Name: Abiatal Avelino
Handedness: Bats and throws right handed
Signed: 2012 for $300,000 out of the Dominican Republic
Size: 5-foot-11, 186-pounds
Best Tool: Defense, contact
BBDP Rank: 12
Abiatal Avelino is a great example of a top notch signing for the Yankees at a minimal cost. To spend $300,000 on a player of Avelino’s caliber is highway robbery. It has been a developing trend for the past 2-3 years that the Yankees have done an excellent job with international scouting and have been fortunate enough to sign some high quality players for low bonuses. This has given the lower minors an infusion of talent that is about one year away from bolstering this system.
Abiatal started his Yankee career in the DSL in 2012. As a 17 year old he hit .302/.398/.374/.772 with 20 SB in 57 games. He had 11 doubles, a triple and a homerun in that stretch. He developed a reputation as a slick defender and Baseball America took notice. He was ranked as one of the top 20 DSL players in 2012.
Here is a quote from their write-up at that time; “His actions are clean, his hands and feet work well and he has good body control. He’s an instinctive fielder who turns double plays well, has a good internal clock and a plus arm with solid-average speed.”
They also noted that he has a line drive swing which is short and compact, and he is able to barrel the baseball well. He is noted to have good patience at the plate and a game centered around getting on base.
These observations turned out to be quite accurate, as his appearance stateside confirmed most of the scouting report. In his first stateside season he hit .303/.381/.399/.780 with 28 SB and 4 CS in 51 games. He played 34 games in the GCL and 17 in Staten Island, his first experience playing under the lights. He hit nine doubles and five triples. He spent 2013 proving that the scouting reports were accurate.
Avelino’s biggest strength is his defense. He is smooth, has good hands, and excellent arm strength. He has plus range and quickness as well. Defensively there is little question that he can not only stick, but will excel at shortstop. This is a key in the major leagues.
Offensively Avelino’s game is already quite polished. He has good patience at the plate, and excellent instincts to go with solid speed on the base paths. He is a very good contact hitter and sprays line drives throughout the field. He has the potential to continue to hit for a high average going forward.
The one aspect of his game which has yet to develop is power. This will not be a necessary tool for him to make it to the majors but if he is able to develop it he could take the leap from prospect star to prospect superstar. His small frame would indicate that he may never hit for power, but his swing is good enough that as he develops and matures he could hit for average power.
Avelino has an immense ceiling. He has star potential with his skill set and ability to implement it in games. He could be an all-star shortstop if all goes well who steals 40 bases and hits for a .300+ average every year.
His floor is already a backup shortstop used as a defensive replacement late in games.
The likelihood that he will hit his ceiling is above average, as he has an excellent work ethic and drive to succeed to go along with superior tools.
Avelino should start this season in Charleston. Given that it is his first season in a full season league, the Yankees tend to move slow. He’ll likely stay in Charleston for his first year and look to move two levels at a time after that.
He could be in the major leagues as soon as 2016 if he is as good as advertised.