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Yankees Call Up Prospect Ben Rice to Help at First

Ben Rice runs the bases for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, the New York Yankees called up prospect Ben Rice as a replacement for first basemen Anthony Rizzo.

After learning about the latest injury news to 1B Anthony Rizzo, the New York Yankees have already announced a move. They have decided to call up C Ben Rice to the majors as a potential replacement. Rice, who’s been regarded as one of the team’s better prospects, has been raking in the minor leagues. He hit .275 with 15 homers and 36 RBIs this season combined at both double-A and triple-A affiliates. This is not a surprising move at all.

How Does Rice Fit the Current Lineup?

The Yankees are in need of a new corner infielder, as that has been their weakest area for some time. Anthony Rizzo hasn’t been giving the team much production, probably because of his concussion incident last year. He’s not the only player in the infield that hasn’t been giving the team much offense. Players like 2B Gleyber Torres and UTL DJ LeMahieu have not been helping either. With the latest addition of Rice, he can help change the dynamic of this constructed roster.

Even though he has spent most of his playing time as a catcher, Rice also has experience as an infielder. New York does not have many options with Rizzo sideline for approximately six to eight weeks. The young prospect, meanwhile has played just 55 games at first base in the minors. Unlike Rizzo, he has been producing on a consistent basis. Rice owns an OPS of .920 across parts of four minor-league seasons. That shows how he can potentially be a difference maker once he settles into the major league roster.

What Can the Yankees Expect Out of Rice?

New York is hoping that Rice can bring an offensive spark with him as he has shown in the minor leagues. They promoted him before a big series against the Baltimore Orioles and they cannot afford to have another let down on the infield corner. The only player that has done a lot in the infield in terms of offensive production is SS Anthony Volpe. Even though he is only in his second season, Volpe could be a mentor to Rice, who made his Major League debut Tuesday.

Rice is ranked as the #14 prospect in the club’s system per Baseball America and 12th according to MLB Pipeline. The Yankees will certainly insert him in the lineup, but I don’t anticipate him starting every day. I expect the Yankees to switch the lineup often, offering other players time at first base. If Rice doesn’t start, expected DJ LeMahieu or maybe even UTL Oswaldo Cabrera to get the start there. Rice could also get a shot at the catching position. Yankees already have two other catchers on the roster, but they haven’t produced much. For example, C Austin Wells who got called up last year, was expected to have a breakout year. So far, he has done little at the plate. C Jose Trevino on the other end, has been okay but not drastically impressive on the offensive end.

Is First Base Still a Top Trade Priority for the Team?

First base has been one of the weakest areas for the Yankees for some time now. The team currently has four players who can play that position. If Rice doesn’t perform as expected, it might be time for New York to consider trading for a player who can produce at first base. One player that comes to mind in a potential trade is 1B Christian Walker. Now to be clear, the Arizona Diamondbacks are not far away from playoff contention. The team sits in a competitive wild card race with many other teams. If the Yankees can’t trade for Walker, they will always have other alternative options.

How Did His Debut Fare?

Tuesday’s game went really well for Ben Rice in his first MLB game. He did record the first big league hit of his career in the bottom of the third inning. Rice finished the night going 1-for-3 with that one single. Still, it was a very memorable night for him, especially with his parents in attendance. What a way t0 cap up a big league debut for the rookie Ben Rice. Now after playing in three games, Rice is 2-8 with one run batted in.

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