In the McNamara division of the NY-Penn League there are four teams within three games of each other. The Yankees, Renegades, Iron Birds, and Cyclones all have a legitimate shot to win the divisional crown with 16 games to go. In order for one of these four teams to win the division their players will have to step up over the final week and a half. Let’s take a look at a player from each team I think will be a difference maker over the final 16 games.
Staten Island Yankees – 33-30 1st place
Difference Maker: Kyle Holder, SS
2015 has not been kind to Kyle Holder. The 2015 first-round pick out of the University of San Diego has struggled at the plate, batting only .199. Even his fielding has taken a toll with seven errors in 46 games. Even with all of Holder’s struggles the Yankees still sit atop the McNamara division. As of this writing, he is on a five game hitting streak, which could not come at a better time for this team. If Holder is able to stay consistent similar to the past five games, then the Yankees might have their difference maker.
Hudson Valley Renegades – 32-31 1.0 GB
Difference Maker: Jake Cronenworth, 2B
Jake Cronenworth has been the difference maker for Hudson Valley all season, so there is no reason to think that will change down the stretch. He has been the catalyst at the top of the order as he leads the team in hitting and on-base percentage. Hudson Valley is only a game behind Staten Island with a key three game set that kicks off tonight at Dutchess Stadium. There’s no doubt if Hudson Valley wants to overtake Staten Island they must take this series from the Yankees and to get that started will be Jake Cronenworth at the top of the Renegades batting order.
Aberdeen IronBirds – 32-32 1.5 GB
Difference Maker: D.J. Stewart, OF
Similar to Kyle Holder, D.J. Stewart is a 2015 first-round draft pick that has seen his professional career get off to a slow start. The number three hitter in the IronBirds’ order has only hit .220/.282/.346. Also, Stewart is hitless in his last three games. None of those previous statements would lead you to believe he will be the difference maker in the final 16 games for Aberdeen. However, there is too much talent in his bat to be down for this long. I think Stewart turns it on for Aberdeen and shows the NY-Penn League why Baltimore took him in the first-round of this year’s draft.
Brooklyn Cyclones - 30-33 3.0 GB
Difference Maker: Desmond Lindsay, OF
The Cyclones have the longest shot of any of the four teams, currently sitting three games behind Staten Island for first. However, on Wednesday, they made a new addition to the team, calling up Desmond Lindsay from the GCL Mets. Lindsay, a 2015 second round draft pick, has had a great start to his professional career. In 69 AB’s in the GCL, he has hit .304/.400/.464. There is no reason he cannot continue that trend in Brooklyn and help them come from behind late in the season.
The final 16 games will be fun to watch who takes this extremely tight divisional race. Will Kyle Holder, Jake Cronenworth, D.J. Stewart, or Desmond Lindsay be the reason why their respective ball clubs win the division?