If you've been paying attention to the Yankees farm system, Abiatal Avelino is a name you should already know. Signed out of the Dominican Republic before the 2012 season, he impressed in the Dominican Summer League with a .302/.398/.374 batting line. He made his American debut in 2013, hitting .303/.381/.399 over the season and even got a small taste of the competition in the New York-Penn League at the age of 18. He showed very little power to speak of, but things were still looking up as the shortstop started pushing himself into the top prospect conversation alongside fellow countryman Miguel Andujar. All he needed was a big year to get him over the hump.
Unfortunately, 2014 was the exact opposite season he needed to have. The Yankees started him out in Low-A Charleston along with fellow shortstop Tyler Wade, where, at 19, they were 2.5 years younger than the league average. For awhile things seemed to be going well, despite the platoon; Avelino hit .294/.349/.387 and stole 11 bases over the first month of the season, but he eventually went down with a quad injury that kept him out until July. After a brief rehab assignment he returned to the RiverDogs and only managed to hit .160/.236/.250 over 24 games to end the season and in that time he didn't steal a single base. It was pretty clear that even though he was deemed healthy enough to return, something was just still not right. While he struggled over that span, he did manage to hit his only two home runs of the year, pushing his career total to three. Wade, in the meantime, collected 575 plate appearances, hit .272/.350/.349, and stole 22 bases. Way to make him look bad, man.
Perhaps we can write off Avelino's 2014 struggles to his leg injury, but if a poor, injury-plagued season caused him to drop out of the spotlight for so many evaluators, it's going to be even harder for him to get back into it. Maybe Avelino has a big year, but if he continues to be a light-hitting shortstop with little plate discipline, there might not be much in store for him. Avelino's future lies squarely in his ability to hit the ball, regardless of how far he can get it to go, so we'll have to see. As Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs reports, Avelino is "a solid average runner with a good first step, good hands and a plus arm," but his thick body could be something to watch out for. He'll probably start off in Charleston again, but with Jorge Mateo nipping at his heals and Tyler Wade likely in front of him on the depth chart at this point, he doesn't have much room to maneuver.