I recently began previewing the 2016 SAL with a look at the Asheville Tourists. The Augusta Greenjackets followed and now it’s time for the Charlestown Riverdogs as I continue alphabetically around the league.
The Riverdogs are the low-A affiliate of the NY Yankees and when putting this preview together I scoured the rosters of Staten Island, Pulaski and the two GCL squads. I then reached out to talented Yankee Prospector Gershon Rabinowitz (find him on Twitter @GershOnline). He’s an excellent writer and he’s very knowledgeable about the Yanks system. Among other things I asked Rabinowitz how the Yanks handle assigning prospects to a level. Most systems have two levels of short season rookie ball but the Yanks have four. He said high school players and International players coming out of rookie ball often stop at Pulaski and players don’t often skip Staten Island but some do. He was a big help and a resource I won’t hesitate to use again in the future.
The official rosters won’t be available until the beginning of April so this is me speculating. With that said the Yankees have a lot of talent in the low minors and Charleston will likely be pretty strong in 2016 particularly in the middle infield and outfield.
I go to a lot of Sally games and I do a ton of in person scouting reports so you can expect write ups on many/most of the guys listed here after I get a look at the Riverdogs.
Luis Torrens – Torrens should be 100% after missing all of 2015 following shoulder surgery. He got a cup of coffee at Charleston at the end of 2014 so it’s a logical starting point. Torrens, despite missing a year is still just 19. He has a good bat with developing power. Defensively he’s still new to catching but he’s shown a strong arm.
Thairo Estrada – A good glove man who can handle Shortstop. He will likely get the bulk of the playing time at 2nd base with 1st round pick Kyle Holder getting the nod at shortstop. He handles the bat well and has good speed.
Kyle Holder – Taken at the end of the 1st round, Holder has the reputation as a good glove man and has good wheels. There have been some questions about the bat. I’m looking forward to seeing him.
Drew Finley – Right Handed Pitcher drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft. Finley has a big ceiling. He reportedly throws a low to mid 90’s heater and a developing breaking ball and change. It will be interesting to see if Finley skips Staten Island. Rabinowicz said it really could go either way.
James Kaprielian – Drafted 16th overall Kaprielian is known for his polish and high floor and should be a fast mover. I would have listed him 1st among the notables If I thought he was coming to Charleston. Rabinowicz thinks there’s a 50/50 chance that Kaprielian skips Charleston and goes to Tampa in the Florida State league. He also said Kaprielian’s manager at Staten Island Patrick Osborn has been promoted to Tampa and that could be an additional clue.
Around the diamond
C – In addition to Torrens we might see C-1B Jake Hernandez, C-Alvaro Noriega and Austin (Audie) Afenir.
MI – In addition to Estrada and Holder we might see Hoy Yun Park, Dermis Garcia, Danienger Perez, Gosuke Katoh and Jose Javier. The Yanks have a lot of young up the middle talent. Park, Garcia and Perez are all interesting I hope we get all of them in the SAL this year.
CI – The Yanks don’t seem as deep at corner infield in the low minors as they are at other positions. We could see some combination of Bo Thompson, Connor Spencer, Ryan Krill at 1st base and Kevin Cornelius has played both corners. In Addition to Cornelius other candidates for 3B include Allen Valerio, Brandon Wagner and Drew Bridges. Valerio had a .251 ISO in 2015.
OF – Charleston should be deep and talented in the outfield. I anticipate seeing LF – Trey Amburgey a 13th rd pick who really raked after signing. There’s two center fielders who could come to Charleston and it’s a toss up which one we will get, Carlos Vidal and Jeff Hendrix. Both are at least interesting and I’m hoping we get both at some point. In right I think we get Jhalan Jackson the 7th rd pick in 2015. He showed some pretty good pop in a small sample after the draft. Frank Frias, Zack Zehner, Nathan Mikolas and Juan De Leon. It will be interesting too see if high profile outfielder Leonardo Molina can make the jump.
SP – In addition to Finley and Kaprielian we could see Rony Bautista, Kolton Mahoney, Adonis Rosa, Nester Cortez.
This was an interesting system to dig deep into and I had a lot of fun doing it. Charleston looks to be a strong team in 2016 and the future of the Yanks is looking bright.
I’ll be back soon with a look at the Columbia Fireflies (Mets)