On today’s ESNY New York Yankees prospect profile, we take an in-depth look at defensive stud and shortstop, Kyle Holder.Taken in the first round of last year’s Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft, the New York Yankees took Kyle Holder who was the most prominent defensive player available in the draft.
Originally, Holder planned on dividing his talents between the baseball diamond and basketball court while attending Grossmont Junior College prior to focussing primarily on baseball which was nothing short of the right choice.
Following two seasons at the University of San Diego, he inked a rookie deal with the Bombers worth $1.8 million as the 30th overall choice.
In three total seasons in the NCAA, Holder slashed .346/.405/.446 including an OPS of .851. Most impressive of all? He only struck out 39 times in 250 plate appearances so no wonder why he earned that much of a contract.
However, despite his effectiveness at the plate, he is considered by many to be a gold glove award winner in the making. According to MLB Pipeline, his athleticism made him an elite shooting guard during his basketball days which ultimately lead to exceptional agility, range, hands, and footwork.
PREVIOUS PROSPECT PROFILE: Jeff Degano
When you look at his tape above, you could see just how soft his hands are impeccable and when combined with his cannon of an arm, he the hype around him being a gold glove caliber type is well justified. Here are his scouting grades:
MLB Pipeline’s Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 30 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 65 | Overall: 50
Ask any ballplayer, and they’ll tell you that those are indispensable skills if you want to be an adequate fielder. Actually, just take a look at the fact that Holder led the New York-Penn League shortstops with a .970 fielding percentage in his pro debut a year ago.
Despite his extravagant skills demonstrated with his glove, questions still remained regarding the lumber and his .213/.273/.253 slash line in the NYPL certainly answered those questions in a negative fashion.
Consequently, the Yankees sent him to instructional league with the sole purpose of tweaking his swing and many considered it to be a longer process than expected.
But that was a year ago, and what he’s doing now is spinning those porous offensive numbers into elite ones while maintaining his quality defensive abilities.
In Single-A Charleston, Holder is slashing .294/.331/.357 with a .688 in 33 games this season and while his fielding percentage has dropped to .967, he is working on ground balls from the other side of second base.
I’m assuming because the Yankees are very high on their number one overall prospect, Jorge Mateo, that Holder is being given time at second base in order for a lineup to include both of their stellar bats. However, Mateo is learning second base in a timely manner and is considered on the express train to the Bronx, so Holder may remain at short for the time being.
Being able to play second and short with the ability to maybe see some time at third (I’m only assuming that due to his cannon of a right arm) makes him almost like a young Brendan Ryan type of guy in terms of comparing offense to defense.
In terms of where will he be in a few years? Time and production will tell us that. If he continues to hit the way he is while sustaining his current level of output in the field, we could see him sport some Yankee pinstripes in a few years. That may be a fallacy, though, as the Yankees have a productive second baseman in Starlin Castro, a loveable shortstop in Didi Gregorius, and a rising star in Mateo.
All Holder can hope is that his contact ability mixed in with his defense-first build will carry him up the ladder of the farm system and judging by his initial success in professional baseball, that’s not as crazy as it sounds.