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Luis Gil pitching for the Somerset Patriots on May 9, 2021. (Chirs Jones)

Columns

Pinstriped Players Of The Week (5/11-5/16)

It was not a bad second week for the four New York Yankees affiliate as three of the four teams went 3-3 or better. Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre and Low-A Tampa led the way as they took four of six games in their series.

Meanwhile, High-A Hudson Valley picked up a second consecutive split of their series and Somerset lost four of six games in their first road series as a Yankees affiliate.

Starting today, we are going to be naming our hitters and pitchers of the week each Monday and they will be picked by the beat writers who cover those teams and are at the ballpark for every home series.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre’s choices are written by Alex Kielar, Hudson Valley’s by Steve Alhona, Tampa’s by John Brophy, and Somerset’s by Matt Kardos:

Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (9-3) 

Chris Gittens (Matt Bufano)

Hitter Of The Week: 1B Chris Gittens

Hard Hittin’ Chris Gittens has been raking to start the season for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. This week, he added two more home runs (out of four hits) to increase his total to four on the season. Gittens smacked his second homer of the week off of Phillies’ top prospect Spencer Howard on Sunday.

“We were just thinking going into it, just to try and get on top of the fastball. Try to work [Howard] down in the zone,” Gittens said. “Know that if it’s down in the zone, you can hit it and if it’s high, just take it. That’s what I was trying to do and that took a good count, finally against him. I felt like ever since [2019] when I faced him in the playoff game, I’ve been behind in the count. I just said ‘okay let’s be patient and let’s try to do damage somewhere.’”

Over the week, Gittens also walked three times, all coming in Friday’s contest. He is now hitting .323/.523/.774 with the four homers, 10 RBI, 13 runs scored, and 12 walks on the season.

Deivi Garcia (Photo by Matt Bufano)

Pitcher Of The Week: SP Deivi Garcia

After a rough first outing for the Railriders this season back on May 6, Garcia bounced back for two masterful performances this week. He has hit his grove and looks to be getting better each start.

His first start of the week came in the team’s home opener. In that start, the soon-to-be 22-year-old focused on using his fastball as his putaway pitch and blew it by hitters. In his second start on Sunday, he used more breaking stuff, setting at-bats up with his nasty curveball and then putting batters away with his slider and changeup. Garcia combined for 10 innings pitched, five hits, one run (zero earned), two walks, and 16 strikeouts – nine on Sunday – across the two starts.

“I think Deivi just continues to get better and better each outing he goes out there,” manager Doug Davis said. “I think he’s confident in his stuff and in all of his pitches. He’s using his slider a lot and he sneaks that fastball in there in situations where they’re not expecting it. Velocity plays up a bit for him and he locates at the top of the zone and at the knees.

“He knows when he gets to the big leagues and gets behind in the count, he can’t just throw fastballs,” Davis continued. “He’s gotta be able to throw his offspeed pitches to get back in counts, and he’s doing that here.”

Double-A Somerset Patriots (7-5)

Hitter Of The Week: OF Thomas Milone

Thomas Milone playing for the Somerset Patriots on May 7, 2021. (Chris Jones)

Milone has been one of the surprise performers for the Somerset Patriots during their first two weeks of the season. With Estvan Florial now promoted to Triple-A, the Patriots will rely even more heavily on the production of Milone moving forward. Overall the 26-year old outfielder is slashing .324/.409/1.058 with three homers and a team-high 7 RBI over 37 at-bats. Milone is already one homer shy of his career-best mark of four, which he set back in 2019 as a member of the Rays organization. In six games against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats last week, Milone hit safely in five of the six contests and slashed .304/.360/.609 with two homers and 2 RBI to go along with three stolen bases on the first leg of a 12 days road trip.

Pitcher Of The Week: SP Luis Gil

Luis Gil pitching for the Somerset Patriots on May 9, 2021. (Chirs Jones)

After facing the Harrisburg Senators twice in the first week of the season, the highly-touted Gil finally got his first taste of another upper level opponent in New Hampshire last Saturday. The 22-year old right-hander tossed a season-high four innings without allowing a run or a walk; he fanned a season-best eight on the night. After three starts with the Patriots, Gil is yet to factor into a decision, but has fanned 19 and walked just four. Despite allowing three runs over his three starts, Gil has not been scored upon in two of his three starts.

 

High-A Hudson Valley Renegades (6-6)

Oswald Peraza. (Robert M. Pimpsner/Pinstriped Prospects)

Hitter Of The Week: SS Oswald Peraza

This week’s Hudson Valley player of the week is Oswald Peraza. Peraza on the week hit .429 with 5 HR’s and 8 RBI. After a slow start, Peraza is beginning to catch fire at the plate. In the series, Peraza hit home runs in four consecutive games and drove in eight. In addition to the home runs, the shortstop also has nine stolen bases on the season.

Ken Waldichuk. (Tracy Proffitt/Four Seam Images via AP)

Pitcher Of The Week: SP Ken Waldichuk

Waldichuk made two starts this week. In Tuesday’s start against the Aberdeen Ironbirds, the left-hander went 3.1 innings, punching out 10 while allowing only three hits. In his start on Sunday, he went 4 innings, punching out 7, while allowing just 2 hits. On the season, the 5th Round pick back in 2019 has made 3 starts, striking out 19 batters and giving up just 6 hits without allowing no runs.

Low-A Tampa Tarpons (9-3)

Austin Wells (Photo by John Brophy/Pinstriped Prospects)

Hitter Of The Week: C Austin Wells

After having a somewhat quiet bat in the opening series against Dunedin, Wells’ bat really came alive in Lakeland this past series. In 25 at-bats, Wells had six hits, drove in seven runs and struck out 7 times. Wells accounted for almost half of Tampa’s scored runs on Friday’s break-out 5th inning in which they ultimately won, 7-4. Wells, a left-handed hitter, seems to drive the ball mostly to left field. He did, however, hit a ball to right in Friday’s game where he hit a triple and scored two. The Arizona alum also only allowed two errors this week, a passed ball and a fielding error on a wild pitch.­

Pitcher Of The Week: RHP Randy Vasquez 

Randy Vasquez (David Gravely/The Southwest Times)

Randy Vasquez is on track to have a stand-out year and should quickly move up to Hudson Valley or Somerset if he keeps on the current pace he’s on. As of the off-day Monday, through 10 1/3 innings, Vasquez owns a 0.87 ERA, which is among the best pitchers in the Yankees farm system. To put it in a different perspective, this season Vasquez is dealing about 14.23 pitches per inning vs Gerrit Cole at 15.23 pitches per inning.

Vasquez last threw for Pulaski (Short Season Appalachian League) in 2019 and had a 3.29 ERA over 54 2/3 innings, so it appears that he may have worked on his pitching in the lost 2020 season. To have a season compared with Bob Gibson’s 1968 season or Gerrit Cole’s season thus far is indeed high praise.

I am an alum of St. John's University, where I majored in sports management.

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