Double-A Northeast: Standout Players From Each Team

Taylor Snyder, Hartford Yard Goats, May 23, 2021. Photo credit - Tiffany Greene, @greeneimages on Instagram

Through 48 of 120 games, the Double-A Northeast League has emerged as one of the more prospect-loaded Minor League Baseball levels during the 2021 season. Notable names currently in the league include Spencer Torkelson, Riley Greene, Austin Martin, Triston Casas, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Cade Cavalli, Adley Rutschman, and Grayson Rodriguez.

The list below spotlights one player from each of the twelve teams who is making a statement with their performance thus far. To qualify, a player must be active on a Northeast League team’s roster and have been with the team for a majority of the season.

Somerset Patriots (New York Yankees)

Diego Castillo, INF
35 G, .338, 45 H, 8 HR, 24 RBI
A 2014 international signing by the Yankees, Castillo has swung one of the hottest bats in the Northeast League, hitting .366 with 7 home runs over the last three weeks. The eight home runs he’s hit through 35 games this season is double his previous single season record, when he hit four homers over 114 games in 2019.

The 23-year-old’s versatility in the field can be a big boost to his major league ambitions, as Castillo has played second, short, and third. He puts the ball in play and is patient at the plate as well, with his .938 OPS ranking fourth in the Northeast League.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Toronto Blue Jays)

Gabriel Moreno, C
32 G, .373, 47 H, 8 HR, 45 RBI
The #10 prospect on our Blue Jays Top 50, Moreno leads the Northeast League in batting average, RBI, and OPS (1.092).

An international signing by the Blue Jays in 2016, Moreno has hit .308 through his four minor league seasons. He has quickly climbed through the Jays’ farm system, skipping Advanced-A and starting 2021 with Double-A after only two professional seasons in the United States.

The 21-year-old backstop has showcased his defensive skills as well, throwing out 14 of 32 attempted base stealers for a caught stealing percentage of 43%, which would qualify as the third-best in Major League Baseball this year.

Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates)

Roansy Contreras, RHP
8G, 45 IP, 2.00 ERA, 64 K

One of the prized Yankees prospects traded to the Pirates as part of the Jameson Taillon deal this past offseason, Contreras has been one of the best pitchers in the Northeast League so far this year. He is second in the league in WHIP (0.80), strikeouts, ERA, wins (3), and opponent batting average (.163). The 21-year-old righty has broken out this season much thanks to an improved repertoire featuring an upper 90’s fastball with late-life that he combines with a nasty 12-6 curveball to keep hitters off-balanced.

Erie Seawolves (Detroit Tigers)

Riley Greene, OF
44 G, .269, 46 H, 8 HR, 27 RBI
The fifth overall selection in the 2019 Draft, Greene has showcased his all-around talents this season, hitting eight homers while sporting a .365 OBP and stealing eight bags with only two errors in the field.

Portland Sea Dogs (Boston Red Sox)

Triston Casas, 1B
34 G, .266, 34 H, 4 HR, 22 RBI
A left-handed power hitter, Casas is proving why he is our #1 Red Sox prospect, slashing .266/.354/.414 so far in 2021. The Red Sox first-round pick in 2018, Casas played only two games above Low-A before this season but has quickly adjusted to the challenges of Double-A. He has also demonstrated significant improvement in the plate discipline category, walking 17 times through 34 games.

Akron RubberDucks (Cleveland Indians)

Tyler Freeman, IF
36 G, .327, 48 H, 2 HR, 19 RBI
Tyler Freeman is one of the most consistent hitters in all of baseball, not dipping below .300 since the second week of the season. A career .319 hitter through his four seasons with the Indians organization, Freeman is slashing .327/.377/.469 on the season. Additionally, he has an above-average glove with the ability to play third base, shortstop, and second base.

Reading Fightin’ Phils (Philadelphia Phillies)

Taylor Lehman, LHP
5 G (3 starts), 15.1 IP, 3.52 ERA, 20 K
Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Penn State in 2018, Lehman has broken out during the 2021 season. Coming into this year, he had only thrown 66 professional innings between rookie ball and Low-A. The 6’7” southpaw has pitched to a phenomenal ground ball percentage of 92% in 2021 and is yet to allow a home run on the season.

