About Tamar Chalker

Tamar has written for IIATMS since July 2009, having started off writing game recaps before shifting to the minor leagues. Born in Connecticut and having lived all over the country and in South Korea, Tamar now finds herself "temporarily misplaced" in New Hampshire. Please send help - I can pay you in maple syrup.

The 2015 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders

The RailRiders’ 2015 season ended on Friday night, a week earlier than they would have liked, as they lost three straight games to the Indianapolis Indians in the semifinals on the International League playoffs. Despite the disappointing ending, it was a strong year for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, who ended up with a 81-63 record (breaking their two year streak of going 68-76). For the tenth time in history (sixth as a Yankee affiliate), the RailRiders won the IL North Division title.

Scranton was a solid team on both sides the of the diamond, in large part to an array of top prospects put on their uniform at some point in 2015, but also thanks to some lesser known players. As a team, Scranton hit .271/.339/.389, giving them the highest average and on base percentage in the IL, and the fourth best slugging percentage. They did better than average when it came to pitch selection, striking out 979 times as a team, which was the fifth lowest total in the IL, while taking 480 walks – the fifth highest in the IL. Their 32 triples and 247 doubles gave them the fourth most, but their main shortcoming on offense was their ability to steal bases, as they only managed eighty.

The RailRiders had help offensively by many players this year, but Ben Gamel ended the season with some extra hardware. The outfielder has put together some good seasons in the minors, but has always been a bit under the radar. This year he went .300/.358/.472 over 129 games in 2015 with 64 RBIs, ten homers, fourteen triples and 28 doubles. He was the lone Scranton player who was given a postseason All-Star nod, along with being named the IL Rookie of the Year. Cole Figueroa was also a key offensive player for the RailRiders, and more recognizable names like Gary Sanchez, Ramon Flores, Rob Refsnyder and Slade Heathcott did their part to contribute to a successful season for Scranton. Ali Castillo ended the season as the fourth Scranton player to pick up Batter of the Week honors, going .484 with a .529 on base percentage in the first week of September. Continue reading The 2015 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders

The Farm Report: August

Well, we have somehow hit that point in the season where the minor leagues are getting closed to wrapping up and prospects will be hoping to get their first taste of big league action with a September call up to the Bronx. I’ll do a more thorough recap of the minor league teams’ seasons after they have finished, but here is an update for now.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders:
The RailRiders have put together a very strong 2015, going 76-60 so far. They are five games ahead of Rochester in the IL North and, with eight games left in the season (two against Rochester), they only need four games to eliminate the Redwings. The RailRiders used a league-leading line of .269/.336/.385 to put them within reach of the IL North crown. Jose Pirela has been a big bat for Scranton in August, hitting .320/.391/.361 with eleven walks and six strikeouts. Ben Gamel has been solid for Scranton as well, hitting .355/.395/.570 this month. He has three homers, two triples, ten doubles and thirteen RBIs in his last 26 games. Pitchers like Luis Severino, Brian Mitchell, Jacob Lindgren and Caleb Cotham have all contributed off the mound, but they have also all spent time on other mounds. Despite seeing a lot of their pitchers head to the Bronx, the RailRiders pitching staff has done a solid job of holding the team together. Continue reading The Farm Report: August

Checking in on the Staten Island Yankees

Staten_Island_YankeesThe Staten Island Yankees are hosting a lot of the Yankees top draft picks of this year, so I thought this week we would check in on the Yankees’ New York-Penn League team. The short-season team is actually leading the McNamara division with a 28-26 record, despite the team having no clear strength. They lead both Aberdeen and Hudson Valley by a game and half.

The Staten Island hitters are putting up a combined slashline of .249/.327/.348. All of those put them squarely in the middle of the NYPL, yet they hold the third most runs (257), doubles (94) and RBIs (220). The Baby Bombers have shown that they can get on base and make it count, drawing 186 walks and stealing 46 bags. While the number of steals isn’t that impressive, they have only been caught 13 times, the lowest in the NYPL. For comparison, Williamsport has stolen the second most bases (67) but has been caught the most (44).

Jhalan Jackson, this years’s seventh round pick, has put together a strong start to his professional career, hitting .264/.346/.471. he leads the team in homers with five and is second in doubles with twelve. Jeff Hendrix, who the Yankees took in the fourth round, is hitting .234/.348/.269. He is second on the team with 21 walks and leads the Baby Bombers in steals with nine. The Yankees took Kyle Holder with their second pick of the first round, and he is off to a slow start with a line of .194/.263/.217.

The Yankees have put together decent numbers from the mound, but once again they are not blowing away the competition. Their 3.61 team ERA is sixth overall in the NYPL. The Baby Bombers have given up 24 homers, one more than their hitters have managed and fifth most in the league. On the positive side, they are in the bottom half of the league in walks with 166 and have struck out an impressive 429. Chance Adams, the Yankees fifth round pick, started with Staten Island. He threw four games and had a 0.93 ERA with just three walks and thirteen strikeouts. He has since been promoted to Charleston and now Tampa.

The Yankees are headed into the All-Star break, with the game slated for tomorrow. The Baby Bombers have four players representing them, including Jackson. Luis Cedeno, who signed out of the Dominican Republic, has given the Yankees great numbers off the mound after starting the year in Charleston. Infielder Thairo Estrada and outfielder Junior Valera rounded out the Yankees representation. Estrada is hitting .307 with fourteen doubles, two homers and six stolen bases. Valera has a .333 average and a .373 OBP. He has some speed with nine doubles, four triples and eight stolen bases, only getting caught twice. Continue reading Checking in on the Staten Island Yankees

Minor League Stories of the Week

Ben Gamel‘s walk-off inside-the-park homer:
Ben Gamel took a little of the limelight away from Greg Bird, who was just named IL Batter of the Week, by putting together a thrilling ending to Scranton’s game against Pawtucket last night. It was the fifth straight time the RailRiders have defeated the Red Sox, who have now lost eight consecutive games. With the game tied in the ninth, Gamel smacked a line drive to right, which Jonathan Roof tried to stop with a sliding catch, instead seeing the ball careen past him. Gamel flew around the bases, beating the throw to the plate for the walk-off victory.

Winter is Coming:
In perhaps my favorite story of the week, and one I am disappointed to say I didn’t know about until after the fact, the Staten Island Yankees changed their name for the evening on Saturday to the Staten Island Direwolves. Continue reading Minor League Stories of the Week

The Farm Report: July

With the passing of the trade deadline comes August, so it is time to look at how the Yankees’ farm teams fared last month. Due to some time constraints on my end, I’ll be touching on Scranton and Trenton today, with Tampa and Charleston to follow. Enjoy!

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders:
The RailRiders continued their strong season in July, going 17-12 and giving them a solid 61-49 record for the year so far. They remain at the top of their division, leading Rochester by four games. Scranton’s roster has seen a lot of action, with players like Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez being called up and other players like Luis Severino getting called up to the Bronx. Continue reading The Farm Report: July

Prospect Profile: Austin DeCarr

This week I thought we could take a look at one of the prospects that ranks on most, if not all, top Yankee prospect lists, but is still a relatively big unknown for the Yankees. Austin DeCarr was drafted by the Yankees in the third round of last year’s Draft, however, he has only appeared in a handful of rookie league games and was one of the many Yankees’ pitching prospects to go under the knife and have Tommy John surgery this year.

