how he can become a high-leverage reliever.
He wasn’t the only arm who came to play, as in Somerset, the Patriots got an electric 11-strikeout performance from Yoendrys Gomez, who accomplished this in just 4.1 innings, allowing one run and walking zero batters in his dominant outing. Gomez is on the Yankees’ 40-Man Roster and will run out of options after this season, so the Yankees will have to make a decision on his future in the upcoming winter. While he’s struggled to keep the ball in the yard over his last seven starts leading to an ugly 4.63 ERA, the 33 strikeouts in 23.1 IP could lead to a multi-inning relief arm in 2024.
It’ll be another fun night for Yankees’ MiLB action, as while the Major League team has the night off, both Brock Selvidge and Richard Fitts will get starts as all of the affiliates take the field on what should be a fun Thursday.