The Yankees had another eventful day in their farm system, with thrilling wins and absolute beatdowns across various levels of MiLB. While the big league club securing a series sweep in Cincinnati, their MiLB affiliates went 3-2 on Saturday, with all clubs except the Hudson Valley Renegades (High-A) recording a win.
With some young stars putting on monster numbers and other standouts looking to carve a role in the organization, this action-packed report has plenty to discuss.
Oswald Peraza Leads the Way in Railriders’ 17-4 Blowout Win on Saturday
While the Yankees have continued to hit well with the return of both Harrison Bader and Aaron Judge, people forgot that Oswald Peraza was rehabbing with the Scranton Railriders. He was incredible last night, going 4-5 with two HRs, five RBIs, and a walk as the cherry on top of that.
In just one game, he brought his season OPS from .782 to .982, and now his Triple-A numbers are beginning to look silly. He’s striking out just 15.9% of the time while slugging .569, and while it’s a small sample size (63 PAs), he’s put together an impressive string of games with Scranton dating back to last season.
In his last 66 games played, Oswald Peraza has put together ridiculous offensive numbers in the International League, raising the question of if his ceiling as a hitter was underrated. When you evaluate offense at the position, shortstops have clearly become better hitters today than they were in the past, and Peraza was supposed to play more like a mid-2000s shortstop, having excellent defensive and baserunning tools but being a middle-of-the-road bat for his career, but I think that narrative should be questioned.
- Last 66 Games in Triple-A
- .324 BA
- .388 OBP
- .561 SLG
- 148 wRC+
- .949 OPS
- 27 SB
- 17 HR
When we take a look at the home runs hit by Peraza, we see that his ability to pull the ball in the air consistently allows him to generate more game power than his raw power would suggest. His second home run was a barrel, but his first was hit just 97 MPH off the bat and still traveled for a HR, which is because pulled flyballs travel more than their dead-center and opposite-field counterparts. He didn’t just impress with the stick, as he made a slick stop and throw that made my jaw drop:
Oswald Peraza’s defensive acumen makes him one of the Yankees’ best prospects, and while Anthony Volpe has done a solid job at shortstop, the Yankees’ best defensive alignment if Volpe and Peraza play together still remains with Peraza at shortstop. I get it, Anthony Volpe won the shortstop job, but playing semantics instead of putting out your best defensive alignment is organizational malpractice. In his brief MLB career, Peraza already has + 1 OAA and a +2% Success Rate Added at shortstop, who knows how gaudy those defensive numbers would be in a larger sample size?
If the 22-year-old infielder can continue to mash at the Triple-A level, it’ll leave the Yankees with few options other than to give him a starting job eventually. He’s still young, and the Yankees don’t have to make decisions on him just yet, especially considering his bat at Triple-A is a relatively new development. He’ll remain in Triple-A for now, but Peraza’s not making it easy for the Yankees’ front office. While he drove in five of the Railriders’ runs, he wasn’t alone in last night’s beatdown.
Estevan Florial increased his average on the season to .313, with an OPS north of 1.000 and eight home runs in just 30 games so far.
As usual, Florial’s issues in Triple-A haven’t stemmed from a lack of power, production, or talent, but rather a lack of consistency with his hit tool. He’s still striking out over 30% of the time, and a whiff rate of 37.2% entering last night’s contest is just unplayable for the Yankees.
That being said, it’s also hard to ignore just how productive he’s been in Triple-A. He’s up to 23 HRs in 131 games with Scranton since 2022, swiping 48 bags as well.
His talent is definitely apparent, as he reached 111.7 MPH for a Max Exit Velocity in the early going of this season, but now it’s a matter of finding any semblance of contact skills.
Even a strikeout rate of 25% would be enough of a reduction to get him instant MLB reps, but it seems like Florial is running out of time to prove that he can manage such a thing. It’s really hard to close the book on someone putting up the Triple-A numbers Florial has, and it’s equally as difficult to ignore someone posting a wRC+ north of 150 at MiLB”s toughest level, even if Florial is 25 years old.
It’s hard to look at this type of production and understand why he passed through waivers, but that speaks to the fears surrounding his strikeout issues. Regardless, he had an incredible day at the plate, and any forward momentum Florial builds could in theory be the game that gets the ball rolling for the Yankees’ former top prospect. He went 4-5 with a walk, but most importantly, he didn’t strike out once in those six trips to the plate. He generated hard contact all night as well, and Florial’s looking to continue to build off of a week where he already has four long balls.
Yankees Have a New Top Infield Prospect to Watch Out For
The Yankees #30 prospect Jared Serna has gotten some buzz around Yankee circles, but not enough for my liking.
Playing both games of the Tampa Tarpons doubleheader on Saturday, he went 1-4 in the first game before putting matters into his own hands to lead them to a win in Game 2. Serna would represent all of the run-scoring for Tampa, belting two solo home runs and adding a walk on top of that, giving him a 3-6 day with a walk and two RBIs in total. Serna has a 167 wRC+ with seven home runs and a .406 OBP in his 32 games at A-ball.
