The first half of the Florida State League is coming to an end and the Tampa Yankees, despite a strong effort, still find themselves 2.5 games behind the Clearwater Threshers. Tampa has dealt with injuries and promotions in the last month, and it’s held them with one arm tied behind their back, yet they still find themselves third in the FSL North carrying a 32-30 record.
The ongoing narrative for the team has been their lack of offense, the same names have been at the forefront of the fight, with Gosuke Katoh adding in his name as well. Chris Gittens and Nick Solak continue to battle any pitcher they go against, and though Tito Polo has slowed a bit, he too can be a threat whenever up.
It continues with who’s struggling that is holding the team back, Jorge Mateo and Kyle Holder. The pair hasn’t seemed to get comfortable yet this season, Mateo still dealing with mechanical issues, and Holder struggling to find contact, not something easy for Tampa to deal with when it’s your first two guys in the lineup. With Katoh chiming in with the little playing time he gets throughout the week it’s eased some of the struggles and given the Yankees a good source of contact in the bottom of the order.
Katoh sits with a .290 average after 20 games with the Yankees, and a .333 average in his last ten games. Katoh doesn’t usually play every day, but if he keeps up with his offense it’ll force Jay Bell‘s hand in taking playing time away from one of the other infielders who aren’t Nick Solak. Despite Katoh’s helping hands, realistically the Yankees won’t be able to make much of an impact in the FSL until Jorge Mateo turns it around, and as of right now it’s a waiting game for when that begins. The Charleston RiverDogs have some players that could really help this Tampa team, but there is just no room for anyone to move up or down, especially in the infield.
The Yankees’ pitching has been hit or miss, the subtractions of Domingo Acevedo and Josh Rogers have weighed heavy on Tampa, and Ian Clarkin‘s best efforts have kept them going, Zack Littell as well. Clarkin being eased back from injury hasn’t given up a run in his last three performances, and Littell hasn’t given up more than a run since May 12th. Erik Swanson who was just moved to the DL started cleanly with Tampa, but then lost control and wasn’t helping much before his injury
The Yankees lost Albert Abreu again as he moves to the 7-day DL for a shoulder injury. There is now word yet on how serious the injury is, but he was removed from his last game after two perfect innings. Abreu’s was still being eased in from his last return after elbow inflammation had him out for a couple of weeks and now the Yankees will be without him again. However, they have gotten two new faces to make up for the three they’ve lost
Brody Koerner and Stephen Tarpley will now be in the rotation and can stop the bleeding of Swanson and Albert Abreu going to the DL. Koerner has made three appearances so far this season and is making strides in each start, Tarpley will be a dark-horse as the Yankees’ organization still hasn’t seen much of him since coming over in the Ivan Nova trade. He made one start for Tampa last season before being shut down due to swelling and soreness, Tarpley told Pinstriped Prospects in an interview last year. There is no date for Tarpley’s first start yet, but he is on the active roster for the first time this season. Another name to look for is James Reeves as he continues to get back to form after starting his season in late May. Since his first appearance where he gave up five runs simply from it being his first game, he has already looked much like he did last year coming out of the bullpen, giving up only one earned run in his last four games. Once Reeves is ready he’ll most likely go back to Trenton, but as for now, he is a strong arm Tampa can rely on when needed.
Overall, this Yankees’ team is still one to watch in the second half; the fact that they can be third as the first half is coming to an end does show promise in what they have moving forward. They’ll have to get ready for Ian Clarkin and Zack Littell to be promoted soon as well once there is room in Double-A Trenton as they’ve clearly shown High-A is little of a match for them, just as it was for Ace’ and Rogers. Tampa has a couple of games left against Fort Myers over the weekend and then go to Bradenton for four games before the FSL All-Star Game.