Overall, the minors are a mixed bag through the first 60-something games. Of the full-season affiliates, two of the four, High-A Hudson Valley and Double-A Somerset, had winning records and they also clinched the playoffs as a result of winning their respective divisions. Somerset was the best performer of the 4 teams with a 42-26 (.618) record, with Hudson Valley coming in second with a 39-27 (.591) record, Tampa came in third with a 31-35 (.470) record and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in last with a 34-40 (.459) record.
We continue the installment today with the Tarpons and Renegades.
The two teams have had some surprising results with the current Single-A Tampa Tarpons having a majority of the FCL championship team but not having the results to boot, and the High-A Hudson Valley Renegades having the 2022 Tarpons roster who have found success in the advanced level.
Single-A Tampa Tarpons – 31-35
As noted previously, the first-half Tarpons are most of the FCL team that won the league championship last season, with a few pitchers still in FCL (for whatever reason), but this team isn’t putting up the dominant performance they showed last season. I think some of that is adjustment to the Single-A level and some is adjustment to the non-traditional strike zone.
We saw some new faces from the 2022 MLB Draft make either their pro or Single-A debuts in April:
- 4th rounder OF Anthony Hall
- 9th rounder RHRP Matt Keating
- 10th rounder LHSP Will Brian
- 13th rounder LHRP Geoffrey Gilbert
- 14th rounder RHRP Kris Bow
- 16th rounder RHRP Shane Gray
- 17th rounder RHSP Hayden Merda
- 19th rounder INF Beau Brewer
They did so after 1st rounder Spencer Jones, 8th rounder Brett Barrera and 15th rounder Tayler Aguilar did so last August. Unfortunately, Will Brian only went a start and change, suffering an arm injury in only his second start and is out for the season after having TJS. Things were promising early for him, having an ERA of 4.26 in 6.1 IP, but a BAA of .143.
Relievers Keating and Gilbert have been extremely promising as well, with both having ERAs under 3.
Tampa also has a few UDFA signings that were later adds to the roster in RHSP Baron Stuart, who was signed out of Pittsburgh, RHRP Adam Stone, who is a Harvard alumnus and holds a 3.86 ERA through 9.1 IP and OF Jake Palmer, who was signed out of UCLA.
A few injured pitchers like 2022 3rd rounder Trystan Vrieling (reportedly out with an elbow injury) and Yarison Ruiz (also suspected to be out with an elbow injury) will miss either most or all of the season. Relievers Yoljeldriz Diaz and Eric Reyzelman were seen recently at the Yankees complex near GMS Field in Tampa, FL throwing to batters in a sim game.
Rehabbing Yankees minor league pitchers Anderson Muñoz, Eric Reyzelman and Yoljeldriz Diaz all threw from a mound today as "live BP", but batters weren't allowed to swing for Muñoz or Reyzelman from what I understood at the time. Reyzelman showed excellent command. pic.twitter.com/2eseZSW0DS
— John Brophy (@jbrophybaseball) June 24, 2023
Jared Serna has been far and away the star of the first half for Tampa. The middle infielder has had a batting average floating around the .300 mark and has led the team in most offensive stats, but being the home run leader is likely the surprise if you see his size. Serna is listed at 5-foot-6 and 168 lbs., and he’s every bit of that, but he has surprising power and is the most polished/refined batter on the team.
2-RBI double (Serna went back to 3B) for Nelson Medina evens things up pic.twitter.com/kNYo6Qi3gd
— John Brophy (@jbrophybaseball) April 19, 2023
A late but fun add to the Tarpons roster (delayed as a result of an injury experienced in the offseason) was OF Christopher Familia. He had a batting average that floated around the .400 mark throughout the brief time he was with the Tarpons; he’s since been promoted to Hudson Valley to begin the second half there. A slash of .380/.456/.899/1.355 is ridiculous when the rest of the roster is sitting around .200 to .250, but don’t forget that Familia hit 10 home runs in just the one month. He nearly passed Serna in homers (13). Hopefully that success translates to High-A.
