Bridgewater, New Jersey - The surging Patriots find themselves with a 2.5 game cushion over second place Binghamton in the Northeast Division after winning seven of their last 10 ball games, including four victories on their road trip to Reading last week. Somerset now returns to their home digs at
Bridgewater, New Jersey - The surging Patriots find themselves with a 2.5 game cushion over second place Binghamton in the Northeast Division after winning seven of their last 10 ball games, including four victories on their road trip to Reading last week. Somerset now returns to their home digs at TD Bank Ballpark when they will welcome in the fourth place Hartford Yard Goats (21-23) for the teams second-to-last remaining regular season homestand.
Before looking ahead to this week’s duel with Reading, here are some of the most prominent story lines and notes surrounding the Patriots heading into this week.
Martian Soaring Upward: Just a week after catcher Ben Rice was named the Eastern League Player of the Week, Jasson Dominguez's torrid stretch on the road in Reading last week earned him that honor for the week of August 14-20. The Martian had already been scorching hot heading into the series, and then proceeded to go 13-for-28 with two homers, five doubles and eight RBI in the six-game slate, including two four-hit contests. During the month of August, Dominguez is slashing .308/.438/.608 and is the amongst the EL leaders in Runs (1st, 83), Walks (1st, 77), Hits (2nd, 108), Stolen Bases (2nd, 37), and RBI (4th, 66). The 20-year-old outfielder was hitting just .197 at the start of play in July but has raised his season mark to .254 overall in 42 games since. Multiple media reports on Monday from the Yankees major league beat suggest that a promotion to Triple-A may be looming for the organization’s second ranked prospect.
Thorpe Shoves: The promotion of righty Drew Thorpe was anticipated for quite some time leading up to the news a few weeks back, and the 22-year-old righty has done nothing but live up to the hype in his two starts thus far for Somerset. After tossing eight shutout frames with nine strikeouts in his debut on August 11 to earn the EL Pitcher of the Week honors, Thorpe followed that up last Friday by allowed just two earned runs while fanning 12 in 6.2 strong innings of work against Reading. The Cal Poly product now has a 1.23 ERA at Double-A with a mere .140 batting average against.
The Great Durbin Return: Infielder Caleb Durbin suffered a nasty ankle injury back on June 17 that looked like it had the potential to end his strong 2023 season. After a near two-month absence that included lots of rehab and therapy, the 23-year-old was activated and made his return last week in Reading. The 2021 Braves draftee saw four games of action and picked up right where he left off, going 5-for-12, including two straight two-hit games.
Don’t Forget Palensky: After a tough stretch in July in which he hit just .128/.236/.298 outfielder Aaron Palensky has turned it around in August with a .289/.364/.658 line to go with three homers and 13 RBI after driving in just 14 runs total over the months of June and July. Palensky belted his 20th homer of the season in Reading on Saturday night and after swiping two bags on Sunday, the 24-year-old Nebraska native has now trotted into the rare 20/20 club. Palensky’s .974 OPS and .586 SLG rank amongst the top-10 in all of MiLB this season.
Downright Offensive: The Patriots 67 wins on the season are the most in the Eastern League and a big factor in that is being able to score a lot of runs while keeping the opposition in check with good pitching. Somerset has a +181-run differential on the season, the next closest club is Erie with a +68 mark.
Knowing the Opponent: This week’s matchup will be the third and final series between Somerset and Hartford, but will mark the first visit to Bridgewater for the Goats this year. The Patriots have gone 9-3 against the Rockies Double-A affiliate and have outscored them by a margin of 86-46 in the previous 12 meetings.
The Hartford roster sports six of Colorado’s top-10 organizational prospects on the MLB Pipeline rankings but have struggled to find consistency throughout the season, as reflected in the clubs -154 run differential.
Outfielder Yanquiel Fernandez is the Rockies second ranked prospect after signing with the club out of Cuba back in 2019. The lefty has touched three levels of the system this season and has blasted 23 homers and driven home 85 while slashing .282/.332/.524.
Outfielder Jordan Beck was the 38th overall pick in last summers draft and the Rockies 4th ranked prospect has already reached Double-A in his full-season. The Tennessee-product has hit 24 homers and driven home 85 to go with 17 stolen bases while slashing .271/.365/.521 between High-A and Double-A this season.
Like Beck, Outfielder Sterlin Thompson was drafted early in last summer’s draft, 31st overall out of Florida by the Rockies. The 22-year-old lefty swinger has already blasted five homers in just 12 games since being promoted to Double-A. He is slashing .318/.412/.659 in the EL after posting a .919 OPS in 60 games at High-A.
Series Probable Pitching Matchups:
Tue RHP Connor Van Scoyoc (1-1, 10.00 ERA) vs. RHP Chase Hampton (2-2, 4.77 ERA)
Wed TBD vs. RHP Yoendrys Gomez (0-2, 3.14 ERA)
Thu LHP Carson Palmquist (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Richard Fitts (9-5, 3.31 ERA)
Fri RHP Andrew Quezada (4-5, 4.18 ERA) vs. RHP Drew Thorpe (2-0, 1.23 ERA)
Sat LHP Joe Rock (1-9, 5.38 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Sauer (2-3, 4.42 ERA)
Sun RHP Case Williams (1-10, 6.65 ERA) vs. RHP Blane Abeyta (7-6, 5.65 ERA)
Matt Kardos | SomersetPatriots.com Beat Writer
Matt Kardos has covered the Yankees minor league system for over a decade and will spend his 11th season on the beat covering the Patriots for SomersetPatriots.com. Throughout his career, Matt has contributed to MLB.com, YES Network and Pinstriped Prospects. When he’s not at the ballpark, Matt enjoys traveling with his wife Kimberly, watching Jets football and collecting sports cards.