Previewing the 2017 Charleston Riverdogs

Blake Rutherford, courtesy of:×401/local/-/media/2016/06/06/Cincinnati/Cincinnati/636008288556446253-rutherford2.jpeg

Hey guys, Happy New Year, welcome to another round of the SAL team preview series, I’m excited to get these going again. Today I’ll be talking about the 2017 Charleston Riverdogs as I continue alphabetically around the league.  The Riverdogs are the minor league affiliate of the NY Yankees.

Previously I covered the:

Asheville Tourists (Rockies)- Previewing the 2017 Asheville Tourists

Augusta Greenjackets (Giants)- Previewing the 2017 Augusta Greenjackets

For those not familiar with the SAL team preview series this is my 2nd year of doing these.  I scour the lower levels of each organization and speculate on who might be coming to the Sally in 2017.  And wherever possible I try to include a scouting report.  I’ll be wrong a lot but I learn a ton from this exercise.

For the purpose of this piece I studied the 2016 Charleston Riverdogs, Staten Island Yankees, Pulaski Yankees, and both of the GCL Squads.

The Yankees have a top 5 farm system and they have a lot of talent at the lower levels.  Charleston should be in the upper echelon talent wise in 2017 and we should be seeing more of the vaunted 2014 International signing class.  For more on that click  Breaking down the Yankees’ record international free agent haul

A big shoutout to Robert Pimpsner owner of Pinstriped Prospects (on Twitter @PinstripedPros). He helped me a great deal throughout this process.

At Notes from the Sally it’s all about live look scouting reports once I see the 2017 Riverdogs I’ll have reports on many of the players listed below.  It appears as though I’ll get two looks in the 1st half of 2017:  in late April when the Dogs visit Hickory and again in early June when they’re in Greenville taking on the Drive.  There’s plenty of time to get into all of that though.

Lets meet the Notables

Blake Rutherford courtesy of:

CF) Blake Rutherford- Age 19, listed 6’3″ 195 lbs, bats left, throws right. Rutherford was drafted 18th overall in the 2016 draft out of high school in West Hills CA (Los Angeles Metro). wrote this on there Yankees top 30 prospect list.

“Rutherford has everything he needs to hit for significant average and power.  He has a smooth left handed swing, bat speed and power, though he won’t fully tap into the raw pop until he adds some more loft to his stroke.”

“Presently a solid runner who broke into pro ball as a center fielder, Rutherford could lose a step as he matures physically and wind up on an outfield corner.”

For more on Rutherford and the rest of the top 30 Yankees prospects click here



Hoy Jun Park, courtesy of:

SS-2B) Hoy Yun Park- could be back- Age on opening day 21, listed 6’1″ 175 lbs, bats left throws right. Park was signed out of S Korea in 2014.  I got a couple of looks at Park last season (both at 2B unfortunately) and I liked him a lot.   He showed some good bat to ball skills and a patient approach along with plus speed and I liked his actions at 2B.  I have read positive things about his SS play as well.



Estevan Florial courtesy of:×900.jpg

CF-RF) Estevan Florial- Age 19, listed 6’1″ 185 lbs, bats left throws right.  Florial of Haitian decent was signed out of the Dominican Republic for $200,000 in 2015.

This is behind a pay wall but Hudson Belinsky of Baseball America wrote this back in September while listing his Appy league top 20. Just a quick snippet.

“Florial wowed evaluators with his raw tools this summer and earned a late-season promotion to low Class A Charleston.  Florial shows plus bat speed from a wide-shouldered, long-levered frame, giving him plus-plus raw power in batting practice. He has plus arm strength in the outfield, where his plus speed pairs well with his impressive routes.”

For more on Florial and the rest of the Appy top 20 click here it’s an excellent read:

Wow what a combination  of power and speed I can’t wait to see him. His game is still rather raw though and he may spend another year in short season before coming to Charleston.  We’ll see.



Leonardo Molina, courtesy of:

LF, RF, CF) Leonardo Molina- Age 19, listed 6’2″ 180 lbs, bats and throws right.  Molina was a high profile signee out of the Dominican Republic in 2013.  He had a short stint with Charleston last season and I got a couple of looks.  He’s raw offensively but demonstrated quick wrist and above average raw power.  Looking forward to seeing more of him in 2017.



Dermis Garcia, courtesy of:

3B) Dermis Garcia- Age on opening day 19, listed 6’3″ 200 lbs, bats and throws right. Garcia was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. Big time raw power (.248 ISO) but holes in the swing (.206 BA, 40% K rate). Probably starts in Staten Island but could see Charleston in the 2nd half.



Wilkerman Garcia, courtesy of:

SS) Wilkerman Garcia- Age on opening day 19, listed 6′ 176 lbs, bats both and throws right. Garcia was signed out of Venezuela. Garcia had a tough year offensively in Pulaski and he’s likely going to get another year in rookie ball but he might make an appearance in the 2nd half we’ll see.



Nick Solak, courtesy of:

2B) Nick Solak- Robert Pimpsner thinks Solak may be a candidate to skip Charleston and head for Tampa.  Age on opening day 22, listed 5’11” 175 lbs, bats and throws right.  Solak was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of Louisville.  Not super toolsy Solak reportedly handles the bat well but there are questions about the power.

I found a much more detailed scouting report on Solak here if you’re interested, courtesy of prospect junkies:   2016 MLB Draft Scouting Report: Nick Solak


Around the Diamond

C) Donny Sands- Age 20, listed 6’2″ 190 lbs, bats and throws right. Sands was drafted in the 8th round of the 2015 draft as a 3rd baseman out of high school in Tucson, AZ.  He converted to catcher after the 2015 season.

