Ben Rice wins Judge’s approval, promises Yankees’ first base solution

Ben Rice steals a base during the Yankees vs. Blue Jays game in Toronto on June 30, 2024.

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The New York Yankees might have found a promising internal solution for their first base needs in Ben Rice, potentially alleviating the pressure to make a trade before the July 30 deadline. The rookie, stepping in for the injured Anthony Rizzo, has demonstrated noteworthy prowess at the plate.

Yankees star Aaron Judge has voiced strong support for the 25-year-old, praising Ben Rice’s ability to perform against tough teams in challenging environments. Judge highlighted the prospect’s consistent and high-quality at-bats as particularly impressive.

“At that age, to come in here, the teams he’s played are some tough teams in tough environments,” the slugger told the New York Post’s Dan Martin. “I go back to the game [Saturday]. He comes up and gets slotted into that two-hole real quick, comes out of the gate with a nice line drive to left-center. It’s just impressive at-bat after impressive at-bat. We saw what he was doing in the minor leagues and it’s really translating well up here.”

Ben Rice grins after recording a hit at Yankee Stadium.
Jason Szenes / NYP

Stats support Yankees’ trust in Ben Rice

Ben Rice’s statistics reinforce his early success. He boasts the team’s lowest strikeout rate at 12.5 percent and ranks fourth in average exit velocity at 91.5 mph, following power hitters Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, and Giancarlo Stanton. In 12 games, Ben Rice has maintained a .273 batting average with two RBIs over 33 at-bats.

An anonymous American League scout, speaking to Martin, commended Ben Rice’s composure at the plate, describing it as a rare and invaluable quality that has seamlessly transitioned from the minor leagues to the majors.

While the sample size is small and regression is possible, Ben Rice’s performance has sparked discussions about whether the Yankees need to seek external options like St. Louis’ Paul Goldschmidt or Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

If Ben Rice continues to excel, he could secure a permanent spot in the lineup, addressing one of the Yankees’ key roster concerns. However, the team will likely keep a close eye on his progress as the trade deadline approaches.

Ben Rice impresses with plate discipline

The photo of Ben Rice as a kid and on his Yankees debut on June 18, 2024.

New York Yankees rookie Ben Rice has made an impressive start to his major league career, particularly noted for his exceptional plate discipline. Though he has fewer than 50 plate appearances and is still seeking his first home run, Rice has shown remarkable control, drawing more walks than strikeouts.

Kevin Reese, the Yankees‘ Vice President of Player Development, lauded Rice’s ability to avoid pitches outside the strike zone while effectively swinging at strikes. Reese likened this rare skill set to that of Juan Soto, who is widely regarded as a master of plate discipline.

Ben Rice’s early performance is supported by strong statistics. He holds the lowest strikeout rate (12.5%) among Yankees batters this season and boasts a 15% walk rate, trailing only team stars Aaron Judge and Juan Soto.

Although the sample size is limited, Ben Rice’s disciplined approach at the plate positions him among elite company within the Yankees’ lineup. His promising start suggests the potential for continued success as he advances in his major league career.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

One thought on “Ben Rice wins Judge’s approval, promises Yankees’ first base solution

  1. Ben Rice hasn’t missed a beat going from High-A to AA to AAA to MLB in terms of his approach at the plate. His defense, whether at catcher or 1B needs plenty of work, but he has already earned the respect of both Cole& Judge, at least publicly, & that’s a good start. Now, Cashman has to just let him play.

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