Prospect Call Up – New York Yankees – Thairo Estrada – SS/2B

Prospect Call Up – New York Yankees – Thairo Estrada – SS/2B

It wasn’t long ago that Thairo Estrada was a name most had ranked near the top of New York Yankees prospect lists, but he was shot in the hip during the off-season heading into 2018 that required surgery. The surgery was unsuccessful and was shut down over the summer to undergo a second surgery that he bounced back in time to head to Arizona for the AFL. Once an elite defensive shortstop, he did not look as smooth or dynamic in Arizona as he had in the past. The Yankees believe it was mostly due to his body getting back into baseball shape and he showed will in Spring Training.

If he is truly back to his previous form, he is a plus defender who can hold down any infield spot and do so at a high level. The arm is plenty strong enough for the left side of the infield and his quickness/fluidity around the bag make him a defensive replacement at worst. With the injury his range and fluid motions were not as great as the season before, although there is still plenty of arm and he would grade out as average defensively up the middle even with the diminished skills if the athleticism never fully bounces back.

At the plate, Estrada never was and never will be a power hitter. He has 18 home runs over 6 pro seasons and has never reached 20 doubles, but he did hit over .300 in his first taste of AA in 2017. There is a leg kick that sees him out on his front foot quite a bit, although he has used it to become a solid right-handed slap hitter and uses his above average wheels to beat out some bunt and infield hits, although that was not as common a season ago as a bullet to the hip can slow a man down. Again he looked better this spring and it appears the wheels may be back. The problem the leg kick does create is the weight gets too far out front and he struggles against good breaking balls and elite velocity.

His ultimate role is that of a solid utility infielder who can come off the bench as a late inning bat when the team needs base-runners, pinch runner, or defensive replacement. That gives him a rather high floor although the ceiling of a quality regular has been significantly reduced, although there is still a chance of him becoming an average shortstop but will likely always be relegated to later in the batting order. Multiple injuries to the left side of the Yankees infield will give him a chance to prove he is all the way back and should be able to carve out enough of a role for himself to stay up even if Troy Tulowitzki comes back in 10 days.

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