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Yanquiel Fernandez is flexing his way up the prospect rankings

Colorado Rockies news and links for Thursday, August 18th, 2022

Last week I introduced you to Adael Amador, an underrated prospect in the Colorado Rockies organization despite being ranked in MLB Pipeline’s top 100. Well, since then Amador has made a huge jump from no. 92 in the pipeline all the way to no. 64! So let’s see if the magic can strike twice. Today I want everyone to know about prospect outfielder Yanquiel Fernandez, who is currently playing with the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies.

Yanquiel Fernandez was part of the same stacked 2019 international signing class that brought the Rockies Adael Amador and is looking to be an extremely successful class for the team. Fernandez was signed out of Cuba at the age of 16 for $295K and has followed a similar timeline but slightly different path through his first professional seasons. Fernandez began his professional career with the Dominican Summer League in 2021, where he was roughly the same age as his teammates and competition.

Fernandez was dominant with the DSL Rockies in 2021 over 54 games. In 202 plate appearances he slashed an impressive .333/.406/.531, all of which ranked the best among qualified batters on the team. He also led the DSL Rockies in hits (59), doubles (17), and RsBI (34). Fernandez finished in the top ten for home runs, slugging percentage, and OPS in the Dominican Summer League while clocking in with a 154 wRC+ to earn himself a trip to the United States for fall instructs and eventually a promotion to Low-A Fresno.

We had Yanquiel Fernandez ranked at no. 25 in our preseason PuRPs listing and is likely to climb as our midseason rankings start coming out in the near future. Meanwhile he’s climbed all the way to the organizations’ no. 13 prospect spot in MLB Pipeline’s most recent listing after being unranked in the final 2021 list. He was also recently named the California League Player of the Week.

Fernandez is strong and sturdy with a plate approach to match. He commanded the strike zone well in the Dominican Summer League by walking 22 times compared to 26 strikeouts. However, he has struck out more and walked less in Low-A—though not to a concerning degree. Where he thrives is making contact with the ball by hitting for both average and power. Fernandez has quick bat speed and is able to get the barrel to the ball for high exit velocity.

He’s a strapping, broad-shouldered young man with considerable thunder in his hands and a more muscular physique than is typical for a hitter his age,” Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs said of Fernandez. “And [he] can do real damage without taking out-of-control swings, giving him the look of a dangerous lefty stick with a contact and power blend.”

Defensively Fernandez is a bat-first corner outfielder. He lacks the speed of other outfielders with a 40-grade run tool that will prevent him from working in center field. However, his strong arm—graded at 50—sets him up nicely in right field where he gets the most work.

Fernandez joined the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies for the 2022 season. At 19 years old he rounds out a core of exciting young players under 20, including Victor Juárez, Adael Amador, and Jordy Vargas. Fernandez is hitting for both average and power in Fresno by slashing .277/.341/.504 in 94 games and 400 at-bats. He’s in a three-way-tie for most total hits on the Grizzlies with 110, leads the team in doubles with 31, and has the second most triples with five. He’s even stolen four bases despite not being much of a speed threat. He also leads the current team in home runs with 17 and has a team best 91 RsBI. As the team’s primary right fielder he’s recorded a fielding percentage of .945 in 78 games.

Yanquiel Fernandez has been impressive with the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies, quickly becoming a fan and social media favorite. He’s got his own hashtag—#FernandezFlex—which I absolutely take credit for and have the receipts to prove it. Why do we call it the Fernandez Flex? This is why:

Yanquiel Fernandez is flexing his way up the prospect rankings, and perhaps more importantly, into our hearts. His tantalizing combination of left handed power and contact combined with strong production early in his professional career makes him a prospect worth talking about.

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Rockies hope to jumpstart slumping Connor Joe |

After being one of the best Rockies stories in 2021 and a strong first half in 2022, Rockies 1B/OF Connor Joe is mired in a difficult slump. Just 4-for-45 since the All-Star Break, Joe says he feels healthy here in August despite the general wear-and-tear of a long MLB season, but has seen his playing time reduced as the scuffling Rockies try to find a way to win.

“I’m trying to not succumb to the struggles. It’s easy to just say, ‘Oh, man, I’m struggling. I can’t wait for next season.’ That’s something that in baseball could happen, especially in the Minor Leagues because it’s more developmental. But we’re trying to win every day. Finishing strong is huge.”

