MOOSIC, PA – Is there life after Scranton/Wilkes-Barre?
Some of the RailRiders who are considered top position player prospects certainly believe they will make the trip on nearby Route 80 East toward Yankee Stadium.
Through the help of a longtime National League scout that also was a former major league coach and minor league manager and who wished to remain anonymous, here’s a look at the headliners at PNC Field these days (statistics are through Friday):
Outfielder Clint Frazier: Frazier, who was much maligned for his defensive miscues with the parent club before he recent demotion, slowly has been acclimating to his new surroundings hitting .222 in his first two games, clubbing a long solo homer. The 24-year-old recently has been bantered as a major chip for the Yankees acquiring a frontline starter.
Scout’s Take: “Frazier has the potential and the ability to be a star, but he’ll need some time here. He along isn’t enough to acquire a starter. He needs to take some time to mature. I see him being moved before the end of the season.
Catcher Kyle Higashioka: He has been a steady force in the RailRiders’ lineup and behind the plate, as he is hitting .250 with 11 homers and 31 RBIs. Higashioka also has been a capable fill-in when recalled to the parent club. He is a popular player in Scranton and will likely spent most of the season there.
Scout’s take: “Higashioka is one of those guys you like to have on your team. He is steady and dependable, but he looms as a solid backup in the majors. Catching in the big leagues isn’t what it used to be. I don’t see him as a starter, but a good caddy and pinch-hitter.”
Designated Hitter/ First baseman Mike Ford: He is leading the team in homers (16) and RBIs (49) and stroking a consistent bat (.302). He has been in the leadoff spot, a la Aaron Judge. The compact, left-handed swinging Ford also sports a solid glove in the field, and has had a couple of cups of coffee in the majors.
Scout’s take: “Ford has a natural swing and left-handed power for Yankee Stadium. He is a patient and polished hitter who can be a big asset off the bench. The problem with the Yankees is where to play him. He could make the team, but there are too many bodies ahead of him. He can be trade bait.”
First baseman Ryan McBroom: The 27-year-old McBroom had a good start with Trenton last season before his promotion to Scranton. He is having a solid season up north with 15 homers, 34 RBIs, 19 doubles and 135 total bases with a .317 average. But strikeouts continue to plague him, as he has whiffed 52 times in 224 at-bats.
Scout’s take: “He has power, makes decent contact despite the strikeouts, and looks smooth in the field. He will help this club and maybe get a look in September. But, again, where can he play? He would be good as part of a package for a starting pitcher.”
Shortstop/Second baseman Thairo Estrada: He doesn’t have the offensive numbers (.241) but is regarded as one of the top defensive players in the system. Estrada is only 23 and should have a bright future ahead. He already made a splash with the Yankees at the start of the season with three homers and 11 RBIs and a .280 average in 25 games as a replacement for the injured Troy Tulowitzki.
Scout’s take: “He has a very good glove and can really turn the double play. Estrada really moves well in the field and will be a valuable asset in the system. He has all the tools of a solid fielder and has proved he can hit in the big leagues.”