Last year fans of the Colorado Rockies were introduced to Yanquiel Fernandez, a “strapping, broad-shouldered young man with considerable thunder in his hands” making considerable noise with the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies. Fernandez—19-years old at the time—was playing his first full season of minor league ball since the Rockies signed him out of his native Cuba three years prior. He had skipped the Arizona Complex League after a dominant performance in the Dominican Summer League and impressing in fall instructs.
Fernandez turned heads in Low-A Fresno as the Grizzlies’ primary right fielder. He slashed .284/.340/.507 for the season with 21 home runs and 109 RsBI over 523 plate appearances. He led the team in total hits, doubles, and RsBI, and had the second most home runs just below Hunter Goodman’s 22. For his efforts, Fernandez saw his prospect stock rising sharply.
Prior to the 2022 season we placed Fernandez at no. 25 in our PuRPs rankings. This year he moved all the way up to no. 12 and he’s likely to move up even further when it’s time for mid-season rankings. After 2021 Fernandez was unranked in the Rockies system, but he had rocketed up to no. 13 by the end of the season per MLB Pipeline. This year he’s at no. 10 and climbing.
Now that he’s established his rising prospect stock, Yanquiel Fernandez is quickly conquering minor league baseball. He started the 2023 season with a quick three-game tune-up with the Grizzlies before being promoted to the High-A Spokane Indians on April 11th. From there, he took off.
Fernandez needed the remainder of April to get his motor running. From April 11th through April 30th he hit .239/.268/.403 with two home runs and 11 RsBI as he worked to adjust to the increased level of play. With warm-ups out of the way, he broke through. Fernandez was dominant in the month of May, hitting .385/.419/.727 for an OPS of 1.145 in 129 plate appearances. He led all of the minors in hits, total bases, and RsBI, and led the Northwest League in home runs—tied with teammate Jordan Beck at ten each. Fernandez also made Indians History by hitting for the cycle in a May 10th demolition of the Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate Hillsboro Hops. In the 18-1 drubbing Fernandez went 5-for-6 with three runs scored and four RsBI, completing the first Spokane Indians cycle since 1979... and he needed just six innings to do it.
History in Spokane! Yanquiel Fernandez completes the cycle with a sixth-inning single, becoming the first Indians player to do so since Reggie Walton on June 29, 1979. #GoSpo pic.twitter.com/kLSvzb3Ner— Spokane Indians (@spokaneindians) May 11, 2023
For his efforts, Fernandez was named both the Northwest League Player of the Month, and the Colorado Rockies Minor League Player of the Month for May.
Yanquiel Fernandez capped off a memorable month that included Spokane's first cycle in over 40 years and a $10,000 grand slam with more accolades on Monday after being named Northwest League Player of the Month for May by @MiLB. #GoSpo pic.twitter.com/6VKb6ygCKA— Spokane Indians (@spokaneindians) June 5, 2023
Although he cooled off slightly in June, Fernandez continued to hit well in Spokane. From June 1st through June 18th he hit .281/.324/.594 with another five home runs. Fernandez hit just four fewer home runs in High-A this season than he did during the entirety of last season in Low-A, and he did it in roughly half the plate appearances.
On June 20th, Fernandez took yet another step forward with a promotion to the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats for yet another level of the minors to conquer. Now 20-years old, he is almost a full four years younger than team average and the youngest player on the Yard Goats roster. He’s younger than fellow top Rockies prospects and new teammates Zac Veen and Drew Romo, both of whom have been challenged by the level of play in Double-A. He’s younger than Rockies’ 2022 draft pick and top pitching prospect Gabriel Hughes, for whom he’ll be patrolling right field. Fernandez certainly made a strong first impression in Hartford by crushing his first Double-A home run in his first Double-A game.
Hit your first @GoYardGoats homer, throw up the ✌️— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) June 21, 2023
After leading the Northwest League with 17 taters, No. 10 @Rockies prospect Yanquiel Fernandez swatted a moonshot into the upper deck: pic.twitter.com/aJhviJaASP
If Yanquiel Fernandez is able to adjust and adapt to this new level of play, he will see his status as a top Rockies prospect rise even further. It’s not out of the question that he could be in Triple-A by the end of the 2023 season, with an MLB debut in sight.
★ ★ ★
After a difficult start to 2023 in which he battled control and his own mental health, Rockies reliever Daniel Bard is looking to eventually reclaim his job as the closer. Should Bard again be who the Rockies turn to in order to slam the door, he needs just one save to take sole possession of fourth most saves in franchise history. After his last save in October, 2022, Bard is tied with Bruce Ruffin and Wade Davis with 60 saves.
On Monday the Rockies sadly and suddenly said goodbye to George Frazier, who passed away at the age of 68. Frazier was a big league pitcher and more importantly a longtime color commentator for the Rockies on TV. From 1998 to 2015, Frazier joined Rockies fans in their living rooms and dens every night and was part of some of the most important moments in team history.
“It’s been a great trip and I’ve enjoyed it” -George Frazier
★ ★ ★
On the Farm
A late innings surge was too little, too late as the Isotopes fell to the Aces. Cole Tucker clobbered a three-run home run in the eighth inning to bring the ‘Topes within two, but the deficit—once at seven runs—proved too steep to overcome. Aaron Schunk extended his hitting streak to seven games with a 2-for-4 night. Josh Rodgers and Phillips Valdez both struggled, giving up four runs each. Rogers was the starter and worked 3 1⁄3 innings, while Valdez worked two innings in relief.
Joe Rock pitched five innings as the starter for Hartford, giving up three runs while striking out three batters and issuing three walks. Nick Kuzia pitched two scoreless innings of relief with one strikeout, while the pride of Great Britain in Michael Peterson struck out three in his two scoreless innings of work. At the plate both Niko Decolati an Grant Lavigne had two hit nights, while Hunter Goodman and Yanquiel Fernandez drove in the Yard Goats’ two runs.
STAY HOT, KID! YANQUIEL FERNANDEZ HITS A AN RBI SINGLE UP THE MIDDLE TO KNOT THE SCORE AT 1. pic.twitter.com/phFIYPRYnZ— Hartford Yard Goats (@GoYardGoats) June 22, 2023
Starter Blake Adams had another strong performance, working 5 2⁄3 scoreless innings and striking out seven batters. Bryce McGowan worked 1 1⁄3 hitless innings of relief with four strikeouts and two walks. Unfortunately, Tyler Ahearn had a difficult night, failing to record an out as he gave up four runs (three earned) on two hits and two walks. Angel Chivilli held on for another two innings while giving up one unearned run. Mike Honcho himself—Jordan Beck—was the hero of the game on offense. Beck went 2-for-4 with two RsBI and walked it off for the Indians with a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth. 3B Sterlin Thompson appeared to leave the game early due to injury.
Alberto Pacheco had an excellent start for the Grizzlies, pitching seven innings while allowing just one earned run on four hits and a walk. He struck out eight batters. At the plate the Grizzlies scored nine runs on 13 hits. Skyler Messinger had two RsBI on a bases-clearing triple, while Jamari Baylor, Andy Perez, Ryan Ritter, and EJ Andrews Jr all had multi-hit nights and Andrews hit a home run.
The Grizzlies crack the Nuts 9-2 behind a stellar performance from Albert Pacheco. The lefty tied a career-high with 7 innings of 1-run ball. @EJAJR02 blasted his 8th homer of the season and @MessingerSkye roped an early 2-RBI triple. ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/mc2I4NvXMk— Fresno Grizzlies (@FresnoGrizzlies) June 22, 2023
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!