The New York Yankees drafted Kyle Holder out of the University of San Diego in the first round of the 2015 draft with the 30th overall pick. Holder skipped his senior season at San Diego and signed a $1.8 million signing bonus to join the Yankees.
Although selected in the first round, he was the second player drafted by the Yankees in the 2015 draft after selecting James Kaprielian with the 16th overall pick.
Fresh off of his junior year at San Diego, Holder was assigned to the Staten Island Yankees to start his professional career. He played in 56 games, all of them at shortstop. He struggled at the plate hitting .213/.273/.253 in 225 at-bats. Out of his 48 hits, seven were doubles to go with one triple. He stole six bags out of eight attempts.
Defensively, Holder played excellent at shortstop where he only committed seven errors out of 266 chances.
Holder was promoted to the Charleston RiverDogs where he was paired with Hoy Jun Park, another highly regarded prospect in the Yankees system. Holder and Park would alternate between shortstop and second base, which was a new position for Holder.
Holder benefited from the tutelage of Yankees minor league roving hitting instructor James Rowson and RiverDogs hitting coach Greg Colbrunn. “Our hitting coordinator James Rousen works a lot on just some simple mechanics stuff like load and separation, and short, direct path to the ball and using left-center field, right-center field as a target,” Holder said. He also added about Colbrunn, “I got a great hitting coach, Greg Colbrunn; he helps out a lot. He hones in on having a routine, sticking it out whether you’re going good or going bad.”
In 88 games, Holder posted a .290/.323/.347 line. He had 102 hits on the season with 13 doubles and two triples. That’s a significant improvement over his numbers the year before at Staten Island, and his offense was an area of concern coming into 2016.
The highlight of his season at the plate was his 16 game hitting streak in May. During the hitting streak, Holder batted .349.
Defensively, Holder had another excellent year. In 230 chances at shortstop, he committed only seven errors in 55 games at shortstop. In 24 games at second base, he just committed two errors in 116 chances. “It’s always cool going from a position that you’re not sure with and playing there for a couple of games and then going back to your natural position,” Holder said of getting time in at second base.
Holder did miss some time in 2016 due to a couple of injuries. The first injury occurred early in the year in April where he suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury. The second injury occurred in July where he hurt his ankle hitting the bag beating out a bunt single.
Holder spent the season with the Tampa Yankees of the high-Class-A Advanced Florida State League. Holder was again slowed by injuries in the first half of the season but had a strong second half of the season to get back on track. In 104 games, Holder put up a slash line of .271/.317/.350 while collecting 16 doubles, two triples four home runs and driving in 44 runs. He stole four bases in seven attempts.
Holder also saw some time at third base with the T-Yanks in addition to his usual majority of play at shortstop and some games at shortstop.
The Yankees sent Holder to the Arizona Fall League where he played in 11 games with the Scottsdale Scorpions. He batted .333 while swatting three doubles, one triple, and one home run.