Yankees Prospect Report: 3B solution, pitcher stock rising

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees Workouts, everson pereira
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For the final prospect report before the All-Star break begins, the Yankees’ farm system continues to produce positive signs. With the Yankees producing two playoff-bound teams as the MiLB playoff system rewards the top team in each division with a guaranteed playoff spot, they’re stringing together their third consecutive season of great prospect play. While Anthony Volpe remains the only true everyday regular to crack into the Majors, they’ve got plenty of names on the way at each level.

With strong pitching performances highlighting the week as it usually does, we’ve still got plenty of offense to talk about as some familiar names and under-the-radar guys put together big weeks in the Yankees’ Minor League system.

Is the Yankees’ Solution at Third Base in Double-A?

The Somerset Patriots continue to wrap up their dominant first half as they once again clinched a playoff spot with their first-half division title, and they were guided by their third baseman Tyler Hardman. While the Yankees have struggled to get third base production at the Major League level, Somerset has one of the best in the Eastern League. The Yankees’ 5th Round selection in the 2021 Draft, Hardman got off to a slow start in his professional career, as through his first 50 games he had a mere 78 wRC+ and five HRs.

He put together a strong second half in 2022 and propelled that into an amazing stint in the Arizona Fall League, where he slugged over .600 and clubbed six HRs in 20 games. The Yankees were impressed with his performance in High-A and the AFL and sent him to Double-A at the end of 2022, and while he once again got off to a slow start, he’s been on fire as of late.

With a 43 wRC+ and .526 OPS in the first 21 games with the reigning Eastern League Champions, Hardman needed something to click fast, and after hitting five HRs and posting an OPS of .888 in May, he took things to a different level in June. With eight HRs and a 153 wRC+, it was going to be hard for him to improve on production of that caliber, but he decided to bring the fireworks early on the first day of July.

AZ Fall League: Mesa Solar Sox at Surprise Saguaros
Oct 26, 2022; Surprise, Arizona, USA; New York Yankees infielder Tyler Hardman for the Mesa Solar Sox during an Arizona Fall League baseball game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Not one, not two, but three home runs on the night for Tyler Hardman on July 1st, as he topped his two-HR performance earlier in the series and absolutely bullied the Bowie in that series. He’s hit 16 HRs in his last 40 games with a 161 wRC+ and 1.009 OPS, and he’s putting the prospect world on notice. Among all Eastern League hitters, he ranks among the elite in almost every power metric, and it’s extremely encouraging for a player that’s looking to reach Scranton before the end of the season.

  • 19 HRs (1st)
  • .571 SLG% (4th)
  • .325 ISO (1st)
  • 136 wRC+ (9th)

How does this affect the Yankees? Well, they’re currently one of the worst teams in the sport at third base, and while Hardman doesn’t present a 2023 option for them, he could present a 2024 option at the position. Hardman still struggles with strikeouts as he’s struck out at a near-30% clip, but if he can curb those issues enough, he could be an intriguing name to keep your eyes on. He’s displayed great power, and his glove seems to be strong enough to remain there as he climbs through the farm.

His flyball-centric approach and pull-side power complement his power well, and his next challenge will be not just sustaining his strong play, but having it translate in Triple-A when that promotion comes.

Drew Thorpe Living Up to Expectations

The Hudson Valley Renegades have done an excellent job on the pitching front, and they’ve been led by their ace and Yankees’ 2022 2nd Round Pick Drew Thorpe. His outing was cut short by inclement weather, but he still twirled five incredible innings and lowered his ERA to 2.33 in the process. It’s likely that we’ll see Thorpe in Double-A at some point in the 2023 season, as he’s been arguably the best pitcher across all of High-A in his debut season.

With eight strikeouts and just one walk across those five scoreless frames, the Cal Poly product hasn’t just been good across his last five starts, he’s been nearly flawless. Since the start of June, Thorpe has allowed just one run across 33.2 IP, striking out 42 batters in the process while opponents have been held to a minuscule .142 average. It’s hard to truly capture how dominant he’s been in writing, but his fastball-changeup combination has allowed him to stake his claim as the top pitcher at his level.

  • 2.33 ERA (5th)
  • 77.1 IP (3rd)
  • 52.8% GB% (5th)
  • 17.0% SwStr% (2nd)
  • 94 SO (1st)
  • 22.9% K-BB% (4th)

Thorpe doesn’t just excel at getting swings-and-misses, but he also commands the strike zone well which allows him to pitch deep into the game routinely. His command was erratic with his command in his first five starts, but he found the command he was known for in college and has walked only 13 batters in his past eight starts. It’s why he’s so effective at eating innings, and would likely have more if not for his most recent start being shortened by rain.

