Rutherford, Pulaski Show Off In Danville

DANVILLE, Va.—Just two seasons into its attachment with the Yankees, Rookie-level Pulaski has become a hot spot for some of the system’s top prospects. Two years after the Yankees spent roughly $30 million on international free agents, the cream of that crop has found its way to the Appalachian League. As a bonus, the team also recently received outfielder Blake Rutherford, New York’s first-round selection (the No. 18 overall pick) from this year’s draft.

The first half of Pulaski’s lineup on Tuesday night against Danville (Braves) featured all of the team’s top prospects in a row: Rutherford led off and was followed by shortstop Wilkerman Garcia, outfielder Estevan Florial, third baseman Dermis Garcia, left fielder Isiah Gilliam and outfielder Leonardo Molina. Combined, those six players earned $9,382,000 in signing bonuses. Simply put: The team is loaded with talent.

And on Tuesday, a lot of that talent shone through.

Dermis Garcia, a third baseman who received $3 million to sign in 2014, clubbed a home run to left-center field in the seventh inning off of a hanging slider from converted infielder Jordy Lara. The blast was Garcias’s 10th of the season—which leads the Appy League—and his fourth in as many days.

His teammate Wilkerman Garcia—who ranks as the No. 6 prospect in the Yankees system—was 1-for-4 with a walk and a bunt single on which he reached first base in 3.91 seconds. He also showed smooth actions and range at the position, and enough arm to stick there in the long-term.

Rutherford, too, was impressive, especially after having played just six games with Pulaski and 14 overall in his brief professional career. Rutherford went 2-for-5 on the night, including a bloop single and a double down the line against righthander Jeremy Walker. In that at-bat, Rutherford quickly got down 0-2 on a called strike and a swing-through on an elevated fastball. Walker then tried going higher up the ladder for the chase, but Rutherford laid off.

On the next pitch, a fastball bearing toward the inner half, Rutherford pulled his hands in and slapped a double into the right-field corner.

Florial, too, showed above-average bat speed and a plan at the plate as well. And in the fifth inning, he crushed an 88 mph fastball from starter Jhon Martinez over the wall in right-center field for his third home run of the season between Pulaski and a two-game cameo with high Class A Tampa.

Of all the prospects mentioned, only one, Gilliam, is older than 20. It might be years away, but it’s clear that the Yankees are banking on part of their distant future coming out of Pulaski.