The Yankees consistently get more out of young, unheralded prospects than your typical team. Luis Severino, Jonathan Loáisiga, Oswald Peraza, and Anthony Volpe are just a few of them. You can find these players at any level. Sometimes, it results in a reliable major leaguer, and other times it helps them to make trades, like the one for Joey Gallo, where the top of their system isn’t affected. Their heavy investment in international scouting has been a key reason for it.
It allows them to find and project players like Andres Chapparo. You probably haven’t heard a lot about him, but he’s been in the minor league system for over five seasons. He was a J2 signing out of Venezuela in 2015 and has been developing his swing since. Following the lost 2020 minor league season, there was bound to be a handful of prospects who made jumps like Chapparo did. However, his jump probably exceeded expectations from the Yankee front office.
Chapparo started the season at Low-A Tampa and was demonstrably an improved hitter. His triple slash was .270/.378/.435 with 24 extra-base hits and a 123 wRC+. That prompted a promotion to High-A where his results were even better. His power ticked up and he ended that stint with a .264/.387/.527 slash and a 144 wRC+. At 22, he finally hit his stride.
And as PSA’s Dan Kelly noted in his AFL recap, Chaparro continued that success in November. It’s always great to see a young prospect excel against good competition. Here’s a note from Kyle Glaser of Baseball America on that success:
Chaparro finished his AFL stint with an .844 OPS in 20 games.
Let’s get to the main reason why Chaparro made such a big leap, his elite swing.
Chaparro’s load and finish stand out. Despite all the movement in his gather, he is still able to slow himself down (decelerate) as he makes his swing decision. If you watch the entire linked video, it’s evident that his load has improved over time. That’s likely played a big role in improving his barrel accuracy.
With the rumored exit velocities of over 115 mph, Chaparro’s key going forward will be consistent contact and sound swing decisions. His walk rates in the minor leagues indicate he already has a decent eye. The more he can control his barrel comb, the better he will get. His ability to end his swing firmly with a two-handed finish is indicative of good barrel control and deceleration.
Yankees prospect Andres Chaparro crushed yet another bomb in the AFL last night. You’re going to want to turn the sound on for this one. pic.twitter.com/uLZZbvG02m— Eli Fishman (@elijfishman) November 7, 2021
The rear view of Chaparro’s swing is magnificent. The timing mechanism in his stance focuses on the barrel comb. He’s so quick that he needs to delay his comb as late as possible, and his freedom in his hands during his stance cues that into place. He has an extra hitch right before his barrel enter the zone that he will need to sort out as he rises levels, but that’s normal for a minor leaguer.
In terms of comparison, my immediate first thought was Andrew Vaughn of the White Sox. Obviously, Vaughn’s swing is already very clean. That’s why he may be a good reference point for what Chaparro should strive for. No hitter should ever replicate another; rather, they should take the best of players they have similar swing types to.
Vaughn’s comb works in one fluid motion as he gathers his swing. It helps him get to high velocity like we saw when he tagged Aroldis Chapman in the Bronx earlier in 2021. Chaparro probably already knows this. He’s taken big steps forward with his swing. This is where it was in 2018.
It’s not even recognizable. When you have the raw power that Chaparro possesses, you must do whatever it takes to unlock that power. In time, I wouldn’t be surprised if he keeps his narrow stance but moves closer to one fluid bat comb as the pitch is coming in rather than having one late hitch. That said, he looks like a major leaguer. These exit velocities and statistics aren’t flukey. He proved himself a legitimate prospect when he tore through the AFL last month and followed it up with three homers in 10 games of action in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Hopefully, Chaparro continues with his successful development and can make a name for himself in the big leagues. It’s hard not to get excited about a prospect like this because of the upside involved. If he continues to on his current course, I wouldn’t be surprised if it all comes together over the next year or two. It would be another great find for the Yankees in international scouting, as Chaparro originally signed for just $215,000 as an international free agent.