Yankees Prospects: Week four minor league review

New York Yankees v Washington Nationals Exhibition
Max Burt | Photo by Diamond Images via Getty Images

Big weeks from Max Burt, Rafael Flores, Aaron Palensky, and Ben Rice and an excellent start from Juan Carela highlight the week.

Our fourth week of minor league ball has wrapped up, and the Yankees’ affiliates have mostly seen better days. The Triple-A and Low-A teams are scuffling out of the gate with another series loss for each of them, while the High-A Renegades just demolished their opponents en route to the organization’s top record among the four. Let’s get into some of the details:

Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders

Record: 8-13 after losing five of six to the St. Paul Saints (Twins)

Run Differential: -24

Coming up: Six games against the Worcester Red Sox starting on Tuesday, April 25th

It was a rough week for the RailRiders, and the pitching staff in particular, with the Saints putting up 41 runs in six games against them. While the return of Estevan Florial has boosted the offense, the star continues to be Jake Bauers and his special month of April.

Players of note (stats are season totals):

3B Andrés Chaparro: .817 OPS, 7 HR, 11 RBI

OF Estevan Florial: .313/.522/.656; 2 HR, 14 BB, 4 SB

SP Randy Vásquez: 21.2 IP, 18 ER, 16 BB, 28 K

RP Matt Krook: 11.1 IP, 2 ER, 22 K

RP Aaron McGarity: 10.1 IP, 2 ER, 15 K

Double-A Somerset Patriots

Record: 8-7 after splitting six games with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays)

Run Differential: +19

Coming up: On the road for six games against the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals) starting Tuesday, April 25th

The Patriots got big weeks out of the bats of Max Burt and Jeisson Rosario (1.025 OPS) and strong contributions from Trey Sweeney and Tyler Hardman (combined 12-for035), but it was the pitching staff that starred. Other than a tough start by Blane Abeyta, Somerset got competitive starts all week and the bullpen only surrendered three earned runs.

Players of note:

SS Trey Sweeney: .304/.389/.435, 3 2B, 5 SB

UT Max Burt: .433/.514/.900; 4 HR, 13 RBI, 6 SB

SP Will Warren: 12.2 IP, 7 ER, 21 K

SP Clayton Beeter: 16.2 IP, 2 ER, 17 K

High-A Hudson Valley Renegades

Record: 10-5 after taking five out of six from the Rome Braves

Run Differential: +42

Coming up: On the road to face the Greenville Drive (Red Sox) for six games beginning Tuesday, April 25th

The Renegades have the best record of any Yankee affiliate, and it’s not a mystery why. They do score runs, but their starting pitching just finished a very effective week, and it is becoming a theme for them. Chase Hampton, Zach Messinger, Tyrone Yulie, Joel Valdez, Juan Carela, and Drew Thorpe combined to throw 31 innings, give up nine earned runs, and strike out 42 last week. Right behind them was Harold Cortijo with 4.1 innings of shutout relief and nine more strikeouts. Carela’s start was a highlight, as he went 5.2 hitless innings and struck out eight. Offensive contributions are coming from all over the lineup, especially from less-heralded prospects like Aaron Palensky, Ben Rice, and Spencer Henson, and catcher/first baseman Rafael Flores asserted himself last week (more below).

Players of note:

C Ben Rice: .357/.609/.643; 2 HR, 7 RBI, 13 BB, leads the team in OPS

OF Aaron Palensky: .343/.439/.714; 3 HR, 11 RBI, 5 SB, leads the team in slugging

1B Spencer Henson: .275/.367/.575; 3 HR, 12 RBI

SP Drew Thorpe: 15.1 IP, 3.52 ERA, 25 K

SP Juan Carela: 13.1 IP, 1.35 ERA, 21 K

RP Harold Cortijo: 8.2 IP, 0 ER, 13 K

Low-A Tampa Tarpons

Record: 6-9 after after losing four of six to the Clearwater Threshers (Phillies)

Run Differential: -21

Coming up: On the road to face the Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins) for six games beginning Tuesday, April 25th

There were a couple of noteworthy stories this past week for the Tarpons. One is the debut of Anthony Hall, a left-handed-hitting outfielder and last year’s fourth-round draft pick who has promise with the bat. He made his mark with a game-winning, three-run homer on April 22nd. Joining Hall in the lineup was outfielder Taylor Aguilar, who started playing last week, and rehabbing catcher Ben Rortvedt. Adding those bats did not solve the Tarpons’ issue with scoring runs, as they average under four runs per game.

The other story that may need mentioning, unfortunately, is the outing Justin Lange had on April 23rd. Lange had created a lot of buzz after two very strong outings to begin the season, and attention was paid in particular to control issues he had hopefully left behind him, but those issues returned in a big way. After striking out the side in his first inning, he was not able to record another out, hitting a batter and walking four before being removed. Hopefully this is a bump in the road for Lange, and his ability to overcome outings like this will go a long way toward showing what kind of prospect he will be.

Players of note:

OF Nelson Medina: .289/.386/.474; leads the team in all three categories

SS Brenny Escanio: 12 for 48; leads the team in hits

SP Sean Hermann: 15.2 IP, 2.30 ERA, 0.96 WHIP

SP Brock Selvidge: 14.2 IP, 3.68 ERA, 16 K

Prospect of the week: Rafael Flores

Being an undrafted free agent is a difficult way to make it to the big leagues. It is rare for a player to sign as an amateur free agent and then skip a level of full-season baseball to make his affiliate debut, but that is what Rafael Flores is doing this year. There was an indication the Yankees liked this player when he bypassed Tampa and went straight to Hudson Valley to start the season, but then he only played once in the opening series and three times in the week that followed. The right-handed-hitting catcher/first baseman made his presence known this past week against the Rome Braves, however. He went 10-for-19 and drove in six runs, leaving town with a slash line of .394/.429/.455, and that makes Flores an interesting guy to watch in the immediate future. With Spencer Henson and Ben Rice also hitting well, Flores is pushing to get some designated hitter at-bats when he’s not playing defense.

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