Yankees: One low-key prospect making waves at spring training

andres Chaparro, yankees
Erie Seawolves' Michael De La Cruz (19) captures first base against Somerville's Andres Chaparro (24) on Sept. 27, 2022 evening at TD Bank Ballpark in Somerville. Erie Seawolves At Somerset Patriots 9 27 22 56

The Yankees are getting plenty of positive results from their young talent, but one of the early standouts is an underdog of sorts in the organization. While Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and Jasson Dominguez get universal top-100 praise, infielder Andres Chaparro has matched them at the plate, if not surpassed in some regards. Still, he has been routinely snubbed in various top 30 prospect lists for the Yankees’ organization. Question marks about his glove and frame created concern about his defensive abilities, putting him at risk of being a full-time DH.

With those concerns causing his stock not to climb to the heights you’d imagine for such a prolific bat, Chaparro’s made extremely important changes to his game. With Chaparro set to play in the Yankees Spring Training opener on Saturday, there’s plenty to be excited about with the 23-year-old slugger.

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Moving Better Than Ever Before

Andres Chaparro emphasized improving his training regiment, and it’s paid off, as he looks to be in the best shape of his life. He’s always had a larger frame, which is why he’s so proficient at generating power, but he seems to have toned out a bit and improved his build. This should help him generate more power while staying athletic, something that could make him more of a corner infielder than just a DH. He’s played 1B/3B at Somerset, and while defensively, he’s below-average, he can certainly provide playable defense in his current physical state.

Keith Law of The Athletic notably called out Andres Chaparro’s weight in his prospect write-up, so it seems Chaparro was already ahead of the curve in his offseason training. The Yankees can certainly use the depth in the corner infield, as Donaldson, Rizzo, and LeMahieu all had IL stints in 2022 and are entering the later stages of their career. This added mobility should allow him to get to more balls at 3B, where he’s going to be expected to play again in 2023. Progress defensively could accelerate his MLB debut, especially considering that the Yankees can open up DH more with Stanton in RF and Judge in LF occasionally.

aaron judge, yankees
Sep 28, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Yankees designated hitter Aaron Judge (99) watches the play from the dugout against the Toronto Blue Jays during the fourth inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

It’s great to see a prospect take the initiative on their training regiments, something Chaparro is already familiar with. This past winter, I had the privilege to interview Chaparro himself, where he discussed the physical transformation he made over the pandemic. Countless hours adding muscle at the gym led to a strong 2021 campaign, which he parlayed into an incredible 2022. He’s on the cusp of reaching Triple-A, the last hurdle before you get your call to the show.

The added mobility and eased transfer of power with a better build have allowed Chaparro to really impress early on. While Spring Training games will serve as a more difficult test, it’s easy to see where the Venezuelan slugger could already entice the Yankees.

Yankees Seeing Andres Chaparro’s Power First-Hand

So far, Andres Chaparro has already put a ball in live at-bats into orbit. Being able to hit the ball as hard and far as he can gives you a ridiculously high ceiling offensively. He’s registered exit velocities north of 112.5 MPH, which would have placed him in the 88th Percentile. Pair this with a sub-20% K% in Somerset last season, and you’re looking at a unique offensive profile. When you can routinely crush the ball without massive issues, you’re going to succeed at any level you play at.

(via Latino Sports)

This HR by Chaparro is more than exciting, and you get to see the very frame that has those in Florida impressed. He barely fits in his jersey at the biceps, but it’s mostly muscle, which should give him the power he needs to dominate any opponent when he makes contact. A punisher of the baseball, he fits the “slugger” archetype perfectly. The bat stands out not just in his skillset but among all MiLB bats across the sport. He hits plenty of flyballs as well and pulls the baseball a ton.

Pulled flyballs lead to more HRs, and with great raw power, it’s impressive that he hasn’t seen a spike in whiffs with his pull rates. Typically, pulling the ball means getting out in front of the ball early, which means you have to “commit” to a swing decision sooner. This leads to more chases, which can increase one’s strikeout rate while hurting their walk rate. With a 9.2% BB% and 19.9% K%, Chaparro didn’t have many plate discipline issues in spite of his 52.4% Pull%, an anomaly that can indicate plenty of success at the Major League level.

With 20 HRs in 292 PAs, Chaparro would have hit over 40 HRs with a full-season sample size (~600 PAs), with almost 35 2Bs to go alongside it. He’s an extra base-hit machine, and that’s something the Yankees could potentially need down the stretch in August. The trade deadline creates a lot of question marks and uncertainty surrounding who in the farm system will remain and who the Yankees will acquire, but there’s a path for Chaparro to find his way into the Yankees’ lineup/

He could start the season with the Scranton Railriders, and a hot start to his season with a struggling Josh Donaldson could be his ticket to the Bronx. This isn’t wishing a poor outcome on Donaldson, it’s just one of the scenarios where Chaparro could find himself in the infield earlier than anticipated. A massive difference between this year’s team and last year’s team is that last year when veterans began to struggle, they didn’t have the prospects to replace them, but this time they’ll have reinforcements spearheaded by Anthony Volpe.

josh donaldson, yankees
Jul 22, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson (28) walks on the field before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Andres Chaparro has a shot to turn plenty of heads this Spring, and if he crushes, he could find himself as one of their primary options for an upgrade internally. He’s an eccentric slugger who’s got the moxie and talent to make it to the Show, but it’s a matter of having it all click for him again in 2023.