It was a very special week for the entire New York Yankees organization across the board. Derek Jeter, the former face of the MLB and one of the greatest Yankees ball players of all time made his long-anticipated debut in Monument Park when he officially had his number two retired on Mother’s Day.
“You know, you play here in New York for 20 years,” Jeter said during his ceremony speech. “I learned that time flies, memories fade, but family is forever and I’ll be eternally grateful to be a part of the Yankees family, so I can’t thank you guys enough. Thank you very much.”
I was lucky enough to be in attendance for Derek Jeter day on Sunday night, and as I watched a video montage that started out with a highlight of Derek Jeter’s first hit as a member of the Columbus Clippers – the former AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees, I couldn’t help but think who’s next.
Don’t get me wrong, there is only one Derek Jeter and his legacy will never be replaced… ever.
But somewhere down the line another Pinstriped Prospect will become the face of the franchise and lead this city back to the promised land.
There is no other organization in baseball that can compete with the lineage of the New York Yankees. My great grandfather grew up watching Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. My grandfather grew up watching Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. My dad grew up watching Thurman Munson and Don Mattingly. And Yankees fans my age grew up watching the Core Four led by ‘The Captain’ Derek Jeter.
The next generation of Yankees fans are in for a treat. Their hero is waiting in the wings to emerge. It could be a current baby-faced member of the Yankees who was leaning over the dugout railing watching in awe as Derek Jeter made his final farewell last night. It might be a current prospect in the Yankees pipeline playing between Charleston or Scranton or it might even be a player in this weeks edition of our Minor League Player of the Week series!
We don’t know who it is just yet, but one day another player will grow up in front of our own eyes and blossom into a star.
We’ll cheer him, we’ll boo him. Little League players throughout New York State will spend their entire season trying to mimic his batting stance or pitching motion. He’ll wear the heart of New York City on his sleeve as his career unfolds, and one day that young man will have his jersey number retired next to Derek Jeter’s number two.
I’ll probably be an old man by then, but it’ll be cool to look back and say that I covered that player in the minor leagues on Pinstriped Prospects before he turned into a star!
That said, let’s take a look at our Minor League Players of the Week for May 8th -14th:
Charleston RiverDogs: RF Isiah Gilliam (.283, 3 HR, 17 RBI)
The Charleston RiverDogs went 3-3 this week, sliding to 18-19 on the year and into fourth place of the South Atlantic League Southern Division.
20-year old RF/1B Isiah Gilliam continued to swing a hot-bat this week, recording at least one hit in each of the six games to extend his hitting streak to a team-high 11 games. The Lilburn, GA native recorded two home runs and two three-hit performances while raking in six RBI’s this week, improving his season slash line to .283/.378/.469 with an .847 OPS. Thanks to his monster week, Gilliams ranks second amongst RiverDogs batters in home runs (3) and third in RBIs (17), total bases (53) and runs (19).
Tampa Yankees: RHP Erik Swanson (1-0, 1.06 ERA, 14 Ks)
The Tampa Yankees went 3-3 this week, taking two-of-three from the Dunedin Blue Jays and dropping two-of-three to the Clearwater Threshers.
23-year old right-handed pitcher Erik Swanson tossed five shutout innings on Tuesday night at George M. Steinbrenner field to help the T-Yanks to a 2-0 win over the Blue Jays. The right-hander scattered just two hits and two walks while striking out six Blue Jays batters to notch his first win of the season. Swanson threw 54 of 84 pitches for strikes, but perhaps even more impressive is the fact that he extended his scoreless streak to 16.0 consecutive innings.
Trenton Thunder: RHP Ronald Herrera (3-0, 0.49 ERA, 5 Ks)
After promoting a ton of talent from their roster up to Scranton, the Trenton Thunder went 3-4 this week, dropping a three-game series to the Akron RubberDucks and splitting a four-game set with the Harrisburg Senators.
22-year old Ronald Herrera continued to shine from the mound for the Thunder. Despite coughing up his first earned run of the season, the hard-throwing right-hander improved his overall record to 3-0 with another gem on Friday night at Arm&Hammer Park. Herrera scattered five hits and two walks while fanning five Senator batters across a season-high 7.0 innings pitched. After his third start, Herrera now leads all active Thunder starters in ERA (0.49) and WHIP (0.82).
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: RHP Chance Adams (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6Ks)
The RailRiders went 3-4 this week, dropping two-of-three to the Pawtucket Red Sox and splitting a four-game set with the Syracuse Chiefs.
After pitching to a 4-0 record with a 1.03 ERA in 35.0 Eastern League innings, 22-year old right-hander Chance Adams was promoted to Triple-A where he would made his RailRiders debut on the road in Syracuse on Sunday.
In his Triple-A debut, the former fifth-round draft pick tossed five scoreless innings, scattering two hits and three walks en route to his first Triple-A win. Adams fanned six Syracuse batters and improved his overall 2017 era to 0.90 in 40.0 innings pitched. If he continues to dominate, Adams might work himself into the conversation as a dark horse to join the New York Yankees rotation in 2018.