Yankees Prospects: Week six minor league review

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Jared Serna from a home run derby in Mexico last October | Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Tampa’s Jared Serna had an electric week and there was strong starting pitching up and down the organization.

Strong starting pitching and an electric week from Tampa’s Jared Serna are the highlights of the past week, as the four affiliates combined for a 16-8 record.

Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders

Record: 14-19 after winning four of six against the Rochester Red Wings (Nationals)

Run Differential: -21

Coming up: Six games at home against the Omaha Storm Chasers (Royals) starting on Tuesday, May 9th

The RailRiders got a boost from the addition of major league veteran outfielder Kole Calhoun, who jumped in with a 1.313 OPS in five games last week. Other former big leaguers Billy McKinney and Franchy Cordero chipped in with a combined 12-for-26 and 7 RBI, while prospects Andrés Chaparro and Jesús Bastidas put up 13 hits between them, with Chaparro driving in eight runs. Catcher and 40-man roster player Ben Rortvedt joined the team after rehabbing his way through the minors from a shoulder aneurysm over the past month.

Tanner Tully was the pitching star of the week for the RailRiders, starting twice and allowing only one earned run in 9.1 innings while striking out eight. Mitch Spence, who has been stung by the home run ball this year, also had a strong start in the series, giving up one run and striking out six in six innings of work to get the win.

Players of note (stats are season totals):

3B Andrés Chaparro: .860 OPS, 9 HR, 22 RBI (leads the team in both)

OF Estevan Florial: .899 OPS, 3 HR, 19 BB, 8 SB

OF Elijah Dunham: .243/.366/.379; 2 HR, 8 2B, 17 BB

C Rodolfo Durán: .928 OPS, 4 HR, 13 RBI

SP Randy Vásquez: 31.2 IP, 21 ER, 19 BB, 41 K

SP Tanner Tully: 3.70 ERA, 24.1 IP, 27 K

RP Aaron McGarity: 2.12 ERA, 17 IP, 23 K

Double-A Somerset Patriots

Record: 17-9 after winning five out of six against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets)

Run Differential: +43

Coming up: On the road to Maine to take on the first-place Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox) for six games starting Tuesday, May 9th

Welcome back, Austin Wells! In case there was a danger his return flew under the radar, Wells homered in three consecutive games over the weekend. He was matched in number by first baseman T.J. Rumfield, who homered thrice himself and combined with Wells to drive in 14 runs for the Patriots last week. The power is starting to show up for Rumfield, who now leads the team with 5 home runs. Jasson Domínguez, Brandon Lockridge, and Trey Sweeney were all over the bases last week, and it resulted in 15 runs scored for the trio.

Winning teams usually have good starting pitching, and Somerset is no different. Last week Will Warren, Clayton Beeter, Gray Fenter, and Blas Castano combined to throw 22.1 innings in their four starts and allowed a grand total of one earned run while striking out 30. It’s difficult to lose games when the starters perform that way, and you come close to sweeping a series when the bullpen gives up only two earned runs in a week.

Players of note:

OF Brandon Lockridge: .322/.373/.492, 6 XBH, 12 SB

OF Jasson Domínguez: .161/.381/.366, 3 HR, 24 BB, 10 SB

UT Max Burt: 1.012 OPS, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 6 SB

SP Will Warren: 3.09 ERA, 23.1 IP, 37 K, 8 BB

SP Clayton Beeter: 1.35 ERA, 26.2 IP,, 34 K, 12 BB

RP Michael Giacone: 1.64 ERA, 11 IP, 15 K, 6 BB

High-A Hudson Valley Renegades

Record: 18-9 after taking four out of six from the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Nationals)

Run Differential: +53

Coming up: On the road for six games against the Aberdeen IronBirds (Orioles) beginning Tuesday, May 9th

For Hudson Valley, it continues to be pick-your-poison for opposing pitching, and it seems like contributions are coming from all directions. This past week it was Benjamin Cowles, Aldenis Sanchez, Caleb Durbin, Spencer Henson, and Aaron Palensky (again) doing the most damage, with Alexander Vargas continuing to play well and Marcos Cabrera and Antonio Gomez chipping in with important home runs. Not even an off-week for marquis prospect Spencer Jones was able to derail the Renegades’ offense. On the down side, catcher Ben Rice, who has been getting on base at an absurd rate, was placed on the 7-day injured list.

