The New York Penn League (NYPL) is a historic baseball league that started in 1939 as the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York (PONY) League. The league has undergone many changes since its inception, and the NYPL as we know it today has expanded to 14 teams in 8 states in the Northeast. Many players are recent draft picks or international free agents promoted from Rookie Leagues. The designation of the league is Class A Short Season, and the schedule runs from mid-June to the end of August.
This article will highlight notable looks that I got at players from two clubs: Auburn Doubledays, affiliated with the Washington Nationals, and Batavia Muckdogs, affiliated with the Miami Marlins. In my future overviews, I will detail players from the Lowell Spinners (Boston Red Sox), West Virginia Black Bears (Pittsburgh Pirates), and the loaded Mahoning Valley Scrappers squad (Cleveland Indians). Fingers crossed I can see at least one more NYPL team this season as well.
Drafted out of Western Kentucky University in the 18th Round this summer, Rhinesmith has shined in his debut season for the Doubledays. WKUSports.com reports that Rhinesmith was 1 of 13 Division I players to reach the 13 HR/13 SB mark during the 2018 college season. In the multiple games I have seen Rhinesmith so far this year, it is easy to see why: Rhinesmith routinely hits in the top third of the lineup and makes solid line drive contact. His .320 AVG is good for 5th overall in the NYPL, and his .390 OBP is 3rd overall. In 34 G, Rhinesmith has 11 multi-hit performances and has K’d more than once only 3 times. Here are two clips of Rhinesmith: the first is an RBI single against the Batavia Muckdogs, and the second is a clutch 2 out RBI single as part of a 9th inning rally against the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.
Jamori Blash, the younger brother of Angels outfielder Jabari Blash, was a 23rd Round pick of the Nationals in the 2017 draft out of Cochise CC in Arizona. Hailing from St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, Jamori Blash is a middle of the lineup threat for the Doubledays. Blash’s 20 RBI put him in a tie for 8th overall in the NYPL. Blash is also a good defender at 1B, providing a lengthy target with his 6’4″ frame. I caught Blash’s first HR of 2018, an opposite field smash, against Batavia.
Sanchez was ranked 10th overall on Shelly Verougstraete’s midseason Nationals prospect list. He is a talented, smooth fielder, and has an opposite field, line drive approach at the dish. The Venezuelan shortstop had a 5 game hit streak at the beginning of July. Sanchez just turned 18 years old, and has put together a really solid campaign for the Doubledays playing against older competition. I caught two clips of his opposite field hits: the first is a double against Batavia, and the second is a single against Mahoning Valley.
Jose Sanchez, no. 18 #Nationals prospect per @MLBPipeline, lines a double to right field for the @Doubledays. The talented Venezuelan SS turns 18 in July. Pipeline: “Sanchez's compact swing and present feel for going the other way gives him a chance to hit for average.”👇👀🔥 pic.twitter.com/my4p6BDGrU
Encarnacion is an impressive hitting prospect for the Marlins Short Season affiliate out of Batavia. If not for an ankle injury that cost him some time this season, Encarnacion would be atop the leaderboard in many hitting categories. Still, Encarnacion ranks 10th in AVG, 8th in SLG, 9th in H, 5th in R, and 2nd in 2B. Flashing power and good approach, Encarnacion is an intriguing outfielder in the system. Here is a clip of Encarnacion shortening his swing going with a pitch down two strikes in the count. This type of adjustment from a power hitter at this level is a promising sign of things to come for the 20 year old Dominican.
At 6’7″, Reynolds is more often than not the tallest player on any baseball field. A 4th Round draft pick in 2016, Reynolds has found the power stroke in Batavia, leading the league in HR with 8 through 41 G. At this point in his career, there is some swing-and-miss to his game, as he has a 42% K rate on the season. I saw Reynolds unload on one of his six doubles, a blistering shot to the centerfield wall, in Auburn. Recently, Mark Firkins of Real McCoy Minors interviewed Reynolds, so make sure to check out that great work here.
Ricardo Cespedes, OF, Batavia Muckdogs (now on Greensboro Grasshoppers, Full Season A)
Cespedes had a short 5 game stint with the Muckdogs before being promoted to Full Season Greensboro in the South Atlantic League. Cespedes came over to the Marlins in a 2017 trade deadline deal that sent MLB reliever AJ Ramos to the New York Mets. Nearly 21 years old, Cespedes ranked 29th overall on the Marlins 2018 preseason list (and looks to have slipped slightly on Stoffer Cochran’s upcoming Marlins midseason Top 50). Cespedes impressed with this line drive single against Auburn early in the season.
Ben covers the New York Penn League and New York Mets minor league baseball for Prospects1500. Ben is a Massachusetts native and Red Sox fan now living in Upstate New York, a haven for taking in Short Season A Ball, AA, and AAA games. Ben has played fantasy baseball for over 15 years and is involved in multiple dynasty leagues, including Scott Greene's Diamond Duos 4. Ben broke into baseball writing with the great support of Mark Nikolov as a team writer at realmccoyminors.com, and has also contributed to notesfromthesally.com. Follow Ben on Twitter @TBDubbs11 for player video and dynasty baseball content.