A long time ago in what seems like a galaxy far, far away, the New York Yankees had little to no young talent. There were still a good team, mind you, but they were your daddy’s Yankees. That doesn’t quite seem like yesterday —and it’s not— but 2015 isn’t that long ago.
One of those players in their healthy system to be excited about is 2015 first round pick Kyle Holder. The 30th overall pick out of the University of San Diego, the slick shortstop was a compensation pick for reliever David Robertson, who of course is now back in pinstripes.
It wasn’t a sexy pick then and it isn’t now. Holder isn’t considered a blue chipper and was widely considered a glove first, we’ll see about the bat player at the time of his selection.
His rookie year in pro ball didn’t get anyone excited. The three year college veteran had a rough transition to pro ball, hitting just .213 in Short-A with an OPS under .600.
Even still, the Yankees challenged him with the move on up to A-ball in his sophomore year and the soon-to-be 22-year old started to set things right. After playing shortstop exclusively in Low-A, he expectedly played both portions of the middle infield in A-ball.
He didn’t just right the ship offensively, he became extremely efficient with the bat. He hit .290 in 2016 for the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs, stealing eight bases but getting caught six times and batted a pair of triples.
He slugged just .347 with 16 extra base hits in 88 games, missing time to various nagging injuries. But his glove was as good as advertised and his bat showed some newfound potential.
Called up High-A Tampa prior to 2017, he started the year off right by being named to MLB Pipeline’s all-defense team. He also upped the ante by expanding his defensive portfolio to third base. Shortstop remained his primary home, appearing there 64 times while also starting 26 at third base and 14 at second.
His strong season earned him an invite to the Arizona Fall League, where he’s compiled more encouraging statistics for the Scottsdale Scorpions.
In four games so far, he’s 8-for-17 with a triple and home run. He’s certainly re-opening some eyes that were closing on him pretty quickly after his rather peculiar first round selection in 2015.