The Staten Island Yankees 2014 season was a wild one. The Baby Bombers have not made the New York-Penn League playoffs since the 2011 season and have had three consecutive seasons with a winning percentage under .500.
During the 2014 season a total of 40 different players took the field for the Yankees, 20 position players and 20 pitchers. This also marked the first use of shifts at the short-season level and a more statistical approach to games. Throughout the season a spray chart was visible in the Staten Island dugout that featured info on opposing players. As for the game on the field the team had several bright spots and some blemishes.
Ty McFarland, the Yankees 2014 tenth round draft pick, hit well for Staten Island batting .278 but committed 19 errors in the field. Many would look at that and say he needs a lot of work in the field. Which they are right but all the errors came at second base. McFarland who grew up playing third base most of his life was moved to second for his first professional season, a move that can be difficult in the first year.
Luis Torrens was easily one of the top prospects on the 2014 Staten Island Yankees. He actually did not start with the Baby Bombers but instead was sent to Charleston, after an injury early in the season he was sent to Staten Island to rehab and he found success. With a 21-game hitting streak the young catcher showed us why he was so highly touted. He showed a maturity beyond his years and was able to communicate well with the pitching staff. Fatigue later in the season caused him to get out of his groove a bit but will be one to watch in the coming seasons.
Another top prospect on the 2014 Staten Island squad was Thairo Estrada. Estrada began the 2014 season as the everyday shortstop but a mid-season leg injury running the bases sent him down to Tampa. After rehabbing the injury at the complex he finished his season with the GCL Yankees. The timing of the injury allowed recent draftee Vicente Conde to move into the starting spot at short as soon as he arrived from Vanderbilt.
Chris Breen came into the 2014 season as a catcher/ first baseman but ended the season as the everyday left fielder and was a solid hitter throughout the season. Breen’s athleticism was praised by Staten Island manager Mario Garza.
Connor Spencer was the most consistent Yankee bat during the 2014 season. The first baseman out of UC Irvine played college ball for former Staten Island Yankees manager Mike Gillespie and lead the NY-Penn League with a .364 batting average. His 72 hits in 198 at bats lead the new Yankee to the NY-Penn League All-Star Game. Though a solid hitter he did not hit any homeruns in the season, he hit mostly to the gaps.
Isaias Tejeda had spent parts of four seasons with the Staten Island Yankees but at 22 years old he was still on par with the average age of players in the league. Like Torrens he is a catcher and had an impressive 20-game hitting streak this season. With Torrens getting the bulk of playing time behind the plate this season Tejeda was the DH for most games. He was a leader on the field and in the clubhouse for the Yankees as his familiarity with the league and city helped players adjust.
When Ty Hensley was drafted he said he wanted to play in New York City by his 21st birthday and on his 21st birthday he got his wish. On July 30, 2014 he made his debut with the Staten Island Yankees after seven games in the Gulf Coast League. Returning to the mound after a year due to multiple surgeries was something the young righty was looking forward to. With a fastball that topped out at 96 MPH and had a plus curveball. Coach Tim Norton was excited to see him pitch and praised the progress he made throughout the season.
In eight games for Staten Island Justin Kamplain allowed just one run. You read that right, the young lefty allowed only one run in his 21 innings for the Staten Island Yankees earning him a mid-season call up to the Charleston RiverDogs.
David Palladino was the Baby Bombers opening day starter and had the home opener not been rained out I would suspect the outcome would have been different than it was in Brooklyn on June 14. Palladino is a tall right-hander with a plus fastball. Usually sitting 93-94MPH with the fastball he does dial it up at times to the high 90s and has a good feel for his secondary pitches that include a changeup, slider, curveball and splitter. In his second season with the Yankees he was primarily a starter, leading the team with 67.2 innings pitched and striking out 58 batters.
The Yankees selected Jordan Cote in the third round of the 2011 draft. In two season with the Gulf Coast Yankees he was 3-1 with a 0.97 ERA in 55 innings before starting the 2014 season with the Charleston RiverDogs. In the South Atlantic League the right-hander was used out of the bullpen and was 1-1 with a 5.32 ERA in 22 innings. When the NY-Penn League started the Yankees reassigned him to Staten Island where he was in the rotation for the majority of the year, starting nine out of the fourteen games he appeared in. While his numbers were not good it is safe to say that it was due to an injury he was battling. Expect Cote to be back to form in 2015, likely starting the season with the RiverDogs.
The 2014 season was not a great year statistically but a solid year for player development. There was not many changes on the field or in the clubhouse for Staten Island but the team got much better after adjusting to the level of play. It was a solid year for player development and expect this group of guys to do well as they move through the system.