TAMPA, FL - The Yankees slugged their way to a 7-5 victory over the Phillies in Instructional League action on Monday and it was their young Latin American players leading the charge, highlighted by shortstop Jorge Mateo putting on a hitting clinic. Here is the latest Yankees Minor League Notebook [YMLN].
Jorge Mateo, batting leadoff, set the tone for the Yankees on Monday, launching a huge solo home run to deep left centerfield in the first Yankee at-bat of the afternoon. Showing off his power-speed combination, he promptly stole both second and third base after singling hard to left field in his second at-bat, and later singled sharply to centerfield in his third and final plate appearance. He wasn't just doing it with the bat either; he made several smooth defensive plays in the field, including one great back-handed play where he showed off his plus arm strength to gun down the runner at first base.
Mateo's leadoff home run helped chip away at the damage right-hander Luis Severino had served up in the top of the first inning, allowing a two-run home run despite sitting 95-96 mph [his first pitch of the game was a 96 mph heater with sink] and flashing both a plus changeup and a plus slider. He struck out two batters in the frame in between allowing two hits [including the home run], and then had a quick 1-2-3 inning in his second and final frame of the day.
Yankee Starting Lineup: Jorge Mateo, Miguel Andujar, Dermis Garcia, Dustin Fowler, Nelson Gomez, Ericson Leonora, Leonardo Molina, Gosuke Katoh, Isaias Tejeda, and Chris Breen.
Newcomer Dermis Garcia, getting the starting nod at third base on Monday, made a quick first impression, launching a solo home run to deep left field of his own just two batters later after Mateo's blast. While it was his only hit in four plate appearances, he showed a patient approach at the plate and good plate discipline.
Like Severino, Rumbelow was showing some plus stuff in the game, sitting mostly 93-95 mph with his fastball with his normal plus curveball and a very, very good changeup, but got victimized by the long ball, serving up a solo home run run [the only hit he allowed] in two otherwise impressive innings. He struck out a pair of batters and retired six straight hitters after allowing the leadoff home run.
Not wanting to be left out of the power parade, Leonardo Molina [2-2, BB] drove home Ericson Leonora [1-3, K] with a very deep two-run home run of his own to left field in his first at-bat of the game. Like Mateo, he showed off the wheels too, having an infield single and later stealing a base after drawing an impressive 8-pitch walk.
Relievers Danny Burawa[1.2 IP, BB, K] and Cesar Vargas[1 IP, K] each looked sharp in their outings. Burawa sat 95 mph mostly with good sink and Vargas not only sat 92-94 mph with good movement but showed a vastly improved changeup.
Second baseman Gosuke Katoh was hitting it on the screws on Monday. He went just 1-3 but looked so much better than that. He hit a booming double to left-centerfield for his only hit but lined out twice too, one to centerfield and one directly to the left fielder. He is noticeably using the whole field more.
He didn't get the start but outfielder Carlos Vidal, a left-handed batter like Katoh, did his best Katoh impersonation in his only plate appearance, doubling deep over the left fielder's head. And newly signed shortstop Diego Castillo, subbing in late for Mateo, has a Francisco Cervelli-like approach at the plate. He singled to right field in his only at-bat after showing some impressive plate discipline and patience, taking some borderline pitches and showing a quick, compact stroke the other way.
Miguel Andujar, the team's designated hitter on Monday, went 1-3 with a walk, but the one hit was an RBI ground rule double over the left field wall. And Chris Breen, playing first base, drove home a pair of runs with a two-run single to left field in a 1-3, 2 K performance offensively.
The meat of the order -- Dustin Fowler and Nelson Gomez -- had some issues. Fowler went hitless in three at-bats with two strikeouts [both against left-handed pitching] and if not for a ground out in his final at-bat Gomez would have been close to getting the Golden Sombrero after striking out in his first three plate appearances [all swinging].