Slow-motion of a Christopher Familia swing that turned out to be an RBI single for the first run of the day for Tampa pic.twitter.com/oEP4NCl6mZ
— John Brophy (@jbrophybaseball) June 22, 2023
High-A Hudson Valley Renegades – 39-27
As mentioned previously, the ‘Gades house a significant portion of last year’s Tarpons lineup with a few pieces like OF Tayler Aguilar remaining in Tampa (for reasons I cannot comprehend). Hudson Valley saw some promotions from Tampa in the first half after they were outperforming like RHRP Luis Velasquez but probably the biggest surprise of all was seeing RHRP Harrison Cohen, a 2022 UDFA, get promoted after only 2.1 IP in Tampa. The area Yankees scout must have like what they saw in those two outings for Cohen, a New Hyde Park, NY, native, to get told he’s going to High-A.
Other 2022 signings seen this year in Hudson Valley include:
- 1st rounder OF Spencer Jones
- 2nd rounder RHSP Drew Thorpe
- UDFA C Rafael Flores
- UDFA RHRP Mason Vinyard
Hudson Valley also has some significant international signings like SS Alexander Vargas, C Antonio Gomez and RHSP Juan Carela.
Carela has had an incredible first half, being named SAL Pitcher of the Week for April 23rd, and has had an ERA floating around 3 throughout June. In fact, Carela recorded three consecutive games with 10 strikeouts, with only one of those games being marred by a less than spectacular outing.
Juan Carela is DEALING
— Hudson Valley Renegades (@HVRenegades) June 17, 2023
Spencer Jones is the face of the organization in some respects, and for good reason. The lefty leads active Renegades players in runs scored (37), hits (67), doubles (19), home runs (10), RBI (36), and stolen bases (18). He’s tied with Aldenis Sanchez in triples (4) and tied with Grant Richardson in walks (23). It should also be noted though that Jones has played 11 more games and has had 34 more at-bats than the next player, Rafael Flores and Alexander Vargas, respectively.
SPENCER JONES IS UNREAL!!!
A MONSTER 3-RUN BLAST 😱😤
He's now reached base on ALL 5 of his at-bats this afternoon.
His 10th HR of the season gives us a 10-0 lead! pic.twitter.com/Wtl2gYIcRs
— Hudson Valley Renegades (@HVRenegades) June 18, 2023
Rafael Flores had a brief, but successful, start to his pro career in the Florida Complex League last August and that success seems to have carried over to High-A as he skipped Single-A Tampa completely. In his first month of High-A baseball, Flores batted .404/.442/.511/.953 with 10 RBI. He has since cooled down a bit but has maintained a batting average right around the .300 mark.
Rafael Flores kicking things off with an RBI triple!
1-0 Renegades pic.twitter.com/rnyZtqVmJM
— Hudson Valley Renegades (@HVRenegades) June 21, 2023
Some prospects that struggled a bit in Tampa last year are finding more success (or perhaps lack thereof) this year in High-A.
Antonio Gomez has had a rollercoaster of a season, with a monthly low of .151 in May to a .345 average in June. A lot of it has come down to reducing strikeouts and working counts more. Gomez struck out in just over 41% of at-bats in May compared to nearly 24% in June. Despite a poor performance at the plate, he was still outputting runs, hitting 10 RBI on 11 hits in May, with only 1 HR.
Antonio Gomez with a No-Doubter 🚀 pic.twitter.com/Cqj3awemlm
— Hudson Valley Renegades (@HVRenegades) June 4, 2023
Others like Marcos Cabrera, Anthony Garcia and Alexander Vargas haven’t found the same success with all batting right around or under the Mendoza Line. This is similar to what they put up in Tampa. Garcia still is showing off his power, but the rest of the time remains underwhelming at the plate.
Anthony Garcia with an absolute BOMB! 💣
Break out the tape measure 😱
We lead 3-0 💪 pic.twitter.com/FYw4CMZnrE
— Hudson Valley Renegades (@HVRenegades) June 4, 2023
If there is some concern with this group, it’s with defense. Cabrera has 14 errors already, compared to 15 all last season in Tampa; he has a fielding percentage of .867. Vargas has 11 errors compared to 20 last year in Tampa; he has a fielding percentage of .935.
Despite the move back to the outfield (which puzzles me since Garcia is far from quick), Anthony Garcia only has 1 error in 41 total chances, good for a fielding percentage of .985 between LF and RF. Garcia has spent most of his time in RF: 198.2 innings in RF and 45 in LF.