Yankees promote highly touted catching prospect to Triple-A

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Ben Rice had spent the last few months in Double-A with the Somerset Patriots, and the Yankees are finally rewarding his excellent play with a promotion to Triple-A. The left-handed hitting catcher has spent more time at first base as of late, but he was extremely impressive in his outing behind the plate catching staff ace Gerrit Cole. The reigning Cy Young Award winner raved about Rice’s pre-game preparation and his ability to keep a level head, and now the 25-year-old will find himself just one step away from the Major Leagues.

With the recent struggles the Yankees have had at first base as Anthony Rizzo has slumped badly, this puts Rice just one step away from getting a chance to become an MLB option for a dominant New York squad.

Ben Rice Gets Promoted To Triple-A, One Step Away From Joining the Yankees

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Detroit Tigers
Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The strong season Ben Rice had at Double-A last season trickled into his success this year, as the 25-year-old crushed it in the Eastern League once more. He posted a .893 OPS with 12 home runs, 26 RBIs, and nine doubles through 49 games with the Somerset Patriots, and his Double-A career as a hole is truly excellent. Through 97 games, he has a .974 OPS with 28 home runs and 22 doubles, and the big story will be whether the Yankees have him remain as a catcher or not.

He impressed Gerrit Cole, a huge honor to have, but the Yankees have a glaring hole at first base with the downfall of Anthony Rizzo. It seems that the concussion he suffered last May has kickstarted a harsh decline as he has just a 90 wRC+ and .354 SLG% through 60 games thus far. The promotion of Ben Rice could be an indicator that they’re looking for some form of insurance at the position, as they don’t have a track record of holding highly-touted prospects there for long.

Austin Wells, Jasson Dominguez, Anthony Volpe, and Everson Pereira all played under 40 games with the Scranton RailRiders before their eventual promotions to the Major Leagues. While Oswald Peraza is their most notable exception, as he spent nearly an entire season there before making his debut late in 2022, we now know that they’re not as high on him as they were on players like Wells, Dominguez, or Volpe.

MLB: Houston Astros at New York Yankees, anthony volpe
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Multiple people around the Yankees’ organization speak very highly of Ben Rice, and they truly believe he has the offensive skillset to provide a punch in the Bronx. His swing is tailor-made for New York, possessing a steep swing with the power and pull rates to take advantage of right field. Projections also really like what Ben Rice could provide, as Steamer currently projects him for a 107 wRC+, and that’s without him playing a single game in Scranton.

This move felt inevitable once Luis Torrens was traded to the New York Mets, as it left the Scranton RailRiders depleted at the catching position. They are dealing with plenty of injuries as well, with Caleb Durbin, the aforementioned Everson Pereira, and Clayton Beeter all on the IL.

It’s been a long time coming for Ben Rice, and while the bright lights of the Bronx are closer, he’ll have to sharpen some of his skills with the Scranton RailRiders first. Conversations about the transfer from Double-A to Triple-A overlook the challenges that come with facing more MLB-ready arms and players with legitimate big-league experience. He’ll get to work with various arms in the Yankees’ organization who either have been or will be on their 26-man roster.

Hal Steinbrenner hinted at a potential youth movement in 2025 with the wave of free agents they have and the priority being Juan Soto. For Ben Rice? He could be a year ahead of schedule with a great showing in Scranton.

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