Yankees Top MiLB Performers: Catcher off to red-hot start, sweep in Norfolk, and pitching gems

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Our first edition of the top MiLB performers of the week for the Yankees‘ organization is jam-packed, as the Baby Bombers had some excellent showings. Ranging from an impressive come-from-behind victory in Tampa to a sweep of the reigning Triple-A champions, there was plenty of action at the Minor League level. Pitching once again continues to be a strength for the Yankees, who have developed a plethora of top pitching prospects over the last few seasons. We saw the debut of top prospect Spencer Jones this week as well, an exciting development for prospect lovers and fans alike.

The stars were out across the farm system, and we’re starting to see the shape of this system take form after an incredible year as a group last season.

Agustin Ramirez Headlines An Impressive Offensive Showing

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Feb 17, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees catcher Agustin Ramirez (96) prepares to take batting practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s impossible to talk about the Yankees’ organization without mentioning the red-hot start that Agustin Ramirez is off to. Hitting six home runs in eight games, the right-handed hitting catcher is slashing .281/.395/.844, driving in 13 RBIs and walking five times to just six strikeouts. The ability to generate contact at a high rate while also doing damage on contact has been impressive, and he’s thrown out two of his seven potential runners while not allowing a single passed ball.

There’s a lot to love here, the strikeout rate (15.8%) makes the surge in power even more enticing, and his groundball rate has remained below 30% in the earlygoing as well. Through 31 games last season with the Somerset Patriots, the 22-year-old had just two home runs and a 62 wRC+, and if the progressions with his launch angle and game power are legitimate, then this could be a top-100 prospect by the summer.

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Roc Riggio is a name that you want to keep tabs on this season, as he’s an electric infielder who plays with a confidence many aspire to have. He had a huge week in what was a weird series against the Rome Emperors, as rain delays caused the Hudson Valley Renegades to play three straight doubleheaders. After a quiet first series, Riggio exploded for four hits, seven walks, three RBIs, and a stolen base for good measure.

He’s slashing .294/.480/.529 in his first six games at High-A, and he could be a name that rockets through the organization due to his excellent eye at the plate. The swing is built for Yankee Stadium, and if Riggio can continue to develop the swing and tap into the pull-side power consistently, then he might end up being in Double-A sooner rather than later. We know the Yankees have a lot of questions surrounding the future of the infield, and the 21-year-old could be a potential answer.

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Mar 4, 2024; Jupiter, Florida, USA; New York Yankees outfielder Spencer Jones (78) hits a single against the Miami Marlins during the fifth inning at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Spencer Jones played just one game this week after dealing with a stiff neck, but the high-flying centerfielder impressed in his 2024 debut. With two hits, a double, and a walk on his ledger, the 23-year-old was dynamic and flashed the improving hit tool and plate discipline. All three of his batted balls were in the air, and the hope is that the new swing he has can help him drive the baseball to right field while maintaining good enough contact rates.

As for some other hitting prospects who crushed it this week, Benjamin Cowles has quietly gotten off to a scorching start with the Somerset Patriots. After running a strikeout rate of 29.4% through 294 games between various levels of affiliated ball, he’s struck out just 16.2% of the time while slashing .419/.514/.613 across nine games in Double-A, his first season at this level.

Josh Breaux launched two home runs on Sunday to help the Scranton RailRiders complete a six-game sweep of the Norfolk Tide, the Baltimore Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate who won the Triple-A title last season. He’s slashing .278/.350/.611 in his first five games of the season and could be a power bat for the RailRiders throughout the season.

Top shortstop prospect George Lombard Jr. had 11 walks and a walk-off RBI single this week that clocked in at 107.2 MPH, showing off incredible patience at the plate with improving raw power. Some other notable performers include Dylan Jasso (.524 OBP), Alexander Vargas (1.067 OPS), and Everson Pereira (2 HR), who were all key contributors this week at the Minor League level.

Yankees Get Multiple Dominant Outings From Exciting Arms

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Facing off against the best offense in the International League, Clayton Beeter showed up and showed out, firing five innings of one-hit baseball, and striking out eight batters while walking none. He only had one outing last year where he walked zero batters, and the fastball looked excellent with good velocity and elite-level movement. His slider was as nasty as it’s ever been, and he incorporated a few changeups in there as well. On the season, Beeter has 8.1 scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts and four walks, getting off to a fast start after an excellent Spring Training.

Teammate Edgar Barclay made two starts this weekend, firing 8.2 innings of three-run baseball with 10 strikeouts, and while he isn’t a top prospect in the organization, he certainly is an interesting depth arm. His changeup is nasty, although he sits at around 89-90 MPH on the fastball most days. The southpaw gets comparisons to Nestor Cortes and could be an interesting long-reliever at the Major League level if he can continue to impress at the Triple-A level.

Brian Hendry, whom the Yankees selected in the 10th round of the 2023 MLB Draft, made his professional debut for the Hudson Valley Renegades and was dominant. He walked one batter and allowed two hits across five shutout frames, striking out eight batters. Hendry is 24 years old, and the most impressive part of his outing was the fact that he generated a strikeout on his fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup, showing an excellent feel for his diverse arsenal. It was also reported that he touched 100 MPH during instructs.

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Trystan Vrieling, who is making his professional debut this season after rehabbing from elbow surgery the year prior, was immediately sent to Double-A to open the season. After firing five innings of shutout baseball, Vrieling followed it up with six innings of one-run baseball, striking out six batters to two walks. He has a 50% groundball rate, a product of great command, and an excellent slider. His four-seamer sits around 92-94 MPH with decent vertical ride, but he can spot it on the outside part of the plate with ease, making it hard to lay off his tight slider.

Sebastian Keane struck out seven batters across 4.1 innings of scoreless baseball, and his Northeastern teammate Cam Schlittler had five strikeouts across five scoreless frames of his own. The Hudson Valley Renegades look to have a stout rotation, as while Jackson Fristoe and Kyle Carr are still ramping up their pitch counts, the talent and depth they have is incredible. They hold the lowest ERA in High-A (1.56) and are top 10 in strikeout rate and strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Other interesting starters who were impressive include Bailey Dees who fired 4.1 innings of oen=run baseball with six strikeouts and two walks. Standing in at 6’8, this is his first professional season as a starter, and his fastball-slider-changeup combination is made even deadlier by his large frame and extension. Will Warren also fired five solid innings, striking out eight batters with three runs allowed against a tough Norfolk lineup.

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Mar 12, 2023; Fort Myers, Florida, USA; New York Yankees pitcher (89) Yoendrys Gomez throws a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the second inning during spring training at JetBlue Park at Fenway South. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Some other interesting names who pitched well were Yoendrys Gomez, Cade Austin, Trent Sellers, and Ben Shields, who are all multi-inning bullpen arms that can open games as well if needed. Brock Selvidge also made his debut this week, firing 4 innings of two-run baseball with five strikeouts and two walks, marking his first start at the Double-A level. This should be another action-packed week as we get to see some of these top performers continue their tear through the Minor Leagues.

As for the upcoming matchups, here’s what’s on the docket for the Yankees’ MiLB affiliates:

  • Single-A: Tampa Tarpons @ St. Lucie Mets
  • High-A: Aberdeen IronBirds @ Hudson Valley Renegades
  • Double-A: Harftord YardGoats @ Somerset Patriots
  • Triple-A: Lehigh Valley IronPigs @ Scranton/Wilks-Barre RailRiders
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