From Yankees top 30 prospect list

“Sands has precocious feel for controlling the barrel. He made consistent line-drive contact while walking more than he struck out in his first taste of pro ball. He exhibits mostly gap power for now, but he has the bat speed, strength and hitting ability to eventually produce 15 or more homers per season.”

“He not only has impressed New York with his tools and aptitude, but also with his competitiveness and work ethic.”

Others who could see time at Catcher:

Eduardo Navas could be back, Jerry Seitz, (7th rd pick) Keith Skinner, Brian Reyes, Victor Rey and Manny Argomaniz who saw time at C, 1B, 3B and OF.

Middle Infield

2B) Nick Solak

SS) Hoy Yun Park

SS) Wilkerman Garcia

SS) Diego Castillo- Age 19, listed 6′ 170 lbs, bats and throws right. Castillo was signed out of Venezuela in 2014.  He’s getting some rave reviews for his offense and defense but he hasn’t played above the GCL yet and seems like a long shot to come to Charleston this year.

Others who could see time in the middle infield: Former 2nd rounder Gosuke Katoh could be back he saw time at 2B, 3B and SS. Welfrin Mateo (2B, 3B, SS) Chris Godinez, Yonauris Rodriguez, Danienger Perez and Josh Gardiner (2B, SS)

Corner Infield

1B) Dalton Blaser- Age on opening day 23, listed 6’1″ 200 lbs, bats and throws left.  Blaser was drafted in the 8th round of the 2016 draft out of Cal State Fullerton.  He saw time at both 1st and corner outfield in 2016

3B) Dermis Garcia

SS, 3B) Angel Aguilar- Age 21, listed 6′ 170 lbs, bats and throws right. Aguilar was signed out of Venezuela in 2011.  He’s a candidate for either the starting 3B job or the starting SS job but he could also go to Tampa. I saw him a couple of times last season and I liked him.  He showed good hands and feet at 3rd, at the plate he’s got some pop but needs to tone down the aggressiveness.

Others who could see time at the infield corners: 17th rd pick Mandy Alvarez (3B) could be back, Drew Bridges (3B,1B), Kane Sweeney (1B), Tim Linch (1B) Brandon Wagner (1B, 2B, 3B))


CF) Blake Rutherford

RF) Estevan Florial 

LF) Leonardo Molina

LF-CF-RF) Carlos Vidal Could be in the mix too- Age on opening day 21, listed 5’11” 160 lbs, bats and throws left. Vidal was signed out of Columbia in 2013. I was looking forward to seeing him in the Sally last season but injuries limited him to just 19 games across 3 levels.

Pinstriped Prospects wrote this back in Jan:

“Carlos has been playing mostly centerfield but in the long-term profiles more as a left-fielder.    He has good speed and has the tools to be an above-average defender in the outfield, the question would be his bat and if it continues to stay hot as he is challenged at the higher levels of the farm system.”

Assuming Rutherford is the starting CF in Charleston it will be interesting to see if the Yanks still want to play Vidal in CF if that’s the case he might not be coming here this yr.  He could skip though Staten Island probably makes more sense after his lost year.

CF) Dominic Thompson-Williams– Age 21, listed 6′ 185 lbs, bats and throws left.  Thompson-Williams was drafted in the 5th round of the 2016 draft out of the Univ of South Carolina.

Others who could see time in the OF: Alexander Palma (RF,LF) might be back for a little more seasoning Jhalen Jackson also. Ricardo Ferreira (CF,LF,RF), Kendall Coleman (LF), Cesar Diaz (CF), Nathan Mikolas (LF), Ben Ruta (RF), Andy Diaz (RF), Isiah Gilliam (RF, LF), Erick Mendez (LF) and Ricardo Ferreira (CF,RF,LF)

Starting Pitching

Freicer Perez- Age on opening day 21, listed 6’8″ 190 lbs, bats and throws right. Perez was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2014. Robert Pimpsner mentioned Perez as somebody he’s high on so I’m already intrigued.

Austin DeCarr- Age on opening day 22, listed 6’3″ 218 lbs, bats and throws right.  DeCarr was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 draft out of Prep school in Salisbury Ct.  My friend Gershon Rabinowitz also of Pinstriped Prospects interviewed DeCarr recently Austin DeCarr Prepares for 2017 Following Tommy John Rehab.  Sounds like an interesting young arm, I’m looking forward to seeing him.

Drew Finley- Age 20, listed 6’3″ 200 lbs, bats and throws right. Finley was in the 3rd round of the 2015 draft out of high school in San Diego, Ca.  I was hoping to see Finley last year in the Sally but the Yanks shipped him to the NY/Penn league instead.

For a scouting report I was looking for something current (end of 2016 season) with no luck.  Here’s a piece from Robert Pimpsner from January Yankees Top Prospect #18 – Drew Finley

Hard to know who amongst this group will be promoted to Tampa and who will be back: Luis Cedeno, Adonis Rosa, Simon De La Rosa and Nick Green.

We may also get newcomers:

Chad Martin, Juan Jimenez, Abel Duarte, Rafael Lara, Raynel Espinal and 2016 4th round pick Nick Nelson but many of these guys will make up the starting staff for Staten Island.


Charleston will have a lot of talent up and down the roster.  If Blake Rutherford and Estevan Florial makes the jump this year, the OF will be loaded.  I’m also looking forward to seeing the trio of pitchers Perez, DeCarr and Finley all seem to have promise.

I hope you got as much out of this as I did.  I’ll be back soon with a look at the 2017 Columbia Fireflies (Mets). Cheers.

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