Yankees Prospect Report: Aces gone wild, overlooked names surging through system

richard fitts, yankees

While the Yankees were dropping series to teams at home that they have no business losing to, their farm system continued to have a successful week.

Boasting one of the deepest farms in baseball, they saw a myriad of brilliant pitching performances alongside standout offensive performers. The starts of the Dominican Summer League and Florida Complex League have also given us the opportunity to catch up on rehabbing prospects eager to get into affiliated ball, so there’s plenty of action to cover.

From some of the organization’s most established guys to under-the-radar names, let’s get into the report.

Yankees Flex Pitching Prowess in Their Farm System

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Auburn’s Richard Fitts (43) pitches during the Auburn-Alabama Capital City Classic at Riverfront Park in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday, March 26, 2019. Alabama defeated Auburn 6-3. Jc Aubase 27

It seemed as if the Yankees had something spreading through their farm system, as a myriad of their best pitching talent showed up to shove over the week.

First and foremost, it feels like this wouldn’t be a prospect report without me mentioning Chase Hampton, who once again twirled in an incredible outing, tossing 5.2 IP of shutout ball, allowing just one hit and one walk, and striking out eight in the process. With a 2.68 ERA and 40.5% K%, the Yankees are starting to see Hampton push for a Double-A promotion. I’ve been calling for his promotion for weeks now, and it’s starting to become a when, not if scenario.

From a pure stuff basis, Hampton’s quickly becoming a candidate to become one of the best pitching prospects not just in the Yankees’ system but in all of baseball, and he’s looking like an early steal-of-the-draft candidate as a 6th Rounder in the 2022 MLB Draft. He leads all qualified pitchers in High-A in K%, K-BB%, and xFIP and is top five in both FIP and AVG against. He’s part of a star-studded Hudson Valley rotation that has three starting pitchers with a sub-3 ERA and four with a sub-3.4 0 ERA.

Zach Messinger turned in a 5 IP performance with just one run allowed and six strikeouts, giving him a 2.68 ERA on the season and a 28.9% K%, although he’s walked over 11% of batters faced. Juan Carela was able to toss 5.2 IP of three-run baseball with 10 strikeouts and just one walk, giving him a 3.38 ERA and 30% K%, but all three of these talented prospects were outdone by an unbelievable outing from Yankees’ 2nd Round Pick Drew Thorpe.

He tossed 7 IPs of shutout baseball, walking zero batters, allowing five hits, and striking out a season-high 12 batters on the night. Thorpe now has a 2.91 ERA on the season with a 22.1% K-BB% and 53.6% GB%, also vying for a promotion to Double-A. He’s one of the Yankees’ most talented arms in the system despite not possessing overly dominant velocity. Thorpe relies upon an elite changeup and great vertical separation off of his fastball up in the strike zone to get whiffs and groundballs, and so far, it’s worked brilliantly.

Thorpe is beyond impressive, but did he even have the best start in the Yankees’ system over the past week? Well, Auburn product Richard Fitts decided to throw his hat in the ring for this title, as he gave the Somerset Patriots 8 IP of one-run baseball with 10 strikeouts.

Fitts has been remarkable over his last four starts after getting off to a rough start to his Double-A career, as he’s pitched to a 1.73 ERA and has 29 strikeouts to just five walks in that timespan. He’s tossed at least six innings in every start in that stretch as well and is developing a bit of a reputation as an innings eater.

