- Full name Yadiel Rivera
- Born 05/02/1992 in Caguas, Puerto Rico
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Manuela Toro
- Debut 09/22/2015
Drafted in the 9th round (279th overall) by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010 (signed for $85,000).
View Draft ReportRivera has a lean, athletic 6-foot-2, 175-pound frame. He's a legitimate shortstop with great range and smooth actions. He's an average runner and his arm is a little light for the left side of the infield, but he shows slick glovework. His swing is inconsistent and he doesn't have much strength yet, but his bat could come around when he adds muscle to his projectable frame. His offensive growth will determine whether he can start up the middle or serve as a reserve or utilityman.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The question with Rivera always has revolved around his offensive potential, because his glove has been big league-ready for years. Beyond being a gifted, natural shortstop with long, fluid strides, good hands, a strong arm and great instincts, he also can play second and third base. Rivera did make some noise with his bat in 2015 at Double-A Biloxi. He hit a wall after a promotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs, struggling in the second half of the season and during a September callup. . With Orlando Arcia expected to be the shortstop in the near future, and Rivera lacking any offensive tool that grades as even average, he would appear to fit best in a utility role, though the Brewers' offseason trade for Jonathan Villar could put that outlook in jeopardy. Rivera will compete with Villar for that role and likely return to Triple-A.
The book on Rivera has not changed from past seasons. He is a quality defender who could hold his own at shortstop in the majors, but he has not proven he will hit enough to be a regular. He began the 2014 season alternating between shortstop and second base at high Class A Brevard County, then played short exclusively at Double-A Huntsville. In the field, Rivera is fun to watch. He has long, fluid strides with range to both sides and great instincts. He has soft hands and good footwork around the bag, and his plus arm makes throws from the hole look easy. Rivera remains a free swinger who draws few walks. Though his quickness plays well in the field, he has average speed on the bases and does not try many steals. He has room to mature as a hitter, and will be a 22-year-old at Double-A Biloxi in 2015. The way Rivera plays defense, he profiles as at least a dependable utility infielder.
If push came to shove and the Brewers needed a shortstop merely to play defense in the majors, Rivera probably could do it. That's how smooth he is in the field, with great range and instincts as well as the arm to make throws from the hole. Around the bag, Rivera shows good footwork and quickness as well as soft hands. But will Rivera hit enough to advance to the major leagues as an everyday player? He's a free swinger who doesn't work the count enough to tax a pitcher. He did make strides in 2013 at high Class A Brevard County, a pitcher-friendly environment, by cutting down his strikeout rate dramatically (15 percent of plate appearances) and raising his walk rate slightly (six percent). Rivera every now and then will juice a pitch and show more pop than expected from his lanky frame, but that generally leads to slumps because it makes him too pull-conscious and long with his swing. He sees a lot of breaking balls, especially with two strikes. Not blessed with above-average speed, Rivera improved his reads on the bases to steal 13 bases with Brevard. Still, it's his glove that makes Rivera a prospect to watch, and it'll be up to him to show he can hit enough to avoid the utility infielder tag. He will move up to Double-A Huntsville in 2014 and play every day at shortstop.
The Brewers have no doubt that Rivera is a major league-quality defender at shortstop, but they haven't resolved the question of whether he'll hit enough to be an everyday player. The smooth shortstop makes highlight-reel plays with above-average range and a strong arm. He has sure hands and good lateral movement. Rivera made some strides at the plate in his second shot at low Class A in 2012, but he remains a free swinger with little plate discipline and a propensity to strike out. His .274 career on-base percentage indicates his lack of offensive polish. Rivera does have some home run power in his lanky frame, but he needs to focus on making contact and getting on base. He gets too long with his swing and too pull-conscious, especially after hitting a home run, and pitchers easily carve him up with breaking balls. He has average speed at best and isn't a basestealing threat. Rivera profiles as at least a utility player thanks to his defense, though he could develop into a regular if he can make some strides at the plate. High Class A could be a challenge for him in 2013.
The Brewers have no doubt about Rivera's ability to one day play shortstop in the big leagues. He makes it look easy at times and was a unanimous choice of Pioneer League managers as the best defensive shortstop in the Rookie league in last summer. He makes all of the routine plays and uses above-average range and arm strength to also produce web gems. He has sure hands and good lateral movement. The question, however, is whether Rivera can generate enough offense to be an everyday player in the majors. He hit just .194 with 34 strikeouts in 32 games at Wisconsin to open the 2011 season, and he ranked second in the Pioneer League with 91 strikeouts in 330 at-bats. He has some pop but it actually works against him because he focuses on trying to hit homers rather than putting the ball in play. His swing gets too long and pull-oriented, and he sometimes has trouble catching up to ordinary fastballs. He's also too aggressive and doesn't draw enough walks for a player whose focus should be getting on base. Rivera has just fringy speed and won't be a basestealing threat. He'll get a second chance at trying to solve low Class A pitching in 2012, but he's going to have to show much more at the plate to profile as a regular.
Rivera didn't hit a lick in his debut in the Arizona League, looking completely overmatched at the plate for the most part. He showed little strength and had the bat knocked out of his hands at times. Rivera showed no ability to recognize and hit off-speed pitches, revealing his inexperience. But he was playing at age 18 and the Brewers believe his offense will improve as he matures and fills out a projectable frame. Defensively, Rivera showed plenty of promise despite his 12 errors in 49 games. Very athletic, he is a true shortstop with great range and silky smooth movements in the field. He picks up instruction immediately and puts suggestions into action. With long strides, Rivera could develop into a basestealer. His arm is average but could improve as he becomes stronger and learns to set his feet and throw. How much improvement Rivera makes in terms of plate discipline and strength will determine where he begins the 2011 season. Milwaukee believes he has a high ceiling because of his already-solid instincts in the field and because his hand-eye coordination makes them confident he'll get better with the bat.
Minor League Top Prospects
Rivera's scouting report today reads very similar to the one attached to him in the 2010 draft: He makes playing shortstop look easy, but his bat is too light to profile as more than a utility player or second-division regular. After spending April in extended spring training, Rivera batted .194 in 32 games at low Class A Wisconsin before heading to Helena. The unanimous choice among managers as the league's top defensive shortstop, Rivera makes all the routine plays and then some with solid-average range and arm strength. He has sure hands and handled more total chances than any PL shortstop, leading all of them with 233 assists and 47 double plays. He moves well laterally though he's a fringe-average runner who attempted just 10 stolen bases in 74 games. Rivera tended to get pull-happy in the PL's cozy ballparks, and he has just enough power to get himself in trouble. He finished second in the league with 91 strikeouts because he swings big and often comes up empty. Rivera hit for the cycle in Casper on July 19, improving his batting average .339, but hit just .192 the rest of the way with seven walks and 53 strikeouts.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2013
- Rated Best Infield Arm in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012
- Rated Best Defensive Infielder in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011