Yesterday I got my first look at the Yankees minor league Extended Spring Training in Tampa although their “season” is almost over. The FCL season is expected to start on June 5, with the Yankees’ last game on June 1 and Ext. Spring ending on June 2.
The headlining prospect is, of course, SS Roderick Arias, whom the Yankees signed in 2022 for $4 Million. It was just a camp day meaning they had an intrasquad game, so I didn’t see as many reps as one normally would during a game, plus I arrived late so that doesn’t help matters either.
My first impressions of Arias are that he has quick hands and feet and can get rid of the ball in a flash. I didn’t get an opportunity to see him perform a 6-3 out, only the around-the-horn throwing the infield does prior to an inning starting.
Arias didn’t get good at-bats either, mostly because of wild pitching. He did hit a line drive up the middle for a single, but that’s all I saw. Given the hype, I’m looking forward to seeing his offensive performance in FCL, but I’m also tempering expectations given his performance last year. Arias struck out in over half of the ABs he had in the last month of his season (25 out of 48) and walked 13 times. Arias ended the short DSL season batting .194/.379/.370/.749 after missing all of June with an injury.
Looking at the roster, there’s a few names I’m surprised to see in Extended Spring still. LHP Matt Minnick tops that list, especially after throwing a 1.81 ERA in 59.2 IP with AA Somerset last year. He doesn’t seem to have been injured, as far as some of my sources know anyways.
I’m also surprised that RHP Montana Semmel still hasn’t been promoted to Single-A Tampa yet, especially after having been signed in 2019. Semmel did have a flexor strain in his right elbow which shut him down for all of 2021.He was pitch limited last season in FCL, only pitching 21.2 innings in 11 games. Semmel ended last August, the final month of the season, with a 0.00 ERA in 8.1 IP, allowing only 5 hits and 2 walks, hitting 2 batters. He also had 8 strikeouts. Semmel had a K/9 of 9.55 and a BB/9 of 2.08, both excellent stats.
RHP Luis Serna is also in FCL, apparently recovering from a wrist injury from what one scout told me. Serna was just as dominant last season as Semmel, posting a 1.96 ERA in 41.1 IP with 56 K. Serna had a K/9 of 12.19 last season, which is nearly as good as you can get at the Rookie level, but had a BB/9 of 3.70 which could use some improvement. For context on the BB/9, ideally pitchers should be around 2 or better. It shows that his control could use some improvement, but that batters are swinging and missing on his pitches.
Since we’re on the topic of pitching, there’s some arms that are making their stateside debuts this year that I’m really excited about seeing in person. I met Carlos Lagrange and Henry Lalane yesterday and they were both excited to show off their stuff this year. Lagrange can get his fastball into the triple digits easily but is reported to have control issues. I really like the late rise his FB has, and his curveball is average but has potential as seen in this video by our Carlos Pena. Lefty Lalane shows better control in this video compilation compared to Lagrange, but he can’t get his FB up like Lagrange. I’ll take control over velo any day.
Did I mention Lagrange is 6-foot-7 and Lalane is 6-foot-8? The Yankees could field a basketball team of pitchers if they wanted to.
Christopher Familia, an outfielder with the Single-A Tarpons last year, is on the Extended Spring team, recovering from an injury experienced in the offseason. He hit a sharp homerun to right center yesterday, and his power is one of the more fun aspects of his game, but like fellow loud bat Anthony Garcia, his plate discipline isn’t the best. Hopefully that’s something that can be corrected with the different hitting staff we have in Tampa this year.
INF Enger Castellano showed off his power too, hitting a homer well over the left field fence. Castellano only hit 3 HR last year with the DSL NYY Bombers and batted .202 while striking out 25% of the 188 ABs he took. He did work a lot of walks though, walking 16% of the time.
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