Fitts is a fast riser in the system, and we could see him in Triple-A sooner rather than later if he keeps this hot streak up. Despite not having much professional experience, since going to High-A at the end of 2022, he’s averaging roughly 5.2 innings a start, which is rare to see since most pitchers are slowly built up into a starter role, and pitchers don’t go as deep into games as they used to. Over those 16 starts between High-A and Double-A, he has a 2.92 ERA and just a 4.9% BB%, continuing to impress as he flies through Minor League Baseball.

yankees, randy vasquez

One of the biggest surprises in the Yankees’ farm system last year was Clayton Beeter, who was acquired in the Joey Gallo deal and immediately became one of their top pitching prospects. He made two starts in their series against Hartford and has assumed the role of the Patriots’ ace as Will Warren departed for Scranton. In those two starts, Beeter tossed a combined 11 scoreless innings, striking out 17 and walking four for two wins as well. He lowered his ERA on the season to 2.13, and while he’s struggled mightily with walks (12.3% BB%), his overall numbers with the Yankees remain impressive.

Since joining the Somerset Patriots from the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate, he’s pitched to a 2.13 ERA with a 3.03 FIP and 32.4% K%, also twirling an impressive start in their playoff run that ended in an Eastern League Championship. Beeter’s really maturing on the mound, and while it’s still unclear whether he’ll be a full-time starter or a reliever, what we do know is that his stuff is gross, and his progress in the organization is certainly impressive.

Brock Selvidge is here, folks, and it’s time you all start paying attention to what he’s doing. The 20-year-old 3rd Rounder in the 2021 MLB Draft is beginning to really round out into form as he continues to dominate A-Ball. After tossing 5 innings of one-run ball, he only has two outings with more than two runs allowed, and he’s looking to join that previously mentioned star-studded Hudson Valley rotation. He’s been cranking up the velocity, as Jinwook pointed out (great follow, by the way), and if he can continue this surge, he’ll be on everyone’s radar.

The last name I’m going to throw out here is Carlos Lagrange, who has ridiculous stuff and finally made his Florida Complex League debut with six strikeouts, one walk, one hit, and zero earned runs. Offseason clips of him throwing a bullpen show off a 99 MPH fastball with nearly 2,600 RPMs of spin, and while the vertical movement isn’t great as it’s more of a dead zone fastball, it generates 16″ of horizontal run. As he becomes more consistent mechanically, the Yankees can help Lagrange develop more ride on his fastball to generate whiffs up in the strike zone, and his 6’7 frame is extremely imposing on the mound.

With one of the most impressive all-around performances from their pitchers, the Yankees’ farm system is in an excellent place right now on the pitching front. Not mentioned were guys like Will Warren and Randy Vasquez, as Warren’s struggled in Triple-A and Vasquez tossed a gem with the big league club, but both are clearly talented starters. As for their position players, we’re starting to see some of their hidden gems take center stage.

Yankees Getting Value At the Margins On Offense

Jared Serna is one of the Yankees’ top position player prospects, and yet not enough attention is sent his way. He’s hitting .321 on the season with 11 HRs and a .384 OBP, giving him a 153 wRC+ on the season. A versatile defender, he has experience at 2B/SS/3B and can definitely provide the Yankees some help down the road at any of these spots. Just based on his size at 5’6, I think he’ll end up playing second, but he’s a strong athlete whose bat is certainly impressive. With great contact rates and game power, Serna is going to end up in Hudson Valley at some point during the season barring injury, and I’m shocked he isn’t already there.

He’s one of the most slept-on prospects in the organization, as while he’s right around the average age for a player in A-Ball at 21 years old, contact skills tend to translate very well as you ascend to high levels of professional baseball, and losing the 2020 COVID season definitely affected his development. In 2022 he struggled with the Tampa Tarpons with a measly 42 wRC+, and in less than a calendar year, he’s become their best hitter by a country mile.

Another prospect affected by the COVID pandemic that robbed prospects of their 2020 season, Aaron Palensky, has done nothing but hit since the Yankees signed him as an Undrafted Free Agent. While he’s significantly older than the average prospect in High-A, he was still able to absolutely obliterate the baseball and hit at a historic pace. He posted a 210 wRC+ and clobbered 12 HRs in just 32 games, being far-and-away one of the best hitters at that level before a long-due promotion to Somerset.

