Prospect Profiles: Red hot Ben Rice
Catcher, First baseman
Draft: 12th round of the 2021 draft out of Dartmouth
Sometimes scouting a player means being in the right place at the right time. In the case of Ben Rice, the best time to see him was in summer league wood bat leagues. In college, he didn’t get much run at Dartmouth due to injuries and COVID-19 shutdowns, but he managed to play quite a few games between the Futures College Baseball League and the Cape Cod Baseball League. Yankees scouts got their looks at these venues, and Rice performed well enough to get drafted in the 12th round.
Ben’s best performance came in the FCBL in 2020, when he hit .350/.467/.683/1.150 with 11 homeruns, six doubles and a triple in 43 games. He followed that up in 2021 with mediocre stats in the CCBL, but was drafted nonetheless. He got into 23 games with the Yankees in 2021 and posted a forgettable stat line.
When 2022 came around, Rice was ready. He hit .267/.368/.442/.810 with nine homeruns, nine doubles, and just 41 K in 68 games in Low-A. He did so while playing most of his games at catcher. He also played some first base and was the DH in a handful of games.
Rice had had the unfortunate luck of playing alongside a high-end catcher who needs reps in Antonio Gomez. Even so, he has embraced the at-bats he’s been given. Rice has above average hit and power tools. He has excellent bat speed and plate discipline.
Defensively, he still needs work at catcher. He could stand to work on his catch and throw, as well as his blocking. The ability to play first base will suit him well as a potential utility player in the future. He can really pick it over there.
Like most catchers and first basemen, Rice does not have much of a run tool at the moment. Per some scouts, he takes a while to get out of the box and into second gear.
Though he already has decent size, Rice still has some room to add weight to his upper body. With some added weight in the right places, he could develop even more power. As a lefty with the potential to play his home games at Yankees’ stadium, this could be his ticket to the big leagues.
Rice started the season in High-A on fire. He has a .357/.609/.643/1.252 OPS in 10 games with two homeruns, two doubles, and three stolen bases. He won’t be at this level long if his success continues.
The tools are there for this under-the-radar prospect to take another big jump this year. Most probably would not recognize his name, but he has a path to the majors if he plays well and a couple of breaks go his way.