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‘Zack Attack’ hits Somerset: The Farm Report

The headline for the farm this week is the return of Zack Britton, who would pitch in his first rehab game with the Somerset Patriots on Saturday. All of the Yankee affiliates continued to play well, leading MiLB with a 62-33 (.652) record throughout the system and three of the four teams in first place of their respective leagues.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre (AAA)

SWB would play an abbreviated schedule against the Buffalo Bisons due to lousy weather in Moosic, PA, all week. They would get only four games in the books with two rainouts and a game suspended in the 4th inning. Nevertheless, they would win the final three games after losing the opener 5-3. The pitching gave up only two runs in each contest, including a doubleheader sweep on Thursday. In the nightcap, Brian Keller, Sal Romano, and Nick Goody combined to pitch the sixth one-hitter in SWB history, the last thrown by Chad Green in 2016. This was not a new experience for Keller, who threw a no-hitter in Trenton during the 2019 season.

The highlights on offense came from Hoy Park, who is the SWB Player of the Week. He went 4-12 with 2 HR, 3 RBI, and 3 BB after promotion from the Patriots. There, he hit .194/.316/.323 in ten games.

The bullpen has been the backbone of the staff, throwing 13 shutout innings over the final three games of the series and allowing only six base runners. They included two hit batters by Adam Warren, one walk from Kyle Barraclough, and three hits. Of those three hits, two were the infield variety. The bullpen ERA is down to 3.09 with 11.6 K/9.

They finish the first month of the season in first place at 16-6, with a 2.5 game lead in the division. After the Monday off, they welcome the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to town for six.

Somerset Patriots (AA)

The Somerset Patriots had another excellent week, going 3-2 against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, a series also shortened by rain. The loss in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader ended their seven-game win streak. That leaves them in first place at 16-7, 1.5 games in front of the Red Sox affiliate in Portland.

As stated above, the week’s headliner was the arrival of Zack Britton to begin his rehab assignment. He would throw a scoreless inning on 18 pitches, giving up only an infield hit. The best news is that every ball in play was beaten into the turf, a great sign for his bowling ball sinker’s effectiveness.

INF Dermis Garcia had his 12 game hit streak snapped during game 2 of the Thursday doubleheader. He would bat .314 (16-51) with seven home runs, 11 R, and 17 RBI during the streak.

The offense’s catalyst was OF Michael Beltre. Once 18th ranked prospect in the Reds organization is having a breakout season for the Patriots, at or near the top in almost all offensive categories. He leads in team average (.303), runs (20), hits (22), doubles (4), triples (3), and XBH (10). He is also second in RBI (13) and SB (5).

The Somerset pitching continues to be exceptional. Luis Gil is the Somerset Player of the Week and was again dominant. He would throw 6 IP, give up 2 H, 1 ER, 2BB, and hurl eight strikeouts. He has lowered his ERA to 1.69. Janson Junk (0.60), Matt Krook (1.89), and Greg Weissert (0.96) all contribute to a staff with a sub 3 ERA.

The Pats welcome the Reading Fightin Phils for six beginning Tuesday at TD Bank Ballpark.

Hudson Valley Renegades (A+)

After a 9-9 start, HV joined the other affiliates in playing some dominating baseball. Working through a couple of rainouts and a doubleheader, the Gades took four of five from the Jersey Shore BlueClaws. Their 13-10 record sees them in 2nd place, behind the Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL).

The Organizational Player of the Week, Ken Waldichuk, continues a breakout season after throwing 4.1 innings with nine strikeouts on Saturday. He has yet to give up a run in 18.2 innings. Luis Medina is living up to his phenom status, throwing 4.1 innings, 1 R, 3 H, and 7 SO on Wednesday. His ERA sits at a sparkling 1.57. With an injury or two in the Bronx, it is not inconceivable that Medina or Luis Gil in Somerset make a debut in the bigs as a spot starter. They are performing at an incredibly high level, and both are on the 40 man roster. At the very least, Medina will jump to AA and Gil to AAA if they continue to dominate at their current affiliates. Gas at 100 MPH plays anywhere.

Offensively, 3B James Nelson and SS Oswald Peraza stood out. Nelson had a week of hitting .412 (7-for-17), with a home run and four RBI. Peraza, the 4th ranked Yankee prospect, hit .450 (9 for 20), with 3 SB and 3 RBI. He had a career-high five hits on Thursday night.

The Renegades will be on the road for six starting Tuesday against the third-place Wilmington Blue Rocks (Nats).

Tampa Tarpons (A)

Tampa was the one team not impacted by rain, playing a full slate of 6 games and going 4-2 against the Dunedin Blue Jays. Although it was a road series, they played at GMS Field because of Toronto having their games in Dunedin due to COVID travel restrictions to Canada. The wonderful week kept Tampa in first place at 17-7, with a two-game cushion on their closest follower.

First baseman Chad Bell extended his on-base streak to 20 straight and has a six-game hitting streak. The Yankees 14th ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, Josh Smith, made his 2021 debut after being activated off the seven-day IL. He hit .278 (5-19) with two home runs and 6 RBI in his five games.

Nelvin Correa led the pitching staff and is the Tampa Player of the Week. Although he gave up his first earned run on Sunday, he has now hurled 15 innings and has a 0.60 ERA.

The Tarps are home for six against the Lakeland Tigers this week.