In a slew of roster moves announced on Tuesday afternoon, southpaw Ken Waldichuk and slugger Derek Dietrich were both promoted from Somerset to Triple-A Scranton. Reliever Carson Coleman was sent to the Patriots from High-A Hudson Valley while right-handers Carlos Espinal and Jose Mujica join Somerset after being sent down from the RailRiders.
“They were definitely huge parts of this team here,” said Somerset manager Dan Fiorito. “Special players, special talents and also what they brought in the clubhouse. At the end of the day, I’m really happy for them to go on to the next level.”
Waldichuk frankly had nothing left to prove at the Double-A level after going 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA; he fanned 46 batters in 26.2 innings of work and held Eastern League opposition to a .158 batting average. Now ranked sixth in Baseball America’s most recent Yankees top-30 prospect list, Waldichuk had worked rigorously all winter with Sam Briend & Co. to iron out his command issues and those adjustments that he made showed in his improved walk rate- posting a 3.1 BB/9 mark in 2022 after struggling with a 4.3 BB/9 in his 79.1 innings at 2A last season.
“Waldichuk was dominating here,” admitted Fiorito. “Even in his last game where he had some hard-hit balls and the defense behind him brought him into a tough situation, he just kept competing. His stuff is electric; fastball was incredible here just seeing the ride and run that he was able to create and then on top of it, the slider, curveball and change-up are all plus pitches. There is a reason why he got out of this level so fast.
Despite his exit, the Patriots say they will not fill the void left by Waldichuk in the starting rotation. Fiorito says the team will move to a more traditional five-man rotation with Jhony Brito, Mitch Spence, Sean Boyle, Randy Vasquez and Luis Medina.
Dietrich inked a minor league deal with the Yankees in mid-April and had been using his time with Somerset almost as a spring training period to get back into the swing of things. The 32-year old infielder slashed .290/.421/.710 in 62 at-bats over 18 games with Somerset; the MLB veteran also led the team with seven homers and 18 RBI. Dietrich also showcased defensive versatility so he can help the Yankees in a variety of different ways should a need arise – he saw action at first, second and third base during his time with the Patriots. Since joining the club, the field staff and players raved about Dietrich and his leadership and ability to just be a regular guy despite his length of big league service time. We highlighted his leadership a few weeks back, you can check out that story here.
“He is obviously somebody with six-plus years of service time and he was rolling,” Fiorito said. “The power with the bat is certainly there; he had the hardest ball that he’s ever hit during his career last week, the talent is certainly still there. It was awesome for me to have him in the clubhouse and our meetings. What he meant to all of these guys – he was an open book to all of them; the knowledge that he has for the game and just his work ethic and how he goes about his days rubbed off on everybody here.”