Palensky was quick to get back to his slugger ways, hitting his first two HRs in Double-A this season with a 242 wRC+ last week, giving him a 175 wRC+ with Somerset in the early-going. He’s coming off of a 2022 campaign where he got off to a slow start before getting red-hot in mid-June, and over his last 82 MiLB games played spanning back to 2022, he’s been remarkable:

  • .311 AVG
  • .425 OBP
  • .637 SLG
  • 182 wRC+
  • 20 HR
  • 21 SB
  • 20 2B

He’s only been caught stealing once in those 21 steals, showing off a great power-speed combination, and we could see him throw his hat into the mix for an outfield spot as soon as 2024. Palensky is someone teams are going to call on despite his older age for a Double-A prospect, as the bat flashes plenty of upside, and he could be an impact piece for a team looking to win in the near future but has pieces to sell at the deadline. Definitely not a top-100 caliber prospect, but 100% a dark horse guy to look at as a 40-Man Roster candidate since he’s Rule 5 eligible at the end of the season.

As mentioned earlier, the Florida Complex League started up recently, and one of the Yankees’ most talented prospects could get national attention down the road if he keeps up this production. After posting a 178 wRC+ with 58 walks to just 28 strikeouts in the Dominican Summer League (no, that’s not a typo), Keiner Delgado is back to his elite-level plate discipline wizardry. With eight walks to just three strikeouts in his first week of action, he’s got a 195 wRC+ on the season and has a ridiculous .508 OBP in his 57 games since becoming a pro.

Add on 38 stolen bases on top of that, and you can see that this switch-hitting phenom provides plenty of upside. While he’s only hit four HRs in that timespan, he does have 17 doubles and four triples, giving him a grand total of 25 extra-base hits in his career with a .511 SLG%. He’s got decent power for his 5’7 frame, and his ability to handle both 2B and SS should allow him to translate well into the outfield if the Yankees choose to move him off the position or make him more of a utilityman down the road as he’s a great athlete.

Agustin Ramirez is someone who has been phenomenal with the Tampa Tarpons, as just like Jared Serna, he’s really finding his stride at the plate by balancing power and great plate discipline. With 36 walks to just 32 strikeouts in 46 games, Ramirez is a strong defender with excellent exit velocity numbers. He’s consistently able to reach high EV totals, and with his incredible swing decisions, Ramirez is someone to keep an eye on. If he’s able to keep this up, he’ll find himself in Hudson Valley soon enough, where he hopes to continue his strong campaign with a 123 wRC+.

On the surface, a 23-year-old in Double-A posting a 113 wRC+ isn’t mind-boggling, but T.J. Rumfield is really putting it all together after a slow start to the season. Utilizing a more power-centric approach to take advantage of his massive 6’4 frame, the Yankees have Rumfield lifting the ball in the air more. This caused his AVG to decrease from .281 in 2022 to .235 in 2023, but he’s starting to see the ISO and SLG% come around for him. In his last 26 games, Rumfield has hit eight HRs with a 150 wRC+ versus the two HRs and 44 wRC+ he posted in his first 16 games.

Rumfield has under 130 games played in his MiLB career as he’s battled injuries since being drafted in 2021 by the Phillies, but if he can keep this hot stretch going, he’ll find himself in Scranton soon. The Yankees love his contact abilities and high walk rate in spite of a swing that generates a lot more loft than before, with his 10 HRs on the season being more than double his career total entering 2023 (4). It’s similar to the change Anthony Rizzo made from 2021 to 2022 when he revitalized his career, and it’ll be interesting to see how Rumfield continues to develop with the Yankees.

anthony rizzo, new york yankees

A lengthy report with plenty of guys discussed in the report, the Yankees just have a lot of depth in the farm system. Feel however you’d like to about the Yankees at the Major League level, but right now, their farm system is buzzing with talent. From starters to impact position players, they’ll have no hesitation making big trades if the opportunity presents itself, and they could potentially look within to fill in some holes during the summer or entering 2024.

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