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Yankees 2015 first-round pick Kyle Holder: Scouting report

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Can Kyle Holder live up to his first-round billing?

On Monday evening, I had the chance to attend the Staten Island Yankees versus Hudson Valley Renegades game at Richmond Country Bank Park, mainly to catch a glimpse of the Yankees 2015 first round pick, Kyle Holder, drafted from the University of San Diego. Thus, I have compiled a scouting report covering each facet of Kyle’s game. It should be noted that the opposing starting pitcher was Angel Yepez, who threw six no-hit innings versus the Yankees (on 63 pitches) and frequently hovered in the mid-90s.

Swing and Plate Approach

Holder begins his stroke with a high load and good balance, ultimately revealing a linear swing that should produce line drives at maturity. He stays relatively low and athletic in the box. As a lefty, this athletic stance gives him the chance to sprint down the first base line immediately after making contact.

From the at-bats I witnessed, Kyle was very aggressive, not allowing any count to get deeper than two or three pitches. He also appears to have a tendency to lunge forward at the pitch, leading to weak ground balls to second base. I would hope the Yankees work with Holder on closing his shoulder and staying inside the baseball. His bat-speed is good, though not excellent. I see a below-average to slightly below-average bat here overall.

FV Hit Grade: 40/45

Power

Perhaps the weakest part of the California-native’s game, Holder really struggles in driving the ball. Even from the small sample I observed, it was apparent that one should not expect many extra-base-hits from the 2015 draftee as a pro. His swing is linear, but he fails to get good extension and all his hard-hit balls were on the ground. Furthermore, at 6-1 185, his body is not that projectable. Since power is generally the final tool to develop, I will be generous and not give Holder a 20-grade output. But don’t expect much in this department from the youngster.

FV Power Grade: 25/30

Defense

As expected, his defense at shortstop is where Holder really stood out on my visit to Staten Island. He is very quick off the bat, made all the plays in the field, and exhibited a smoothness that was nowhere to be found on the rest of the Yankee team. When fielding, Kyle demonstrates excellent footwork and defensive positioning.

He is adept at staying low to the ground and attacking the ball. His arm also is plenty good enough for the position. He was able to flick the ball to first sidearm on a number of plays with no apparent problem. I have no trouble projecting Holder as an above-average defender at shortstop.

FV Field Grade: 55/60
FV Arm Grade: 50/55

Speed

Like his defense, speed is another one of Kyle’s strong tools. He uses his 6-1 frame to generate long, powerful strides, which nearly allowed him to beat out a routine ground ball to shortstop under my watch. The 21-year-old did not attempt any steals on Monday, but it was clear that he owns a strong base-running IQ. More than once, Holder took the extra base on a throw-away error and also scored easily from second base on a line drive base hit. A 25-steal projection for Holder seems about right.

FV Speed Grade: 60

Projection

Overall, I question whether Holder can be a first-division starter. At 21, he is not a young prospect for Low-A, making his .489 OPS that much more concerning. Even if he is just amidst a slump, his bat and plate approach are undoubtedly major works in progress. One analyst at the game compared Kyle to a young Brandon Crawford, but I do not foresee that level of pop ever developing.

Best-case, at least in my eyes, Holder carves out a batting average and on-base-percentage good enough to supplement his quality defense. The remainder of the 2015 season will be very important in determining Kyle’s status as a top prospect.

Ceiling: Second-division starter. Floor: Utility player.

I will have another scouting report on Yankees second baseman (2015 4th round pick) Jeff Hendrix ready in a couple of days.