Welcome to the Yankees prospect update, where you’ll find news, promotions and standout performances, all year long.
Waldichuk fans 9 in Double-A
Yankees No. 6 prospect Ken Waldichuk turned heads with a strong showing in his 2021 full-season debut and is off to an even more dominant start early this season. After pitching to a 3.03 ERA over 110 innings across two levels last season, the 24-year-old lefty has yet to surrender a run in 2022.
Waldichuk, a fifth-round pick from the 2019 Draft, struck out nine over five scoreless innings as he threw 47 of his 63 pitches for strikes in Double-A Somerset’s 6-0 win over Erie. He gave up three hits, but didn’t issue a walk and has tallied 16 strikeouts over 10 scoreless frames in his two starts this season. — William Boor
Way permitted two runs on three hits over five innings, becoming the first Hudson Valley pitcher to complete five frames this season. Way’s previous career high for strikeouts was eight, set last Sept. 15 vs. Greensboro. — Bryan Hoch
Baseball’s No. 8 overall prospect, Volpe emerged as one of the best hitters in the Minors last season, when he batted .294/.423/.604 with 27 homers and 33 steals between Low-A and High-A. He also topped the Minors in runs (113), ranked second in OPS (1.027) and third in extra base hits (68) as a 20-year old in his first full pro season.
Now at Somerset, Volpe is the catalyst of a Patriots team that also includes Top 30 outfielders Brandon Lockridge (No. 18) and Elijah Dunham (No. 27), catcher Josh Breaux (No. 26), and hurlers Ken Waldichuk (No. 6) and Luis Medina (No. 12). He led off the game with a base hit and doubled in his next at bat, scoring on Dunham’s double to tie the game. Breaux also homered for the Patriots, who endured a rough Medina start (1 2/3 IP, 4 BB) to open the season on a high note.
Also worth noting: Volpe isn’t the only talented infielder in the Yankees’ system. They also have No. 14 Oswaldo Cabrera, a switch-hitter who is even closer to the big leagues.
Cabrera is off to a torrid start at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he fell a triple shy of the cycle in the RailRiders’ 10-1 Game 1 doubleheader win over Syracuse. Cabrera doubled twice and tripled in the blowout, driving in three runs and scoring twice. He’s 5-for-11 (.455) with four extra-base hits so far this season.
Wesneski, Florial power RailRiders victory (April 6)
In his first start since being named the Yankees’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Hayden Wesneski sparkled over five scoreless frames with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The right-hander picked up right where he left off last season, twirling five scoreless frames while being perfect through four. After yielding a pair of singles to start off the fifth, Wesneski locked in to limit the damage right there – whiffing Matt Reynolds before coaxing No. 27 Mets prospect Nick Meyer into a fielder’s choice ground ball to short and punching out Cody Bohanek. The eighth-ranked Yankees prospect finished with four strikeouts and was pulled after tossing 60 pitches – 38 for strikes.
Wesneski combined to go 11-6 with two complete games and a 3.25 ERA (130.1 IP, 110 H, 52 R/47 ER, 36 BB, 151 K, 13 HR) in 25 games (24 starts) in 2021 with High-A Hudson Valley, Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Last season, the 24-year-old was named an MiLB.com Organization All-Star after leading all Yankees Minor Leaguers in wins, innings pitched and starts while ranking second in strikeouts, fourth in WHIP (1.12) and fifth in ERA.
Fellow top Yankees prospect Estevan Florial flexed again for the RailRiders after Wesneski exited the game. The organization’s No. 30 prospect found the seats in the club’s opener on Tuesday and doubled down on Wednesday with a solo jack off Mets’ right-hander Anthony Vizcaya. Florial turned on a first-pitch fastball and sent a laser over the wall in right with two outs in the eighth inning. The blast cut SWB’s deficit to 3-2 before the RailRiders rallied for three runs in the ninth to complete the come-from-behind victory and improve to 2-0 on the season. — Rob Terranova
Schmidt feels healthy, strong (March 29)
Clarke Schmidt, the Yankees’ No. 7 prospect, felt “really, really good” in his three-inning outing Tuesday against the Phillies. The 26-year-old righty struck out two in a perfect first inning, then dealt with some bad ground-ball luck in the second before tossing another 1-2-3 frame in the third.
