Who Have Been the Best Triple-A Scranton Near-Yankees Since 2016?

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Good players very rarely spend much time with the Scranton RailRiders — of course, given that the primary purpose as the Yankees’ Triple-A partner is to develop players and get them to the Bronx as quickly as possible. Even so, between veterans with minor league deals and low-level prospects stuck at the major league level, there are still players who have performed strongly with the RailRiders but haven’t earned the call to the Bronx .

Knowing this, and with a lack of news thanks to this lockout, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and identify the top Scranton RailRiders members over the past five seasons (2016-2019, 2021) who haven’t found themselves in of every match recap here on Pinstripe Alley, with the exception of the daily prospect recaps.

Note: To make this list as authentic to Scranton as possible, I’ve selected players who have spent multiple seasons on RailRiders.

Mark Payton, 2016-2018

The Yankees selected Payton in the seventh round of the 2014 MLB draft, but he never quite cracked a list of the Yankees’ top prospects. To be fair, the outfielder was on the Yankees farm at the same time as Aaron Judge and other members of the current roster, but Payton still managed to climb steadily through the system. During his season at age 24, he played mostly for the Trenton Thunder but had a cup of coffee with the Scranton RailRiders and went 3-on-7 in two games with two walks, a double and a stolen base.

Payton spent most of 2017 at Scranton hitting .272/.335/.407 with 6 homers and 14 doubles in 80 games. He stayed there in 2018, posting a .259/.368/.401 slash line in 62 games. After the season, he was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft. After the 2019 campaign, the Cincinnati Reds selected him to the Major League portion of the Rule 5 draft; He was brought back to Oakland before the start of the shortened 2020 season but then traded back to the Reds on August 7.

Last July, the Reds traded Payton for the Mets, who hadn’t traded him in the days leading up to the lockout. He is currently a free agent with a career 19 OPS+ in 44 record appearances.

Ryan McBroom, 2018-2019

Originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2014 draft, McBroom was traded to the Yankees on July 23, 2017 in exchange for Rob Refsnyder On order, there weren’t exactly high hopes for McBroom. During his season at age 26, the Double-A first baseman/outfielder made his way onto the RailRiders roster with a strong performance for Trenton, sharing time with Mike Ford and Tyler Austin at first base, the aforementioned Payton and Clint Frazier on left field and Billy McKinney on right. He hit a respectable, if unspectacular, .295/.339/.443, with 11 home runs and 18 doubles in 96 games.

2019 was McBroom’s first full season at Triple-A and he proved to be one of Scranton’s most reliable bats. In 117 games, he hit .315/.403/.574 with 26 home runs and 29 doubles. This allowed the Yankees to take him to the Kansas City Royals on August 31 for international bonus pool money. He made his major league debut just four days later and spent parts of the next three seasons with the Royals roster.

In 66 major-league-level games, McBroom has cut .268/.322/.427 with six homers and eight doubles. The Royals released him last November to sign with Nippon Professional Baseball’s Hiroshima Toyo Carp.

Dietrich Enns, 2016-2017

Enns was selected as a reliever in the 19th round of the 2012 draft and saw his career in the Yankees farm system cut short in 2014 when he required surgery on Tommy John as a member of the Tampa Yankees. When he returned to the mound in June 2015, the Yankees made him a starting pitcher, and he embraced the new role well. He bounced between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton during the 2016 season, posting a 1.52 ERA and a 6.9K/9 in 14 games (10 starts) for the RailRiders.

Enns continued his strong performance in seven starts in 2017 (2.29 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, 8.5 K/9). Instead of giving him a major league start with a rotation that had a Cy Young candidate in Luis Severino, two mid-rotation starters in Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, a rookie Jordan Montgomery and a small army of question marks, the Yankees opted to trade him to the Minnesota Twins in exchange for Jaime García. That move eventually paid off, because although García was only a depth play, Enns hit the injured list after just a start and a relief appearance, making four innings total.

Enns hopped around a bit among the minors, spending time in the organization Padres, Mariners and Rays — with whom he had one incidentally effective appearance as a multi-inning reliever in nine games last season — before heading to Japan in November for the Saitama Seibu Lions play.

Jake Cave, 2015-2017

Arguably the most successful of the players on this list, Cave joined the Yankees organization as a sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft. However, in his first game, he fractured his kneecap in a collision on home plate, ending his 2011 season and missing it in 2012 as well. Despite the missed time, Cave shot through the farm and reached Triple-A Scranton for a cup of coffee in 2015 at the age of 22.

Because of that strong performance – he had 11 hits, four of which went for extra bases – in just seven games as a member of the RailRiders – the Reds selected him to the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. After failing to make the roster, he was returned to the Yankees and assigned to Double-A Trenton. After posting an .863 OPS in 27 games, Cave received the recall to Scranton. He didn’t fare nearly as well on the RailRiders, finishing only .261/.323/.401.

With the Yankees farm deep in outfield, Cave started the 2017 season again in Trenton. After cutting .266/.317/.516 with 5 homers in 31 games, he found himself back in Scranton, and this time, he made sure he was staying: In 72 games, he hit a .324/.367/ .554 and hit 15 home runs, 13 doubles and 3 triples. That strong performance earned him a spot on the 40-man list to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, and when the Yankees selected him for spring training to make room for Neil Walker, they switched him to the Minnesota Twins for a 19-year-old pitcher named Luis Gil.

Since making his major league debut on May 19, 2018, Cave has been an instrumental depth play for the Twins, slashing .240/.305/.417 with 28 home runs in 281 games while offering solid if unspectacular defense in all three outfield positions. That being said, his drop to 50 OPS+ in 76 games last season coupled with Gil’s rise in prospect relevance could mean Minnesota will one day regret the deal.

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