The New York-Penn League season is finally upon us, and many ballplayers are migrating up North to take part in the 80th season of the NYPL. 2018 featured plenty of significant prospect names like Tyler Freeman, Luis Oviedo, Travis Swaggerty, Alec Bohm, Seth Beer, and many more. The group below, represented from all 14 teams, are some of the notable prospects on Opening Day who could become those type of household names at season’s end. We can’t wait to see even more emerge as the season progresses.
If you’re heading to a NYPL game this season, make sure to let me know on Twitter (@TBDubbs11), and would really enjoy connecting and hearing about the players you’re seeing!
The Auburn Doubledays (Washington Nationals) will forge into the 2019 season without any of their biggest name prospects in the system. However, this is subject to change as the top 3 2019 MLB draft selections: 1st rounder RHP Jackson Rutledge, 3rd rounder 3B Drew Mendoza, and 4th rounder LHP Matt Cronin all remain unsigned heading into the season. There is some intrigue with 26 year old OF Rafael Bautista, who will start 2019 on rehab with the Doubledays, and the outfielder saw time in Washington last season before sustaining a knee injury. Wilmer Perez will look to maintain offense at the catcher position after last year’s standout performance from backstop Israel Pineda.
For the Batavia Muckdogs (Miami Marlins), they will look for big name RHP Tyler Kolek (1st Round, 2014) to get his career back on track, and he’s still just 23 years old. 2019 3rd Round selection OF Peyton Burdick should mash and has the potential to make his stay in the NYPL relatively short. 2019 10th round selection OF J.D. Orr, and college teammate of Burdick, has a table setting skill set and led all of NCAA in stolen bases by eclipsing the 60 SB mark this collegiate season. 2019 4th Round selection 1B Evan Edwards is a sure-handed fielder who brings a run-producing and on-base skill set to the Muckdogs lineup. Depending on how long it takes to sign 4th overall pick OF J.J. Bleday, he could also wind up seeing at least a sliver of time in the NYPL.
In one of the strongest NYPL rosters again this year, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Cleveland Indians) are led by consensus top-ranked prospects OF George Valera, RHP Ethan Hankins, and SS Brayan Rocchio. Simply put: there aren’t too many NYPL rosters, in any season, that can boast this kind of prospect shine.The trio leads a deep and talented roster along with staff ace RHP Carlos Vargas, and interesting bats in IF Raynel Delgado and OF Johnathan Rodriguez. The Scrappers should be favorites to make a run at a league championship.
The West Virginia Black Bears (Pittsburgh Pirates), will have 2018 2nd round draft pick RHP Braxton Ashcraft lead the staff. Ashcraft is an excellent athlete and should carve up the league with the ability to throw a very good vertical slider for called strikes. A couple of intriguing lefty power bats returning to the NYPL from last season to anchor the lineup: Brett Kinneman and Luke Mangieri. Read more on this group from a previously published article during my guest interview on Notes from the Sally with John Calvagno (@SALNotes).
The State College Spikes (St. Louis Cardinals) will feature more mystery than intrigue, but look for key contributions from the 2018 draft class in C Matt Duce and 1B/OF Kevin Woodall. RH hurlers Hector Soto, Inohan Paniagua, and Martin Cordova will look to make significant contributions to the rotation while making the jump from the DSL, and Michael Baird should anchor the bullpen again this season for the Spikes.
The Williamsport Crosscutters (Philadelphia Phillies) will open 2019 featuring a pair of 2018 infield draft picks in Logan Simmons (6th Round) and Seth Lancaster (8th Round). One flier to keep an eye on is RHP Carlos Francisco, this year’s 28th round selection. The 6’4″ Francisco could develop as a future bullpen piece with a nice fastball-slider combination. 1st Round pick SS Bryson Stott could make his way onto the roster as recent top selections Adam Haseley (2017) and Alec Bohm (2018) did previously.
The Aberdeen Ironbirds (Baltimore Orioles) will likely not receive top overall draft selection C Adley Rutschman after he signs, but they will open the season with 4th round pick Joseph Ortiz and his excellent defense at SS and switch hitting Jean Carmona at the keystone. RHP Ryan Conroy should lead the staff with pitchability and an above average slider.
The Brooklyn Cyclones (New York Mets) have an athletic roster infused with talent from the 2018 Kingsport Rookie level team: IF Yoel Romero, and OFs Raul Beracierta, Anthony Dirocie, and Guillermo Granadillo. There are rumors that 2019 1st round selection 3B Brett Baty could also receive an aggressive assignment as the oldest high school player selected in this year’s draft. Make sure to read more on many of these players from my previously published Mets Top 50 earlier this year.
The Hudson Valley Renegades (Tampa Bay Rays) is a plenty strong squad in the talented Rays system. The Rays will trot out top-notch athlete SS Greg Jones (1st Round) and intriguing fireballer RHP John Doxakis (2nd Round). Another pair of college pitchers from this year’s draft class Ben Brecht (5th Round) and Colby White (6th Round) contribute to a formidable staff. CBA selection RHP Seth Johnson may find his way onto the roster, which would put them among the conversation with Mahoning Valley and Lowell for the circuit’s top teams.
The Staten Island Yankees (New York Yankees) are headlined by some big names and formidable J2 talent in OF Everson Pereira, IF Ezequiel Duran, and IF Oswald Peraza. While the SI Yankees are oozing with international talent, they could also receive draft reinforcement from LHP T.J. Sikkema (2nd Round in 2019).
The Connecticut Tigers (Detroit Tigers) have some up and coming players, but not the big names you might expect for a team picking towards the top of the draft. The lineup features switch hitting backstop Eliezer Alfonzo, and should get key contributions from IF Jeremiah Burks (Round 8, 2018) and OF Eric De La Rosa (Round 7, 2018). The squad also amazingly features a trio of Australian hurlers in LHP Jack O’Loughlin, LHP Jake Baker, and RHP Zac Shepard.
The Lowell Spinners (Boston Red Sox) open the NYPL season headed by the talented SS Antoni Flores, and an impressive cadre of their top draft selections from the 2019 draft class in SS Cameron Cannon (1st Round), RHP Ryan Zeferjahn (3rd Round), RHP Noah Song (4th Round), and C Jaxx Groshans (5th Round). They will also look for key contributions from a pair of “Nicks” from the 2018 draft class: OF Nick Decker (2nd) and 3B Nicholas Northcut (11th Round). Considering the Red Sox system is not one of the more celebrated these days, this crop is a significant sign of an upturn in their farm’s reputation.
The defending NYPL champion Tri-City ValleyCats (Houston Astros) head into the 2019 season without any of this year’s draft picks like they did last year with the big bat of Seth Beer. However, there is plenty of talent to go around on this roster: 3B Joe Perez (2017, Round 2) and OF Hector Martinez deliver the middle of the order thump, while RHP Jayson Schroeder (2018, Round 2) and RHP Angel Macuare lead the way in the rotation.
The Vermont Lake Monsters (Oakland Athletics) will open the season with a duo of 2018 high draft selections in LHP Hogan Harris (3rd Round) and OF Lawrence Butler (6th Round). LHP Jhenderson Hurtado and LHP Yorlenis Noa will bring some strikeout upside in the rotation, while RHP’s Jeferson Mejia and Carlos Sanchez can miss bats in the bullpen.