Minor Leagues

Yankees minors update: under-the-radar prospects

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After several trades shook up the Yankees minor league system in the month of July, the first week of August offered a quieter respite. Trade deadline day saw three Yankees prospects—outfielder Dustin Fowler, infielder Jorge Mateo, and pitcher James Kaprielian—head to Oakland in exchange for Sonny Gray, plus pitching prospect Yefry Ramirez heading to Baltimore for international bonus signing money.

Since the deadline, there have been a small handful of roster moves: Jonathan Holder moved up to the bigs for a few days and back down to AAA. Garrett Cooper headed the other way, spending a few days in AAA before being recalled this weekend. The Yankees also sent Jordan Montgomery back down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after he lost his rotation spot due to Gray’s arrival.

Down in the farm system, a few players have been shining. Jake Cave earned the International League’s Player of the Month honors for July after hitting .390 with seven home runs and 21 RBI for the RailRiders.

In Trenton, Will Carter pitched a gem for the Thunder Friday, allowing just one hit in five innings in a win. Further down in the Yankees minor league system, outfielder Trey Amburgey hit his 13th longball of the season for Tampa, which has also added outfielder Estevan Florial and catcher Donny Sands from low-A Charleston this past week. Speaking of Charleston, the RiverDogs were carried to victory by outfielder and former 12th-round pick Steven Sensley, who went 3-5 with five RBI Saturday.

As always, here are a handful of prospect profiles. This week, we focus on three under-the-radar guys worth keeping in mind.

Nick Solak- 2B- Trenton (AA)- Solak is proving why he made the top 10 on MLB.com’s most recent list of top Yankees minor league prospects. Over his last eight games, split between both Tampa and Trenton, Solak has 13 hits in his last 27 at-bats, including three home runs and nine RBI over that span.

Since being selected in the 2nd round of last year’s draft, Solak has earned high marks from scouts for his ability to make contact and steal a few bases along the way. This season, however, the 22-year-old has added some power, as he has hit 11 home runs this season to go with 13 stolen bases, a .305 average, and a .398 on-base percentage.

He has flown a little under the radar as a professional, but if he keeps this level of play up, the hype will certainly keep building.

Stephen Tarpley- LHP- Tampa (A-Advanced)- Tarpley did not debut for the Yankees until June, as an injury kept him out after the team acquired him from the Pirates last winter. But since that debut in June, Tarpley has not allowed a single run. He has pitched 25 2/3 innings, striking out 30 batters and walking 15. That ratio suggests that while Tarpley has the ability to fan hitters, the 24-year-old has not fully reined in his arsenal.

He mixes in four pitches—a mid-90s fastball, plus a curveball, changeup, and slider—showing why he was a former 3rd round pick for the Orioles back in 2013. The Yankees are now the third team, after Baltimore and Pittsburgh to speculate on the talented yet inconsistent lefty. So far, things have worked out, but as a 24-year-old in A-ball, the clock is ticking for the Yankees to get some output from him.

Luis Medina- RHP- Pulaski (Advanced Rookie)- Usually, we focus on players a little closer to the major leagues than guys in what is basically Rookie ball, but Medina merits a quick look. At just 18 years old and just over two years removed from signing out of the Dominican Republic, Medina is a raw but incredibly exciting talent.

As MLB’s profile of Medina indicates, he can already hit close to 100 mph with his fastball and flashes plus potential with both his curveball and his changeup. So far between the Dominican Summer League and the Appalachian League, Medina has an unimpressive 5.56 ERA and 1.72 WHIP, but has 20 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings. To go with that, however, he has 15 free passes that he has issued so far.

On the other hand, Medina has kept the ball on the ground, with almost twice as many ground ball outs as fly outs or line outs and only one home run allowed. This may not last if Medina faces higher level competition, but a pitcher with that much natural talent and an ability to keep the ball on the ground is worth keeping an eye on.

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