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July 2012 Prospect Profile: Staten Island's Finest

07/20/2012 9:43 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Saxon Butler is at or near the top of the New York-Penn League in several categories.(silive.com)
The New York-Penn League will be held on August 14 in Niles, Ohio (home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers), and while there are still a few weeks to go, there are a handful of Staten Island Yankees – all of whom are 2012 Yankees draftees – who appear to be top candidates to appear in the game.

On the offensive side, first baseman Saxon Butler and outfielder Taylor Dugas to name two are making the Bombers look very wise for selecting them in the 2012 MLB Draft.

Butler, the team’s 33rd-round pick out of Samford University, has picked up right where he left off from the college season. After finishing in the Top 3 in the Southern Conference in hits, home runs, and RBI this spring, Butler had a .353 average (third best in the NYPL) for Staten Island through July 15 and leads the NYPL with six home runs, 19 RBI, 62 total bases, and a 1.158 OPS.

Dugas, meanwhile, was the Yankees’ eighth-rounder out of Alabama, and is also having a solid all-around season. Through July 15, he led the NYPL with a .495 on-base percentage, a mark spurred by his .329 average (eighth in the league) and 20 walks (second).

Beyond those two draftees, infielder Matt Snyder, the team’s tenth-rounder out of Ole Miss, was tied for fourth in the NYPL with 18 RBI through July 15 and could also bear watching.

On the mound, Staten Island’s rotation is led by Evan Rutckyj, a 2010 pick that started the year in Charleston but is 2-2 with a 2.54 ERA through his first five appearances (four starts) for Staten Island – but the bullpen has been anchored by a handful of 2012 newcomers.

Most notably, the duo of Taylor Garrison and Derek Varnadore has been lights out at the end of games for the SI Yankees. Garrison, the team’s seventh-round pick out of Fresno State, had a 2.31 ERA, two saves, and 11 strikeouts in his first 10 appearances (11.2 IP), while Varnadore, a ninth-round choice from Auburn, was 1-1 with a 1.89 ERA in his first seven games, striking out 17 in 19 innings.

Among other top performing pitchers are fourth-round pick Corey Black, who hadn’t allowed an earned run in either of his first two starts (7.2 IP) and 13th-rounder James Pazos, who was 1-1 with a 2.35 ERA through his first 10 appearances and had fanned 15 in 15.1 innings pitched.

Based on their outstanding first month-plus in pinstripes, any or all of these 2012 draftees (and Rutckyj) could end up heading to Mahoning Valley next month – with a few even potentially joining Low Class-A Charleston for their South Atlantic League playoff push.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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