Serna’s elite contact skills are also on display, striking out just 11.6% of the time, and his smaller frame at 5’6″ means he has to predicate his game on elite batted ball sprays, great speed, and great strikeout-to-walk numbers. He’s still managed to slug over .550 in spite of lackluster raw power, and if he continues this tear when he inevitably gets promoted, he’ll put himself on plenty of MiLB radars. Not having freakish raw power limits his ceiling relative to guys like Spencer Jones or Jasson Dominguez, but a younger age, he’s still got time to develop some added power.
What allows Serna to find plenty of game power is his elite batted ball sprays, which we discussed with Oswald Peraza earlier. It wasn’t too long ago that Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe were players in the lower levels of MiLB without as much buzz, not to suggest that Serna is a lock to become a top-100 prospect, rather that it’s certainly a possibility.
Serna’s extremely underrated relative to the numbers he’s posted, especially considering that he had good numbers last year as well, albeit in the Florida Complex League.
In his 131 professional games thus far, he’s hitting .278 with a .402 OBP, .464 SLG, and 144 wRC+. Add on 16 HRs and 49 SB (61 attempts), and you’re looking at an all-around talent who can certainly aid the Yankees in their infield down the road if he keeps this up. He could also be a hot commodity at the deadline, with teams potentially looking to “buy-low” on Serna and hoping he goes from sleeper prospect to a legitimate top 5 prospect in their organization. His production and contact skills are hard to ignore, and Jared Serna could be someone the Yankees covet even more come the deadline.
Top 30 Prospects Turn In Solid Starts
Between Tampa, Hudson Valley, and Somerset, the Yankees saw four pitchers in the organization’s top 30 prospect list take the mound, and they all turned in solid outings. Sean Hermann struggled with command, walking three batters in five innings, but he was able to keep anyone from scoring with timely pitches. While it’s not the most impressive outing in the world, Hermann needed a start like this badly. In his last three starts, he gave up 17 runs and posted a 2.18 WHIP in 13.1 IP, and while his struggles in A-Ball aren’t encouraging, it’s important to remember that he’s just 19 years old.
2023 MiLB Stats:
- 5.56 ERA
- 4.87 FIP
- 18.8% K%
- 8.1% BB%
Justin Lange had a weird outing, as while he struck out eight batters in just four frames, he also allowed two runs and walked four batters as well. That’s just kind of the Justin Lange experience, he strikes out or walks everyone, and while that does raise questions about his longterm future as a starter, they’re going to continue to develop him as such because of his ceiling. His stuff is electric, and he generated a 29% Whiff% in his start in spite of the shaky command. The ERA climbed up a bit after this start, but his numbers on the season still remain extremely strong.
2023 MiLB Stats:
- 3.81 ERA
- 2.66 FIP
- 43.8% K%
- 15.7% BB%
Juan Carela struggled last year in his jump from Tampa to Hudson Valley, but he turned in arguably the best start from anyone in the system yesterday. Across 5.1 innings, he allowed two runs (one earned) with six strikeouts and two walks, having a gritty outing in a game where he lacked command. He hit three batters and was frequently in jams that he was able to pitch himself out of. While pitching into jams isn’t a great sign, the ability to get out of it and execute pitches is crucial to one’s development as a starter, and the Yankees’ #29 prospect looks to build off of this start going forward.
2023 MiLB Stats:
- 4.15 ERA
- 3.28 FIP
- 29.3% K%
- 9.0% BB%
Clayton Beeter tossed five frames allowing three runs and striking out five, and while that’s not an amazing outing, Beeter surely needed it after getting tagged for six runs in two innings his last time out. Similarly to Carela, he battled through jams frequently, and by keeping Somerset in the game, they were able to come back down 3-0 to win 4-3 in walk-off fashion. Acquired in the Joey Gallo trade, Beeter has a 32.9% K% and 2.90 ERA in Double-A since coming over to the Yankees, and if they can continue to develop his command and arsenal, he’ll push for a rotation spot down the road.
2023 MiLB Stats:
- 3.48 ERA
- 3.75 FIP
- 28.5% K%
- 11.9% BB%
It was a strong day for the Yankees’ farm system, and we’ll see High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A continue their series as the Tampa Tarpons have the Saturday off following the doubleheader. 2022 6th Rounder Chase Hampton is someone to watch out for starting tonight in Hudson Valley as he looks to continue his hot start to professional baseball. With a 41.6% K% and 3.04 ERA in five starts thus far, he’ll look to get Hudson Valley back in the win column and continue to elevate his status in the prospect world.
We saw a bit of Chase Hampton in Spring Training with the Yankees, where he showed off his cut-ride fastball and sweeping slider, and while one outing isn’t enough to use Stuff+ reliably, he did have a 117.2 Stuff+ in that outing. Definitely a name the Yankees will keep an eye on as the season progresses, and hopefully, someone I’ll get to write about in tomorrow’s report.