Abaital Avelino was born in the famous baseball town of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic on February 14, 1995. He was signed to a professional contract by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on December 26, 2011, for $300,000.
Avelino made his professional debut in 2012 with the Dominican Summer League Yankees 1 (Rookie) affiliate. He hit an impressive .302 with 25 runs batted in, 11 doubles, one triple and one home run. In 57 games played, Abaital swiped 20 bags, giving him the team lead in stolen bases.
He made his state-side debut in 2013 appearing in 17 games for each of the following three affiliates, the Gulf Coast League Yankees 1 (Rookie), Gulf Coast League Yankees 2 (Rookie), and Staten Island Yankees (Class A – Short Season). Avelino combined to hit .303, ranking second overall among Yankee minor league hitters in this category. He also led all Yankee position players in stolen bases, stealing 28 bags at an astonishing 87.5% success rate. At the conclusion of the season, Minor League Baseball named Avelino to the Yankees organizational All-Star team.
Abaital spent most of 2014 with the Charleston RiverDogs (Class A) but did spend some time in Tampa, FL with the Gulf Coast League Yankees 1 affiliate. He combined to hit .247, with 38 runs, 15 runs batted in, 18 doubles, one triple, and two home runs in 61 games.
In the offseason, Avelino made one appearance in the Dominican Winter League for the Estrellas de Oriente.
In 2015, Avelino split time between the RiverDogs and Tampa Yankees (Class A – Advanced). In 123 games, he batted a combined .260, with 80 runs scored, 27 runs batted in, 20 doubles, two triples, and four home runs. He stole 54 bases, which ranked second best among all Yankee prospects.
Abiatal was named the Florida State League “Player of the Week” from July 27th to August 2nd after hitting .433 in eight games with six stolen bases, eight runs scored, two runs batted in, and one home run.
Following the season, he re-joined the Estrellas de Oriente for five games in his second stint with the club.
The 5’11 infielder spent most of 2016 with the Tampa Yankees but earned a late season promotion to the Trenton Thunder (Double-A). In 126 combined games, Avelino hit .260/.320/.364 with 69 runs scored, 48 runs batted in, 28 doubles, two triples, and six home runs. He stole 21 bases but was caught 15 times.
Baseball America writes that Avelino is “an instinctive fielder who turns double plays well, has a good internal clock and a plus arm with solid-average speed”.
Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs wrote, he is “a solid average runner with a good first step, good hands and a plus arm”.
The biggest strength of the Yankees top-ranked farm system is middle infielders, shortstops in particular. This does not bode well for Avelino because the Yankees have more talented options both above and below him in the system. Gleyber Torres will play short for Trenton, while the highly-touted Jorge Mateo has become a threat to Abiatal’s playing time at second base in Double-A.
Look for Avelino to start the season back in Trenton. If he plays well on an infield rotation to start the year, it is not out of the question that he could see a promotion to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple-A) towards the tail end of the season.