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New York Yankees: Don’t sleep on infield prospect Thairo Estrada

Despite the glut of infield prospects that are in the New York Yankees farm system, Thairo Estrada should not be disregarded. 

The overabundance of middle infield prospects in the New York Yankees farm system has been regarded by many as a problem for kids in the lower levels to climb the ladder, but a kid like Thairo Estrada warrants increased attention.

Who? My point exactly.

While Gleyber Torres, Jorge Mateo, Tyler Wade and Kyle Holder are under the spotlight, Estrada, who was signed by New York out of Venezuela in 2012 for $49,000, has been noiselessly tearing it up in the stacked Yankees’ system.

Making his debut at age 17 in the Gulf Coast League, he worked his way to the New York-Penn League by 2015 to become one of the youngest members in the league. Estrada, a natural shortstop, was forced to move to second base with Holder being the starting shortstop in Staten Island, but that didn’t stop the 19-year-old from becoming one of the more reliable players on the squad.

In 63 games, Estrada slashed .267/.338/.360 in 247 at-bats including 23 RBI’s during a season in which he earned a New York-Penn League All-Star selection. Last year, he commenced the regular season in Single-A Charleston and finished in High-A Tampa.

He went 40-for-140 (.286) in 35 games in Charleston and 92-for-315 (.292) in Tampa. Overall, he slashed .290/.346/.391 with 28 extra-base hits and an OPS of .737 in 118 games.

Estrada will likely begin the 2016 season back in High-A ball as he looks to find a home at either shortstop or second base as a highly touted prospect and his current showcase with the big boys at spring training is certainly making that possible.

In two games in Grapefruit League play, Estrada is 2-for-3 with two home runs and eight total bases. Talk about taking advantage of sparse opportunities…

One of his homers was a go-ahead three-run bomb in the top of the ninth off Oliver Drake in Monday’s win over Baltimore. The second came the very next day in New York’s 9-5 win against the Detroit Tigers.

Usually, a performance like he demonstrated in 2016 would earn a player a trip to Double-A Trenton, but the depth the Yankees have is not business a usual and will likely keep Estrada in Tampa to start the 2017 season.

However, a solid spring can potentially scrap the “sleeper” title from his name and give people a sense of what he truly is: a reliable defender in the field with good range, quick hands, a strong arm, excellent pitch recognition and patience at the dish. He could see some time at third or maybe even the outfield so the Yankees can push him through the system much faster.