The New York-Penn League season began on Friday night in Brooklyn for the Staten Island Yankees. The Baby Bombers have been known for their good pitching in recent years. Last year, they led the NYPL in ERA and they are looking to duplicate that with a new cast of arms this year.
Travis Phelps is back as the pitching coach in Staten Island for his fourth season and he sees this year’s group differently than the group that was at Richmond County Bank Ballpark in St. George a year ago for one reason:
“This year, there’s a little more pitchability than raw talent. You will see a lot more on the pitchability side with these guys,” said Phelps on how this group differs from last season.
The one thing that helps this young pitching staff is that they will get the chance to see a couple of veteran arms on their team rehabbing in the first few days. Nick Green will start the home opener on Saturday and be followed by left-hander Anderson Munoz. Then, on Sunday, Brian Keller will start in Tri-City and be followed by Josh Maciejewski. For these young pitchers, watching the veterans can only benefit them in Phelps’ mind:
“It helps show them a routine and how to go about preparing for a game and the routines everyday. They are a big influence in the dugout and they help settle guys down,” said Phelps.
While Green and Keller might only be here for a short time, this Staten Island roster has a few pitchers that have taken the mound a level about short-season ball. Some of those names include Munoz, Daniel Ramos, Bryan Blanton, Tim Hardy, and Wellington Diaz. Experience at higher levels can only help when you get to the start of the year
“That’s one of the things we talked about on Wednesday. We have a lot of experience. A lot of guys that know how to pitch, read swings, and work hitters. That’s one of the things we haven’t had in the past early on in the season,” said Phelps.
As for Friday night’s starter, Charlie Ruegger took the mound for the Yankees in Brooklyn. Ruegger was a 33rd Round pick by the Yankees in 2018 out of Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. Ruegger made nine appearances in the Gulf Coast League last year (GCL East) and only had one start.
With that being said, Ruegger did have a 2.79 ERA in those outings and had seven strikeouts to two walks in 9.2 innings. At Stevens, 10 of his 13 appearances were starts, so he has experience in the rotation. He went 8-2 in 2018 with a 2.58 ERA and had 97 strikeouts to 21 walks in 80 innings of work.
There may not be the top pitching prospects in Staten Island like there were a year ago with Matt Sauer and Roansy Contreras among others. However, if the experience can help some of the pitchers develop their talent, then this group of arms certainly has a lot of potential going forward.