Five Seriously Underrated Yankee Prospects

It was a good year down on the farm in 2015 for the New York Yankees. Many prospects took big steps forward and many have been acknowledged in the public as doing so. However, a number of prospects still haven't received the attention their ceiling dictates they should. Here are five seriously underrated Yankee prospects to keep an eye on.

SS/2B, Abiatal Avelino: The Dominican native had a very solid season in 2015, hitting a combined .260 between low-A Charleston and high-A Tampa and swiping 54 bases along the way. And while he is considered one of the better infield prospects already for the Yankees, his entire game and potential ceiling still goes vastly underrated on the national scene.

Still just 20 years old and even though he just finished his fourth professional season, it was in essence his first full season after suffering a significant quad injury in 2014 that limited him to just 61 games. A pronounced ground ball hitter currently, he is still filling out and growing into his man strength, and learning to get a little more loft to his swing, and the power is just now starting to show up. He hit a career-high four home runs this year, more than doubling his career total entering the season, and all four home runs came in the pitching-friendly Florida State League, a league known for zapping power.

He is a high-contact rate hitter who is getting stronger, has very large and strong hands that suggest more power is coming, and defensively he is extremely smooth at shortstop. He can make all of the plays at second base too and just needs a little more experience learning to make the double-play pivot there, and his arm strength is a plus tool.

He has Top Ten prospect type talent in the farm system and because he plays in the shadow of high-profile shortstop Jorge Mateo, and rightfully so in some regards, it would be a mistake to dismiss Avelino's long-term potential. He has a very high ceiling of his own, one that is still very much underrated.

OF, Kendall Coleman: This eleventh round pick out of high school in 2013 finally had his first "healthy" season in 2015 -- he did begin the year with a broken thumb sustained in Spring Training -- and the results were a bit of a mixed bag, hitting just .236 overall for short-season Pulaski. However, there are many factors to consider with Coleman when judging his numbers to date.

Like Avelino he's still just 20 years old [he doesn't turn 21 until May of next year] and despite just completing his third season he has accumulated a mere 254 at-bats after dealing with an array of injuries in each of his first three seasons. This past season was his first season playing under the lights and getting acclimated to the rigorous travel schedule not felt at the rookie Gulf Coast League level [where he spent his first two seasons].

There's above average to even plus power potential in his swing, better plate discipline than his numbers [29 walks, 62 strikeouts in 58 games] suggest, and defensively he's turned himself into a solid defender with room to get better. In fact, his entire game screams serious potential.

Standing 6-foot-4 and still putting useful weight on an already rock-solid 190 pound frame, the trick will be not only keeping him healthy but getting him to shorten his swing with his rather long limbs. There will be some short-term growing pains as a result but his sky-high ceiling is and has been drastically underrated by the pundits thus far. He could be a serious impact hitter when it's all said and done if things break right for him.

SS/2B, Thairo Estrada: Like Avelino, Estrada garners a ton more respect and notoriety inside the Yankee organization than outside of it, especially when it comes to the media. The Venezuelan native finished his 2015 campaign hitting a solid .267 for the Staten Island Yankees but, like Coleman, there are some things to consider when judging his numbers.

The 19-year old wasn't just the youngest everyday player for the Staten Island Yankees, he was one of the youngest players in the entire New York Penn League, and he wound up leading the team in doubles [17]. Throw in the fact that he too is a pronounced high-contact hitter [he struck out just 30 times in 63 games], one with superb plate discipline [he walked 23 times], he is just now scratching the surface of his hitting ability and has more power potential than the pundits realize.

Oh yeah, he has speed and defense too. An above average defensive shortstop with incredible game clock awareness, his way above average athleticism lends itself extremely well over at second base too. In fact, despite his lack of experience at the position, he has shown flashes of being a plus defender there too. And just like the rest of his game, his speed is significantly underrated. He has "just" 23 stolen bases through his first 136 professional games but, an above average runner, there is a whole lot more in the tank. A little Brett Gardner-like, he just needs to let loose a little more on the base paths and not be so gun shy.

Though their games are different, the comparisons to Avelino prospect status-wise is a little uncanny; Estrada is already considered one of the better prospects down on the farm for the Yankees but few outside the organization realize how much ceiling there is in his long-term game. He could be a special player.

OF, Estevan Florial: It's tough to list any player with numbers like Florial posted in his debut season [.313, 26 extra-base hits in 57 games, 15 stolen bases, and a .921 OPS] in the Dominican Summer League as being underrated but it's a fact, he is very underrated. However, it's for a very different reason. If he had been a high-profile International signing and posted numbers like that -- for example, if it had been Juan De Leon and his $2 million signing bonus putting up those numbers -- Florial would be a household name [as much as a DSL prospect can be a household name] in prospect circles.

The fact is though that at one time Florial, then playing under a different name, was considered one of the elite prospects in the same class as De Leon, Dermis Garcia, Nelson Gomez, and others, but was prevented from signing with a team when identity issues came to light. The Haitian native was forced to wait until January to sign with a team and because of his ordeal was signed for a lot less than most of his high-profile peers.

He proved immediately upon signing that he was and still is in fact one of the better players out of the International market over the past two years. Possessing plus power and plus arm strength, Florial is an exceptional athlete who can handle centerfield well, one who could be a plus defender in the corner outfield spots should the Yankees go that route. And standing 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, he has a great body with room to fill out even more.

There's a sky-high ceiling with his game and it won't be long before he's considered one of the better prospects. But for now he is vastly underrated on the prospect scene and will most likely remain so until he can make his way States-side.

SS, Wilkerman Garcia: This Venezuelan native was considered part of that 2014 elite International free agent market and was signed to a reported $1.35 million bonus. Usually guys who sign for that kind of money come in with high expectations but because Garcia was part of a large high-profile Yankee group it allowed him to fly somewhat under the radar, especially considering he is a middle infielder who didn't have the power potential some of the other high profile signings had.

He did quite well in his debut season this past year, hitting .281 in 37 Gulf Coast League games. He didn't hit any home runs though and got caught stealing [8] more than he was successful [6] so for those not in the know there isn't a whole lot to get excited about yet, at least on paper.

Still, the 17-year old switch-hitter walked more than he struck out and is reminiscent of a young Robinson Cano swing-wise at similar points in their careers. An above average defender at shortstop with plus feel for the position and more speed than Cano ever had, team insiders believe he has the chance to be a special player for them. In fact there's an internal debate in the organization as to whether or not he, and not Mateo, is the long-term answer at shortstop. Even if he isn't, the fact that those discussions are happening already means Garcia's long-term potential is dramatically overlooked on the national scene.

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