Yankees Prospect Report: Quiet day for the farm, fun FCL standouts

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It was a pretty mundane day for the Yankees, as most of their top prospects had average or quiet days at the plate, but they were able to flash some fun talent at the lower levels of Minor League Baseball. The influx of promotions and assignments for different prospects as the newly drafted talent enters the fold causes plenty of roster crunches, especially in the Florida Complex League, where most newly-drafted prospects begin their professional careers.

A Rising 18-Year-Old Infielder:

Starting out in the FCL, Enmanuel Tejada continued his impressive campaign by belting his fourth HR of the season, and he’s really had an excellent year for himself as an 18-year-old. He’s slashing .308/.468/.462 across 42 games, with a 20.2% strikeout rate and walk rate as well. His swinging strike rate came down from 15.4% last year in the Dominican Summer League to 14.8% in the Florida Complex League, and he’s starting to really come into his own as a prospect.

It’s likely that the Yankees place Tejada on the Single-A roster in 2023 to start the season, where he can really begin his ascent through professional baseball. He’ll be just 19 years old by then, and if he gets off to a hot start in 2024, his infield versatility will allow him to fly through the system as he could slot in at just about any infield position besides 1B and hold the fort down. He’s not alone in his promising success, as an even younger bat has emerged in the FCL as a name to keep tabs on.

John Cruz has a 118 wRC+ at the age of 17 in the Florida Complex League, and he went 4-5 in the FCL Yankees’ 9-6 win over the FCL Blue Jays. He’s really impressed thus far, as he’s still walking 9.5% of the time with an acceptable 23.1% K% in his debut season in Florida. He’s hitting .333 with a 134 wRC+ since the start of July, and as a left-handed swinging outfielder who could be in Single-A at the age of 18, this is a name you have to keep tabs on

Cruz is listed as 6’3 and 171 pounds on FanGraphs, and as he continues to grow and become a legal adult, his raw power and other physical tools are expected to continue to develop. He’s already slugging .500 this season and has improved his in-game power a lot from last season. Hitting five HRs in 54 games last season, he already has eight in 40 games this year, and that’s an area of one’s game that you expect to only improve as they grow into their frame more, as Cruz is younger than the Yankees’ 2023 First Round Pick out of HS, George Lombard Jr.

A Yankees Flier:

Kiko Romero was the Yankees’ 7th Round Pick in that draft, and he hit his first HR with the organization as he navigates through what’s left of the Tampa Tarpons’ season, the Yankees’ Single-A affiliate in Florida. Tampa’s win was aided by a strong outing from Sean Hermann, who recently fell off of MLB Pipeline’s top 30 list for the organization, as the 20-year-old struggled to repeat his 2022 success in A-Ball this season. He tossed his second strong start in a row, with five innings of one-run baseball and eight strikeouts.

Syndication: Courier News
Somerset Patriots hosted Harrisburg in the fourth of the season on Friday at the TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater. Harrisburg Senators At Somerset Patriots

Yankees’ #25 prospect Matt Sauer had another high-strikeout outing, striking out six across five innings, although he allowed three runs in the Somerset Patriot’s 4-0 loss to the Binghamton RumblePonies. Sauer’s pitched a lot better as of late in Double-A, and he had his season delayed by injuries. He’s struck out 32.2% of batters faced over his past five outings with a 1.93 ERA, and while he still struggles with walks and command, his stuff could play extremely well in short spurts.

He’s Rule 5 eligible, and the Yankees might view his injuries and command issues as something they’ll deal with in a bullpen role, especially considering he’s 24 years old and hasn’t completed six or more innings since last August. Sauer has plenty of upside, and his great vertical life alongside some nasty secondaries could make him a weapon for the Yankees in whatever role they use him in.

Triple-A could be in Matt Sauer’s future, and in Triple-A, the RailRiders scratched off a 4-2 win over the Syracuse Mets, with #8 prospect Austin Wells going 1-4 with an RBI double and other notable names like Oswald Peraza and Everson Pereira getting on-base once each as well. The Yankees once again didn’t have a standout performance from a lot of their top guys, but in today’s slate, we’re set to see #21 prospect Brendan Beck take the mound in what’s been a successful season returning from Tommy John Surgery.

New York Yankees, Austin Wells
Feb 20, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees catcher Austin Wells (72) looks on at Yankees Player Development Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Beck has a 1.04 ERA and 30.6% K% between the FCL and High-A and could look to make a leap to Double-A in 2024 as he builds back his workload into a traditional starter once again and gets more comfortable on the professional mound. That’ll wrap up today’s report as the Yankees look to finish this Sunday with wins at the Major and Minor League levels and the typical travel day for MiLB affiliates at the Single-A or higher tomorrow on Monday.

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