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Yankees Farm Report: Rice is Cooking

The Yankees have finally embraced the youth movement. Jasson Dominguez is already showing the same promise he did in the minors, while Austin Wells and Everson Pereira are slowly warming up. But the farm is still bearing fruit. Ben Rice is yet another promising catcher who is starting to hit more and more. Is he finally developing into another top catching prospect, or just having one heck of a season?


Yankees still have some talent in the minors

[Editor’s Note: To my three loyal readers, I’m sorry the site has been so silent. I have spent the last two weeks moving our headquarters and have not been able to post. Sorry about that, but now it’s back to Yankees’ business.]


Here at the end of a disappointing season, the Yankees are finally giving the fans some hope.

Cashman and Co. have brought up a bevy of young talent, including the future-is-now CF Jasson Dominguez. Now, everywhere you look around the diamond, you see rookies. The outfield is being patrolled by Everson Pereira and the aforementioned Dominguez, he of the two home runs in his first three games. The infield, meanwhile, boasts 20-20 man Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza, who is just now getting his shot as an everyday player. The Yankees have even installed Austin Wells behind the dish.


But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still some great young players down on the farm. And one of them has been showing signs of joining the men listed above.


A few weeks ago, I wrote about some of the players who were climbing up the prospect charts. That list included Wells, Pereira, Dominguez, and Peraza. But in a massive and unforgivable oversight, I left off Mr. Rice. Allow me to correct myself and put the spotlight where it belongs.


Ben has only been in the system for two years, having been drafted in 2021 out of Dartmouth (my alma mater). He was not an exceptional player coming out of college, which is why the Yankees got him in the 12 round. He seemed to confirm his lowly status by hitting a .197/.345/.364 that same year.


He did improve the next season by slashing .267/.368/.442 to go with an OPS of .810. But those numbers are dulled by the fact that he collected them at the age of 23 while playing the entire time in Low-A Tampa. As a comparison, Oswald Peraza is 23 now and already in the Bigs.


This season started the same way for Rice, when he hit .286/.405/.543 still in Tampa, but now 24. His promotion to High-A Hudson Valley after ten games seemed like an organizational necessity rather than a reward.


But then something happened: Ben started hitting. And hitting for power.


While at High-A, Ben hit .341/.559/.523 with an impressive OPS of 1.082. Again, however, his age makes that a lot less significant. When he was once again promoted to Double-A Somerset after just fifteen games, he was still a player of little note. But he’s forced us all to take note since then.


In his 28 games at Somerset, Ben has continued to hit, slashing .321/.378/.660. Plus, his power showed up. He’s cranked out fourteen home runs in those games for an OPS of 1.038. And he keeps getting better. He’s hitting .354/.393/.707 in the last month, collecting nine of his fourteen homers in that time.


But this is baseball, where putting up impressive numbers for two-thirds of a season does not make you a top prospect. Doing damage at the age of 24 at Double-A is better, but still, his numbers must be taken with a huge grain of salt.


It is enough to make him worth watching next year, though, to see if he is finally developing or just having a dream season in 2023.


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