The Richmond Flying Squirrels come into Binghamton in last place in the Western Division of the Eastern League, with a 22-33 record. Though the team has a large number of prospects ranked within the top 30 for the San Francisco organization, the team has been hampered by disappointing pitching.
Here’s a quick review of the team’s top tier of prospects, with their organizational ranking in parenthesis. (Note: These rankings are based on Baseball America, with much of the material based on Baseball America’s 2016 Prospect Handbook.)
Andrew Suarez (5): The 24-year-old southpaw returns for his second season with Richmond. Last year he went 7-7 with a 3.95 E.R.A. in 19 starts. He was signed for a little over $1M after being drafted in the second round in the 2015 amateur draft after his senior season at the University of Miami. Suarez has excellent control, as entering this season he had walked only 34 batters in 183 minor league innings. His fastball sites in the 89-93 mph range, making him a left-handed prospect version of Seth Lugo. Suarez has pitched well thus far, despite holding a 3-4 record. He has an E.R.A. of 2.98 in 60 innings.
Sam Coonrod (11): The 6’-2” right hander was a fifth round pick in the 2014 amateur draft and returns for a second tour of duty with Richmond. In 13 starts last year he went 4-3 for the Flying Squirrels, posting a 3.03 E.R.A., allowing 59 hits in 77 innings. His fastball ranges from 90-94 mph and has good downward movement the lower he throws it. His second best pitch is his slider, while his changeup is still developing. Coonrod has struck out 46 hitters in 41 innings for Richmond thus far, but has struggled overall, posting a 1-6 record and a 5.06 E.R.A.
Reyes Moronta (12): The 24-year-old right hander was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, but did not pitch in organized leagues until 2014. Last year he used his outstanding fastball (he has touched 100 mph with it) to strike out 93 batters in 59 innings at San Jose (High A). He assumed closer duties for San Jose after Rodolfo Martinez was promoted to Richmond. Moronta has saved 5 games this season, striking out 26 hitters in 18 innings.
Rodolfo Martinez (#14): The 6’-2” right hander was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2013 and has hit triple digits with his fastball. He returns for his second stint in Double-A, after going 0-3 with a 6.65 E.R.A. for Richmond last season. Before his mid-season promotion to Richmond last year, Martinez dominated the California League (High A), posting an astounding 0.88 E.R.A. with 21 saves. Martinez is struggling thus far with Richmond, as he comes into Binghamton with a 5.63 E.R.A.
CJ Hinojosa (#16): The 5’-10” shortstop, who was drafted in the 11th round out of the University of Texas in the 2015 draft, returns for his second season in Double-A. In 226 at-bats last season he hit .248 with 3 home runs for the Flying Squirrels. Scouts currently project him as utility infielder in the majors. Hinojosa comes into the series with Binghamton hitting .226 in 84 at-bats.
Cory Taylor (#20): The 6’-2” right hander was drafted in the 8th round in the 2015 draft, out of Dallas Baptist University. He started two games for Richmond last season, going 1-0 with a 0.75 E.R.A. At this stage he is primarily a sinker (90-94 mph) and slider (82-84 mph) pitcher, with his changeup being a work in progress. Taylor is off to a bit of a slow start this year, going 2-4 with a 4.84 E.R.A. as of this writing.
Matt Gage (#28): The 6’-4” left hander was drafted out of Siena College in the 10th round of the 2014 draft. He spent all of 2016 with Richmond, going 9-7 with a 3.38 E.R.A. The southpaw has a full repertoire of pitches, including a fastball, curve, slider, changeup, and cutter. He is the prototypical “crafty lefty,” as he maxes out at 92 mph on the radar gun. He comes into the series with Binghamton with a 2-4 record and a 3.68 E.R.A. with 51 innings under his belt.
Miguel Gomez (#30): The 5’-10” third baseman was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2011 and was added to San Francisco’s 40-man roster in the offseason. He has hit .314 in 1,205 minor-league at-bats. He comes into Binghamton with a .319 batting average, 5 homers and 37 runs batted in.