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.

Pitching was also a positive spot for the RailRiders who got to enjoy seeing hurlers like Luis Severino, Bryan Mitchell and Caleb Cotham. Their team had an ERA of 3.21, the fourth lowest in the IL, to go with the fourth most Ks (1042) and fourth least walks (430). The RailRiders managed to minimize damage by allowing only 65 homers, which was only two more than the league leading Indianapolis Indians. Severino was likely the most watched Scranton pitcher, throwing in eleven games (61.1 innings) before getting the call to the Bronx. He had a 1.91 ERA, did not allow a homer and only walked seventeen, while striking out fifty.

After a couple disappointing seasons, the RailRiders bounced back and put together an exciting 2015. Unfortunately, they didn't appear to have enough left in them when the playoffs came around (let's hope this isn't a foreshadowing of what is to come for the Yankees). Given the lackluster performances of Trenton and Tampa this year, and the way a lot of the prospects were promoted, it could be a very different 2016 for the RailRiders.