The minor-league season is officially underway for the first time since Sept. 2019 (!), which is both insanely joyful and a disgusting reminder of how strange and difficult the past year has been.
With the resumption of the “new” Minor-League Baseball (under MLB control), Yankees fans have four new squads to keep an eye on, while also monitoring Jasson Dominguez at extended spring training.
Kind of annoying he’s not on a roster! Whew … anyway …
So far, so good for a number of top prospects, fringe top 30 guys, and players you’ve probably never heard of who spent all of 2020 in the “Gas Station” honing their pitching mechanics.
Now, before we move forward, we’ll detail the systemic changes this year.
Instead of Trenton, this year’s Double-A affiliate is in Somerset, NJ, as the Somerset Patriots, an independent team for their entire existence, have now been elevated to affiliated ball. The Blue Jays’ Triple-A team will play in Trenton temporarily, as will a league of MLB Draft prospects. Confusing? Absolutely.
Gone, too, are the Charleston Riverdogs, who we handed back to the Tampa Bay Rays, as well as the Staten Island Yankees, a relationship that ended acrimoniously. Staten Island’s short-season level has been eliminated, and the Yankees’ new High-A affiliate is the Hudson Valley Renegades.
Got it? Good. We barely do.
With an entire level eliminated, the lowest this thing goes is Single-A Tampa. After a few contests at that level, HV, Somerset, and SWB, we’ve got our eyes on these three potential breakouts.
These 4 surprise prospects have had hot starts in the minor leagues.
3. Luis Medina
Remember Luis Medina from spring training 2021? He brought an incredible hook to the mound, couldn’t exactly locate it, and got lit up by the Detroit Tigers, a team that isn’t good.
Not ready. Needs a little more time to cook. No worries.
Luckily, Medina did not let that little setback throw off his progress whatsoever, and he took to the mound at High-A Hudson Valley looking to decimate some unprepared, lower-level hitters.
The result? Four innings, one hit and eight strikeouts in his first organized start in years.
Medina’s always had top-grade stuff, but he’s never really managed to put it all together, striking out 127 men in 103.2 in his most recent full season while still sporting an unsightly 5.47 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. The curveball, in some cases, curves so much that hitters traditionally haven’t bothered with it, letting Medina instead bend them all the way to first base for the walk.
We’ll be watching him closely in Hudson Valley — not because he’ll be “ready” this year, but because his stuff is too good not to eventually come together. So far, so great.