The season is no longer in its infancy stage after a month of play, but it can be stated we are starting to get a read on many players.
Many are off to solid starts. Several have shown they are still prospects, or have made a comeback, notably Nick Swisher at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, who is batting .367 in 11 games since being signed by the Yankees. At Double-A Trenton, outfielder Jake Cave is hitting a solid .292 in 18 games, while Tyler Wade, who slumped a bit to .250 last week, is looking much better at both the plate and at bat.
Outfielder Michael O’Neill is rolling at Tampa with a ,333 average in 15 games, while shortstop Kyle Holder showed he could hit at Charleston with a .290 average in eight games before being sidelined with what was reported as an upper-body injury.
All of the above – and others – still have helped their teams get the job done, but an additional group really stood out with their performances in April:
POSITION PLAYER – OF Ben Gamel – The brother of Mat Ganel, who was briefly in the Yankees system, Ben, who just turned 24, continued to show while he doesn’t have one tool that stands out, has a myriad of abilities when put together produce a pretty good player.
He’s following up his .300 effort of 2015 with a .314 (22-70) average in 18 games. He’s put it all together since he first reached Triple-A last season and has placed himself ahead of the pack among Yankees system outfielders other than Aaron Judge.
PITCHER – Right-hander Chad Green – This gentleman struggled to a 5-14 mark in the Eastern League in 2015, but his other numbers were quite good. His ERA of 3.93 was not shabby, considering he pitched most of his games in the Erie bandbox known as Jerry Uht Park when he was in the Detroit system. His strikeout/walk ration was 137-43. He is 0-3 so far in 2016, but with an ERA of 1.44 in five starts running into some tough luck.
POSITION PLAYER – C Kyle Higashioka – Always an excellent defensive backstop, the 26-year-old Higashioka has found consistency at the plate. He is off to a .306 (15-for-48) start and is handling the Thunder pitching staff well. A seventh-round draft pick in 2008, the Huntingdon Beach, Calif., native is keeping himself in the prospect mix.
PITCHER – Left-hander Dietrich Enns and right-hander Ronald Herrera – The two earned mention by dominating Eastern League opposition in impressive fashion. Both are 3-0. Enns has not allowed a run in four starts and 23.2 innings and has a strikeout/walk ratio of 25-13. Herrera, with a microscope ERA of 1.29 in four Double-A starts, pitched eight innings of no-hit ball this past Tuesday vs. New Hampshire. His strikeout/walk ratio is 20-4.
Either could legitimately be named Eastern League Pitcher of the Month for April.
POSITION PLAYER – IF Billy Fleming – As a free-agent signed after a solid career at West Virginia University, Fleming, 23, and a native of Churchville, Pa., has had battle vs. players the Yankees ate more invested. He has certainly responded at Tampa, batting .364 (24-for-66) in 17 games with an OPS of .940. He will be taking a journey to Central Jersey, with several of his present teammates, later in the 2016 season.
PITCHER – Left-hander Ian Clarkin – A Yankees first-round draft pick in 2013, Clarkin appears to be healthy after a few setbacks. He’s putting his fastball on the corners and mixing in his big breaking ball with an improving change. Clarkin is 2-1, 2.35 in four starts. The Yankees would like nothing more to see him throw 125-150 effective innings as a 21-year-old this season.
POSITION PLAYER – SS Thairo Estrada – The Yankees system is full of excellent shortstops, and Estrada, signed out of Venezuela for $50,000 in 2012, is showing he belongs as well, with a .324 (22-for-68) start in 17 games. He also has added 14 RBIs. He is only 20.
PITCHER – Right-hander Domingo Acevedo – The question is whether this native of the Dominican Republic, signed by the Yankees in 2012 for just $7,500, can harness his awesome talent, including a fastball that has reached 103 mph. He also has an improving changeup and developing slider, which the Yankees installed after scrapping his curve. So far, he is 2-0, 1.91 in five starts, with a strikeout/walk ratio of 32-4. His command appears to be improving.