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On The Farm

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 5, Tacoma Rainiers 2

Recent PCL Pitcher of the Week Brandon Gold made a five inning start for the Isotopes today, allowing two earned runs on four hits—two home runs—and two walks while striking out three. The bullpen worked for scoreless and hitless innings of relief with Reagan Todd, JD Hammer, Julian Fernández, and Zach Lee all handling a frame each. Gold was credited with the win and Lee earned his eighth save of the season. Jimmy Herron and Alan Trejo both enjoyed 2-for-4 days at the plate, with Trejo notching his sixth multi-hit game in his last eight. Michael Toglia continues to do well in Triple-A, as he plated the Isotopes’ first two runs with a double in the first inning. Carlos Pérez hit his 25th home run of the season while Bret Boswell hit his tenth.

Double-A: New Hampshire Fisher Cats 13, Hartford Yard Goats 10

The Yard Goats came up short in a slugfest with the Fisher Cats. The Yard Goats plated 10 runs on 13 hits but couldn’t claw their way back after a late game collapse. Kyle Datres slugged two home runs while going 2-for-4 with three RsBI. Aaron Schunk went 3-for-5 with a home run of his own and two RsBI, and Brenton Doyle went 2-for-5 with a home run and two more RsBI. Christopher Navarro and Zac Veen both had two hits in the game and Daniel Montaño drew two walks. On the pitching side of things, Noah Davis had a shaky four inning start by giving up four earned runs on five hits and a whopping four walks. He also gave up two home runs. Davis did flash some of his upside by striking out seven batters. Will Gaddis relieved Davis and coughed up four earned runs on three hits and two walks over just 23 of an inning. Finn Del Bonta Smith—credited with the loss—allowed an earned run in the seventh inning to break an 8-8 tie, but pitched overall quite well. In 2 13 innings of work he struck out five batters with no walks and gave up just the one run. Dugan Darnell had a rough evening, putting the Yard Goats further in the hole by allowing four earned runs off of three hits in the eighth inning. Jared Biddy would be the only Yard Goats pitcher to not allow a run, pitching a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts.

High-A: Tri-City Dust Devils 13, Spokane Indians 8

Joe Rock got rocked in his five inning start for Spokane as he allowed eight earned runs on ten hits with three walks. Adam McKillican gave up an additional three runs on three hits over one full inning in the sixth and Blake Goldsberry gave up two more on a two-run home run in the seventh and eighth. Will Tribucher was the only Indians arm to not allow a run, pitching for 1 13 innings with three strikeouts and two hits. Offensively the Indians posted eight runs on 15 hits. Hunter Goodman continues to thrive in High-A, enjoying a 2-for-5 evening with a two-run home run in the first inning. Eddy Diaz went 3-for-3 with two runs scored while Braiden Ward went 2-for-4. Ronaiker Palma hit a two home run in the fourth inning, his fourth of the season. Bladimir Restituyo had a very strong night at the plate with a 4-for-5 effort and two RsBI.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 6, Visalia Rawhide 1

Rockies 2021 second round draft pick Jaden Hill made his California League debut last night and well... Folks, it was incredible. Hill pitched three scoreless innings while giving up just three hits. Of the nine outs he recorded, the first seven were all on the strikeout from his wicked pitch arsenal. The final two came on a double play. Is it too early to promote Hill to the big league roster? Tyler Ras pitched a quick scoreless fourth inning before Cullen Kafka pitched what was essentially a start of his own in relief. Kafka worked five complete innings while striking out three batters. He allowed one earned run on four hits. Not a single Grizzlies pitcher gave up a walk, though Jaden Hill did hit a batter in the first. Juan “Juan Brillante” Brito kicked off the scoring with a two-run double in the first inning. Yanquiel Fernandez hit 2-for-5 with two runs scored, and Zach Kokoska broke the game wide open with a two-run home run in the top of the fourth—his 11th of the season.

Dominican Summer League: DSL Colorado 5, DSL Mets 1

18 year old Claudio Galva struggled with command as he walked three batters in 23 of an inning. Alan Perdomo took over and worked 2 13 innings of scoreless relief, while Doilin Perez and Johandry Milano both pitched two inningsand struck out three. Emmanuel Pio struck out four in his two frames. The DSL Rockies had two big innings of offense. Cuzmel Arias doubled and would be driven in by Gabriel Gil in the fourth inning while Gil would be driven in by no. 15 prospect Dyan Jorge. In the sixth inning Luis Paredes struck a two-run home run.

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