Abiatal Avelino Scouting Report (2014)
In six years of scouting, unearthing a New York Yankees prospect and breaking him to the masses has proven as difficult as Finding Bigfoot. From Jesus Montero (View Scouting Report) to Gary Sanchez (View Scouting Report), Yankees prospects like Abiatal Avelino have already been churned through the baseball prospect hype machine before laying eyes on them against the Rome Braves. In general, this leads to hate mail and fans of the Bronx Bombers to question my mental capacity. In a winter when Raimel Tapia (View Scouting Report) became a prospect darling of the masses, attention was drawn away from young players like Avelino. After seeing him showcase an impressive set of tools across a three game series, it’s time to pay attention to the 19-year old shortstop.
In general, player comparisons are difficult to make. On occasion, a name pops into the temporal lobe and refuses to leave. An early look at David Dahl (View Scouting Report) reminded me of Johnny Damon. For the 5-foot-11, 186 pound Abiatal Avelino, memories of scouting Jean Segura (5-foot-10, 200 pounds) in Double-A have been impossible to shake. From his strong, compact frame to explosive baseball movements, the Yankees prospect is an impressive physical specimen in the mold of the Milwaukee Brewers shortstop.
For whatever reason, the Charleston RiverDogs took to the field for batting practice early for game one of the series. In an abbreviated batting practice look, Abiatal Avelino immediately stood out for his bat speed and hard, barrel contact. On one swing, he muscled up and powered a line drive to the left-center field warning track which one-hopped the outfield fence, but power isn’t a part of his game — yet. In game action he worked the entire field with a 4-4 performance, displaying the ability to work deep counts and fight off pitches. With a 13% strikeout rate, the shortstop passed the eyeball test for bat-to-ball skills as a player who’ll limit punch outs going forward. Plus, Avelino sat back on breaking pitches, resulting in multiple hits to the opposite field.
As for power, Abiatal Avelino earns a 20 grade for now. At 19, Segura hit 10 home runs in full season baseball while the Yankees prospect has yet to hit one in the United States. However, the shortstop projects to grow into more power with experience due to the ability to throw the bat head at inside pitches. It’s a flat plane swing geared for line drives, but high contact rates and the ability to make hard contact often result in the power tool playing up. This applies to Avelino who presents with natural above average-to-plus bat speed.
On defense, Abiatal Avelino made the plays and throws. It wasn’t exactly pretty as his movements at shortstop present as raw and uncontrolled. His arm strength is above average and Avelino showed impressive range up the middle, albeit with a late jump. Admittedly, he wasn’t tested deep in the 5/6 hole (my litmus test for a future MLB shortstop), but the arm is strong enough to complete deeper plays. Plus he has the natural athleticism to project well there. Next to Tyler Wade, a long, smooth shortstop with range and fluid movements, Avelino presents as a second baseman to theprospect follower. However, it’s important to separate the two and judge each on his own defensive strengths and weaknesses.
Picked off twice in game one of the series, Abiatal Avelino was unable to identify left-hander Jean Carlos Gil’s pick off move. If not for this game, he’d have 11 stolen bases in 14 attempts instead of 16. On a double to left, I clocked a 7.59 second home-to-second base time. Unfortunately, a late trigger on a ground ball resulted in an abnormally fast home-to-first time (3.84 seconds), but one can add another quarter second to it and still have a 70 run time. From the three game sample, Avelino’s speed is plus.
From a tools perspective, the current Charleston roster boasts higher ceiling talents than the Mason Williams (View Scouting Report), Tyler Austin (View Scouting Report), Angelo Gumbs (View Scouting Report) and Sanchez led team of 2012. Sleepers like Abiatal Avelino lead the way with four strong tools and a fifth in need of further development. Unfortunately, the shortstop recently hit the disabled list with a quad injury, but should be back after the South Atlantic League All-Star break. With a strong second half, he’ll earn a well-deserved top-10 ranking in a Yankees organization thin on high upside talent.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Above Average SS On First Division MLB Team Hitting Ability 40 60 Power 20 35 Speed 70 60 Fielding Ability 35 50 Arm 50 60
Owning Abiatal Avelino
In a recent email from a subscriber, he asked my thoughts on a trade where he’d surrender a bevy of young pitching talent for Manny Machado and the aforementioned Dahl. My first email was, “Do it!” My second and third emails included high ceiling, relatively unknown prospect names worth stashing for a rainy day. Abiatal Avelino was one of those names. In deep keeper and A.L. only formats, shortstops — especially speedsters are at a premium. Strike fast and stash the 19-year old now because he’ll prove untouchable once the hype machine begins rolling in earnest.
22 May 2014 / Mike Newman /
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