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Recap of the first month in the New York Penn League

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What did the first month look like in the New York-Penn League?

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The first month of the 2016 season has passed and the New York Penn League has had some intriguing storylines so far. Let's take a division by division look at some of the storylines through the first month.

McNamara Division

Staten Island Yankees -€” The Yankees are off to a 17-9 start, four games in front of Brooklyn and Hudson Valley as of July 14th. Pitching has been the reason why they are in first with a 2.50 staff earned run average, tied with Hudson Valley for first in the NYPL. Two young Dominican right-handers, Adonis Rosa and Simon De La Rosa, have led the way for Staten Island. Rosa is 1-1 with a 1.65 ERA in four starts and De La Rosa is 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA -€” both men led the Yankees in strikeouts as well with 27 for De La Rosa and 22 for Rosa. Generally considered a top 15 prospect in their system, Drew Finley has had a solid start to his 2016 campaign. One bad start in Lowell on the 13th of July inflated his ERA to 4.44, where he allowed seven runs on eight hits in only 3 2/3 innings. Before that bad start, Finley was pitching to a more respectable 2.18 ERA.

Offensively third basemen Drew Bridges is slashing .303/.370/.461 with three home runs and 11 runs batted in, improving on his struggles in Staten Island last season. Bridges has certainly improved on his walks as well this year. After only walked 15 times in 2015, he has 10 already in Staten Island. One of the newest Yankees, second round selection, Nick Solak has contributed well to the Yankees success in 2016. The second baseman has begun his professional career batting .277 and getting on base at a .407 clip. In his first 65 at-bats he has struck out only five times with ten walks.

Hudson Valley Renegades -€” The Hudson Valley Renegades have compiled quite the outfield, albeit one that has struggled to start 2016. They have 2015 first round selection Garrett Whitley in left field, 2016 second round selection Ryan Boldt and 2016 Comp. Bal. B selection Jake Fraley sharing time in center field. Three of the notable outfield names drafted in the past two years, but unfortunately the results have not been there. Whitley is only hitting .195 with only seven walks and 28 strikeouts in 87 at-bats. The top outfield prospect in the Rays system has not begun his professional career in a way Tampa would have liked. Boldt has continued on a trend he followed in my research leading up to the 2016 draft, where he was in the bottom 15 in K% and had the lowest BB% of the top 100 draft-eligible prospects. He has begun his career with only one walk and fifteen strikeouts through his first 78 at-bats. Fraley, for all his struggles, leads the team in walks and is second on the team in on-base percentage. However, he is only hitting .143 with only one extra base hit.

Pinckney Division

State College Spikes -€” The Spikes lead the Doubledays and Crosscutters by four games through July 14th. Ronnie Williams, the 20th overall prospect in the Cardinals farm system according the mlb.com, has been a huge part of their success. He is 3-1 with a 2.62 ERA in 34.1 innings. Williams has quite the strikeout and walk percentage -€” 18.7 strikeout percentage and 3.6 walk percentage! I think he is more projectable as a reliever in the long term, but he has looked solid throughout his professional career thus far.

Stedler Division

Connecticut Tigers -€” The Tigers lead a tight division that is only separated by four games from the top to the bottom. The Tigers have two arms taken in the 2016 MLB draft, Kyle Funkhouser and Bryan Garcia. In only ten innings, Funkhouser has a 4.50 ERA with six walks and only two walks. Garcia has only thrown two scoreless innings to begin his career. Both are very small sample sizes, but they are two arms to watch over the next few months.

Lowell Spinners -€” The players to watch on the Spinners have been Yoan Aybar, Tyler Hill, Kevin Steen, and Josh Pennington. Aybar has struggled to begin 2016, including his last ten games, where he is only hitting .147. Overall he's hitting .225, but the biggest trouble lies in his strikeouts. Through 80 at-bats, Aybar has 22 strikeouts and only five walks. Aybar needs to get on-base more to show off the speed mlb.com grades at 60. Tyler Hill leads the Spinners in hitting with a .366 average to go with a .418 on-base percentage and .524 slugging. Over his last ten games, Hill is hitting over .400.

On the mound, Kevin Steen and Josh Pennington have had two different seasons. Steen has struggled in Lowell, so far with a 5.82 ERA in 21.2 innings. In those 21 innings, he is averaging almost a hit an inning. However, according to Fangraphs, Steen has a 3.75 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), which may indicate some bad luck on the side of Steen. Pennington, on the other hand, has had a great start to 2016. He is 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 21.2 innings, along with doubling his 11 walks with 22 strikeouts. Also, opponents are only hitting .171 against him, Continuing on his successful professional debut in 2015, Pennington is proving to be a steal as a 29th round selection in the 2015 MLB draft.