Austin-DeCarr-2.JPGName: Austin DeCarr
Position: Pitcher
DOB: March 14, 1995
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 215
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

DeCarr hails from Foxboro, Massachusetts, where he graduated from Xaverian High in 2013 before attending Salisbury in Connecticut for a post-grad year. DeCarr was set to attend Clemson, but after the Yankees drafted him with the 91st pick and offered him a million dollar bonus, well over slot, he signed and got his professional career underway. Continue reading Prospect Profile: Austin DeCarr

Minor League Stories of the Week

It was an exciting week in the Yankees farm system, with a few fun storylines to watch play out. With his recent promotion, Gary Sanchez plays the biggest role, but after the way he has been playing and his apparent new focus on his professional career, it is well deserved. Without further adieu, here are the big stories from the week.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders:
Sanchez made his Triple-A debut in style on Saturday. The Yankees’ much vaunted catching prospect spent the last couple seasons in Trenton, but after a strong showing over the last month, and an appearance in the Futures Game, he got the call to join the RailRiders. In his last nine games with Trenton, the young backstop hit .342 with four homers and four doubles. On Saturday, Sanchez wasted little time in announcing his arrival, as he drove a three-run shot over the wall inhis very first at-bat. It was Sanchez’s thirteenth homer of the season and he finished the night going 2-4, accounting for all of the RailRiders runs, as they fell to Louisville 6-3. Continue reading Minor League Stories of the Week

Sanchez and Judge at the Futures Game

sanchez futuresAs we get ready for the Major League All-Star Game, the minor leagues celebrated some of the best up-and-coming prospects this weekend in Cincinnati. The Yankees had a couple top prospects taking swings in the exhibition game. Aaron Judge played for the US Futures Team, while Gary Sanchez started for the World Futures Team. The US had little trouble in dispatching their World counterparts, falling behind 1-0 in the top of the first only to come back and take the 10-1 victory, the sixth straight US Futures game win.

Kyle Schwarber, the Cub’s catching prospect, had a two-run triple in the bottom of the third that gave the US the only lead they would need yesterday. The 2014 fourth overall pick took home the MVP award, and he didn’t have to go very far with it, as the catcher grew up just north of Cincinnati. Pirates’ prospect, Josh Bell, knocked a two-run homer in the fourth.

Both Yankees’ prospects contributed to their teams efforts on Sunday. Judge played the whole game at DH, going 1-4 with a pair of strikeouts and a run scored, while Sanchez started at catcher and went 1-2 with a double. Judge has continued to make a great impression on Yankees fans and the front office, getting called up to Scranton earlier this season after crushing the ball in Trenton. He’s only 22, but it is hard to believe it will be that long before the big outfielder gets a trip up to the Bronx.

Sanchez, formerly the top ranked prospect in the Yankees’ system, had slipped a bit over the last year, but he is in the midst of a resurgence.  The tools have always been there, but his attitude and defense were suspect. In fact, if Cashman and Sanchez are right, it sounds like the young catcher has really turned the page. Cashman stated, “All you hear about the buzz is that the light bulb has gone on and the thirst, the desire, the hunger has matched the talent now. His receiving is significantly improved. He’s still young for that league and performing really well. At some point, you’re going to see him moved up to Triple-A, too. He’s going to be an everyday Major League catcher, no doubt in my mind.” Sanchez echoed this by simply saying, “I just came in this year with the mentality that I wanted to work hard. It’s time for me to be in the big leagues.” Continue reading Sanchez and Judge at the Futures Game

Greg Bird moves up to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre

birdOver the holiday weekend, the Yankees promoted another prospect to Triple-A, putting Greg Bird just a step away from the Big Leagues. The power-hitting first baseman is generally in the top five of most Yankee prospect lists, including our own here. The former catcher’s bat has long been causing Yankee fans to salivate, and he has given us no reason to doubt his potential so far.

In Trenton this season, Bird hit .258/.358/.445 with 29 RBIs, six homers and sixteen doubles. While he was drafted by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, but didn’t put together a full season of play until 2013, making just a handful of appearances after signing and getting into 28 games in 2012. He opened a lot of eyes with his 2013 season in Charleston, however, and has continued to show off his strong and patient bat. Continue reading Greg Bird moves up to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre