While the spotlight is on the big names at each level of the minors there are several players who have proved themselves to be key contributors to their respect teams so far this year. Among these unsung prospects are first baseman Matt Synder and outfielder Ben Gamel.
Gamel, 22, is getting his first taste of the minor’s top level this season and so far has been a pleasant surprise with the bat for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The 2010 10th round draft pick for the New York Yankees is in his sixth season in the farm system and was eligible for the Rule-V draft this past year. With that in mind they wanted to see what the young outfielder had at Triple-A after he completed the 2014 season with a .261 average over 131 games for the Trenton Thunder. With 10 games under his belt with the RailRiders he is hitting .351 over 37 at bats. In that short amount of time he has two doubles, five RBIs and six walks. He has earned himself an on-base percentage of .442 with an OPS of .901. A 0-for-5 night on April 20, 2015 in a 15-inning game snapped a six game hitting streak he had that also included a string of five games where he had multiple hits.
In Double-A the former Yankees number one prospect Mason Williams has been a sight to watch at the plate and in the field. Williams has drawn praise for his major league quality defense in the outfield but struggled at the plate and is putting the past behind him this year. Williams, 23, is hitting .314 this season in 10 games with the Trenton Thunder with 11 hits that included 2 doubles. He has driven in seven runners, walked three times and stole four bases. “I know what I have to do this year, and I am working hard to get it done,” he said at Trenton Thunder media day and it looks like he is doing just that.
Snyder, 24, battled injuries that limited his playing time the last couple of seasons. Last season he played on 47 games with the Tampa Yankees and the season before he only got into 27 games between Charleston and Tampa. The season he played the most games was his debut year with the Staten Island Yankees in 2012 where he played in 52 games for the Baby Bombers and hit .299. This season he has been one of the key contributors for the Tampa Yankees, showing the league that when healthy he is a force to be reckon with. So far this season he is hitting .415 over 11 games with a homerun, 2 doubles and 9 RBIs in 41 at bats. He has reached base in 50 percent of his plate appearances and has an OPS of 1.037. The former 10th round draft pick is crushing it for Tampa, hitting .600 with runners in scoring position and has shown no sign of slowing down just yet.
Down in Charleston outfielder Austin Aune has had a solid first week of the season. The former second round draft pick in 2012 has struggled at the plate since moving to the outfield in 2013. Last season he hit only .218 over 59 games for the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League with 4 homeruns and 2 triples. So far this season he has hit three triples over 11 games and a total of 11 hits in 38 at bats for a batting average of .289. The one outlying problem for the former shortstop is his strike out total, which this season is already at 20.
These four have been a great help to their respective teams and all four have something to prove.