Yankees Call Up Ben Rice Following Anthony Rizzo Injury | Prospect Profile


Image credit: BRONX, NY - JUNE 18: Ben Rice is all smiles after he gets his first Major League hit during the third inning of the game against the Baltimore Orioles on June 18, 2024 at Yankee Stadium Bronx, New York. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With first baseman Anthony Rizzo headed to the 10-day injured list with a broken arm, the Yankees reached into their minor league system for his replacement, calling up 25-year-old catcher and first baseman Ben Rice on Tuesday.

New York immediately thrusted Rice into the action. He started at first base against the Orioles and even notched his first career big league hit. His reaction was pretty great.

The Yankees selected Rice out of Dartmouth in the 12th round of the 2021 draft. This season, he’s hit .275/.393/.532 between Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He also has 12 homers, 15 doubles and 36 RBIs.

As we discuss in his Prospect Profile below, Rice had an unusual development path in college because of the pandemic. But New York’s No. 14 prospect has a golden opportunity to carve out a role as the Yankees consider reinforcements ahead of the trade deadline.

Check out Scott Braun, J.J. Cooper and Geoff Pontes’ discussion on what to expect from Rice. You can also see his full scouting report and our podcast version below.

Ben Rice Scouting Report

Track Record: After a season and change at Dartmouth, Rice’s college career ended when the pandemic canceled the remainder of the 2020 season and the Ivy League chose to cancel the 2021 season, as well. By the time he was drafted, he had nearly three times as many plate appearances in summer college leagues as he did with Dartmouth. Yankees area scout Matt Hyde stayed on him the whole time, and New York pounced in the 12th round. After two seasons spent mostly at Low-A, Rice broke out in 2023 and was one of the system’s biggest risers despite a left oblique injury that limited his season to just 73 games.

Scouting Report: Throughout his career, Rice’s hallmark has been his strong plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills. The results have been strikeout and walk rates of roughly 19% and 13%. He was also one of just three minor leaguers with 20 or more homers and fewer than 70 strikeouts. The lefty hitter hits the ball quite hard, with average (91 mph) and 90th percentile (104 mph) exit velocities that ranked among the best in the system. His barrel accuracy was also excellent.

When he’s going bad, Rice has a tendency to hook balls. To fix the problem, the Yankees worked with him to keep his body in the proper position to stay behind pitches and drive them across the field. Rice catches in a one-knee down stance and did a good job keeping pitches in front of him–he allowed just one passed ball all year–but he’s going to have to really improve his arm to control the running game. He caught just 5 of 68 potential basestealers between High-A and Double-A. Rice also got into 18 games at first base, which could be his long-term home.

The Future: Rice will play all of the 2024 season as a 25-year-old, when he’ll likely make his Triple-A debut. He could be an offensive-minded player who bounces between first base and catcher but plays regularly.

Scouting Grades Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Field: 40 | Arm: 40

Prospect Profile Podcast

Powered by RedCircle

Want more podcasts like this one? Subscribe below!

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Player FM

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone