MLB team in turmoil but Yankees’ farm continues to prosper

Yankees prospect Richard Fitts is seen during a practice session at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida.
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Sara Molnick
Friday August 11, 2023

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The newest list from MLB Pipeline that ranks the top 100 up-and-coming baseball players includes three Yankees prospects in total. This group had two new players, Spencer Jones and Everson Pereira, who joined another young outfielder named Jasson Dominguez.

The catching prospect Austin Wells isn’t part of the top 100 list anymore, even though the Yankees prospect was on the list back in May.

Three Yankees prospects

Out of the three Yankees prospects, Jones, who was selected in the first round last year, has the highest ranking at number 79. Dominguez and Pereira are right after, ranked at 80 and 81, respectively.

At 22 years old, Jones has been compared to Aaron Judge because he’s also tall at 6 feet 6 inches. In his first full season in the minor leagues with High-A Hudson Valley, he’s already shown moments of his strong hitting ability. As a left-handed outfielder, his performance up until Thursday included a.263 batting average, a.333 on-base percentage, a.452 slugging percentage, and a combined measure of his performance (OPS) of.785. He’s hit 12 home runs, 25 doubles, and driven in 51 runs. On top of that, he’s pretty fast, stealing 27 bases in 81 games.

The only downside to Jones is that he tends to strike out quite a bit, and he’s struck out 121 times this season.

spencer-jones-new-york-yankees
instagram – spencerjones

Dominguez, who is 20 years old, has been listed on the MLB Pipeline throughout the whole season. Lately, he’s been performing exceptionally well in Double-A Somerset, hitting with an impressive.405 batting average, a.479 on-base percentage, and a.571 slugging percentage in his last 10 games. His nickname “The Martian” is well-deserved, with 13 home runs and 58 runs batted in, along with a remarkable 36 stolen bases this season.

Pereira, aged 22, might have the best chance of getting promoted to the major leagues, and there’s a possibility this could happen during the current season. This information comes from Andy Martino at SNY.

Ever since moving up to Triple-A, Pereira has been performing really well. His stats show a .324 batting average, a.372 on-base percentage, and a.559 slugging percentage, which adds up to an impressive .931 overall performance score (OPS). In just 27 games, he’s hit six home runs and driven in 30 runs.

The Yankees prospects Jasson Dominguez and Everson Pereira.

Here’s the complete list of the Yankees’ top 10 prospects, as ranked by MLB Pipeline:

  • Spencer Jones, OF
  • Jasson Dominguez, OF
  • Everson Pereira, OF
  • Chase Hampton, RHP
  • Drew Thorpe, RHP
  • George Lombard Jr., SS
  • Roderick Arias, SS
  • Austin Wells, C
  • Trey Sweeney, SS
  • Will Warren, RHP

A new Yankees catcher on the rise

Yankees’ catcher prospect Ben Rice showed his talent despite having a challenging role to take on at TD Bank Ballpark. Given the responsibility of stepping in for the Yankees’ top catching prospect, Austin Wells, who was finally moved up to Triple-A Scranton, Ben Rice, aged 24, took on this role alongside. After his own promotion, the Yankees prospect had a great beginning, getting hits in 10 out of his first 17 at-bats.

Since then, his performance has slowed down a bit. Currently, Rice has a batting average of.255, along with five home runs and 14 runs batted in during his initial 13 games. However, the Yankees’ strong catching options across the entire organization are not to blame for this decline in performance.

Rice mentioned that they had a lot of excellent catchers, which he found to be truly amazing. He added that this situation led everyone to compete more fiercely with each other, motivating each individual to improve. The Yankees prospect expressed his satisfaction with his current statistics, but he also acknowledged that the catchers within the organization were exceptionally skilled.

Rice, who was absent for around two months of the season due to a muscle problem in his lower left back, has also played at first base this year. This shows the same kind of flexibility he used to display when he played hockey in high school and earned a letter. The Yankees prospect described himself as a “super-utility man” back then, participating in both forward and defenseman positions.

According to Rice, hockey had always been his primary sport as he was growing up and remained his favorite. However, as he progressed to his junior or senior year, he came to the realization that he had better chances in baseball, at least in the near term. The Yankees prospect explained that with hockey, there was a need for more time before college since colleges prefer slightly older freshmen. Considering his circumstances during his junior year, the clearer path he saw was in baseball, so that’s the direction he chose.

Richard Fitts: The ace on the horizon

After facing some challenges at the beginning of the season, Richard Fitts, who throws with his right hand, has managed to regain his position as one of the organization’s standout pitchers. This has led to discussions about him potentially becoming the team’s primary pitcher, often referred to as the “ace,” just like his fellow prospect Chase Hampton.

The 23-year-old pitcher mentioned that the shift was a result of consistently focusing on improving his skills each day. Fitts explained that his main goal throughout the year was to achieve consistency and enhance his comfort level in his current surroundings. The unique ability to boost all of his pitches played a significant role in preventing situations where he had a poor inning during a game or experienced occasional subpar performances.

Selected in the sixth round of the 2021 MLB Draft from Auburn University, this native of Alabama received a promotion toward the end of the previous year to play for High-A Hudson Valley. He was given the chance to begin the current season with Somerset after participating in only five games with the Renegades. During that time, he impressively allowed just two earned runs across 33 innings.

In the beginning, he faced difficulties as his ERA reached 6.21 during the first seven starts. However, he was able to turn things around. 

Reflecting on that time, Fitts stated that while there were challenges, it also presented an important opportunity for personal development. He emphasized their dual objectives of individual growth and team success. He also pointed out that the experience of recovering from a tough outing and then achieving victory the following week played a crucial role in enhancing his self-belief and building his character.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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