The starting pitchers didn’t work deep into games against the Blue Rocks, but they were giving hitters trouble nonetheless. Four of the six starters last week gave up one earned run or less, and Chase Hampton stood out for his nine strikeouts on Saturday. The bullpen took it from there, with Jack Neely, Bailey Dees, and Danny Watson providing 11.2 shutout innings and 20 punchouts. Watson did something remarkable recently, recording 19 consecutive outs by strikeout. On the season, he’s almost averaging two K’s per inning.

Players of note:

OF Aaron Palensky: .379/.453/.864; 9 HR, 24 RBI, 7 SB

SS Alexander Vargas: .894 OPS, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 5 SB

INF Benjamin Cowles: .866 OPS, 5 HR, 9 RBI

OF Spencer Jones: .853 OPS, 15 XBH, 7 SB

SP Chase Hampton: 3.86 ERA, 18.2 IP, 33 K, 8 BB

SP Zach Messinger: 2.08 ERA, 26 IP, 31 K, 9 BB

RP Danny Watson: 2.63 ERA, 13.2 IP, 26 K

RP Jack Neely: 1.17 ERA, 15.1 IP, 21 K

Low-A Tampa Tarpons

Record: 11-16 after splitting six games with the Bradenton Marauders (Pirates)

Run Differential: -11

Coming up: On the road for six games in Fort Myers to face the Mighty Mussels (Twins) Tuesday, May 9th

That sound you hear is the Tarpons’ bats waking up. Jared Serna went off last week (more below), and it seemed like he and Omar Martinez (1.259 OPS in the series) were filling up the box score every day. Tampa also got strong weeks out of Jesus Rodriguez (1.171), Agustin Ramirez (1.055), Daury Arias (1.000), and Anthony Hall. Getting Hall going is a welcome sign, as the lefty-hitting outfielder put up a line of .348/.423/.435 in the series against the Marauders and played in all 6 games.

The Tampa starting pitcher in the spotlight in the early part of the season has been Justin Lange, and a recent bout of wildness caused some wariness, but Lange’s start last week deserves a star next to it. In fact, Lange was named Florida State League Pitcher of the Week after striking out 10 in 5 shutout innings, and he got some attention over at Baseball America as well. The talent and stuff are evident, and consistency is the next hurdle.

Players of note:

C/1B/3B Jesus Rodriguez: .293/.391/.379, 13 runs (tied for team lead), 12.9 K%, 12.9 BB%

C/1B: Omar Martinez: .294/.429/.500; 3 HR, 15 RBI (leads the team in both), 16.7 BB%

C Agustin Ramirez: .386 OBP, 18.1 BB%, 14.5 K%

SP Justin Lange: 3.66 ERA, 19.2 IP, 36 K, 12 BB

SP Hayden Merda: 19.2 IP, 3.66 ERA, 22 K, 11 BB

RP Mason Vinyard: 2.35 ERA, 15.1 IP, 21 K

RP Matt Keating: 1.42 ERA, 12.2 IP, 17 K

Prospect of the week: Jared Serna

Serna had a brief stint with Tampa last year, and it did not go well. He got off to a reasonably slow start this season too, but that is now a thing of the past. Here is the damage Serna did to the Bradenton Marauders last week: 11-for-19, three doubles, a triple, two homers, seven RBI, four runs scored, four walks, and a stolen base. That results in a slash line of .579/.652/1.158, and it makes his numbers for the young season look very shiny.

Serna, a 20-year-old second baseman from Mexico, now has a line of .377/.473/.558 for the year, and he leads the Tarpons in all three categories. And he’s putting the bat on the ball, striking out only seven times so far. Serna came into the season with a reputation of hitting the ball hard despite his listed size of 5-foot-6, and that’s now translating into production on the field.

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