In telling the story of the GCL Yankees on August 18, there’s good news and bad news.
First the good news. The GCL Yankees 2 snuck past the Pirates 4-3 in ten innings. Graham Ramos led off the top of the tenth with a single. He was sacrificed to second on a Yancarlos Baez bunt, and then Jake Hernandez singled to knock him in. Abel Mora closed it out to save it for Hector Martinez.
The standout on the pitching side was starter Nestor Cortes. Last year’s 36th-rounder didn’t allow an earned run in five innings and struck out seven, continuing a streak of four games without allowing an earned run and lowering his ERA to 1.63. Cortes, 19, remains a sleeper prospect, and it will be interesting to see where he ends up assigned next spring.
Other than the two hits in the tenth, the Yankees got a double from first baseman Chris Gittens, and singles from second baseman Junior Valera, third baseman Allen Valerio, and catcher Jesus Aparicio.
The bad news is the GCL Yankees 1 got pasted by the Braves 12-0 in Tampa. Caleb Cotham and Reynaldo Polanco can be held blameless, combining for 4.2 innings of shutout baseball, but Preston Claiborne (5 earned runs in 2 innings), Andre Del Bosque (3 earned runs in 1 inning), and Austin DeCarr all got teed up. DeCarr, this year’s third rounder, had what you would call a bad day in a season that hasn’t seen many of them. He gave up four earned runs in 1.1 innings of work, walked one, hit two guys, and was charged with a balk and a wild pitch.
For a silver lining when looking at an offense that put up a goose egg, the Yankees did manage eight hits. Designated Hitter Tyler Palmer had three of them, shortstop Bryan Cuevas had two, and outfielders Ramon Flores and Alexander Palma chipped in with doubles.
Centerfielder Leonardo Molina came out of the game for an unknown reason after going 0 for 2. Molina was last summer’s highest-profile amateur signing, and the Yankees used a large portion of their international bonus pool to get him. Molina has been praised for his physical gifts and his mature approach, some scouts even calling him the best player in last year’s international prospect crop, but he has really struggled in the GCL and especially of late. He is just 6 for his last 55, but he is also freshly 17 years old. It is likely he has already played more organized games this season than he ever has, and who knows what it’s like for him being the same age as a lot of high school sophomores playing with and against guys who graduated from college? He’ll be better for going through some growing pains early on, and hopefully he is still healthy and was just getting a breather.
The player who replaced Molina in center was Cesar Diaz, who made his debut in the GCL today after playing the rest of the season in the Dominican Summer League. Diaz is already 21, and he has no record of playing professionally before this year, but he was having an excellent season in the DSL. He put up .305/.419/.412 numbers while striking out only 16 times in 177 at-bats. At his age, it’s time to get moving, and getting to the GCL is a big step.