The Yankees season has been marked by the surprising success of several unexpected add-ons to the roster filling in for injured stars. Some of them have grabbed starting roles while others have filled in off the bench, but almost all of them have been crucial to keeping the team not only afloat during this stretch, but on top.
One such player is Thairo Estrada. The prospect has held a backup role giving the team depth in the infield (and outfield), and has picked up 50 plate appearances in 2019. Estrada has made the most of this, slashing .304/.347/.565 with three home runs and 11 RBI in inconsistent playing time.
That inconsistent playing time may dry up even further, however, with shortstop Didi Gregorius set to return to the club sooner rather than later. The Yankees have a plethora of talent producing at the moment and not a lot of great options to send down to add Gregorius to the active roster. Kendrys Morales is a likely candidate for the roster crunch as well, but seeing as he’s a DH/backup first baseman and Estrada is a middle infielder like Gregorius, even if Estrada remains on the roster he won’t have much of an opportunity. Once the remaining injured players start to trickle their way back, the choice will likely become a moot point as both will be gone.
The 23 year old has definitely improved his standing in the organization though, rebounding strongly from a lost 2018 where a gunshot wound cost him significant playing time. Estrada has only played 18 games in Triple-A Scranton, including 10 this season before the mounting injuries forced his call-up to the Bronx. He has a lot of developing to do, but his early results have been promising. He’ll need to get consistent innings to further those results, and he’ll only get those in Scranton, but his value has risen by performing to this level so far.
It is also possible that Estrada has overachieved during his stint in New York. Estrada’s BABIP sits at .355 in the majors, well above his batting average and even above his on-base percentage. This signifies that some regression is due, but his numbers do appear in line with his production the last time he played a full season in 2017 with Double-A Trenton. Obviously there is a significant talent gap in competition there, but if Estrada settles down in Scranton and starts right where he left off then the case for legitimizing him grows significantly. Whether that means he begins to get mentioned in trade talks, or the organization holds onto him as their next potential Gio Urshela remains unclear.