New York Yankees Prospect Profile: Number 23 Kyle Holder


As we continue to move down the New York Yankees pipeline, we come across 23rd-ranked prospect Kyle Holder.

Scouting grades (According to MLB Pipeline): Hit: 45 | Power: 30 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 65 | Overall: 50

Since the day Derek Jeter retired, the Yankees have been trying to find their shortstop of the future. Despite having Didi Gregorius on the big league roster and Jorge Mateo primed to run Didi out of town in a couple of seasons, they keep adding quality shortstop prospects at every chance they get. Kyle Holder is no exception to that strategy.

The Yankees took Holder 30th overall in the 2015 amateur draft last summer, signed him for $1.8 Million and sent him to short season Staten Island (rookie-ball) to start his professional career. In 56 games and 250 plate appearances, the San Diego native hit just .213/.273/.253. He displayed very little power, managing only eight extra-base hits and no home runs, but fortunately for Holder, offense wasn’t supposed to be one of his strengths when he was signed.

Heading into the draft, Holder’s defense was what had him in that first round conversation. Want proof? MLB Pipeline calls him the “best defensive player in last year’s draft and the best defensive shortstop to come out of college in years.” They, and scouts all over baseball, think that Holder is a “Gold Glover waiting to happen.”

Many scouts laud his size (6’1′, 185 lbs) and athleticism (he also played shooting guard in high school) as key components to his defensive prowess. According to River Ave Blues, Holder also has “good instincts, good range, a quick first step, soft hands, and a strong arm capable of making plays deep in the hole.” All of that sounds pretty good to me.

The problem with Holder, as you might be able to guess from the fact that I’ve been trying to get you to focus mostly on his defense in this post, is his bat. Even the most optimistic scouts see Holder as a below-average hitter who, if he can stick at the big league level, will never get himself out of the bottom of any lineup. He lacks power and doesn’t walk very often, but he does make a lot of contact. The Yankees sent him to the instructional league after the season, and they’ve been working on tweaking his swing, but his bat is still a long way away… if it’s ever even going to arrive.

That being said, elite defense at a prime position like shortstop can get you very far in professional baseball. Look at Brendan Ryan. Ryan’s bat has always been a bit of a pool noodle out there, but there was a time not too long ago where he was just about an every-day player. A player like Holder can really help a pitching staff minimize runs allowed. If you surround him in the lineup with some good bats, no one will notice that he can’t hit.

Next: New York Yankees Prospect Profile: Number 24 Jeff Degano

Perhaps I’m getting way too far ahead of myself with all of that though. I just look for Holder to continue playing great defense. If the bat comes along, we might be seeing him in pinstripes in a few years. Only time, and hard work, will tell.