The 15th season of Staten Island Yankees baseball has come to a close. While the Baby Bombers missed the postseason for the third consecutive year since winning the New York-Penn League crown in 2011, Staten Island's 37-38 record marks the most wins for the club in the last three years. As a team, the Yankees season results were not ideal, but for a few individuals, 2014 was a breakthrough.
Connor Spencer, first baseman out of UC-Irvine, was selected in the eighth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft by the New York Yankees. As Staten Island kicked off their season on June 14 in Brooklyn, Spencer competed with the Anteaters in the College World Series. After falling short and being eliminated in Omaha, Spencer joined the Baby Bombers for his first professional season and will head back to California for the offseason having left a legacy for himself in New York's forgotten borough. The 2014 draftee slugged his way to a NYPL All-Star selection and most notably, the NYPL's batting title. Staten Island has been the launching pad for the careers of great Major League hitters such as Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner, but Spencer is the first player in franchise history to lead the league in batting average (.364). Not only did Spencer lead the NYPL in batting, he also led the Baby Bombers in hits (72) and on-base percentage (.389).
Another newcomer to make waves on the Island was outfielder and first baseman Chris Breen. Taken in the 12th round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft by the New York Yankees out of high school in Florida, Breen spent two seasons in the Gulf Coast League before being promoted to Short Season. The 20 year-old handled the transfer to New York with grace, leading the NYPL in slugging percentage (.504) and leading Staten Island in runs (34), triples (5), home runs (8) and walks (33). After hitting only five home runs during his two year stint in the GCL, Breen surged to his team-leading eight blasts, including a memorable walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning on Aug. 25 against arch-rival the Brooklyn Cyclones. While newcomers are the norm in Short Season Single-A baseball, a couple familiar faces had solid seasons for the Baby Bombers as well.
Dominican Republic native Isaias Tejeda made his first appearance with the Staten Island Yankees in 2011, playing in one game behind the plate. Over the past two seasons, Tejeda played in 73 games, collecting 10 doubles, five home runs and 25 RBI. Being assigned to return to Staten Island for a third consecutive year for 2014 could have easily gotten the catcher down, but Tejeda flourished in his third full season with the club. Tejeda collected the most doubles in the NYPL (21) by a single player since 2012 and is only the second player in franchise history to lead the league in this category as Mitch Jones posted 28 doubles for Staten Island in 2000 before the team moved into the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George. Tejeda's improvements on the field were recognized by the league as he was selected to the NYPL All-Star team in August.
Starting pitcher David Palladino also returned to Staten Island for a second season. Palladino, the Yankees fifth round selection in the 2013 Draft out of Howard Junior College in Texas, became the club's workhorse on the mound in 2014, doubling his win total from a year ago (6) and lowering his ERA from 4.67 to 3.72 in 12 starts on the mound each season. The New Jersey native led this year's team in wins, starts, innings pitched (67.2) and tied for the team lead in strikeouts (58). As great as the experienced players on the team were, the Baby Bombers' roster boasted one of the top young prospects in the entire New York Yankees farm system.
Luis Torrens, 18, joined the Staten Island Yankees roughly two weeks into the season on June 26 as the catcher was assigned to the Staten Island roster on a rehab assignment from the Charleston RiverDogs. Torrens, the Yankees No. 10 propect, brought an immediate buzz to the team with his clutch hitting and spot-on accurate arm behind the plate. The Venezuela native began his stint with Staten Island on a hot streak, batting just south of .400 on his way to being named a NYPL All-Star. As the season continued, Torrens cooled off, dipping to a .270 average while hitting a pair of home runs on the season. Though Torrens did not finish as a leader in any of the Baby Bombers offensive statistical categories, the young prospect will certainly be a name to follow in the coming years as he works his way through the ranks.
Check out how some of this year's Baby Bombers finished with a recap of NYPL and team leaders:
New York-Penn League
Batting Average: 1st- Connor Spencer (.364)
Doubles: 1st- Isaias Tejeda (21), 5th- Austin Aune (19)
Triples: 4th- Chris Breen (5)
RBI: 6th- Ty McFarland (40)
Walks: 3rd- Chris Breen (33)
On-base Percentage: 3rd- Connor Spencer (.389), 4th- Chris Breen (.376)
Slugging Percentage: 1st- Chris Breen (.504)
Wins: 6th- David Palladino (6)
Holds: 1st- Andury Acevedo (8)
Doubles: 1st- 149
Home Runs: 4th- 35
Walks: 3rd- 245
Slugging Percentage: 4th- .364
Home Runs (Given Up): 3rd- 26
Strikeouts: 2nd- 661
Staten Island Yankees
Batting Average: Connor Spencer (.364)
Runs: Chris Breen (34)
Hits: Connor Spencer (72)
Doubles: Isaias Tejeda (21)
Triples: Chris Breen (5)
Home Runs: Chris Breen (8)
RBI: Ty McFarland (40)
Walks: Chris Breen (33)
Stolen Bases: Devyn Bolasky (9)
On-Base Percentage: Connor Spencer (.389)
Slugging Percentage: Chris Breen (.504)
Wins: David Palladino (6)
ERA: Ethan Carnes (1.95)
Appearances: Andury Acevedo (23)
Starts: David Palladino (12)
Saves: Rony Bautista/Tim Giel (3)
Innings Pitched: David Palladino (67.2)
Strikeouts: David Palladino/Rony Bautista (58)
WHIP: Matt Borens (0.97)
Holds: Andury Acevedo (8)