Fully healthy after dealing with right arm issues in both 2019 and ’21, Schmidt hopes to make an impact at the big league level in ’22. — Paul Casella More >>
The right-hander, rated by MLB Pipeline as the Yankees’ No. 10 prospect, permitted an infield single while walking one and striking out four. Gil started six games for New York last year, and Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that he likes the 23-year-old’s improvement in throwing strikes.
“The stuff is great,” Boone said. “That fastball, you can go around anywhere in the game and [rate] the best fastballs — he’s there, if he’s throwing it for a strike. It’s that good.”
Gil threw 33 fastballs, averaging 96.9 mph and maxing out at 98.4 mph. Boone said that Gil flashed the ability to throw his slider (18) and changeup (3) while behind in the count, which helped his outing.
“He was a little unpredictable, and that makes the heater play even more,” Boone said. “It’s 96, 97, 98 [mph], but it’s extra life, too. So for him, it’s being in the strike zone.” — Bryan Hoch
Both were added to the 40-man roster over the winter and could make their Major League debuts this season. Marinaccio has hurled 3 1/3 innings this spring, allowing five runs (none earned) on three hits, while Sears has notched two scoreless frames.
“Sears and Marinaccio are doing a really nice job, just taking the next step and showing they will throw the ball over the plate and challenge guys,” Blake said. “The thing we keep saying to guys is, ‘If you’re in camp with us, you probably have a pitch or pitches that can help us win games at the Major League level. I need to trust that you can throw it over the plate and do it consistently.’
“’If you can’t, it’s hard for us to put you out there in meaningful situations.’ The fact that both of them have done it and haven’t been scared out of the zone, even if they’ve been hit a little bit, that goes a long way.”
Blake complimented both hurlers’ fastballs, adding that Marinaccio leans upon his changeup and a developing slider. Sears can throw his fastball at the top of the zone and can rely on his changeup, but both hurlers will benefit from polishing a true third pitch. — Bryan Hoch
Volpe displaying increased arm strength (March 23)
Anthony Volpe made a strong throw in a 7-1 Grapefruit League victory over the Orioles, retiring Yusniel Diaz to end the top of the eighth inning. The Yankees’ No. 1 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, has been working on his arm strength in hopes of remaining at shortstop, including an offseason visit to the pitching lab at Wake Forest University.
“He’s a good player. He can play,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I thought tonight, the little ball in the hole there, he gets his feet in really good position and I think you saw a little peek of the improved arm strength that he’s worked at. That’s a big league throw across the diamond to his backhand with relative ease.” — Bryan Hoch
By hook or by Krook (March 23)
Left-hander Matt Krook turned in an excellent relief performance in Tuesday’s 9-2 Grapefruit League loss to the Blue Jays, striking out five around a hit over three scoreless innings.
Krook, 27, is rebuilding his prospect stock after an arm injury in 2019. A first-round pick of the Marlins in ’13 and a fourth-round pick by the Giants in ’16, Krook was a Rule 5 selection from the Rays in ’20 and pitched last season for Double-A Somerset.
“It was good to see him in person for the first time,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Krook really came in and was impressive.” — Bryan Hoch
Another Statcast machine in the making (March 22)
Yankees prospect Andres Chaparro topped Giancarlo Stanton for the hardest-hit ball of Monday’s 5-2 Grapefruit League victory over the Phillies, belting an eighth-inning double off Tyler Cyr that Statcast calculated at 111.0 mph. Stanton had a two-run double in the first inning that registered at 109.5 mph.
Chaparro, a 22-year-old corner infielder, hit a combined .267/.381/.468 in 101 games last season for Single-A Tampa and High-A Hudson Valley, tallying 21 doubles, 15 homers and 73 RBIs. He also represented the Yankees in last year’s Arizona Fall League. — Bryan Hoch