Numerous major league players and highly regarded prospects signed their first professional contracts with little fanfare or hype only to emerge to their high profile status after years of hard work. It appears that the Yankees have found another player who will fit in this category, as Andres Chaparro’s big time offensive season is making a strong play for a 40-man roster spot despite never having been one of the Yankees highly regarded prospects during his time in the organization.
The Yankees signed the Venezuelan native on July 2, 2015, the opening of that year’s International Free Agency period. After going way over their allotment in 2014, the Yankees, under the rules of the time were not allowed to sign any players for more than $300,000 signing bonus the following two years.
Chaparro started with a normal path through the minor leagues in 2016, playing in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League. His results were promising enough that the Yankees skipped him over the Gulf Coast League the following season and allowed him to start in Rookie-Advanced Pulaski.
While Chaparro did not jump of the page with his raw numbers, he continued to advance through the system to Short-Season-A Staten Island in 2018, where he struggled as a 19-year-old against the higher level of competition. He returned to the level the next season and performed better, posting a .366 OBP but had yet to show many signs of power in his game as he slugged just .322 with an .086 isolated power number (ISO).
IT'S CHAPPY HOUR❗️— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) September 10, 2022
Andres Chaparro crushes his 2nd home run of the game to make it 3 home runs and 10 RBIs in this series vs. Hartford. pic.twitter.com/m3kRlbXo24
That would change after the cancelled 2020 season. Chaparro returned to the Yankees system looking much more powerful, especially in his lower half and was assigned to Low-A Tampa, where he started to impact the ball more, while still displaying his strong on-base skills.
After earning a late-season promotion to High-A Hudson Valley, Chaparro especially turned it on, clubbing 8 homers in just 36 games for the Renegades, giving him 15 total for the season. He was then selected for the Arizona Fall League, frequently a position for some of the organization’s best prospects.
Chaparro started slowly in the desert,, going just 1-for-18 to start the campaign but he rebounded nicely. In an environment surrounded by some of the best prospects in the sport, Chaparro started hitting and gained his own recognition. In the span of 61 plate appearances, he recorded 11 extra base hits and Statcast measured 3 of his hits at 110 mph or higher, including a double that was tracked at 117 mph. He finished the AFL with a .884 OPS and more than showed that he could hang with some of the best prospects in the sport.
Andres Chaparro is earning his pinstripes.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) November 16, 2021
The @Yankees prospect drilled this double 117 mph. Only 45 balls were hit harder in the Majors this year, 25 of which were by Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. pic.twitter.com/xvZQQ5IX5m
Chaparro’s performance in High-A and the AFL earned him a promotion to Double-A to start the season, but he was sidelined by an injury in early June causing him to miss roughly two months of the Double-A season.
Since returning to Double-A from his injury in early August, Chaparro has been especially hot, hitting .342/.409/.692 with 10 home runs in 31 games entering play Thursday night. Overall, in 61 Double-A games, Chaparro has a .963 OPS while striking out under 20 percent of the time. His growing body of work on the offensive side of the ball has positioned him in line for a spot on the Yankees 40-man roster following the season. FanGraphs’ Steamer projection system already projects Chaparro to have a 116 wRC+ at the major league level.
CHAPPY IS UNSTOPPABLE— Somerset Patriots (@SOMPatriots) September 13, 2022
Andres Chaparro smacks his 2nd homer (18) of the ballgame to put us on top 5-4 in the 3rd. pic.twitter.com/aVCwLf25Ds
Why haven’t you heard much about Chaparro in most prospect listings? It is likely because he is limited by the positions he can play. Chaparro primarily plays third base and is not considered an elite defender at the position. He also moves across the diamond to first base from time to time and it is a position that some think he will play in the longterm.
Andres Chaparro has emerged as a player that the Yankees will either need to protect on the 40-man roster. He is a player who can control the strike zone and live the mantra of the Yankees minor league hitting program, “hit strikes hard.” There are few players in the major leagues, much less the minors who can consistently hit the ball as hard as Chaparro at this point, and he has made himself into a player who can possibly contribute at the major league level as soon as the 2023 season.