On Monday, the Yankees agreed to send infield prospect Trey Sweeney to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for left-handed reliever Víctor González and infield prospect Jorbit Vivas. The Bombers needed a lefty pitcher for their bullpen, and LA needed to free up two spaces on their 40-man roster to add Shohei Ohtani and Joe Kelly.
Even though Vivas is not a top prospect, he is more than just a throw-in. He is not that far from helping in the majors, but first he needs to solve Triple-A pitching. The tools, plate decisions, and modest power-speed contributions could make him an MLB player as soon as 2024.
Checking in at 5-foot-10 and around 170 pounds, Vivas is a bit undersized even for a middle infielder. His power is not impressive, but it’s also not a zero: he hit 14 home runs between Single-A and High-A in 2021, 10 in Double-A in 2022, and 13 between Double-A and Triple-A this past season.
A cycle for Jorbit Vivas! My No. 15 #Dodgers prospect hit an 9th inning triple to complete it! The 22-year-old infielder is batting .281 since being promoted to Triple-A. #HereToPlay pic.twitter.com/PGQsAEWZd5— Bruce Kuntz (@Bnicklaus7) September 8, 2023
Vivas aced Double-A this year, hitting .280/.391/.436 with 12 home runs, 21 stolen bases and a 123 wRC+ in 491 plate appearances. He then struggled in 26 Triple-A games, batting .225/.339/.294 with a 63 wRC+ in 121 trips to the plate.
He walked more than he struck out in Double-A (11 percent walk rate vs. a 10.6 percent strikeout rate), and even in Triple-A, he showed excellent plate discipline with a 12.4 percent walk rate and a 15.7 strikeout rate.
Ben Zeidman of Baseball Prospectus had this to say about Vivas in his scouting report as part of BP’s Dodgers Top 30 (subscription required):
(Vivas) he has quite the novel uncoiling mechanism at the plate, resulting in a power band that mostly occurs in the left-center power alley on stung oppo line drives. Not monolithic, Vivas is still physically capable of wheeling around on the inside corner to elevate, and has started to flash that skill a bit more
His swing is described as “effortful”, which could mean he’ll be susceptible to high-velo big league fastballs. However, as Zeidman notes, he could be an exception, as his statline “accurately reflects Vivas’ level of bat-to-ball ability.”
Here is an extract of Baseball America’s most recent scouting report on Vivas (subscription required):
Vivas is a small left-handed hitter with a short, compact swing and an excellent feel for the barrel... He controls the strike zone, works counts and battles through long at-bats to wear pitchers down. Vivas has the approach and contact skills to hit for average, but he’s undersized and lacks the strength to impact the ball consistently.”
If Vivas can settle in as a player who boasts the batted ball mix he had this year in Double-A (21.9 percent liners, 41.9 percent grounders, 36.2 percent fly balls) as opposed to the one he had at Triple-A (19.0 percent line drives, 51.2 percent groundballs, and 29.8 percent flies), there is a chance he takes advantage of Yankee Stadium’s right field. He hits from the left side, so that could help him tap into a bit more power, as his great barrel control could potentially give him a few short porch cheapies. In this sense, he could definitely have more game power than raw power.
Baseball America does warn that, in order to be a future big leaguer, Vivas has to hit the ball hard more consistently, and they have a point.
Defensively, BA describes Vivas as “an average defender at second base with a fringy arm.” He might lack the lateral quickness to ever be a Gold Glover, but as long as he can hold down the fort and make the routine play, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Zeidman implied that César Hernández could be a good player comp for Vivas, and quite frankly, that wouldn’t be a bad outcome for him. On the other hand, MLB Pipeline (which ranked Vivas as the tenth-best Yankees prospect) says that his ability to “barrel balls seemingly at will from the left side of the plate are reminiscent of countryman Luis Arraez.”
Baseball America gives Vivas a 50 hit tool on the 20-80 scale, but the folks at MLB Pipeline are more optimistic and have him at 60 when it comes to hitting.
The 2024 season will be crucial for the young Venezuelan. He will likely start in Scranton, and everything else will depend almost entirely on him. There is no rush for him to be ready, and the Yankees will give him every chance to establish himself in Triple-A.
In any case, it’s clear that the offensive part of his game will have to carry him, and he will go as far as his bat takes him. He could be a good one, though.