Shortstop Thairo Estrada appeared in just 18 games this season—the majority of them at high Class A Tampa—after being shot in the right hip in late January in his native Venezuela.
The 22-year-old returned to form late in the season and looked impressive in instructional league in September and October before heading to the Arizona Fall League.
“He definitely made progress. In many ways he was much better,’’ vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring said. “His run times were what they were in the past and his first-step quickness was there.’’
Added to the 40-man roster last November, Estrada had progressed into a legitimate prospect at shortstop or second base at Double-A Trenton, where he hit .301/.353/.392 in 122 games in 2017.
That development obviously was interrupted by the shooting and his doctors’ decision to leave the bullet in his hip.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Estrada reported to big league spring training camp, but with no timetable to resume full baseball activities. His season started April 18 with Tampa and he played 10 games before being promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on April 30.
Eight games later, Estrada’s season ended with a combined batting line of .192/.210/.231.
“He admitted there was a lot of compensation with the hip,’’ Naehring said of a conversation during instructional league. “He will be hungry to get back in shape. Now it’s a matter of getting the rust off.’’
Estrada, who signed as an international free agent in 2012, played in five of the first seven AFL games for Glendale and the rust was evident when he went 6-for-33 (.182) through his first eight games.
Prior to being shot, Estrada slotted in behind shortstop Didi Gregorius and second baseman Gleyber Torres on the Yankees’ depth chart, but he was being projected as a big league player by scouts with the possibility of becoming a utility infielder—or possibly part of a trade package.
>> Outfielder Estevan Florial, the Yankees’ top position prospect, missed seven weeks from May to July after having hamate surgery. Assigned to the AFL, the 21-year-old got off to a slow start by batting .107 (3-for-28) through his first eight games.