We know the Yankees farm system is deep with talented young shortstops — but Kyle Holder has the best glove of the bunch.
When the subject of the next great Yankees shortstop is brought up, the names Gleyber Torres, Jorge Mateo, or Tyler Wade are often mentioned. While I’m sure current big leaguer Didi Gregorius would have something to say about that, it appears a new guy is garnering some attention for his defensive prowess down on the farm. His name is Kyle Holder.
Holder, 22, was recently named as the best defensive shortstop in all the Minor Leagues by Jim Callis of MLB.com.
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The former first round pick in 2015 out of the University of San Diego was ranked as the No. 25 prospect in all the Yankees’ farm system by MLB Pipeline last season. Having garnered a $1.8M signing bonus, Holder has been labeled as a Gold Glove winner in waiting.
According to Callis’ report:
Holder doesn’t have the same high profile because his bat isn’t in the same class, but the former junior college basketball player has smooth actions, soft hands, enough arm and a tremendous internal clock.
“I haven’t had more people rave about a prospect’s defensive prowess to me since the days of Omar Vizquel coming up with Seattle,” a second AL scouting official said. “I’ve had scouts say they look forward to watching Holder take pregame ground balls like they would watching a guy with 80 raw power take batting practice.”
High praise, indeed — it looks as if all those years as a standout shooting guard have translated to an immense level of athleticism highlighted by an insane amount of range, quickness, and graceful footwork.
Lacking the offensive repertoire to be a full-fledged top prospect, Holder did make strides with the bat in 2016 at Low-A Charleston. Finishing the year with a .290/.323./.347 slash line, Holder showed good ability to put the bat on the ball, only striking out 53 times in 352 at-bats.
Destined to begin the new season at High-A Tampa, Holder will look to pick up the pace of his offense if he hopes to one day challenge the aforementioned Yankees shortstop prospects at the Major League level.
With speculation of the Yankees potentially shifting the positions of their brightest middle infielders, it looks like Holder is the one guy who won’t be learning a new skill set anytime soon. The question, however, is that when Holder is indeed ready to take that giant leap to the big leagues, will it be for the organization that drafted him?
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Some clubs put more of an onus on defense — just look at the San Francisco Giants and Brandon Crawford — who has rewarded them by not only becoming the Major’s best defensive shortstop but by also adding a bit of pop to his game. One would think Holder’s glovework will one day find him a home.