As a player entering the minors, you have to be aware that you could be sent down or called up at any given time. The RiverDogs have welcomed new players to their roster this season as well as bid farewell to a few lucky ones heading south to Tampa in the Yankees farm system.
Anyelo Gomez and Albert Abreu, two of Charleston's pitchers have gotten the call up to High-A Tampa after dominating the month of April. Abreu tossed a season high 11 strikeouts on April 11th against Augusta in just 5.2 innings of work. The young Dominican Republic native hit speeds of 102 with his fastball, making it hard for any hitter in the SAL handle.
Gomez spent time with the RiverDogs for the third season in a row, his first being one appearance in the 2015 season. Gomez, much like Abreu, had plenty of velocity on his fastball. He spent time as the closer out of the bullpen posting a 1.93 ERA in 10 games for Charleston. He recorded seven saves out of seven opportunities allowing just three runs in the 14.0 innings pitched.
Both Gomez and Abreu are tossing for the High-A Tampa club. Abreu has made his way into the Tampa starting rotation and has started in five games. He has not gotten his first win yet as he has posted a 0-3 record with a 5.57 ERA in 21.0 innings of work. Gomez has appeared in five games as well all out of the Tampa pen. He has tossed through 9.2 innings allowing three runs and posting a 2.79 ERA. Gomez recorded his first win on May 25th against Jupiter, working through 3.0 innings allowing just two hits and one strikeout.
The RiverDogs have also given a few players in extended spring training a chance to shine. Outfielder Ben Ruta was called up in the beginning of May and has proved to be a successful move by the Yankees organization. The 22 year old out of West Windsor, NJ grew up watching and dreaming of playing for the Yankees and got his chance on May 8th. In his first at-bat as a RiverDog Ruta saw one pitch and smoked it into left field for a base hit. He went on that game to go 2-4 with two singles.
Ruta collected his first RBI ten days later on May 18th against Augusta he had himself a day going 2-3 with two RBI and maintaining his batting average above .400. The New Jersey native spends most of his time in the outfield but also DH quite often.
The most recent addition from extended spring training is Cal State grad Dalton Blaser. Blaser was acquired in the 8th round of 2016 and spent last season in Staten Island. He got the call to Charleston on May 30th and put in the starting lineup the very next day. In his first two at-bats with the RiverDogs Blaser was walked then hit by a pitch.
Raynel Espinal was the first addition from extended spring training. Espinal was added to the RiverDogs bullpen on April 20th, and has been a solid set up man and distance reliever since. Espinal has been tossing lots of innings, averaging five innings of work every outing. He has had tremendous control of the strike zone, fanning 34 batters in his 30.1 innings of work. The Dominican Republic native has allowed just five earned runs, and holds and impressive 1.48 ERA.
The RiverDogs also have a few familiar faces return to the Holy City after short stints in Tampa. Pitchers Christian Morris and Hobie Harris both saw action earlier this season with Tampa but since have returned to Charleston.
Morris spent time last season in the starting rotation with the RiverDogs making 22 starts through the 2016 season. He featured an 8-5 record with a 2.99 ERA in 120.1 innings of work. Morris made one appearance in Tampa this season on April 10th out of the bulpen. He worked through four innings and allowed just three hits and two strike outs. The 23 year old right hander joined the Charleston club on April 26th and has done all of his work out of the pen. Morris has gotten two wins and one loss through nine outings this season posting just a 1.72 ERA after allowing three runs in 15.2 innings of work.
Hobie Harris is the most recent addition to the pen after spending almost two months with Tampa. The McKinney, Texas native has appeared in games with the RiverDogs since 2015. Harris began 2016 with Charleston and made 23 appearances out of the pen, posting a 2-4 record with a 2.60 ERA. He began 2017 with Tampa and made 11 appearances with the High-A club posting 2-3 record with a 3.48 ERA. Since rejoining the RiverDogs on May 27th, he has appeared in two games and worked through just three innings. He currently holds a 3.00 ERA after surrendering just one run in two innings on May 28 against Greenville.
The RiverDogs have plenty of talent that will get a chance in higher levels entering the second half of the season. Charleston's offense features plenty of young power and speed and has the second best batting average in the SAL with a team .262. The 2017 team is a squad to watch as they feature four of the Yankees top-30 prospects, all with bright futures ahead.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.