Hartford Yard Goats (Colorado Rockies)

Julian Fernandez, RHP
22 G, 21.2 IP, 2.49 ERA, .200 OBA
A two-time Rule 5 draft pick, Fernandez is beginning to display the potential the Rockies saw when they signed him as an International free agent in 2012. The 25-year-old underwent Tommy John Surgery in the spring of 2018, and before this season had not thrown a pitch in a minor league game since 2017. Fernandez has a 1.25 WHIP and struck out 18 batters over 22.2 innings of work this season.

Richmond Flying Squirrels (San Francisco Giants)

Joey Marciano, LHP
17 G, 19.2 IP, 2.75 ERA, 30 K
The Giants 36th round pick in 2017, Marciano is having a breakout season as a reliever for Richmond, with opponents hitting .186 against him. The southpaw began his career as a starter, occasionally pitching in long relief, but has transformed into a late-inning role in 2021.

Harrisburg Senators (Washington Nationals)

Cole Freeman, UT
40 G, .260, 40 H, 4 HR, 14 RBI
Freeman is the definition of a pure hitter. He uses the whole field and puts the ball in play every at-bat, striking out only 17 times in his 172 plate appearances so far this season. The Nationals fourth-round pick out of LSU in 2017, Freeman has played six different positions in his minor league career. With a strong glove, he has solid potential to be an everyday utility player in the big leagues. The 5’9” 175 lbs right-handed hitter has also shown flashes of power this season, with a career-high four homers through only 40 games.

Bowie Baysox (Baltimore Orioles)

DL Hall, LHP
7 G, 31.2 IP, 3.13 ERA, 56 K
It was a tough decision between Hall and our #1 Orioles prospect Adley Rutschman, but there is no denying the boost DL Hall has provided to the Baysox pitching staff this season. With 56 strikeouts he ranks third in the Northeast League, and his 15.92 K/9 is first among qualified players. The Orioles first-round selection in 2017 has held opponents to a .155 batting average against him this season and has posted a 1.01 WHIP.

Binghamton Rumble Ponies (New York Mets)

Carlos Cortes, OF
42 G, .297, 49 H, 8 HR, 29 RBI
The Mets third-round pick in 2018, switch-hitting outfielder Carlos Cortes is having a career year with Binghamton. He’s slashing .297/.364/.564 with a .927 OPS and leads his team in all offensive categories. The Mets moved Cortes to the outfield in 2019 after playing the middle infield for the majority of his career. He is yet to make an error in the field this season.

Honorable Mentions:

Janson Junk, RHP – Somerset Patriots
9 G, 42 IP, 1.07 ERA, 46 K

Glenn Otto Jr., RHP – Somerset Patriots
9 G, 52.1 IP, 3.96 ERA, 83 K

Adley Rutschman, C – Bowie Baysox
46 G, .284, 48 H, 11 HR, 32 RBI

Taylor Snyder, IF – Hartford Yard Goats
43 G, .264, 42 H, 14 HR, 37 RBI

Frank Duncan, RHP– Hartford Yard Goats
8 G, 42.1 IP, 2.76 ERA, 33 K

Joey Meneses, 1B – Portland Sea Dogs
38 G, .302, 45 H, 7 HR, 36 RBI

Samad Taylor, IF/OF – New Hampshire Fisher Cats
44 G, .311, 51 H, 12 HR, 31 RBI

Otto Lopez, IF – New Hampshire Fisher Cats
45 G, .350, 64 H, 2 HR, 25 RBI

Oneil Cruz, OF – Altoona Curve
42 G, .290, 49 H, 8 HR, 26 RBI

Eli Fishman is a Northeast League (Double-A) correspondent at Prospects1500. He is an incoming freshman at Ithaca College, and has three years of experience writing for sites such as Last Word On Baseball, In The Zone Sports, Jersey Sporting News, and his high school’s award winning paper, The Columbian. Additionally, Eli is the play-by-play voice of the Jersey Pilots, a summer collegiate baseball team based in Madison, NJ.

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