Yankees promote surging infield prospect to fill in at 1B

Syndication: Courier News

The New York Yankees were down a first baseman after Anthony Rizzo went down with an arm fracture that would sideline him for the next 4-6 weeks. While the Bronx Bombers would need to rely on an internal option for now, there was one name that stood out as a potential game-changing option in their Minor League system. Ben Rice, the slugging catcher, and first baseman who recently was promoted to Triple-A, has been promoted to replace Anthony Rizzo according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

While the Yankees will have to rely on an unproven player for now, Ben Rice has a lot of positive traits at the plate that makes him an enticing bat, and he’ll get a chance to prove himself at the highest level baseball has to offer.

Ben Rice To Make Yankees Debut and Replace Anthony Rizzo

Syndication: Democrat and Chronicle
Credit: Jamie Germano/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle / USA TODAY NETWORK

Through 60 games between Double-A and Triple-A, Ben Rice has a .925 OPS and 155 wRC+, clubbing 15 home runs with 12 doubles as a catcher and first baseman, The Yankees clearly believe in the glove enough as they didn’t have Rice on their 40-man roster, and they typically avoid making any changes there unless they truly believe in a player. It’s also telling that they promoted Ben Rice after just 11 games in Triple-A, showing faith in the left-handed slugger that not many prospects get.

Last season, Ben Rice exploded onto the scene by belting 16 home runs in 48 games at Double-A with the Somerset Patriots, winning the Kevin Lawn Award as the best position player in the Yankees’ Minor League system. This year he continued to mash in Double-A, and after being promoted to Triple-A, Ben Rice hit three home runs in his first three games. In-zone whiffs were an issue for him, but he also suffered some whiff issues at first in Double-A this year before adjusting quickly.

There’s a lot of loud contact in Ben Rice’s bat, alongside excellent swing decisions and pull rates that are perfect for a ballpark like Yankee Stadium. With a huge series against the Baltimore Orioles coming up, Rice will be thrust into the flames as he tries to make an impact against one of the best teams in the American League East. It’s unclear how the Yankees will use him, as he has improved against lefties this season, but they could give DJ LeMahieu time at first as well.

Prospects aren’t a proven commodity, and Ben Rice could seriously struggle at the plate, at first, but all he’s done is mash at every level without much of an adjustment period to get the counting stats going. He’s one of the best hitters in Minor League Baseball dating back to last season, as among MiLB hitters with at least 300 Plate Appearances since 2023, he is 5th in wRC+ (171) and also is tied with Coby Mayo (BAL) for the highest Steamer projected wRC+ for a player yet to make their MLB debut.

How Rice adjusts to the Major Leagues remains to be seen, but he could be a legitimate power threat from the left-handed side for the Yankees.

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