OF, Trey Amburgey: As is often the case with more depth being created at the upper minor league levels [especially at a particular position] it does allow other prospects further down on the depth chart to become a bit more overlooked. And in the case of the Yankees at the outfield position, the promotions of Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin to the big league level after their respective successes at the minor league level this season [but yet still retain rookie eligibility], and the addition of budding five-tool prospect Clint Frazier, have given the organization unprecedented upper level outfield depth.
Further putting the squeeze on Amburgey, who had an injury-marred sophomore season in 2016, was the addition of first round pick Blake Rutherford, another high-celing toolsy talent. That kind of talent up and down the farm system at the same position has left Amburgey a bit like the forgotten man, especially after he hit just .274 with two home runs in 68 games after missing nearly two months with a significant hamstring injury.
When healthy though he's extremely fast in the running game, shows the kind of quick bat and excellent strike zone discipline that should lend itself to better hitting, and the kind of plate patience that should also allow for an increase in walks in the coming years too. Throw in a rock-solid 225-pound frame and there's some significant untapped power potential as well. He hasn't come close to tapping his true potential in any category and it may not be long before he's no longer buried organizationally but regarded as a similar high-ceiling talent.
SS/2B Abiatal Avelino: This Dominican native has a lot of Amburgey-like qualities to him beyond the above average defensive abilities. Like Amburgey he's rather quick for a thicker-built player, he shows above average to plus bat speed, he hits the balls to all fields, and he shows an advanced blend of patience, pitch recognition, and plate discipline that leads many scouts to believe he's just now beginning to scratch the surface of his hitting potential.
He too has some untapped power potential as well and it's just now starting to show. The 21-year old has been a notorious ground ball hitter over the years but he's starting to lift some more in the air over the past calendar year and that still-growing line-drive approach combined with his natural strength led to a career-high six home runs in 2016. He still has a lot of room to grow in that regard and he's got the kind of click above average wheels and overall aggressive style to leg out some hits too.
He's a career .269 hitter who is just now starting to come into his own and still has a ton of development left in him. Throw in some incredible defensive versatility, possessing the plus arm to play third base and the speed to play centerfield if need be, he can provide a lot of value in a bunch of different ways. He's often times so overlooked even on his own minor league teams that it easily makes him one of the most underrated players down on the farm for the Yankees. Don't sleep on Avelino, he's not only good right now but he has a lot of ceiling left to be tapped too.
SS/2B Thairo Estrada: Like Avelino, Estrada, a natural shortstop, has quickly become buried on the Yankees depth charts behind Jorge Mateo and the somewhat recently acquired Gleyber Torres. In fact, possessing a number of quality shortstop prospects up and down the farm system has pushed Estrada [and others] into more playing time at second base. Yes it has increased Estrada's versatility but what the Yankees have found out in short order is that the above average defender at shortstop has legitimate plus defensive abilities at second base.
If that weren't enough he [like Avelino] is a young hitter just now stating to find his rhythm at the plate. Still just 20 years old, he hit a career-high .290 between two A-ball levels in 2016 and the scary part is he has so much more room to get better too. His plate discipline is second to none, his patience is uncanny for somebody so young, and he uses the whole field as well as anyone. All of it spells long-term plus hitting potential and he also swings with some thunder in his bat too. He hit a career-high eight home runs this year and power is usually the last tool to develop; there's more power coming.
Internally he's not underrated inside the Yankees organization but nationally, especially since he is being used more as a utility player so early on in his career, he remains one of the best kept secrets in all of baseball. He set career highs in nearly every category in 2016 and he seems poised to do it all again in 2017 and beyond.
2B, Nick Solak: This year's second round pick is very Estrada-like in nearly every way outside of the ability to play shortstop. Like Estrada he's a talented young right-handed hitter who excels at using the whole field, has superb plate patience and pitch recognition, [slightly] above average running speed, and surprising developing power for a smaller middle infielder [5-foot-11]. And like Estrada he's a bit buried on the middle infield depth chart right now by talented shortstops who are getting second base at-bats too.
Solak is even more underrated than Estrada, however, because he entered the professional ranks with some unsubstantiated question marks surrounding his defensive skills at second base. It takes a while for those negative impressions to be erased and combining that with his less than plus power potential he isn't exactly in line to be a household name in prospect circles anytime soon.
However, his game is already very much Rob Refsnyder-like offensively. He shows a nice combination of plus hitting ability, average power potential, and average or better speed, and unlike Refsnyder he enters professional baseball with some solid work defensively at the position and possesses the kind of agility and athleticism that should lend itself to continued improvements in the coming years. He has two-way impact potential and right now gets lost in the shuffle of playing in the top farm system.
SS/2B Tyler Wade: This former fourth round pick might be the 'King' of the underrated down on the farm for the Yankees and it's for no other reason than he's simply not a home run hitter. He excels at nearly everything else though, showing above average defensive abilities at both middle infield positions, above average speed, and the kind of plus patience and pitch recognition that should allow for better hitting as he matures.
A career .267 hitter thus far, like Avelino there's still some physical maturation going on and there's also the Brett Gardner factor that can't be ignored power-wise either. Like Gardner, Wade, another left-handed batter, could benefit greatly from playing half of his home games in Yankee Stadium someday and see a solid increase in his power production as a result. It shouldn't matter, however, as Wade is built more for small-ball anyway.
Still, while he's not the plus runner that Gardner naturally is, he is far more aggressive running the bases and offensively could very much be Gardner-like from a production standpoint should he be given the same ample opportunities and that could be a nice gain from a middle infielder. And like Gardner it's Wade's lack of power and subsequent widely accepted projection as a mere bench player that renders him extremely underrated despite his obvious big league starting potential.null