With his success in High-A, the Yankees should view him as a fast riser in the system, and that’s because the method in which he gets success mirrors the success of those who’ve made their MLB debuts within two years of being drafted. The ability to consistently pitch deep into games and work through the order multiple times without slowing down is impressive, and his arsenal bodes well for strikeouts and soft contact.

Thorpe possesses a 91-93 MPH fastball with 18″ of induced vertical break, and he’s flashed the ability to hit 95 MPH in the past. With solid extension on his heater, it sets up his amazing changeup that’s arguably his best pitch. The near 13″ of horizontal run coupled with great vertical drop and velocity separation makes it a stellar pitch, and he possesses a cutter, slider, and sweeper as well to handle opposing batters.

He doesn’t have the over-powering stuff that you’d imagine for someone as dominant as Thorpe as been, but his command and movement have allowed him to cruise through a lineup. His stuff plays multiple times through the order, he limits hard contact, and he gets plenty of swings-and-misses. He’s been at High-A for far too long despite making his MiLB debut this season, and the Yankees should have him pitching in Somerset during the second half.

Everson Pereira Starts His Triple-A Career With a Bang

Not only did Everson Pereira get a promotion to Triple-A on July 4th, but in his very first at-bat, he would do something incredible. Before we detail that, let’s talk about how Pereira even got here in the first place. The Yankees’ #4 prospect started out his 2023 season with the Somerset Patriots in Double-A after a pretty impressive Spring Training. People forget that Pereira showed off some impressive skills with the bat in the Spring, as he was overshadowed by both Jasson Dominguez and Anthony Volpe, especially considering these two are viewed as potential game-changers in the franchise.

That being said, Pereira hit .308 with an OBP north of .400, although he did strike out a ton. His average exit velocity of 99.8 MPH was definitely impressive, and you could chalk up the whiff issues to just getting adjusted to live pitching once again. Pereira wasn’t battling for a job on the Major League team the way that Volpe was, but he certainly opened some eyes up considering he’s already on the Yankees’ 40-Man Roster.

When he began his Double-A campaign, Pereira was absolutely phenomenal through May, posting a 132 wRC+ and a .514 SLG%, with his strikeout rate coming down and his walks climbing up. Unfortunately, he would suffer an injury that would knock him out for nearly a month, and it slowed down his progress and development. There was concern that he would struggle in his return as he’s an extremely volatile hitter at times with his big swing and power-centric approach, but instead, he remained on a torrid pace.

everson pereira, yankees
Hudson Valley’s Everson Pereira at bat during the Renegades home opener versus the Brooklyn Cyclones on April 19, 2022. Renegades 2022 Home Opener

He posted a 1.202 OPS in the six games he played after returning from injury with three home runs, and the Yankees saw enough of his explosive bat. His career numbers at the Double-A number definitely stand out, as he clubbed 15 HRs in 75 games, adding on 14 two-baggers and four triples for good measure. He displayed strong skills in the power, on-base, and speed departments, as he slashed .288/.354/.529 in those games for a 137 wRC+, and he got progressively better as the games carried on.

In 2022 he hit just .226 in his first 13 games at Double-A, and that’s normal, but Pereira seemed to adjust quickly. He finished that season with a 128 wRC+ due to an incredible finish to his season, although an injury would sideline him for the Somerset Patriots’ championship run. With a .667 SLG% to finish that season, he carried the momentum into 2023, where he posted a 143 wRC+ and increased his walk rate from 7.3% to 10.3%.

Over the course of those final 62 Double-A games, the 22-year-old outfielder posted a 152 wRC+ and cut his strikeout rate to 27.6%. With a .946 OPS in that time span, the Yankees made the decision to promote him, and now we’re back to that first at-bat with the Scranton RailRiders. He would demolish a Nick Nelson fastball 426 feet at 111.4 MPH, and he’d add on a 109 MPH single on top of that as well.

He’s shown an ability to absolutely hammer the baseball, but can he consistently make strong swing decisions and make enough contact to have it play at the Major League level? That remains to be seen, but the Yankees are going to be rewarded if they wait things out with this young outfielder. There’s something about the power and speed that he possesses that can absolutely take over a baseball game, and while his injury issues in the past are probably going to limit his aggressiveness on the basepaths, the offensive profile is great.

If he can put together great numbers at Triple-A, I wonder how the Yankees view his window to join the Major League roster. Harrison Bader is a free agent at the end of the season and they have a black hole in LF, so maybe the Yankees view him as someone who can fight for a job in 2024? He’s ahead of Jasson Dominguez now in terms of getting starting reps, but we saw with Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe that Spring Training could see Double-A guys leapfrog Triple-A guys with a strong enough performance.

