Yankees Prospect Report: Top pitching prospect shines, overlooked bat puts up 4 RBI night

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The Yankees see another extremely productive day from their farm system, as 2021 pick Ben Rice is starting to show signs of being Triple-A ready. En route to a 9-0 victory, Ben Rice broke the game open with a four-RBI night, and he would drive in Jasson Dominguez on one of those hits, who went 0-3 with two walks.

The left-handed hitting first baseman and catcher added his seventh HR and fifth double in 18 games, slashing .329/.402/.699 and stealing four bags as well. He’s struck out 15.9% K% and Swinging Strike below 9%. He’s 24 years old and seems to be more of a first baseman or positionless bat than a real catching option, so it’s hard to envision a high ceiling for him, but he could become an impact bat in 2024.

Ben Rice has a really good swing that’ll produce plenty of pulled flyballs, and at Yankee Stadium, pulled flyballs from left-handed hitters go for home runs at an extremely high rate. Combine that with great swing decisions and, as mentioned earlier, elite-level contact rates, and you end up with a hitter that already projects for a 95 wRC+ at the Major League level, according to Steamer.

He was an excellent catcher his first two years in the farm system but has regressed considerably since then, although catching data we have publicly available to us via Baseball Prospectus can be spotty at times due to the lack of MiLB data. It’s possible he can stick at catcher, but if the Yankees feel uncomfortable playing him there, which they’ve shown with the promotion of Agustin Ramirez, then Rice could slide over to 1B/OF and give the Yankees an extra bat.

Drew Thorpe was electric across his eight frames, allowing just two hits, but due to a great throw from Jasson Dominguez, would face the minimum in every inning outside of the first. He’d strike out nine batters without allowing a single walk, and he lowered his ERA between High-A and Double-A across 19 starts (117 IP). He’s averaging over 6 IPs a start, and his breaking ball looked stellar on the night, a pitch he’s executing better as he’s progressed through the year.

Thorpe’s breaking pitch is such an important pitch, as while he didn’t pitch poorly to right-handed hitters (.636 OPS against), he pitches better to left-handed hitters, and without a more reliable arsenal, he’ll struggle as the levels get more difficult. Over his last 13 starts, he has a 2.01 ERA and 110 strikeouts across 85.1 IP, with stellar walk rates and pristine quality of contact numbers against.

At the Triple-A level, the Yankees saw recently added top-100 prospect to MLB Pipeline Everson Pereira, who went 2-3 with two walks and a walk-off sacrifice fly. His double just fell short of going for a HR but still came off the bat at over 104 MPH, and he continues to show off his incredible power and improved plate discipline. He’s only struck out 25.5% of the time with an 8.6% BB%. His OBP has been over .400 in that time span, and he’s looking MLB-ready right now.

At High-A, we saw the Hudson Valley Renegades win 9-7, with Brock Selvidge tossing 5 IP of three-run baseball, walking two batters, and striking out seven. He now has a 2.64 ERA in High-A across four starts, tossing 23.2 IP and striking out 22 batters in the process. He doesn’t allow many groundballs, and at just 20 years old, the Yankees could have a name that springs onto the season next year.

Selvidge has a four-seamer and slider he relies heavily upon, and he was able to give the Renegades a strong outing as he continues to find success at his new level. Selvidge is one of the Yankees’ most impressive young arms due to his great command and pitchability at such an early stage of his career, and if he maintains the velocity gain he made in-season, he’ll have improved stuff to take to the upper levels of Minor League Baseball.

Some notable performers at the lower levels in the FCL and DSL are Keiner Delgado, who went 1-4 with a HR, Henry Lalane, who tossed four innings of one-run baseball, striking out six and walking just one, and Brando Mayea, who hit his second home run in a 2-4 performance and three runs scored. It’s a fun day of Minor League action today, with all affiliates out in full force and the Yankees’ #25 prospect on MLB Pipeline Matt Sauer taking the mound for Double-A Somerset.

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