Opening Day is here for the New York Penn League. Short-Season A ball is upon us and we are sure to get a look at some of the top players in the 2016 draft. Before the season begins let's get an update on where some of the top players from the 2015 NYPL season are and how they are performing.
Stone Garrett, OF - Greensboro Grasshoppers
Garrett had a breakout season in 2015, vaulting his way up to become the fourth prospect in the Marlins system. Garrett was named the 2015 Marlins Minor League Player of the Year. 2016, Garrett's first in a full season level, has not gone exactly as planned. Through his first 131 at-bats, Garrett is slashing .244/.303/.450 with five home runs and 15 runs batted in. The move up to full season A ball has seen an increase in Garrett's strikeouts - he already has 47 after 60 in 2015. Perhaps the worst news of all for Garrett was his injury sustained during a prank by teammate and fellow Marlins top prospect, Josh Naylor went wrong, landing Garrett on the disabled list and out of action since the beginning of June.
Andrew Benintendi, OF - Portland Sea Dogs
Benintendi began the season in Salem and he continued to tear the cover off the ball down there. He hit .341/.413/.563 and drove in 32 runs in only 34 games. His quick start warranted a promotion to Double-A and on May 16th the Red Sox promoted him to Portland. He started off slow in Portland, but over his last 20 at-bats Benintendi is 7-20 and 4 for his last 12. Benintendi is one of the most polished players to come out of the 2015 draft and he is one of the more advanced hitters in the Red Sox system and I think he may get time at the major league level at some point in 2017.
Victor Robles, OF - Hagerstown Suns
The nineteen year old prospect for the Nationals has created a great deal of excitement since making his professional debut in 2014. Last season he excelled with Auburn and began this season with Hagerstown. Robles continues to excel in 2016 posting a slash line of .316/.420/.456 along with an already career high five home runs. The speed of Robles continues to be one of his greatest assets as he has stolen 17 bases through the first two and half months of the season. Overall Robles has the potential to be a five tool player as he works his way up the Nationals farm system.
Franklyn Kilome, RHP - Lakewood BlueClaws
The 2016 season has not been kind to the 8th overall prospect in the Phillies farm system. In 53 innings, Kilome is 1-6 with a 5.09 ERA. His peripherals show a little room for optimism. For example, Kilome's Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is 4.53, slightly lower than his 5.09 ERA; perhaps he is pitching better than his ERA would indicate. Also, opponents BABIP is .344, again suggesting Kilome may have been the victim of tough luck because his prior year's BABIP's were .264 and .282 respectively. Kilome has seen an increase in his strikeout percentage from 17.4 to 19.4%. Unfortunately he has also seen an increase in his walk percentage from 10.1 to 11.3%. Kilome had his final start of the first half June 15th against Hagerstown and his next start will come after the South Atlantic League All-Star Game.
Tyler Alexander, LHP - Lakeland Flying Tigers
Tyler Alexander, a second round selection in the 2015 draft, has had quite the start to his professional career. Alexander had a brief stint in Connecticut last year before starting 2016 with Lakeland. He has continued to pitch well with a 20.4 strikeout percentage and 4.4 walk percentage. He is 5-4 with a 2.03 ERA through 66.2 innings. His low 90's fastball and his average off-speed pitches lead me to profile him as a back of the rotation starter with slight potential as a #3 if everything broke right. His ability to keep the ball down and make hitters hit groundballs keeps me optimistic about his pitchability. Alexander will represent Lakeland and the FSL North Division in Saturday night's FSL All-Star Game.
Domingo Acevedo, RHP - Tampa Yankees
Acevedo began 2016 with the Charleston RiverDogs, where he excelled. Acevedo went 3-1 with a 1.90 ERA. He posted a 29.3 strikeout percentage along with a 4.3 walk percentage. The hard-throwing right-hander picked up where he left off in 2015 showing the Yankees why he is there second overall pitching prospect behind James Kaprielian. Acevedo's dominant 42.2 innings in Charleston earned him a promotion to the Tampa Yankees, where he made his debut on Wednesday night against the St. Lucie Mets. Acevedo went five and two thirds, allowing only one run, but taking the loss in his Class A Advanced debut.