This isn’t a top-heavy farm system, the Yankees’ strength relies on its depth and the number of names performing, so here’s our way of highlighting those overlooked performers.

Prospects To Buy Stock On

The Yankees also promoted catcher Agustin Ramirez to High-A after an impressive performance with the Tampa Tarpons in A-Ball, but somehow he’s still severely underrated. Not ranked on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 for the Bronx Bombers, Ramirez has a higher walk rate than his strikeout rate, displaying strong contact skills and making great swing decisions at the plate. Not only is he excellent from a plate discipline standpoint, but he also has excellent raw power.

He reached a 113.9 MPH Max Exit Velocity, which would rank in the 92nd Percentile at the Major League level with a 91.8 Average Exit Velocity. To add onto this, he’s an excellent defensive catcher behind the dish, with 7.1 Framing Runs and 3.3 Catching Defensive Adjustment, which is absolutely phenomenal. Austin Wells is one of the Yankees’ top prospects, recently joining MLB Pipeline’s Top-100 list, but Ramirez is quickly becoming their second-best catcher behind the dish.

Ramirez is already 9-17 in his first four games with the Hudson Valley Renegades, striking out just once and continuing his trend of great framing and defense behind the dish. He’ll aim to reach Double-A in 2024 as he finds his footing in High-A, but a strong enough summer could make that a 2023 situation, although that huge leap would be better served for him after another offseason of development and another year of age, as he’s only 21.

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FALMOUTH 07/27/21 Falmouth left fielder Anthony Hall makes a diving catch on a drive by Zane Harris of Hyannis. Cape League Falmouth Hyannis Cape League

When the Yankees selected Anthony Hall in the 4th Round of the 2022 Draft out of Oregon, they knew they were getting a bat-first prospect. It took time, but Hall is finally finding his swing with the Tampa Tarpons, and his stock continues to rise as his power creeps up as well. He put together an amazing month of June, posting a 144 wRC+ and hitting six HRs in 21 games, and he’s done a great job with making good swing decisions and finding ideal launch angles.

His strong Sweet Spot rate (38%) alongside a low Chase Rate (23.9%) allow him to consistently swing at good pitches to hit and BABIP at a high clip (.331). He’s someone I believe should be in line for a High-A promotion this season, and while the Yankees are taking their time with the 22-year-old, the collegiate resume and skills at the dish are something that could click especially from the left-handed side of the plate.

On the pitching side of the ball, Chalniel Arias has been remarkable in the Dominican Summer League, tossing 24.2 IP thus far with a 2.19 ERA and 2.36 FIP. His strikeout rate is absolutely remarkable, as he’s struck out 38.2% of batters, but that typically comes with poor command for a 19-year-old at such a low level of MiLB, but he’s only walked 4.9% of batters as well.

Not someone you should view as a name the Yankees will call upon in the near future, but having a pitcher with great strikeout-to-walk numbers and a 58.5% groundball rate is always encouraging at any level.

Finally, the last name I wanted to discuss is someone I believe could become a top-100 prospect for the Yankees at some point. Now in his age 19 season, Delgado was unbelievable for the Yankees in the Dominican Summer League last year, walking 58 times with just 28 strikeouts and a 178 wRC+. Elevated to the Florida Complex League, Delgado has continued to improve his game, and while his wRC+ is down to 143 (which is still incredible), the profile at the plate is a lot more sustainable.

Keiner Delgado has only struck out nine times in 102 plate appearances, walking 16 times and slugging .506. He has three home runs thus far, matching his 2022 total in 20 games compared to 52 games. He has a career 48 stolen bases in under 80 MiLB games and is continuing to display great walk rates with low strikeout rates. Delgado’s smaller frame isn’t encouraging in terms of hitting for power, but he’s posted an Isolated Power of .198 and has 24 doubles and four triples as well.

He may not hit a lot of home runs, but he can scorch the ball in the gap and collect doubles at a high clip with his blistering speed, and he put together a remarkable 3-3 performance with a HR against Alek Manoah in that disastrous rehab start he had last week. Out of all the players on this list, including the ones who got entire segments dedicated to them, I believe that Delgado has the highest ceiling of them all. He’s still young and needs to get into A-Ball before I start creating too much buzz, but he’s 100% someone more fans should buy stock on.

That’ll wrap up this week’s prospect report, as they’ll wrap up prior to the All-Star Break and get ready to close out the season in the second half strong. The farm system is ripe with strong talent up and down, and as we near the deadline, their names will come up in deals as the Yankees look to make upgrades at the deadline for a team that aims to win a World Series.