The Tampa Yankees sit at the top of the Florida State League North with a 27-15 record, and with a mostly set roster this team could stroll into the playoffs without losing a majority of their lineup or rotation.
The Yankees’ lineup has gotten even younger with Nick Solak and Jeff Hendrix moving to Trenton, and now with three players making High-A debuts in Estevan Florial, Hoy Park, and Donny Sands, Tampa has a couple more players they can bet on finishing the year with.
There will still be some candidates that could reach Trenton by the time the playoffs come around and help the Thunder in their chase for a championship. There won’t be many position players, but Tampa’s rotation could lose a couple arms come September.
For the lineup, Trey Amburgey is my first bet, the outfielder is hitting .236, but .289 in his last 10 games and has a substantial 13 home-runs in a power-lacking FSL. Trey backs his power with solid defense and a strong arm, his main issue will be strikeouts, but he can very well turn his bat on once he gets to the Double-A ranking, just as Jorge Mateo and Jhalan Jackson did earlier this year.
The next will be Gosuke Katoh, who has kept his consistent offensive attack going since becoming an every day player. The former second-round pick is hitting .288 with a small power supply of five home-runs. Katoh can be plugged in at second, shortstop, or third, and be a very reliable defensive player.
Lastly, Chris Gittens, who was Tampa’s best hitter before being out for a month with a dislocated thumb. Gittens has some of the best raw power and a quick swing to go with it, and his fielding is being improved. Despite being a big guy, he’s able to work counts well for his size and his strikeout rate is lower than last season. The main problem for Gittens is the log-jam still at the first-base position in the organization. With Tyler Austin, Greg Bird, Mike Ford, Ji-Man Choi, and now Garrett Cooper all fighting for a spot, Gittens will have to wait his turn to even get to Trenton. However, if an injury occurs, that could easily change his scenario.
In the rotation, don’t expect Dillon Tate to be with Tampa come September, or even before. He’s coming off of his two best starts this season, and showing he has something not many do in the FSL, longevity. Tate has thrown at least 90 pitches in his last six starts and hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in all of those starts. He has a 2.62 ERA through nine games in the FSL. Tate has recorded 46 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings pitched, he has given up four home-runs in his nine games and walked 15. He’s more than ready for Double-A, but until he gets that call, he can help Tampa pad their lead in the Florida State League.
As for the rest of the team, there has been great offensive support in the last month. However, these are from players who have just been sent to Tampa recently and most likely will have to work their way up to Trenton this off-season.
Tim Lynch is the headliner here, the 2016 ninth-rounder is hitting .375 in his last 10 games, he has had 15 hits and five of them have been home-runs. As for his totals in Tampa, Lynch has a stunning 11 home-runs in just 42 games for Tampa, a .297 batting average, and a .582 slugging percentage. Lynch is proving himself to be a solid defensive first-baseman as well with no errors so far this season. However, he is another first-baseman caught up in traffic and before the situations of Tyler Austin and Greg Bird are solved not much can be done.
Estevan Florial and Hoy Park will surely have their chances to help Tampa in the playoffs as well, Florial with his electric bat and Park with his aggressive base-running. Florial is hitting .350 in his first five games with Tampa and has three stolen bases. He looks confident in the field and his routes are solid, though he has yet to play a game at Steinbrenner Field so he will have to get used to his new home this week.
Hoy Park has struggled since his promotion, going 1-16, but he hasn’t looked totally lost. He is able to work counts and when he gets on base pitcher’s can’t help but be worried about him. Park will get himself going and when he does he could be a huge asset for the Yankees offense in the postseason.
As for other contributions, Angel Aguilar has slumped heavily since joining the team. His mechanics are completely off, his feet are shuffling, he’s behind on his swing, and he isn’t seeing the pitches very well. These are all things he can fix, but it will take some time for him to regain his composure.
The Yankees has a well-rounded offense and a growing rotation that can get them through enough games, and if some players keep progressing it could add to the talent. They have enough time to get it going in time for the playoffs and help the Tampa win their first FSL Championship since 2010.
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