fbpx

5 Underrated Yankees MiLB Hitting Performances in 2018


The Yankees organization has struggled immensely with offense during the 2018 season at the major league and minor league level.  While there have been a few that had stellar seasons like Ryan McBroom and Dom Thompson-Williams others had solid seasons or better that went under the radar for one reason or the other.

Here are five hitters that quietly had strong seasons, setting themselves up for a promotion or more in 2019.

Brandon Wagner

Trenton Thunder’s Brandon Wagner in a game against the Hartford Yard Goats in Trenton on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. (Photo by Martin Griff)

Infielder Brandon Wagner was drafted by the Yankees way back in 2015 in the sixth round.  After bouncing around from third base, second base, and even a little outfield, he has found a home at first base the last few seasons.

This season he continued his strong minor league season at the plate, hitting .267/.380/.461 over 124 games between the Class A-Advanced Tampa Tarpons and the Double-A Trenton Thunder.

Wagner began his season with the Tampa Tarpons where he was hitting .270/.376/.510 in 97 games.  In 304 at-bats he had 82 hits, with 13 doubles, 20 home runs, and 57 RBIs.

On July 23, he was promoted to Trenton to get his first taste of Double-A.  In 37 games with the Thunder, he hit .262/.390/.346 with eight doubles, a home run and 10 RBIs in 130 at-bats.

Wagner ended his season second in the entire minor league system with 21 home runs, runs scored with 68, and walks with 70 while also being fourth in RBIs with 67.

Zack Zehner

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ Zack Zehner at home against the Syracuse Chiefs on Thursday, August 30, 2018. (Photo by Martin Griff)

Outfielder Zack Zehner has quietly put together an excellent minor league career and took another step forward in 2018.  Between Double-A and Triple-A he hit .270/.339/.459 in 119 games.

Overall Zehner was tied for fourth in the system in doubles with 225, sixth in RBIs with 63, eighth in total hits with 113 and 10th in home runs with 14.  With the RailRiders he hit .262/.320/.444 in 82 games.  In 302 at-bats he had 79 base hits for the Yankees Triple-A team, with 19 of them being double, three being triples and 10 of them being home runs and drove in 42 runs.

In between stints in Triple-A. Zehner had 32 games in Double for the Trenton Thunder.  In 116 at-bats he had six doubles, three triples, four home runs and drove in 21 runs while hitting .293/.385/.500.

Ben Ruta

TAMPA, FL – MAY 29: during the Florida State League (Advanced-A) game between the Lakeland Flying Tigers (Detroit Tigers) and Tampa Tarpons (New York Yankees) on May 29, 2018 at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Tampa Tarpons)

There is not an outfielder in the system that took advantage of early injuries than Ben Ruta.  He opened up the season in Double-A with the Trenton Thunder, skipping over Tampa, and excelled hitting .314/.366/.397 in 36 games.

Ruta took what many called the most significant test a prospect faces and passed with flying colors.  However, due to the massive amount of upper-level outfielders coming off of the disabled list he was sent down to Tampa on May 24.

In Tampa, he hit .294/.344/.457 in 83 games.  Overall, between both levels, he had a slash line of .300/.350/.441 and lead the entire minor league system in stolen bases with 37.  He was also second in the system in hits with 134, tied for fourth in doubles with 25, and sixth in runs scored with 61.

Pablo Olivares

Pablo Olivares continues to be impressive at the plate.(Jerry Coli)

Outfielder Pablo Olivares is one of the most underrated players in the entire farm system.  He does not have one outstanding tool but does a lot of things really well including putting together solid at-bats.

While he missed a lot of time in 2018 with an injury, he still showed why fans should not sleep on him.  In 70 games between Charleston and Tampa, he hit .322/.391/.442 with 78 hits in 242 at bats including 11 doubles and six home runs.  He drove in 30 runs and had 20 walks in his brief season.

Isiah Gilliam

Isiah Gilliam reached the 30 RBI mark on Sunday with a two-run single in the top of the first (Mark LoMoglio)

Some might write off outfielder Isiah Gilliam’s 2018 season as a down year, but in a year where offense was down across the board, he had a surprisingly strong season.

While he was second in the system in games played with 125, he was among the organizational lead in several categories including being third in RBIs (71), fifth in hits (123), seventh in runs scored (59), and ninth in doubles (22).

Over 474 at-bats for the Class A-Advanced Tampa Tarpons, he hit .259/.313/.397 with 22 doubles, two triples, and 13 home runs.  It was not his worst season offensively, but also not his best.