Who’s hot in High-A Tampa : August 16th edition
High-A Tampa Yankees
Tim Lynch – 24-years-old, 1B - Lynch really came out of nowhere when Chris Gittens went down with injury. He played so well he ensured that when Gittens returned, the Yankees still continue to find playing time for him. In 48 games, Lynch has a .311/.375/.572/.947 line with 11 homeruns, 12 doubles and a triple. He has a good contact rate with just 37 K. Overall he is hitting like a 24-year-old first baseman should be hitting in High-A, and Double-A will be the real test. He definitely passed his first test though, and as a player in his first season as a pro in High-A, that’s still impressive. By the way, he hasn’t slowed down since Gittens returned, hitting .410 with five doubles and a homerun in his last 10 games.
Estevan Florial – 19-years-old, OF - He hasn’t let his promotion to High-A slow him down one bit, although neither have his strikeouts. He sports a .306/.386/.429/.815 line with one double, one triple, and one homerun in 12 High-A games. He also already has five stolen bases. That brings his season line to .298/.374/.476/.850 with 12 homeruns, 22 doubles, six triples, and 22 SB. This kid is a potential star in the making, doing all of this as a 19-year-old. Could be the Yankees’ centerfielder of the future if he can cut down on those strikeouts in the years to come.
Donny Sands – 21-years-old, C - Although he has hit reasonably well, the most important stats to look at with Donny are his defensive stats. He just started catching full time last season, and has just 103 career games under his belt at the position. He seems, however, to be learning relatively quickly. Last season, in the rookie leagues, he let up 27 steals and threw out just 6 guys. That’s just an 18.1% CS rate, not very good. He also had 14 passed balls in just 20 games. That is a lot! This season, he has 23 passed balls in 84 games, a much better rate, although still too much. He also has 36 CS and 106 SB against. That’s a much more respectable 25.5% CS percentage. The important thing is those numbers are trending in the right direction. With continued coaching, direction, and hard work I expect those numbers to improve even more. Offensively, Sands has been playing well recently. Since his promotion, he is hitting .296/.333/.407/.741 with three doubles in seven games. With his size and natural hitting ability, the hope is he will develop some power with time, and that the catching will come around.
Gosuke Katoh – 22-years-old, 2B – I don’t know if I’d go as far as to say that Katoh is this year’s Kyle Higashioka. He definitely fits the description of a forgotten man who has unexpectedly rekindled his value this year though. In 73 games this season, Katoh has hit .290/.380/.432/.812 with six homeruns, 15 doubles, and two triples while stealing 11 bases and striking out 67 times. Those are actually excellent numbers, and they come as a surprise. He has always had the tools, including a sweet lefty swing, patience, and the height for some power projection with plus speed. It has taken him a few years, but he’s finally putting those tools together. He has done so while playing every position in the infield this season, building his value as a utility player. He’s back on the map, although he has a lot of work to do to stay there. He’s hitting .300 with one homerun in his last 10 games too.
Chris Gittens – 23-years-old, 1B – Gittens is playing some catchup after missing a big chunk of the season, but he’s picked up right where he left off. On the season, he has a .279/.387/.474/.862 line with 10 homers and 12 doubles in just 62 games. That’s some legit power from a guy who has the size to believe it’s real (6-foot-4, 250-pounds). In his last eight games, he is six for 25 (.240) with eight walks (.424 OBP) and three homeruns (.600 SLG, 1.024 OPS). It’ll be fun to see what he can do once he is truly tested in Double-A, probably next season.
Kyle Holder – 23-years-old, SS – After a putrid start, and by putrid I mean 1/34, and then five for his first 61 (.082 BA), Holder has really turned his season around. His numbers are still pretty bad, but when you consider how bad that slump was he has come a long way. The average has climbed all the way to .245, and his contact, walk, and power numbers are very similar to last season with the exception of the first 61 at bats. In fact, if you take away those at bats he has a .277/.342/.356/.698. Still nothing to really write home about, but much more in line with what you would accept from possibly the top shortstop defensively in the entire minor leagues. Moreover, he has been much better in his last 10 games, where he is 16 for 46 (.348) with five doubles, a walk, and a stolen base. That’s good for a .348/.362/.457/.818 line during that time. He’ll have to improve upon all of his numbers greatly to be a major league option, but the road to a major league role just got a lot easier for him with Jorge Mateo out of the picture. Hopefully he finishes the season strong to end on a high note.
Taylor Widener – 22-years-old, RHP – Widener was supposed to be this year’s Chance Adams. In some ways, he has lived up to that billing. He has done reasonably well in his first season as a full time starter. Last year he was mostly a reliever, and in college he was used in both roles. Overall he has 115 K and a 3.62 ERA in 109.1 innings, the first time he has ever thrown this many. He also has a .202 average against. He has, however, let up 48 walks, which is a lot. Over his last 10 starts, he has continued to walk a lot of batters, but he has an ERA of just 3.18 and has struck out 49 in 45.1 innings. It’s clear that he has great stuff, if he can improve his control next season he could be one of the great steals of the 2016 draft, and could be a middle of the rotation starter.
Erik Swanson – 23-years-old, RHP – With the exception of one start, during which he let up nine runs in 2.2 innings, Swanson has been stellar in his last 10 starts. Even with that start, he has a 3.49 ERA and 40 K : 5 BB in his last 49 innings. On the season he has a respectable 3.86 ERA and 65 K. Given that he is a ground ball pitcher, his ERA and average against should improve as he gets to higher levels. The Yankees picked up Swanson in the Beltran trade, and he is a hard throwing guy (up to 98 mph) with a major league slider and a developing changeup, which is the key to him remaining a starter.
Dillon Tate – 23-years-old, RHP – Tate has quickly compiled 64.1 innings in his return from injury, and he has done quite well during that time. With less than a month left in the season, he will hope to finish strong. He appears to be back to the guy he was before 2016, which was a guy who was good enough to be taken fourth overall by Texas. He has struck out 48 and walked just 19, while holding opponents to a .227 average over his 10 starts. He made his first start for Trenton on the 12th, so he doesn’t belong here, but he’s a guy who could be back in the top 100 after this season, and could be playing in the Bronx sometime next year.
Brian Kelller – 23-years-old, RHP – By far the best value pick the Yankees got in the 2016 draft was Brian Keller in the 39th round. He went from a draft afterthought to a guy who has become a huge asset on an already strong farm. He’s a Low-ceiling, high-floor kind of guy, but with a 90-93 mph fastball and three high quality secondary pitches with excellent control, he has had tremendous success so far. He’s got a 3.07 ERA and 145 K : 25 BB in 132 innings so far this year, but he’s been even better over his last 10 starts. During that stretch, he has a 2.39 ERA with 70 K : 12 BB in 60.1 innings. At this point you have to take him seriously, and even more wonder whether he has had an uptick in stuff.