Baseball America's preseason update of their top 30 Yankees prospects involves plenty of intriguing movement outside the top 10. Yes, there's fodder beyond Jasson Dominguez's rise, indicating the system as a whole is in a very good spot (but you could tell that just from the exit velocities).
There's plenty of intrigue and mystery, even among the system's more well-known names. Will Henry Lalane make the leap many anticipate, as he brings his polished lefty arsenal to full-season ball? Will George Lombard Jr.'s debut at shortstop be worth the wait? Can Jared Serna sustain his versatile rise?
Perhaps most unexpectedly, though, one of the system's breakout bats of the past few years is starting to get some mainstream shine. Almost overnight, Ben Rice went from a Dartmouth draftee with a mid-tier ceiling to a force to be reckoned with offensively. It's now clear that Baseball America does not view him as a flash in the pan or a position-less bat with a limited future.
Instead, they see Rice as the 12th-best prospect in the entire system, and given his productivity at Double-A last season, he could easily be scratching the big-league surface by the end of 2024.
Yankees' Ben Rice leaps to No. 12 in Baseball America's Top 30 Prospects
It's safe to say Rice is no longer a cute story out of the Ivy Leagues. He's a bat that demands attention.
Rice, a Massachusetts-born slugger (nice), turns 25 in February. While there might not be much physical maxing out left in his frame, the bat already plays; he hit 20 homers in just 275 at-bats last season, posting a .324 average and 1.045 OPS across three levels. He began at Single-A Tampa and ascended nicely to Hudson Valley, but it was Double-A where Rice truly became transcendent, smacking 16 of his 20 total homers in just 48 games played.
And, yes, he's a lefty.
Needless to say, when an Ivy League 12th-rounder blossoms in just his second year of full-season pro ball, having an expert's stamp on things lends helpful credence to the idea that the Yankees just may have something here (though his .810 OPS in his debut season was nothing to sneeze at, either).
Expect Rice to get a look in spring training and a bit of a spotlight when he begins regular-season play, likely at Triple-A Scranton. It just got that much easier for fans to dream about a big-league run, though, after reading the latest assessment.