The New York Yankees initially signed shortstop Abiatal Avelino out of the Dominican Republic on December 26, 2011, for just $300,000 at 16 years old.
He got his first taste of the pros in 2012 when he played for the Dominican Summer League Yankees where he hit .302 with 11 doubles in 222 at bats.
Avelino came over to the United States in 2013, making his American debut with the Gulf Coast Yankees where he hit a combined .336 between both GCL teams before earning a late-season promotion to the Staten Island Yankees. In 17 games with Staten Island, he hit just .243 but showed flashes of brilliance with his glove in the field.
Abiatal was sent to the South Atlantic League in 2014 where he was to split shortstop duties with fellow prospect Tyler Wade. However, a quad injury in May forced him to miss a significant amount of time. Before his injury, Avelino was hitting .294 with nine doubles in 119 at bats. However, after he returned in July, he hit just .158 for the rest of the season which caused his final batting average of the season to fall to .232.
Avelino started the 2015 season with the Charleston RiverDogs, where he hit .301/.341/.398 in 20 games before being promoted to the Tampa Yankees on May 2, 2015. With the Tampa Yankees he hit .252/.309/.321 in 103 games, earning “Player of the Week” honors on August 3 after hitting .433 in eight games with six stolen bases, eight runs scored, two RBIs and a home run.
In 2016, Avelino spent most of his season with the Tampa Yankees where he hit .266/.325/.375 in 93 games and 357 at-bats. On July 28, 2016, he earned a promotion to Double-A Trenton where he got his first taste of the upper levels of the minors. With the Thunder, he hit .244/.307/.331 in 33 games.
During the 2017 season, Avelino bounced around between three affiliates to try to get at-bats. The young prospect started off in Single-A Tampa where in nine games he hit .219/.265/.250 before being promoted to Trenton again. He spent the rest of the season split between Double-A and Triple-A.
With the Thunder, he hit .270/.315/.396 in 69 games, 230 at-bats where he had 12 doubles, four triples, three home runs, and 28 RBIs. In Triple-A, he appeared in 20 games and had 61 at-bats where he hit .213/.284/.262.
Avelino is a natural athlete. He is an above-average runner with good baserunning instincts, and defensively he ranks among the best defenders at his position in the organization. He has shown the ability to play both middle infield positions without much struggle. Watch his hands, footwork and above-average arm while in the field, and you can see he could develop into a major league shortstop.
At the plate, Avelino has a hitting approach that is mature beyond his age. He can use the whole field and is disciplined enough not to expand the strike zone and swing at bad pitches outside. The one thing he lacks is power, and it is unsure if he will develop much more as he matures.
Look for Avelino to return to Double-A to start the 2018 season. Unlike last year he will likely be the primary shortstop and be able to get regular at-bats with the Thunder.
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