With division championships in the bag, the GCL Yankees played their last regular season games Thursday.
The GCL Yankees 1 finished their regular season with a GCL-best record of 38-22 by beating the Blue Jays 4-2. Two pitchers who have struggled, Deshorn Lake and Dayton Dawe, put in five innings of solid relief backing up starter Orby Tavares, striking out five and allowing no runs. Lake got the win and Dawe the save.
Though Tavares did not figure in the decision, he completed what has to be considered a successful debut season, finishing with a 2.68 ERA in 40.1 innings pitched. Tavares will turn 20 next month, and his development will be interesting to watch. He is left-handed and has good size, listed at 6’4″ and 225 pounds, and Nardi Contreras compared his body to a young Andy Pettitte. Tavares is not a pitching prospect of that magnitude right now, but there appears to be reason to keep an eye on him.
On offense, Cesar Diaz continued to find GCL pitching to his liking, going 3 for 4, driving in three, and raising his average to .407 in his abbreviated stay. The Yankees 1 got two hits from Allison Reyes, also hitting well since coming over from the Dominican Summer League, and a hit apiece from Leonardo Molina, Miguel Mojica, Kevin Cornelius, Roybell Herrera, and Brian Reyes. Molina’s hit was his tenth double.
The GCL Yankees 2 ended their regular season at 35-25 after they dropped Thursday’s game 4-3 to the Astros in twelve innings. Considering the game didn’t mean anything in the standings, the teams interestingly combined for 16 walks. You’d think strikes were not in abundance, but they also struck out 21 times.
Yankees 2 pitchers Eduardo Rivera, David Rodriguez, and Abel Mora (3.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 k) put in ten innings of work and allowed three of the runs, but as the game lingered further into extra innings the Yankees saw no reason to dip into their pitching pool and instead called on position player Graham Ramos to take the mound. He eventually took the loss, but he did record five outs before the Astros walked off with the victory on a sacrifice fly.
Jake Anderson hit a two-run homer for the Yankees 2, who also got singles from shortstop Yancarlos Baez and catcher Rainiero Coa and three hits from left fielder Griffin Gordon. Center fielder Jordan Barnes went 0 for 1 but walked four times, and first baseman R.J. Johnson had a no-contact kind of day, walking once and striking out five times.
Anderson is in his fourth season in the GCL, and this may well have been his last game as a member of the Yankees organization. The Yankees just released Corban Joseph, and when Jake Anderson was drafted he was compared to Joseph as a hitter. The difference is Joseph has been productive and could still find himself in the big leagues with someone, and Anderson has not been able to hit his way out of rookie ball. With the influx of infield talent in the system, the Yankees could well release Anderson this off-season.
In what could be an unprecedented event, the two Yankees teams will play each other on Friday in the first round of the GCL playoffs. The smart money is on the Yankees to win.