Yankees prospect Ben Rice at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa,...

Yankees prospect Ben Rice at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 21. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Ben Rice, in his own way, got the Jasson Dominguez treatment.

The prospect, who plays first base and catcher, had only been in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre a short time before getting his call to the big leagues.

It came in the wake of the right arm fracture Anthony Rizzo suffered Sunday night in Boston (it is anticipated Rizzo will be out at least two months).

The left-handed hitting Rice, ranked by some publications as high as the organization's No. 12 prospect, had only played 11 games with Scranton before receiving word Monday night that he was being promoted.

The Yankees threw the 25-year-old, a 12th round pick of the organization out of Dartmouth in 2021, right into the fire, starting him Tuesday night against the Orioles at first base, batting him sixth.

“Of course, there’s going to be a little nerves, but they’re good nerves, right?” a smiling Rice said in the clubhouse before the game. “I know it’s coming from excitement, and I’m ready to go.”

Rice, who spent time with the Yankees in big-league camp in the spring, has split time in the minors this season between Double-A Somerset and Scranton.

Known far more for his offense than his defense, Rice hit .261 with 12 homers, nine doubles and an .894 OPS in 49 games with Somerset before his promotion to Triple-A. At the time of his call-up, Rice was hitting .333 with three homers, three doubles and a 1.059 OPS in those 11 games.

“He’s piqued the interest of the on-field personnel and front office,” bench coach Brad Ausmus said.

Rice became the first catcher from Dartmouth drafted by the Yankees since Ausmus in 1987.

Rice, who grew up a Yankees fan in the heart of Red Sox Nation – born in Cohasset, Mass. – had never set foot in Yankee Stadium until Tuesday.

But while the stadium and home clubhouse were unfamiliar to Rice, many of his teammates he had some familiarity with because of the few weeks he spent in major-league camp during the spring.

“It’s huge,” Rice said of the experience. “Definitely makes you feel a little bit more comfortable being the new guy here. A lot of familiar faces from camp, so definitely helps me kind of ease into it more.”

Rice, according to multiple rival scouts assigned to the Yankees’ minor league system, has not distinguished himself defensively in the minors at either catcher or first base, a new position for him.

But one NL scout, while characterizing Rice's defense at first as “below average", added a caveat.

“His work ethic, the way he goes about things, you can see him getting better over there,” the evaluator said. “He’s a little stiff there [at first], hands are stiff, and he has limited range, but he’ll put the work in. And I think Travis will be really, really good for him.”

That would be Travis Chapman, the Yankees first base coach who is also coaches the infield.

“It’s definitely going to be a little bit of a work in progress,” said Ausmus, who filled in for Boone for at least the beginning of Tuesday’s game as the manager was attending the high school graduation of his son, Brandon. “He hasn’t played a ton of first base. He’s a catcher by trade as you know. Obviously, the bat has [been] very strong the last few years. We’re just going to have to see. [Rizzo] actually mentioned helping him out. There’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve and it’s going to happen at the major league level. But we have confidence in him.”

As for Rizzo, a four-time Gold Glove winner at first, the 34-year-old was nothing short of frustrated with the results of the testing he underwent Monday that showed the fracture.

“Not playing sucks,” Rizzo said. “It’s not ideal but it’s how you look at it, right? This is part of it. The team’s in a great position. Obviously, there’s nothing better than playing baseball, it’s what we love to do. Now it’s just about focusing on getting better and coming back healthy.”

Rizzo, though without the captain title that Aaron Judge has, is a clubhouse leader with the same status.

“It’s a huge loss, from a clubhouse perspective as much as the field,” Ausmus said. “He’s a guy as much a part of the character as anybody. I’m hoping he’s around quite a bit because we still need him in the clubhouse.”

More Yankees headlines


FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.